DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s not unusual to find a teenager glued to a computer screen for hours but the praise 15-year-old Roosevelt freshman Fez Zafar received this past weekend from President Obama at the White House for his work on that computer is.
“It’s still really sinking in,” Zafar said. “Out of everything, I’m still really surprised. I didn’t think he was that tall.”
Zafar’s most recent short film, “Road To Unity” , was one of 27 short films across the country presented at the annual White House Student Film Festival.
“I didn’t really expect the White House would be interested in showing our movie so it was surprising,” Zafar said.
700 students submitted their work for judging and Zafar felt the pressure, saying “I’ve not been that nervous in my entire life.”
Each video was sent with the theme: What world we all want to live in.
“It made me think people from different cultures and ethnicities could come together in a video because a lot of times the clash of cultures and religions results in a lot of conflicts we see today,” Zafar said.
Zafar, whose family came to America from Pakistan, designed a unique video filmed in one continuous shot. The video also portrays a powerful meaning as the video transitions from black and white to color.
“Individually we all have our own respective colors but it’s when we come together that we bring color to our world around us,” Zafar said.
From two-time Olympian Natasha Kaiser-Brown to Iowa football legend Randy Duncan and Pintrest co-founder Ben Silberman, Roosevelt has plenty of notable alums but few can share what this teenager will enjoy this weekend in New York City.
“They’ll be showing my film in Times Square as part of the All American High School Film Festival,” Zafar said.
Whether it’s viewed in Washington D.C., New York or Des Moines, Zafar hopes the message his video sends is one people across the country can get behind.
“Through the power of filmmaking we can inspire people to really get up and make that change in the world,” Zafar said.
Zafar is also a black belt in Tai Kwon Do and participates on the Roosevelt High School Swim and Debate teams. He is also the founder of a non-profit called Site for Smiles and Smarts which raises awareness and funds for the education and well-being of disadvantaged, poor and orphaned children in different parts of the world.