Now in its 20th 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. With the onset of COVID-19, Westflix'20 and '21 occurred online. In 2022 the venue changed to TLC Chinese Theatres in Hollywood. While honoring the legacies of past student festival directors and faculty advisors Cheri Gaulke, Ted Walch, Kevin O'Malley, Jesse Chehak, and others, the festival continues to expand and grow each year under new student leadership and faculty advisors Reb L Limerick and Brannon Rockwell-Charland Cook.
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, Spike Jonze, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, and Jordan Peele.
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.
Westflix is produced by members of the Harvard-Westlake School community and thus holds values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at its core. Each year we work to reach further to include and uplift the voices and stories of a more diverse range of young filmmakers across the state. Westflix is a brave space for creative expression and education that celebrates and recognizes student artists of different identities and backgrounds. In the past, we’ve been proud to showcase films by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers, POC filmmakers, first generation filmmakers, women filmmakers, first time filmmakers, filmmakers with disabilities, and other students of marginalized communities, who were able to share their own stories via our platform. As arbiters of media, we understand how much representation matters and will continue to expand our scope.