You know when a baby—a small baby—will do something AMAZING, like, say, math? Or a child will finger-paint a picture of a horse that looks like a literal flesh horse? Or a teenager will make a full-length feature film that is actually not horrible (or, for that matter, a teenager will do anything that is actually not horrible)? Amazing! And then you realize that you're 27 and the best thing you've ever made is a tuna casserole (and—let's be honest here—the cream of mushroom soup did most of the work)? It's a bummer, really. Cut it out, gifted kids. You're depressing to be around.

So clearly NFFTY—the National Film Festival for Talented Youth—is my arch-nemesis AND we are in a blood feud AND it's dead to me AND we're two households both alike in dignity AND stay off my land, fancy boy! Because the kids involved in NFFTY (founded in 2007 and featuring exclusively work by filmmakers 22 and younger—some as young as 7) are super-staggeringly full of potential. They are doing amazing things. Jerks.

The Reunion of Amilia Marbleberry and Marcy Stills is a small, emotional, sometimes-funny feature by Michael Tucker, age 22, about two childhood friends estranged by misunderstanding and teenage anxiety. Marcy and Amilia, now college age, haven't seen each other since middle school. Marcy is crippled by an OCD-fueled fear of liquids and doorknobs; Amilia's mom died, and she's been lost ever since ("Well, basically, I don't have any friends and I don't do anything and I don't go to school"). There's not much to the film—the girls slowly get reacquainted through quiet, loaded conversation and the requisite climactic outburst—but it's an impressively sweet, honest little thing.

Another full-length feature, Perfect Sport (by Anthony O'Brien, 21), is more polished than Reunion—professional production values, a recognizable face or two—but the gloss detracts a bit from NFFTY's scrappy, DIY aesthetic. It's a sports movie (troubled high-school wrestler tries to protect sister while learning lessons from tough yet inspiring yet rageaholic coach), which means clichés abound: "In life, you can learn more from your enemy than you ever can from your friend," says Coach. But, to indulge in a sports cliché (because I do what I want!), Perfect Sport has heart. O'Brien sank his teeth in deep and it shows.

The short films, though, are where NFFTY really reveals itself as the great big delicious stew of potential that it is. Fairytales, by Travis Walton Waugh, age 20, seems suspiciously mawkish at first, until a deft turn to magical realism saves the day. Chicken Cowboy, an animated wonder by Stephen Neary, age 22—about a chicken who is also a cowboy armed with a magnifying glass and a penchant for cat spanking—could be on Adult Swim tonight with zero adjustments. Goddamn amazing.

See this, kids? Yeah. It's a can of tuna. Skr-skr-skr. Hear that? That's the sound of me opening up your doom with this can opener. Just wait until next year's NTCFTTCM (National Tuna Casserole Festival for Talented Tuna Casserole Makers). Bring it, talented youth. I will destroy you and you will cry. Skr-skr-skr. recommended

NFFTY runs Fri–Sun April 24–26 at various locations.