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Unleashing Creativity: The Impact of 573 Film Festival on Young Superheroes

Imagine the impact of instilling in just one child the belief that they can overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. We've held the 573 Film Festival International for the last five years. This three-day "not-for-profit FREE to attend" event held in Perryville included 50 plus films from all over the world, networking, workshops, actors, directors, guest speakers, and more... We had directors and producers from L.A., K.C., Springfield, Nashville, St. Louis, and Cape. It has always been my favorite 573 Magazine event.

The festival is put on by 573 Magazine and a few independent filmmakers. To us, indie means blood, sweat, and tears -we've been there. It means overcoming insurmountable obstacles and loving it. It means ignoring naysayers and dream squashers and doing it anyway. The 573 Film Festival is here to support local Missouri filmmakers. We're here to support their passion. With the support of sponsors like Mary Jane Burgers and Brew, the City of Perryville, Show Me Younger, Arts Council of Southeast Missouri, and Lindenwood Univeristy...we keep everything FREE.

One of my favorite things about holding the festival is doing the kids' film workshop. The idea that you have inspired one child to move away from all the negative crud online to make a short film with other kids showcasing their limitless potential makes all the hard work worth it.

At the Kid's Workshop, the kids were not only exposed to the technical aspects of filmmaking but also showed a sense of urgency and self-worth. They plan out a script, choose actors and crew, light, sound, direct... Then, the next day, their film was shown at the Perry Park Theater, where they saw their ideas come to life on the big screen.

With a bit of luck, the impact of redirecting a child's attention from online negativity to experiencing positivity extends far beyond the confines of the workshop. Hopefully, we empowered a few of them to reach their fullest potential.

We met up with one of the producers and an actor to tell us about their experiences at the workshop. Meet Producer Kristen Boren and her redheaded daughter Penny.

Kristen and Penny Koren.

My name is Kristen Boren. My family is Tony Boren (Husband), Penny Boren(9), and Bradley Boren(6). I grew up in St. Louis. I was in the 8th grade when my family got a video camera, I was obsessed and wanted to go into video. I graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a Broadcast and Film degree. I moved to Cape in 2007 when I got my first job out of college as a creative services producer, where I wrote, shot, and edited commercials at KFVS. What I thought would only be a couple of years in Cape ended up as 17.

Kristen and daughter Penny at Villainous Grounds in Perryville.

In January 2020 (right before COVID), I took a job at Red Letter Communications as a video producer. I help plan around 40-50 shoots per year. I am part of the dance community in Cape, helping to choreograph the dance show for Vintage Now, a charitable fashion event. Other than that, I run the kids around town to activities and try to hang out with friends in between.

Penny wants to be a YouTube star.

Penny loves the arts. She has been drawing since she could pick up a pencil and often draws for several hours daily. She also loves reading even when it's past her bedtime and she has to read with a flashlight. In 2022, Penny started attending a theater class at R.A.D. Studios in Cape and was hooked.

The kids got to see themselves on the big screen at the Perry Park Theater.

I’ve always wanted to do something local where kids could have the opportunity to make a film. I remember doing something similar when I was a kid and it was magical to me so I think it’s great that the 573 Film Festival gives kids that opportunity.  This was my first year helping with the kid's workshop and it was very rewarding. It was definitely a crash course in filmmaking as we shot the whole thing in about an hour and a half but it’s refreshing to be doing it with kids who are more in it for the experience and less about making sure they have a perfect and polished final film. We had kids weighing in on lighting, art direction, what angle to shoot from, shot locations, props, directing and script supervising. What made it most rewarding was seeing my daughter’s face when she saw herself on the big screen and when the kids got up at the end of their film to talk about it. The kids got really into that and were really proud.

Video Editor/Copywriter Jonathan helped with making 'Hundred Dollar Hero'
Trinity, Willow and Penny played the main characters in the film.
Dax was the director and Marissa was on lighting.
Watch their film here! 'One Hundred Dollar Hero'

She enjoys her theater classes and being involved in the plays they put on as well. This April, she will play a lost boy in Tinkerbell. She also loves spending time with her brother and friends. She's usually outgoing, spirited, and sassy… unless you put a camera in her face. She was so excited to see herself on the big screen at the festival and plans to do the 573 Kid's Film Festival again next year.

Villainous Grounds in Perryville was the set for their film. It's a coffee shop. It's a comic shop. It's a film set!

The second film made at the Kid's Film Festival was The Gold Ring. It's a slightly scarier short than the Hundred Dollar Hero film and made by an ALL-boy team. It's a film about two boys who visit a museum, and they find a magic ring in the fire pit of an old steam engine, but the ring gives them more than they expected.

The guys broke up into crew and cast and then started rehearsing. Two and one half hours later, the film was in the can—Hollywood lingo. They had one professional filmmaker, me, who produced and one professional actor, Scott Dunn, who helped things move along and gave the boys acting tips. And yes, as Penny said, the film had some scary elements.

573 Magazine Publisher Denelle Smugala was the awards event MC.

When the films were played on the big screen, and the kids received their awards, they all got up on stage in front of the crowd, and each one of them had something to say about their experience. Like I said before if one of them takes this experience as a positive thing in their life, 573 Magazine wins. You can watch 'The Gold Ring' below.

'The Gold Ring' short film.

There were many stand-out events at the film festival. From visiting Professor of Film Peter Carlos from Lindenwood University to local Cape filmmakers with their short film Catskill Manor to visiting Springfield director Karson Knudsen and his short musical 'The Milk, Man' and many others. One that really stood out was seeing Yuri Omar's film. Yuri is the director of 'Hope For The Holidays', a film about him and his friend who traveled to all 50 states to help sick children or vets have a hopeful holiday. They meet with people in need and bring gifts and hope for a better world. Yuri traveled from L.A. to present his short film and won Best Documentary at our festival.

A short interview with Yuri.
Seeing Yuri's film on the big screen was a nice surprise for the audience and his acceptance speech was super-duper uplifting.

Actor Scott Dunn and his son, Declan.


Live while you can and enjoy your life. There is NO future staying on that sunken sofa.

Thank you to all the people who made the 573 Film Festival possible. To learn more about everything, visit and get involved next year. We need your help to make the 573 a better place.

Special Thanks to:

Kyle Lewis

Carisa Stark

Trish Erzfeld

Tamatha Crowson

Scott Dunn

LaKrisha Moore

Kristen Boren

Jonathan Gautier

The gang at Perry Park Center

The gang at JStreet Eats

The gang at Villainous Grounds

Peter Carlos

The Tractor Museum

by the Supreme Leader and Editor 573 Magazine

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