Student Film Fest Winner

Best Picture award winner, Karam Alkhatib.

Winner Karam Alkhatib with the star of his film.

What started out as an afterschool hobby for Karam Alkhatib is starting to pay off big. And we mean big.

Karam entered the Gwinnett County Public Library’s Student Film Festival on a whim. 60 other students entered as well, from middle school, high school, and college.

He won in his age bracket. Then he won the whole thing. His film The Airforce’s was chosen as Best Film Overall.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Karam.

Oh, did we happen to mention that Karam is just 13 years old?

“I was just sure the college winner was going to take the whole thing. Then I heard my name! I was so happy,” recalled Karam.

He made this entire thing using stop-motion animation, one of the most intricate and time-consuming techniques in filmmaking. Karam used a digital camera and captured one frame at a time, with physical objects that were moved between frames.

In his case, those physical objects are LEGOs.

I’ve always loved LEGOs, and I have a lot at my house.

During Covid, Karam’s favorite sport, Soccer, was canceled. He needed another outlet for his energy and focus.

“I knew I needed another hobby. I’ve always liked watching stop animation videos, so I thought, why not take my LEGOs and try that,” said Karam.

Karam started watching every online tutorial he could find and downloaded an app to his phone. He then began building one skill at a time. Then he started creating small sequences and, finally, The Airforce’s.

Saying the process was labor intensive is an understatement. Karam says it took him a total of 14 days, working about 3 hours a day. That’s a little over 40 hours in total. His film runs one minute and three seconds.

His mom, Sue, was a witness to the entire process.

“He amazes me with his determination. He learned everything on his own. When he is interested ins something, he is passionate, focused, and hard-working,” said Sue Alkhatib.

That hard work paid off. As the winner in his age group and the overall GCPL Student Film Festival winner, the judges awarded Karam a total of $500.

When asked what he plans to do with that money, Karam answered immediately, “I want to make more films with bigger sets and longer storylines.”

Spoken like a true budding filmmaker.

Incidentally, as we write this story, Karam won another film competition through the Gwinnett County Public Schools and will advance to a state competition.

Best Picture Winner: The Air Force's

Library Resources at GCPL for Filmmakers

The Gwinnett County Public Library has Learning Labs with many free resources to help filmmakers of all ages, including cameras, green screens, iMac stations with access to editing software, studio lights, and much more. Access to our Learning Labs is free with a library card. Out-of-county patrons can purchase a full-access library card for $40 a year.

Learning Lab Specialists are also on staff to help! Book-a-Librarian or book an appointment to use the labs at

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