chaw logo
chaw seal
chaw logo

Film Festival Focuses on CHAW’s Past, Present and Future (the kids!)

October 4, 2012

On Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:00 am, CHAW presents a Film Festival celebrating 40 years of “building community through the arts.” Featured films include “Attack of the Giant Pants” and “Alien Invasion,” short films made by CHAW students, and “CHAW@40,” a 15 minute film stitching together vintage footage, video interviews, historical and contemporary photographs, bulletins, flyers, and more. The event will also include a red carpet, music from the Inscape Chamber Orchestra, refreshments, and a toast to CHAW’s past, present, and future. The film festival is open to all with a $5 suggested donation.  Reservations are encouraged at (202) 547-6839 or

ce McKaig, CHAW’s Department Chair of Photography, created the “CHAW@40” film from over 60 hours of recorded interviews with past and current students, employees, board members, neighborhood residents, and parents. “CHAW@40” is a celebration of CHAW’s 40-year history on Capitol Hill.

“In sharing their stories, participants in these interviews build a moving picture of how CHAW started and has changed, how the neighborhood has changed, and how parts of CHAW’s story have held steady through the years,” says McKaig.

Teaching artist Emma Steinkraus taught, produced, and directed the youth films “Attack of the Giant Pants” and “Alien Invasion.”  She also made some pretty fabulous movie posters promoting the films. Here she shares her thoughts on the process…

“This year I helped kids make two movies. The whole process was pretty insane; in retrospect, I can see that the patience and precision stop-motion animation requires does not play to the strengths of 7 year old boys, but, hey!, we did it anyway.  For both movies, “Attack of the Giant Pants” and “Alien Invasion,” the students built elaborate sets, made their own costumes, worked out the plot collaboratively (some tears were shed when a majority voted against including Star Wars characters in “Attack of the Giant Pants”), acted, and learned the basics of editing software.  For “Alien Invasion,” all that was done in five days.

I think the movies themselves are just great.  Who doesn’t want to watch a pair of giant mechanical trousers (created by Baby Bowser no less) rip up skyscrapers and munch on cars?  Or two alien compatriots argue in an alien tongue aboard their space craft (side note: boy were those papier-mache alien masks hot.  Sorry actors!)?  Both movies show off the zany, unself-conscious inventiveness that children have.  But for me, it was the process that was most memorable.  One of my favorite moments in class was when we were trying to figure out how to make our giant pants move: could we use a puppet? could we find pants big enough for one student to be in each trouser leg?  I’d brought in a pair of men’s pants, and each kid took turns wearing them (swimming in them, really) and I’d lift them up by the seat and swing them around.  For all the problem-solving and tested patience and insanity, we had a lot of fun.”