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.

    © 2020 Weston Magazine, Inc. All Rights Reserved.