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Magnet Schools film student earns national honor

6 December 2023 · Joseph Bakes 

Middlesex County Magnet School students receive awards.
The All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) is the premier destination for talented high school filmmakers and media arts enthusiasts from around the world.  

Lamont Harris took up photography at the age of eight when his father handed him a camera. He is now a Middlesex County Magnet Schools junior, and his two-minute film “Flashbacks” was an official selection at the largest student film festival in the world and a nominee as Best Adventure/Travel Film by the Teen Indie Awards.

Lamont, a South River resident, may be a digital film career major in the School of the Arts at East Brunswick Magnet School, but he favors throwback equipment: a 35mm film camera from the ’70s and an Argus 8mm movie camera he found at a flea market for $25. The movie film, however, was only available from an online vendor at $99 a roll.

He likes that he needs to be more discriminatory when he has just 36 photos on a roll of film, rather than unlimited snaps on a digital camera.

“I feel like my film photos are better because I’m stopping, looking around,” he said, adding that the finished product requires less editing. “The photos look good straight off the camera.”

“Flashbacks” was among more than 2,500 entries from all 50 states and more than 40 foreign countries at the All-American High School Film Festival and was one of seven official selections in its category and among five nominees for Best Travel/Adventure Film.

It somewhat mimics the perennial school assignment “What I Did Last Summer,” but recounts his summer in a dream-like manner, almost in slow-motion – a trip to the beach, fireworks, a cruise, and Hersey Park. It is narrated by his classmate Marlee Marte.

"Our district is incredibly proud of Lamont's recognition, and we are eager to see the amazing feats he will accomplish in his journey throughout the world of film,” Superintendent Jorge E. Diaz remarked.

Lamont said since he took to the camera at an early age, his parents suggested he might want to become a photographer.

“It’s always been something in the back of my mind,” he said, adding that his arrival at East Brunswick Magnet School cemented his ambition. “When I got here, it really unlocked more of that passion within me.”

“We are ecstatic of Lamont’s achievements at the All-American Festival and look forward to all his future endeavors,” film teacher Louis Libitz said. “I am honored and beyond proud to be his instructor.”

Lamont said he hopes to learn all the technical aspects of photography in his final two years of high school and then in college, in the hope of becoming a film director eventually.

“I want to get a taste of everything,” he said.

As for his nomination for the “best of” award, he said “it really blew my mind.”

“To even get into the festival was a big honor,” he said.

The All-American High School Film Festival was held at the AMC Empire 25 Theater in Times Square. More information is available at

The Middlesex County Magnet Schools, formerly the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has campuses in East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, and Woodbridge, offering more than 30 career majors. More information is available at


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