The silent film industry has deep roots in the City of Ithaca. The Wharton Studio Museum at Stewart Park preserves the legacies of brothers Theodore and Leopold Wharton, whose work in the early 1900s made a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.
This cinematic history inspired Fiona Okumu ’21 to carry on that legacy in 2016. That’s when, as a senior at Ithaca High School, the writing for film, television and emerging media major founded the “Silents Roar!” Film Festival for Youth in the Southern Tier.
Okumu approached the museum with the idea to showcase short silent films created by young filmmakers in the style of the Wharton Brothers. Diana Riesman, the museum’s executive director, loved the idea and helped Okumu organize the premiere.
“I was driven to be innovative just like the Wharton Brothers were a century ago,” Okumu said. “They utilized their constraints to create films that are still amazing to watch a century later.”