Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tribeca Teaches: My First Time at The Tribeca Film Festival

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the Tribeca Teaches showcase at the Tribeca Film Festival. Having lived in NYC-metro for 7 years I've heard so much about the celebrated festival but had never actually went so I was excited I was able to share the experience with my sister, Ariane.

Prior to being invited I didn't know what the Tribeca Teaches program was, and I did a quick study: as part of the Tribeca Film Institute, Tribeca Teaches is an after-school intensnive program that pairs filmmakers with students to create films from the ground up: writing, producing and directing their own films. Seeing the students full of pride when they walked the red carpet and gathered for pictures on the step and repeat made me smile and remember being in high school - an opportunity like this definitely would've been thrilling! Many of the students were from NYC area school especially Harlem and Queens with L.A. and Korea represented as well.

Before sitting down for the screening, I was thrilled to be able to interview a few of the filmmakers - their passion for their jobs was infectious and made me very excited to see what the completed projects . . .

Teaching Artist Silas Howard and Teaching Assistant Ebony Gay's film Burnt explored the economy of Starbucks and its effect on 125th ST, a topic I've thought about especially in regards to gentrification. It was Ebony's 2nd year mentoring students through Tribeca Teaches and together they inspire LGBT students ages 13-24 at the Ali Forney Center (and they take volunteers too so if you're local definitely look them up!).

Teaching Artist, Hena Ashraf works with students at The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem. As a product of single-sex education, I was especially interested to hear about her experience working with her students - just as I experienced growing up, she found her students liberated by being in a single-sex environment. They could really focus on their work and not trying to impress the opposite sex. Her students' film Black Cross was a mini-thriller about one student's friendship with a fellow art student. It packed a punch in just a few minutes!

Teaching Artists Julian Klepper and Philip Swift, from Heritage High School and Harlem Renaissance School, respectively, were infectiously enthusiastic about their students! Julian's students' film The Education was a mockumentary about a group of students who may be losing their jobs - it definitely left me wanting more and I could see it expand into a mini-series/webisode format! Philip's students' film Children of the Common Core was a thriller about the effects of the common core on students. As someone who didn't grow up in NYC schools but has heard plenty about common core, it was interesting to hear the audience full of students groan and laugh as they empathized with certain parts of the film.

If you have the opportunity to attend the Tribeca Film Festival - and the Tribeca Teaches screening especially - I highly recommend it! In a sea of troubling news about youth it's hopeful to see such talent and creativity coming from students. 

Want to get involved? Tribeca Teaches programs are often looking for volunteers. Visit the website for more information!