Heritage Film Festival Honors George Kochell, Ethel Lewis

(Greenbelt News Review) The Heritage Film Festival, in its 13th year, played in Greenbelt Library and around the city on May 17, 19 and 20. Over 35 short films plus numerous animations gave audiences a rich diversity of creative and inspired works. The festival included discussions with the filmmakers, a reception and an awards ceremony held in the city council chambers. Screened at the library and Old Greenbelt Theatre were films by young people and old, with the motto “looking to the future, honoring the past.” This year the festival paid special tribute to Greenbelt’s own “Mr. Geo,” George Kochell, who has been teaching young filmmakers animation classes for over 20 years at the Greenbelt Access Television studio, located at the Community Center. Working with GAVA, the Greenbelt Association for Visual Arts, Mr. Geo attained superhero status for his job teaching young people animated filmmaking. Many of his students were in attendance for the honors and screenings of their works.

George Kochell, wears a super-hero “Mr. Geo” pixel costume, presented to him by current and past students of his GAVA/GATe animation classes, whose films were also screened during the festival. Also honored was Ethel Lewis who for over 20 years has helped and supported creative artists and organizations through the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council.

O.F. Makarah, the festival executive director, started the festival almost 15 years ago. A California native with a master’s degree in filmmaking from UCLA, she brought the festival to Prince George’s County.