Now in its 17th year, Westflix (formerly Harvard-Westlake Film Festival) has come a long way since its start. Founded in 2004 by Harvard-Westlake alumna Elizabeth Yale ’04, the first festival showcased the films in Harvard-Westlake’s Rugby Theater with alum Jake Gyllenhaal as its speaker. In 2008 the venue changed to ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood to accommodate the festival’s expanding audience. The festival continues to expand each year under new student leadership and faculty advisors Jesse Chehak, Reb L Limerick and Ted Walch.

Westflix serves as a premium showcase for high school filmmakers throughout California. Films are selected by a committee of students, teachers and industry professionals who view the entries and choose the finalists. A judging panel of industry professionals chooses winners in many different categories. Previous judges include Peter Gallagher, Kevin Costner and Alfre Woodard.

Each year, the festival evening features a keynote speaker who is chosen to talk about their career and success in the film industry. Throughout the years, we have had the privilege of hosting, among others, Tom Hanks, Jamie Lee Curtis ’76, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Jason Reitman ’95, Aaron Sorkin, Alejandro Inarritu, Edgar Wright, Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale, and Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton.

The 2011 festival began a new tradition. On Saturday, following the annual screening, Harvard-Westlake plays host to all of the festival filmmakers and their crews for a day of conversation with each other and workshops with film professionals.