Atlantic County Institute of Technology teacher of media, digital photography and web design Kristen Dirato presents the award to Amanda Paule during her media class, as Paule was not able to attend the award ceremony in Asbury Park.


HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Atlantic County Institute of Technology student Amanda Paule, a senior from Absecon, won the award for the Best Home Grown Student PSA at the 16th annual Garden State Film Festival, which took place March 22-25 in Asbury Park.

She captured the honor for her video on the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Paule began volunteering at the food bank in Egg Harbor Township in August. “It was an environment I wanted to capture on film,” she said.

She interviewed the food bank’s vice president for more than an hour, 45 minutes of which were videotaped. “It inspired me to capture real environments,” she said. “The hardest part was condensing it into a three-minute video.”

Paule is enrolled in the school’s Academy of Math, Engineering and Science and is working with a team of students on a media initiative titled ”Humans of ACIT,” consisting of videos and an online blog.

“This is designed to capture the essence of individual personalities, including students and staff members,” she said.

“It is an amazing accomplishment for Amanda to win at an International Independent Film Festival,” her media, digital photography and web design teacher Kristen Dirato said. “The festival took part over four days, with a screening of 245 films from 22 different countries at nine different venues in Asbury Park.”

“I have watched Amanda's talents grow over the past couple of years and her skill set is amazing. As the director of operations for the Garden State Film Festival and as an educator for 13 years, I can say without a doubt, Amanda has natural talents as a producer and director in the video and broadcasting field. To win at an International Independent Film Festival is an incredible accomplishment and I couldn't be more proud of Amanda.”

Paule recently received acceptance notices from five prestigious universities and has decided to enroll at Syracuse University. She plans to pursue a duel degree in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Newhouse School of Public Communications. And she will do so as a recipient of the Coronat Scholarship, which provides full tuition for four years. She is planning a career either in journalism or digital media.

Paule said she was humbled to receive the award. “It was an honor to be recognized for a project that was so personally meaningful,” she said. “Working on this film opened my eyes to a greater community within my own neighborhood, and it has been incredible to share that with others.”

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