Blacksburg sisters win C-SPAN documentary competition

307

Photo by Anaika Miller
Mia Lazar (center) shares a smile with her sister, Ava, after the two were presented with a $5,000 check by C-SPAN representative Vanessa Torres (left) at a ceremony Friday. The sisters won first place in C-SPAN’s StudentCam contest for their seven-minute documentary, “The Tempest Tossed.”

Blacksburg sisters Ava and Mia Lazar are no strangers to the spotlight, or the painstaking, behind-the-scenes process of editing hours of video footage for a documentary.


The competition’s website said C-SPAN received 2,903 films from more than 5,600 students from across the United States and around the world. C-SPAN representatives cited the sisters’ objectivity, production skills and passion as a few of the reasons their entry stood out to judges.

The budding filmmakers, who have already won several accolades for their videos, were recently announced as the grand prize winners of C-SPAN’s StudentCam contest. Mia, 15, is a freshman at Blacksburg High School, and Ava, 12, is a homeschooled seventh-grader.

The duo was honored at a ceremony Friday at Blacksburg High School where their winning submission, a seven-minute long documentary titled “The Tempest Tossed” was screened for students and local community leaders. They also received a check for $5,000 from C-SPAN.

“With the Lazar sisters, I think we have a bright future ahead of us,” said Virginia Senator John Edwards (D-District 21) during the ceremony. “We are very, very proud.”

Videos for the documentary answered the prompt, “What is the most urgent issue for the new President and Congress to address in 2017?” The Lazar sisters chose to focus on the topic of refugees, and interviewed experts in D.C. to provide context to the current refugee crisis.

The experts came from a variety of ideological backgrounds and included representatives from the Cato Institute, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and more.

“I was kind of surprised that so many people we interviewed had the same opinion,” Ava said.

The competition’s website said C-SPAN received 2,903 films from more than 5,600 students from across the United States and around the world. C-SPAN representatives cited the sisters’ objectivity, production skills and passion as a few of the reasons their entry stood out to judges.

The sisters say their passion stems from their family’s personal history: their paternal grandparents were both Hungarian immigrants to the United States. Ava and Mia ended up dedicating the video to their grandmother who was born in a refugee camp after World War II and later came to the United States.

Peter Lazar, Ava and Mia’s father, said his father immigrated to the United States in 1945 after barely escaping a train that was being bombed by Allied forces.

“Both of my parents were welcomed with open arms in the United States,” Peter said.

Molly Lazar, Ava and Mia’s mother, said she believes the United States’ ability to welcome and assimilate immigrants is unique.

“My family has been here since the 1700s, and they’ve fought in every major war,” Molly said. “But my in-laws are no less American than my family is.”

Ava and Mia won C-SPAN’s middle school portion of the contest last year with a video about campaign finance. The sisters decided to enter this year’s competition together again, which required them to compete in the high school category despite Ava still being in middle school.

Mia said they really wanted to work together, in part because their talents complement each other.

“I love interviewing, completely love it,” Ava said, while Mia said she prefers the editing process.

The sisters shared a couple of tips for students interested in participating next year: don’t ask yes or no questions, and make sure the microphone is on before starting an interview.

“Each time we do a project, we learn what not to do,” Mia said, laughing.

The sisters say they are planning to save most of the prize money, but that they will donate $1,000 to the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, a non-profit organization that helps refugees move to the area and adjust to a new life.

View original source link