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Another kind of red carpet: why we need more of these

Here’s just a little taste of the energy that was the 2010 Greenfield Youth Film Festival.

Last night I attended a different kind of red carpet event. Moms and dads performed chauffeur duty.  Minivans replaced limousines. The few tuxedos I spotted were nattily accessorized with flip flops. 

Over the past couple of years, here in this blog, I’ve showcased the digital storytelling efforts of many of our students.  Last night, the creative work of several of our students, and learners all over our region, were appropriately validated.

The 2010 Greenfield Youth Film Festival highlighted the work of high school filmmakers.  Students from ten local city and suburban schools participated in and attended this 2nd annual event, held at our lovely, neighborhood Keswick Theatre.

This was no passive audience.  As I looked around the audience last night I saw gears turning.  I saw so much learning happening in that dark theater as students discovered new creative ideas, innovative technical strategies, so many alternate possibilities for telling and sharing stories.

I saw teachers, like our own Dan Meder, considering all those new ideas they will be incorporating in their media curricula in the next school year and in years to come.

Last night was assessment at its best, at its purest.  Not a single red pen or Number 2 pencil or bubble test in sight. They weren’t missed.

What I saw last night were students justly proud of their work, also eagerly celebrating each others’ brilliant  accomplishments. 

The evening celebrated students’ abilities to use their brains, their hearts, their voices, as well as the technological tools available to them, to:

  • imagine
  • plan
  • organize
  • write
  • syntesize
  • create
  • invent
  • tell a story
  • collaborate
  • communicate
  • invent
  • share
  • entertain
  • contribute
  • attempt to make a difference

I asked festival director and Temple professor Dustin Morrow about the importance of programs like Greenfield:

This progam gives students the respect their productions deserve. It gives them a voice and it gives them an outlet to learn about media creation.

This is the most digitally connected generation in history. They’re going to have all the power very soon. It’s important to have them learn early about the responsible and the maturity involved in making good media production. That’s partly what this program does.

Some background on the Festival:

Back in January, participating students attended a day-long filmmaking event with workshops in writing, directing, editing, sound, and cinematography workshops taught by prominent media industry professionals and university professors. 

Following that winter event, students had had two months to produce their own short films in one of three categories: documentary/personal essay, fiction/narrative, and experimental/other.

Entries were judged by a prestigious panel of established media professionals and university professors and the top films were screened.

The Greenfield Youth Film Festival is funded generously by the Greenfield Foundation-Rosenberg Fund.

For more information about the program, visit the festival wiki and Facebook page

Though not all entries are yet uploaded, the Festival’s YouTube Channel will soon share all the videos screened last night, as well as many others.

It is important to recognize, that programs like the Greenfield Festival are replicable. 

While funding, and beautiful venues, and scholarship gifts are wonderful, sharing and celebrating the work of creative digital learners can happen at any scale!

Red carpets can come cheap.  They can even be virtual.

(Here are some Springfield-specific memories of the night.)

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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