MUCH AS IT pains me to admit, I suppose this letter has to start with a confession: Before this afternoon, I’d been thinking of the films featured in this month’s cover story in different terms—unconsciously pinning them with a series of adjectives and qualifiers: These were student-made films, films that were made for the sake of giving the 11 young women an authentic filmmaking experience, films that you’d mentally shelve somewhere apart from their “professionally made” counterparts.

Then, as we were preparing to wrap this issue, I finally got around to watching both Ensemble and Justitia.

Then I watched them again.

And it has to be said: These films do not need any adjectives.

Without giving anything away—because, I assure you, you’ll want to see them both for yourself—there are a few things that I think are worth stressing. These are remarkable pieces of film—but not for the reasons you think. It’s remarkable, of course, that they were made by high school students. And it’s remarkable that the filmmakers have managed to capture so much in so brief a time—both in terms of the films’ lengths (combined, they clock in at roughly 11 minutes), and the amount of time devoted to their production (seven weeks).

But for everything that’s worthy of remark, what’s most remarkable is this: With these two films, we’ve got the chance to see the very earliest work produced by the women who took part in the Arkansas Cinema Society’s first Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls.

And rest assured, if these two films are any indication, the only descriptors we’ll need for any future cinematic offerings made by these young filmmakers are “second,” “third,” “fourth” and on and on.





Ensemble and Justitia will be screened as part of Arkansas Cinema Society’s Filmland on Aug. 22-25. Get your tickets at