Bellisario College freshman earns filmmaking accolades

Steve Sampsell
September 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A freshman in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications was selected as an LA Cinefest semifinalist for his film “Shades of Light: The Refugee Crisis Abroad,” documenting refugee stories in Paris.

Sebastien Kraft, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, and native of France, traveled back to Paris for four days in August 2017 to film his 7 minute short documentary about the refugee crisis. His film follows two refugees from Mauritania and Yemen, along with Kraft’s great aunt and Amnesty International member Marie-Edith Douillard.

“The goal was to depict the paradox between Paris, 'The City of Lights,' and all its monuments that we had to film and visit, and the refugees whose situations are more unfortunate,” Kraft said. “My films are not meant to divide, but rather to unite.”

Kraft submitted his documentary to over 75 festivals on FilmFreeway, an online platform for festival submissions. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting a positive verdict because oftentimes they take professional films and not student films or youth films,” he said. “But I was absolutely ecstatic and thrilled when the Los Angeles confirmation came in and I was announced as a semifinalist.”

Each month, LA Cinefest announces semifinalists, finalists and winners for its online events. If Kraft’s work is selected as a finalist, his film will be showcased at LA Cinefest’s live event in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, 2019.

Kraft already has experience with film festivals. His work won best documentary at the Great Message International Film Festival in India, and another of his films was named best documentary at the 2018 Montgomery County Youth Media Festival.

Two moments stand out to Kraft in his nominated film -- a shot of an accordian player in the Paris Metro and a story shared by Douillard of a hummingbird helping to tame a large fire. Each moment emphasizes the importance of doing small things that matter.

“Being not even 18 years old yet, I think I’m very fortunate to be able to experience this surplus of emotion and experience,” Kraft said. “Even before college.”

Kraft, a Schreyer Honors Scholar, plans to focus on broadcast journalism, stemming from his involvement in Montgomery Blaire High School’s communication arts program. He has auditioned for a news anchor position with PSN-TV and hopes to be a columnist for The Daily Collegian.

He plans to one day be a broadcaster, news anchor or columnist, with interests in multiplatform journalism. Just beginning his Penn State journey, Kraft is most excited for the internship opportunities he hopes are in his near future and to meet all different kinds of new people.

“It all kind of comes down to the connections you make and the people you meet,” Kraft said. “I hope to bolster my ability to promote myself and those I represent and the people with whom I’m close, and to do my family proud, as well.”

  • Sebastien Kraft at Old Main

    Sebastien Kraft

    IMAGE: Mariesa Beneventano
Last Updated September 25, 2018