In a suburb outside of Seattle, a group of teenage outsiders drift through spaces outside of home and school structured environments. Blending documentary and fictional genres, the camera observes Weihong, Sara, Randy, Cory, and Luke as they search for meaning free from the confines of authority within art, music shows, and each other. While walking home from school one day, Sara sees the dead body of a boy her age near the public library. Stunned, she freezes and retreats inward rather than going to an adult. Details slowly emerge that the boy was accidentally killed by the hands of another youth while playing around with his father’s gun. As Sara traverses her internal world of coping with a traumatic experience, her friends navigate their own feelings as the shocking details emerge in murmurs throughout the community. Lake Forest Park tells a melancholic yet visceral coming-of-age story of a group of youth discovering their own purpose, while they are forced to confront their own mortality for the first time. 


Growing into adolescence in the early 2000s, I was a teenage outsider. When I finally found my fellow outsiders, we forged an unbreakable bond. We made art and engrossed ourselves in the counter-culture of shows that took place in basements, and the back of pizza shops. In a pre-social media era, we endured suburban boredom together. Many of my friends came from broken homes, and liminal spaces outside became our refuge. Our youth was melancholic, but our future hopeful. We were post-1990s teenagers, and favored making art and playing in bands over drugs and alcohol. We weren’t wistful for the 90s, a time we never really knew. Instead, we were present for the music and culture that was directly in front of us, and all we wanted was to be a part of it.

When I was in 8th grade, the boy who sat next to me in science class disappeared one day. My friends and I wondered where he was, and why he stopped coming to class. Through murmurs in the halls, we slowly pieced together the story: after school one day at the public library, that same boy accidentally shot and killed his friend with his father’s gun. He panicked, hid the injured friend, fled the scene on foot, and threw the gun in a lake. A group of students found the body of the boy that evening, and in their shock and confusion, didn’t tell an adult. The incident prompted many of us to consider our own mortality for the very first time.

This film is a love-letter to my youth in the suburban Pacific Northwest: in honor of those who didn’t fit in and bravely pursued their own distinct path, when the easier route was to follow the herd. It’s a film for the kids who are bullied and called freaks, who search for love and purpose despite coming from broken homes devoid of stability. The film also retells a story of how a tragedy shaped me and my peers’s adolescence.

I was born and raised in Lake Forest Park, Washington outside of Seattle. This story takes place in the early 2000’s in the places and at the time where it happened to me. Lake Forest Park is inspired by a true story about outsiders, identity, tragedy, memory, and discovery. 



”the more honestly you put yourself into the story,
the more that story will concern others as well.”
-Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Kersti Jan Werdal was born and raised in Lake Forest Park, Washington. She moved to New York City at age 21 and developed a career in arts management before earning a BFA in Sociocultural Anthropology with honors from Columbia University in 2017. While there, she made her first film: an observational documentary about an Italian ceramic studio. After deciding to pursue filmmaking full-time, she was accepted to the MFA program in Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts with a Lilian Disney scholarship, where she will graduate in May 2020.

Her films have shown at Now Instant Image Hall, Zebulon, MonoNoAware, and Blum & Poe in Los Angeles; Anthology Film Archives and Union Docs in New York; The San Diego Underground Film Festival; The Portland Museum of Modern Art; RVCA Gallery in Australia; and 0fr Gallery in Paris.

Today her favorite film is: Streetwise by Mary Ellen Mark and Martin Bell (1984)

Click to see Kersti’s films and website