Washington: "It's like the Sundance or Cannes of film festivals that are open to the public through a government website," joked President Barack Obama as he welcomed young filmmakers to the second annual White House Film Festival. Among the 15 official selections screened Friday at the premiere emceed by Indian-American actor Kal Penn and Terrence J was "Generation Change", a film made by two teenagers after two trips to India.
Obama noted how the journey of two young women, Allyson Edwards, 16, and Madison Jaco, 17, led to a global project for a cleaner, healthier environment in five countries. The two "adopted a highway to clean up the roads in their hometown of Hawkins, Texas," he noted.
"So they decided they wanted to make an even bigger impact, so they reached out to young people all across the globe, and this is part of the power of the Internet.
"And now you've got groups in India, France, Nigeria, Benin, Argentina, all getting into the act - cleaning up their schools and beaches and roads -just because of these two young women," Obama said amid applause.
The women, who are a part of an international environmental science programme called GLOBE, travelled to New Delhi twice to participate in global science fairs, according to the background provided by the White House.
"There, they discussed how they could help the environment, including local initiatives like Adopt-a-Highway.
"Students from Argentina, Benin, Croatia, France, India, and Nigeria quickly hopped on board with the plan. "Since then, the girls have been in contact with students all across the globe working to achieve their goal: a cleaner, healthier environment."
The official selections were picked up from more than 1,500 films from around the world about this year's theme: The Impact of Giving Back.
The films highlight the promise of mentorship in the arts and calls for the entertainment industry to build upon their mentoring programmes and engagement nationwide.