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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Isle teen to appear on TV with first lady

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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An award-winning student filmmaker from Punahou School will share the spotlight today with first lady Michelle Obama in a live television broadcast from the White House.

Seventh-grader Matthew Shimura, 13, earned the honor of appearing on C-SPAN's hourlong "Let's Move!" town hall program when his eight-minute documentary on childhood obesity beat out 1,000 other entries in the middle school category of the network's StudentCam competition.

The broadcast begins at 5 a.m., Hawai'i time, and can be seen on Oceanic Channel 48.

Matt was told he would get to speak with Michelle Obama and to prepare some questions to ask her. He'll also get to talk about his video, "Childhood Obesity: A Challenge Facing America."

"I've never met her. I'm really excited about it," Shimura said yesterday via telephone while riding in a Washington, D.C., taxi with parents Sharon Webb and Toni Shimura of Waikīkī.

"I'm mostly going to ask her about how childhood obesity affects us kids," he said.

During the program, the first lady will take calls from other students who submitted StudentCam videos about obesity. The event will take place in front of an audience of students.

Webb said Matt picked childhood obesity as the subject of his documentary before the first lady made it her priority issue and launched a nationwide effort to encourage healthier eating and more exercise for American children.

"It was lucky happenstance," Webb said.


Matt worked on the documentary in his spare time, taking about three months to complete the project, which was shot on high-definition digital video and edited on his home computer. The film features health statistics on childhood obesity, scenes of fast-food restaurants, school playgrounds and supermarkets, and an interview with Shimura's pediatrician, Dr. Michael Sia.

Matt said he was introduced to filmmaking by his fourth-grade teacher, Kris Schwengel, and hopes to make a career as a documentarian.

"I really like making movies. It's really fun to do and fun to express ideas," he said.

In addition to his trip to Washington, Matt received a $3,000 prize as the middle school winner, with an additional $500 for his school to spend on digital video equipment.

An earlier documentary by the Punahou student titled "Promise of Justice" won the $1,500 grand prize from the Hawai'i Bar Association in a 2008 video contest open to all comers.

President Obama attended Punahou School in the 1970s.