Delivering excellence: San Benito student advances in film festival competition

San Benito High School junior Hannah Benavides created two short films that have advanced to the second round of the 2022 UIL Young Filmmakers Festival. (Courtesy photo)

SAN BENITO — Hannah Benavides has always had a passion for writing and expressing her creativity.

When she was a child, she began making short films on her phone for fun.

Through these creations and witnessing her father’s experience in the movie field, she developed a passion for filmmaking.

Now, as a San Benito High School junior, Hannah is already starting to make a name for herself in her aspiring career.

This week, Hannah learned that she advanced to the second round of the 2022 UIL Young Filmmakers Festival for her short films “My Little Hand In Yours” and “This Beautiful Little Thing.”

Hannah’s films are competing in the documentary and narrative categories of the competition.

My Little Hand In Yours is a documentary about The Children’s Bereavement Center in Harlingen that helps kids who’ve lost a loved one process grief.

“Throughout the film, you get to see what they offer and you also see my mother’s journey through seeing her kids go through therapy and hear her thoughts about this place,” Hannah said.

This Beautiful Little Thing is a narrative that touches on the troubles and aftermath of having a first love.

“It’s about the many mixed emotions you may feel and the longing for those memories that may have or have never happened or what you wished would have happened,” Hannah explained. “I have a wonderful group of friends that were able to act in it and act very well. I’m grateful to have those opportunities.”

Hannah writes, directs and edits the videos all on her own.

This is her second year competing in the UIL Young Filmmakers Festival. Last year, her competing film “Glamour” made it to the state semi-finals.

Hannah says competing can be a little nerve-racking, but she has faith that everything will work out in the way that’s it’s supposed to in God’s will.

“When I was brainstorming what to do this year, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew, but I wanted to send in two movies,” Hannah said. “The deadline for the movies was a little sooner than I thought so it kind of worried me a bit, but I was able to put it all together because of all of the great support I have with my family and Children’s Bereavement Center.”

Hannah says she never really knew what to do with her love for writing until after her dad passed away in 2017, but she believes he is the true reason why she’s found her passion for filmmaking.

“A lot of my motivation is to continue what he loved most and also have a love for myself,” she said. “A lot of the things I do have a part of me in them where it’s me venting in a way, but it also helps me through the grieving process and honor my dad in that way.”

For Hannah, seeing everyone be very supportive and happy of the art she creates, makes her want to cry of happiness because she pours her heart and soul into what she makes.

“To see my mom and others close to me, like my friends, be very proud of me helps me see life in a brighter way,” she added. “Through the pain I was able to put through the films, it becomes something more beautiful in that way.”

Hannah plans to continue following her passion and have a career in film, television and/or broadcast.

“It’s not guaranteed to be the most successful thing in the world, but it’s my passion and I’d rather live a life where I’m very happy with my job than give up on a dream that I have,” Hannah said. “With the motivation I have from my dad, I know I have a lot of passion.”

Currently, she is interested in attending the University of Texas at Austin or The University of California Los Angeles.

Hannah says no matter what ups and downs she experiences, she’s always going to try her best to succeed in whatever she does.