SIFF's lineup includes films by students as young as 11: "Technicolor Love"; "We Wonder, We Create"; and "Our Hijabs" are part of Adobe Youth Voices, a nonprofit program that trains teachers and students in multimedia.
The future is in the hands of the Seattle International Film Festival.
Three films in the festival’s lineup introduce moviemakers as young as 11. They tackle such hefty topics as war, love and identity as part of Adobe Youth Voices, a nonprofit program that trains and provides multimedia equipment for teachers and students from low-income areas. Now in its fifth year, the program has engaged more than 64,000 kids in 45 countries. And in the last couple of years, it has showcased the videos at local film festivals, such as SIFF.
“We take children who have never used scissors to use computers,” said Marisa Vitiello, who leads the Seattle program. Her jurisdiction covers eight schools, including Chief Sealth International High School, Big Picture School and the Chinese Information and Service Center.
One of the standout students this year is Brooke Sarver.
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“I had a five-minute Claymation film where I wanted to portray love and its different obstacles,” said Sarver, who produced the film “Love Stems.” “I wanted to show how you should never give up on love.”
The 14-year-old Chief Sealth student then used her new skills in a video for her campaign as sophomore class vice president.
The program is “incredibly empowering” for students like Sarver who otherwise don’t have the resources to discover filmmaking, said her science teacher, Nancy Ruzycki.
“Adobe is the equalizing force for students to have that edge” said Ruzycki, who has applied for the Adobe Youth Voices grant. “They take a child’s idea seriously.”
Trainers include teachers from Reel Grrls, a Seattle video school, and animators from films such as “Coraline.”
All of the local films are available online, but just three are featured at SIFF: “We Wonder, We Create,” a film about the creative process by fourth- and fifth-graders from South Shore School; “Technicolor Love,” a stop-motion movie about love by Rachel Townsend of Chief Sealth; and “Our Hijabs,” a piece about elementary-school girls discussing the significance of the Muslim headdress by West Seattle Elementary School students. These films open for other movies at SIFF this week and next.
“The kids drive the film,” said Sara Waldron, a fifth-grade teacher who guided her 2008 class on “Our Hijabs.” “We start with questions, asking them about what is important. We come up with background; they read about it. We watch other pieces, and we drill down further with more questions. This way we create something more open and personal.”
It’s a process that requires patience, says 11-year-old Jamyn Patu, who illustrated the animations for “We Wonder, We Create.” He learned that with stop motion, a half-hour of work could equal only one second of airtime.
Yet, he said, he would “do it all again.”
Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or firstname.lastname@example.org