National Film Festival for Talented Youth | Seattle Youth Film Festival | Student Film Festival



Film of the Week

Tides is the exploration of the human will and the power of love and the mind.

The film was an official selection of NFFTY 2014 and won the Audience Award for the Identify Yourself screening.

Film of the Week is presented by Volvo Cars of North America.

About the director:


Amelia Burnatowski is an emerging filmmaker from Seattle, Washington. Although Tides is her first short, she plans to continue making films centered around LGBTQ characters.

NFFTY spoke with Amelia about being a first time filmmaker.

Q: You’ve been involved with NFFTY for several years now but this is the first time you’ve had a film in the festival. What motivated you to start making films? Has participation in NFFTY had an impact along the way?

What motivated me to start making films was when I first started volunteering at NFFTY in 2011. I was about 16 and seeing kids my age make movies really inspired me to try filmmaking. NFFTY was the force that pushed me into exploring films in depth and I would like to say NFFTY made me who I am today. Through NFFTY I found my passion and purpose in life.

Q: Your film touches on a very personal and tragic experience for the main character. Could you talk about where the inspiration came from? Were there any of your own personal experiences involved?

I’m really into Buddhism, meditation and yoga, and one night I was sitting at my dinner table and my family was being so loud, arguing, clinking glasses, making a whole bunch of noise and I just wanted to get away. I closed my eyes and tried to get into some meditative state and at that moment I realized I wanted to make a film about someone who used meditation to get through life’s struggles. And although noisy family members isn’t close to having a loved one die, the story just formed into it as I kept brainstorming. Not to mention I wanted to have non-straight characters to show that we are all human beings and go through the same things.

Q: It’s widely known that the ratio of men to women working in Hollywood is very poor. Only 9% of directors working on big films are women. At NFFTY that number jumps to 40%. How does it feel to be progressing into an industry that, historically, has not allowed for much female participation.

I think it’s amazing. And I think that’s what makes NFFTY amazing. I didn’t feel like a minority. I love the diversity. Everyone’s from all over the world, different ages, sexes and genders and it makes it so welcoming and encouraging. If I attended NFFTY and I was the only female it would be a different vibe. I think this encourages women/girls to do what they do no matter if they are the 9% in the real world or not because they have experienced what it’s like to be the 40% and they know nothing can stop them. It gives hope that there will be people out there that will support you (that your stories are worth it) and NFFTY is one of them.

Q: There are many young people who are interested in making films but simply don’t know how to take the first step like you chose to. What advice do you have for them in getting started?

My advice is to get a camera and shoot stuff with your friends. Have fun, get involved and talk to people in the industry. And maybe go to school for it, but just maybe. Live by the words “Nothing you have that much passion for is ever a waste of time, no matter how it turns out in the long-term”. So, don’t worry, have passion and just go do it.

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