Can a Movie Become a Movement?: April 2015


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Graduate students in the Culture, Politics, and Reform course in the Educational Administration program brought school reform to the forefront through their first annual film festival. Filmmakers scheduled two free showings for general audiences. The first festival was launched at Kent State University’s KIVA on Wednesday, April 22nd from 5:00-8:00. The second showing took place on Monday, April 27th at Akron’s new independent movie theater Night Light Cinema in the heart of the city’s art district.

These independent first-time filmmakers worked at the grassroots level as teachers, school leaders, intervention specialists, and counselors. They are committed to distributing new material, voices, and points of view regarding important topics facing schools. Students hope their short films engage and inspire diverse audiences to take action. These films are equally diverse in content and style ranging from experimental work to documentaries to everything between. What do they all have in common? These films spark critical debate and a call to action in 10 minutes or less.

The film festivals were open and free to the public. 

Here’s what some of the attendees had to say:

“These films were powerful. I couldn't believe these were teachers doing this work. It moved me. I could feel their passion when they presented. I couldn't stop taking notes. I never saw so many children’s faces on film before. We often forget the power of a child’s voice and push aside their families. These films reminded me of why I entered education long ago and what is missing in our schools now.”

“I liked how some of the films helped us think about what school should be and what it could be. I wish more schools would learn from films like this.”

“I wish school was like this for me and my friends. I was struck by the students who shared their stories about being gay. I felt so sad inside knowing they didn't have a place to fit in, but now, because of the Gay Straight Alliance, they have a place they call home.”

“I liked the film about providing young adults with challenges a place they can take pride in themselves instead of people thinking they can’t do. I liked how the filmmakers brought this to my attention. I didn't even know this existed. Thank you.”

“I got all choked up and teary-eyed when the kids were speaking about wanting to find friends who accepted them. It took me back to my high school years. It’s great to see high school students become activists and promote safe schools for all students, especially those who are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/queer). I didn't expect to be moved like that…but I was. I thought they were courageous and liked meeting some of the people who were in the films after seeing them.”

“I hope there will be a way for people who couldn't attend the show to see the films. Some of these films were unbelievable.”

Filmmakers also plan to submit their films for consideration at the University Council of Educational Administration’s 2015 national conference film festival in San Diego, California. This series of curated collections center on school reform efforts in K-12 American schools.

We would like to thank the following people:

Thank you to Dr. Mark Kretovics, Interim Director for Foundations, Leadership, and Administration in EHHS, for believing in this work and funding the project.

Thank you to the Kiva student crew for helping us set up the films and hosting the event.

A special thank you to Kurtiss, the manager and director at the Akron Night Light Cinema, for providing us with a phenomenal venue and voluntarily formatting all of the films for the highest quality viewing possible.

Thank you to the 82 businesses who allowed us to post the event in their restaurants and stores in Kent and Akron.

Thank you to the panelists for taking time out of their busy schedules and sharing their experiences and expertise with the audiences.

Thank you to Dr. Chinasa Elue and Mandy Miller for helping me (Dr. Christa Boske) talk with people and promote the event in the Student Center.

Thank you to all of the people who attended the event and supported the students’ work.