CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – From a young age, Max Libman had a pretty strong idea of what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“So, I was always passionate and always interested in filmmaking. And I started acting at a young age and then eventually started screenwriting and directing my own movies,” he said.

When he saw exactly what filmmaking and movies could do, he knew he had found his calling.

“I had a passion for filmmaking since I was very young and one of the projects I did was sharing my great grandmother’s story, how she survived the holocaust. And I took that project and shared it with our local schools. Through education, I talked about the dangers of hatred, and I saw firsthand how the power of film can help lead to change in society,” he said.

That’s why at just 16 years old he wanted to share his passion with as many people as he could.

“I wanted other kids to have the opportunity to share those stories that are important to them, important to their communities. So, I really just wanted to give that opportunity to everyone,” Libman said.

He brought in several experts and set up a room in the Champaign Public Library. Where kids of all ages could learn about stop-motion film, lighting, virtual reality, and more.

And that’s just the starting point.

“That kind of inspired me to create this CU international film festival, whose mission is to entertain educate and elevate through film,” he said.

It’s the first year of the festival and the brains behind it all, Max

“So it’s an international film festival showcasing short films. We got around 60 submissions from all across the world, including Pakistan, India, Germany, and Sweden. I ran all across the United States from high schoolers, college students, and independent filmmakers,” he said. “So we had a panel of judges and jurors narrow that down to eight short films that we will be showcasing at the Spurlock museum on October 29th at 7 p.m., and that will include red carpet gala award presentations. We’re having a filmmaker, one of the filmmakers, come in from out of state to speak at the festival.”

The film festival is exciting and he can’t wait for the red carpet to be rolled out and the films to be played.

“I mean, it feels good. I mean, I enjoy it. It’s something I’m passionate about. So it doesn’t feel like hard work because I’m passionate about it. I enjoy it and I’m surrounded by a lot of supporting individuals going about this process,” he said.

Above all of that, he really hopes the festival and the events leading up to it will spark the same passion he has in others.

“So one of our goals through this film festival is to inspire the next generation of filmmakers because we believe it’s important for young students to learn how to share their own stories, the stories that are important to them, the stories that are important to their communities so this workshop will just provide them with the fundamental skills to learn about how to do that. I hope they learn just the basics of filmmaking. Hopefully, at least it sparks an interest in it so they can pursue it more in the future. Just because filmmaking is just such an important skill to know right now,” he said.

He said it won’t be the only thing you can do when it comes to this passion of his.

“It’s really exciting. We’re hoping to keep this momentum going to the festival, and we’re expecting a good turnout for the festival we’re hoping to grow year after year. This is going to be an annual event. We’re going to continue doing workshops throughout the year, have a festival this October, and then also next the next year as well. And we hope to just keep on growing and make this event in the Champaign-Urbana community,” he said.

To learn more about the film festival visit their website, here.