As another year has passed at the successful conclusion of the Tribeca Film Festival for 2015, many aspiring filmmakers made their promising marks and debuts on a key red carpet. Furthermore Tribeca organizers along with its visionary founder Robert DiNiro are forging a new path for the next generation of filmmakers. As they made their own budding debut appearance on the Tribeca red carpet, it is the hopeful first of many more to come.
Energy, restlessness, and enthusiasm; all summed up as a fieldtrip assembly away from the necessary monotony of school. It’s a party celebrating young talent – at least in this make-shift world of Hollywood dreams come true. Kids were everywhere bustling with pride and excitement as they represented their respective schools while on the edge of their seats to see their collective imaginations projected on a motion pictured screen.
Tribeca Teaches is a branched out program of the Tribeca Film Institute that creates educational programming which empowers young people to learn the craft of film while honing media skills in order to produce ground-breaking projects. The program is quite unique because it utilizes their extensive network of industry professionals to help mold these emerging artists into dynamic creatives for the 21st century.
Over the course of the calendar year Tribeca Teaches pairs students with teaching artists to work collaboratively to explore the craft of film theory and apprenticeship. During and after-school settings provide the creative environment designed to learn core standards tooled with the curricula of Cinema. They apply the state of the art media, technology, and equipment which help them explore the critical connections between personal experiences and the communities in which they reside.
Twenty-seven films in all, participating schools got pumped up as two rap artists celebrated their accomplishments. The exhilaration was high as the big moment approached. Perhaps the reason for it can be found in the pre-meditated purpose of the program. Education Director Vee Bravo explains to the audience
” The idea is to bring filmmaking education to young people who live in communities that are traditionally underrepresented. Hence, we tend to partner with schools and community organizations located in neighborhoods with concentrations of 1) low income residents, 2) newcomer/immigrant populations, 3) youth who identify as LGBTQ, and 4) young women. As a result we’ve partnered with schools and community orgs such as Brooklyn International HS, the Ali Forney Center, Manhattan Academy for Arts & Languages, and Harlem Renaissance HS.”
There was even representation from Los Angeles based in the Lynwood Area.
These short subject films screened consecutively as each school roared and screamed when they saw themselves appearing larger than life on the big screen. If there’s one thing the films demonstrated; it was how astute the kids are on world issues and human behavior. Where adults might shield them to protect their naivety, these students show that the current society at hand doesn’t leave much room for their innocence. The tackled subjects like poverty, race, obesity, bullying, teenage parenthood, peer pressure, and teens who are incarcerated (which is demonstrated by a special program partnered with Rikers Island involving young inmates who tell their stories through film).
There are teaching artists guiding them as hands on examples of what the students can be as they all tell their stories. These artists help brainstorm ideas from their experiences, then shape them into stories, finally putting them on film.
“TFI hires Teaching Artists who work independent of the school yet in partnership with classroom teachers and after-school administrators. The majority of our Teaching Artists are active filmmakers and arts professionals with experience in narrative and documentary film. At the start of the program, each Teaching Artists visits the school and classroom where he/she will teach and develop a curriculum tailored to the needs and strengths of the student population. Each program starts in November and ends in May of each year. Teaching Artists typically work with students twice a week, either in a classroom or after-school setting”
While sitting in the audience, there is a special air where a student is watching themselves on screen and taken to another level because they’ve now told their own story in a powerful way. They are also sending messages about what they go through. One notable recurring theme were films titled “Where I’m From” which constantly showed montages of cultural life and ethnic traditions in the inner cities of the New York Boroughs. Flanked by a heartfelt voice-over citing family life and economic struggle, overall it was always (as with each of the films) a strong declaration of pride and identity.
Of course there are numerous programs across the five boroughs that cater to students learning the craft of film in schools but Tribeca stands out as the screening event which specifically celebrates films produced on the sole purpose of – as Vee Bravo puts it:
”To inspire young people to define themselves and their communities through their own perspective; inspire young people to develop creative autonomy; inspire young people to feel good about working collaboratively.”
A sentiment Robert DiNiro can only be proud to see come to fruition especially for the future.
For more information about this program go to tribecafilminstitute.org.