Freshman Zak, 14 years old, plays the piano while Ruby, also a freshman, studies in the theater area. Senior Brittany writes songs, plays the harp and guitar and senior Grace dances. Each struggles with her or his own internal and external problems: discipline, academic studies, auditions, competition, and parents. The film also integrates video of the students as youngsters and still photographs. Occasionally, voiceover observations add another perspective, giving the scenes a gratifying density, as do their personal lives.
Grace's fairly traditional Korean-American family that runs a yogurt shop has expectations different from Brittany's family, whose mother moved to L.A. with her while father Tom stayed to work in Wisconsin. Seventeen-year-old Grace wants to go to Juilliard, Brittany to NYU, but both know their chances are slim. Caucasian Ruby and Latin American Zak run hot and cold in their performances and commitment, both shadowed by their involved fathers.
As co-editor, Kennedy chooses extremely well from what had to be hours and hours of footage, most of which he shot and framed effectively, especially for a documentary with so much action. Each richly layered scene reveals a bit more about these four extremely talented individuals, resulting in an insightful presentation of three-dimensional students not just gifted artists. In fact, they find that their classmates have equally impressive dance, music, and theater abilities, and watching their assessment and reactions provides more food for thought in this entertaining and informative film.
"Fame High" screens at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 24th through Sunday, May 26th. For more information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or on the web at: Webster.edu/filmseries.