December 4, 2023

Surjin Banwait, an 8th grader at Lawrence Jones Middle School will be presented his 2022 International Film Festival Award on November 19. The First Place Award was part of the “2022 The MY HERO Project International Short Film Festival.” His winning submission was “Not All Superheroes Are in Comic Books.”

Growing up and living in Rohnert Park, Banwait became interested in video editing when he was doing Distance Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. He joined a video editing club at his middle school and started learning about a software program called “WeVideo.” His three minute and 32 second video mentions his teachers, his doctor, and Chief Tim Mattos, Director of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety as some of his heroes. He also calls out military servicemembers, mail and package delivery workers, grocery and farm workers, construction workers, police, firefighters, and restaurant workers. He believes “Everybody can be a hero in somebody’s life.” He ends with acknowledging his own family as heroes for all the love and support they provide him and his sister.

This is not the only award this film has been given to date. It was an official selection of the 2022 Sonoma County Library Teen Film Festival and a Top 12 entry in the 2022 Sonoma County Office of Education Film Festival. 

It is also not the only film that won awards for Banwait. His film “How To Be Sustainable” won first place in the 2021 One Planet Youth Summit Film Festival. It was given the Best Technical Achievement in Filmmaking for the 2021 Alexander Valley Student Film Festival. It was the winner in the 11-14 age group for the 2021 Next Gen Capture Conservation Contest American Conservation Film Festival, and Overall Best Film for the 2021 Sonoma County Office of Education Five Minute Film Festival. And it was a finalist in the 2021 California Student Media Festival. It also went on to be selected in 2022 for the 2022 Sustainable Stories Film Fest in Houston, TX.

This amazing young man has a clear vision of his future. He says, “I have a passion for engineering, and I want to pursue a career in it.” He’s applied for Technology High School Class of 2023-2024 and plans to attend college, perhaps at Sonoma State University after he graduates high school. His favorite subject in school is Math but he also says, “history is fun.” “I like designing things,” he said, and so some of his favorite activities are drawing, building, coding, video games, and all things STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Both he and his sister play the piano too. His elementary school was Marguerite Hahn. 

Banwait has his own Film Freeway Channel at Surjin Banwait – FilmFreeway in addition to a You Tube Channel. You can watch this most recent award-winning film at: You’ll also find his other films and various piano pieces on that channel. He’s been posting his piano pieces since 2017. His May 2021 rendition of Amazing Grace was among my favorites. Currently, he has 44 You Tube subscribers and certainly would be pleased to add more. If you want to follow the exploits of Banwait now and in the future, you might want to consider subscribing to his channel. In closing, he said, “It’s important to follow your passions and achieve your goals!” Banwait is well on the way to making his goals his reality. Well Done. Keep it up.


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