Burnsville, Minn. teen focus of cerebral palsy documentary

- From the moment the film “Jerrad” starts, it's is a very personal story.

“I notice people, without them saying anything, I can tell by their actions, they judge people based on what they look like," said 18-year-old Jerrad Solberg.

Solberg is a junior at Burnsville High School. He agreed to be the subject of a self-titled documentary when a senior at his school, Scott Tinkham asked him.

“This film isn't a cerebral palsy awareness video. He's not getting bullied at school,” says Tinkham. “I hope it just tells a story that inspires and changes people's perspectives and shows how much of a normal kid Jerrad is and that he can overcome his disabilities and not let that define him.”

“Jerrad” was the last entry for the EDU film festival which includes more than 70 short student created films picked to be shown on Friday at the ShowPlace Icon theater in St. Louis Park. The EDU Film Fest, presented by Best Buy and sponsored by IPR-College of Creative Arts, is a one-day festival celebrating and recognizing the film work of middle school and high school students from around the state. Usually the short films for this film festival are limited to five minutes, but this film is three times that length. The creator of the film festival quickly realized ”Jerrad” was worth every second.

“Over the last nine years we've seen the talent skyrocket,” says executive director Trey Wodele. “A lot of it is technology, lot of it is software and lot of it is savvy. Kids watch a lot of movies. Everyone who sees these things is surprised they are made by kids 14 to 18 years old.”

Two busloads of Burnsville High School students were brought in for the chance to see Jerrad on the big screen.  His parents are grateful for the way a 15-minute film recognizes 18 years of hard work and struggles.

“He has a heart,  he touches people. He has since he was little,” says Solberg’s dad, Jerry.

Through the process, Solberg and Tinkham have become close friends, and both are excited to see how much of an impact their documentary can make.
“I hope it changes people's perspective on people with disabilities. Or maybe if they have a disability, it changes what they think about what the future could bring,” says Solberg.

The winners from this film festival will go on to have their films shown at the Duluth Film Festival and the Twin Cities Film Festival.  and “Jerrad” is one of them.

“I didn't think it would get this big where it would be a feature film at a  film festival,” says Tinkham.

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