On June 7, Cablevision awarded prizes to Weston High School junior

Michael Bogaev for two of his films, distinguishing him as the only young

filmmaker to win in two categories: First Place for No Going Back, a PSA

on teens texting while driving, created with Weston classmates Andrew

Harwood, Nathan Katz and Alex McCall, and Third Place for his

documentary, The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Our Morale Imperative, which

he wrote, directed, produced, edited and narrated.

No Going Back follows a young woman as she leaves for school in the

morning; as she begins to text while driving, we hear the frightening sound

of a crash, at which point the film replays in reverse motion, depicting her

typical morning routine, including a warm hug with her mother just before

leaving the house. The PSA ends with Bogaev’s powerful warning: “All it

takes is one split second, and you can never go back.” Earlier this spring

the film was selected to be the CT Department of Transportation’s

television commercial when it won First Place at the CT DMV/Travelers

Teen Safe Driving Contest. Bogaev hopes the PSA will help to lower the

ever-climbing mortality rate of distracted teenage drivers. Asked how it felt

to create such a successful piece, he responded, “the real success will be if

it helps to save lives.”

Our Morale Imperative was inspired by the devastating plight of Syrian

refugees, prior to the current administration’s travel bans that have created

even more chaos and hardship for thousands of families. Bogaev’s film

documents the extreme conditions faced by these men, women and

children desperate to make their new home in America. Weston

Superintendent Bill McKersie praised Michael’s “remarkable and

extraordinary achievement,” requesting that all K-12 Weston teachers and

Board of Ed members view the film, a “prime example by a student to

achieve Weston’s lofty goal of fostering global citizens.” Our Morale

Imperative includes moving footage of the refugees as well as clips from

compelling interviews Bogaev conducted with refugee advocate CT

Congressman Jim Himes; courageous refugee mother Manal, who endured

months of hardship in camps before finally resettling with her 5 children in

Wilton, CT; and Steven Hudspeth, director of the Wilton Interfaith Action

Committee. The documentary was previously honored in the International

C-Span StudentCam Contest, where 150 films out of almost 3,000 were

awarded for their excellence. Bogaev’s films have brought in $8,500 in

prize money, including $6,000 for Weston High’s video department.