October 29, 2014 | Fly By Light | Wilmington, DE
I pulled up in front of one of Wilmington’s oldest churches and was greeted by the principal of Urban Promise, a high school that provides a more holistic education. Although the youth were initially a little boisterous (as is common after lunchtime), once the film began they were perhaps the most engaged and responsive audience of the whole tour – laughing at all the jokes, nodding their heads, actively listening. The screening was followed by a 90-minute dynamic discussion, where many of the youth and teachers opened up personally about their connections to the stories in the film. I was not only moved by their honesty and vulnerability but also inspired by their curiosity about the process of making the film. A few budding young filmmakers approached me after to thank me for sharing a story that directly related to their experience. A couple of hours later at the simply stunning Queen Theater down the road, I had the amazing opportunity to screen the film to an audience composed predominantly of teachers. After helping ourselves to the most delicious spread of roasted vegetables, chicken wings and guacamole, we formed a discussion circle, facilitated by a Queen Theater board member and principal of a local elementary school. Having spent the afternoon listening to young people reflect on their struggles to transform themselves, it was fascinating to then spend the evening hearing from teachers describe the challenges of making a difference in children’s lives, especially when they have so little control over what happens outside of their classroom. How much can you take on? When do you let go? Teachers shared how important it is to begin this kind of social and emotional learning at a younger age, connecting the youth they work with everyday to the teenagers they saw in the film. It was the perfect way to end the tour, pulling apart, questioning and dreaming of ways to best support positive transformation in our youth.
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Ellie Walton.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.