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Benjamin Franklin Middle School students win Middle School Best Film at the Count Basie Teen and College Film Fest 2020

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  Ridgewood students Maiah Riedel and Emily Scharfenberg won Middle School Best Film at the Count Basie Teen and College Film Fest 2020 for their documentary, Unbridled.
The film was showcased at this year’s virtual film fest, which ran from March 30 through April 6. The two student filmmakers attend Benjamin Franklin Middle School (BF), where they have been active members of the Film Club for the past two years. Unbridled is the story of a Mustang training and rescue facility located in Allendale that also serves as a wellness center for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To view the film, visit

In the film, the student directors feature Unbridled Heroes Project founders, Amy and Mark Steppe, who share their incredible story of healing for both the horses and the military veterans. “Unbridled won the category of pro-social documentary at the June 2019 GW/BF Film Festival,” shared Mr. Ordini, advisor to the Film Club at BF. “Based on the reception the film received in Ridgewood, I encouraged the students to submit it to the Count Basie Film Festival this year. The talent of these two young women is extraordinary, and I foresee great things in their future. If this is the avenue they wish to pursue, I am certain that you will see more from them.” Three years ago, Jason Ordini and Dan Luts, George Washington Middle School (GW) Film Club advisor, resurrected the GW/BF Film Festival.

Through the respective clubs, students create films in various categories to submit to this district-based festival. A panel of faculty judges selects films for entry into the festival. In June, the films are shown at the movie theater in downtown Ridgewood, giving the entire community the opportunity to experience the students’ work on the big screen. Industry professionals are invited to judge the entries and present awards in various categories. “I have always had a passion for animals and nature, and when I met Amy and Mark at the Unbridled Heroes Project, I knew their story had to be shared. Emily and I started filming in January of 2019, where we fell in love with the mustangs and their stories,” shared Maiah Riedel. Her co-director, Emily Scharfenberg, added, “The filmmaking process took us a long time. It was our first film, and it was a learning process. Although it took us a while to finish the film, we are so proud of what we have accomplished and are so happy that we were able to make more people aware of what Amy and Mark are doing at the UHP.”

The Count Basie Center for the Arts is New Jersey’s premier center for the cultural arts, dedicated to fostering powerful, inclusive artistic experiences and creative exchange of ideas. The Basie mission is to inspire, educate and entertain through its distinct and engaging cultural and artistic offerings that Page 2 reflect the diversity of the region. As a nonprofit organization, the Basie is committed to enriching the community’s quality of life by generating opportunities for participation in the arts, partnering with schools, collaborating with other mission-based organizations and driving regional economic prosperity. To learn more, visit Unbridled can be viewed on The Count Basie Center for the Arts website at For more information on the GW/BF Film Festival, look for updates in mid-May on the Ridgewood Public Schools website at

2 thoughts on “Benjamin Franklin Middle School students win Middle School Best Film at the Count Basie Teen and College Film Fest 2020

  1. is that the old Habernickel farm..?

  2. “is that the old Habernickel farm..?”
    RIF – Reading is FUNdaMental !

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