Thursday, April 29, 2010

San Francisco Film Festival

(left) The amazing students of the S.R. Martin School in Bay View.

April 28th, 2010
As part of the two week film festival here, the
education team set up a number of screenings for schools around the Bay area. Fresh off the plane to NY, I was driven to the S.F. School for the Arts where about 80 young people were just finishing up watching the film. Since they were mostly all involved in theater in some way or other, they were thrilled by the movie and they related to the St. Mark's kids. The Q & A session was interrupted by the bell way too soon, but they gave me a tour of the facility, and I declared Scott Eberhardt, the teacher in charge, to be one of the super-heroes of the world. The following day, I went to the theater where most of the films in the festival are being screened. There were students from several schools in attendance, grades 5 through 12. Again, I was amazed by the attention that the kids gave to the film and how deeply involved they were in the story. One of my favorite schools was the S.R. Martin School which is located in Bay View. There are only 22 students in this whole school, grades 5 through 12. They were an incredible group of young people with a dedicated teacher and principal, and as we said goodbye, they informed me that they wanted to make a documentary about their school. Why? I asked them. "Because each one of us has a story," one young woman told me. "And this school is special." Imagine feeling that way about your school and fellow students! Afterwards, I went to the The Head Royce School, a private school in Oakland. I arrived just as the documentary film class had finished watching After The Storm. We only had forty-five minutes of Q & A, and because these kids wanted to know EVERYTHING about the making of the doc, this seemed way too brief. Then onto a screening at the Oakland School for the Arts, where 100 kids were gathered together in a cafeteria. I stood on a stage with a mic to answer the questions, and as always, the question was asked: "Do you stay in touch with the kids in the film?" I reported that Ashley is now attending Columbia College in Chicago, Jon is transferring to Long Island University to study voice next year, Grant has changed his major from musical theater to Islamic and Hebrew Studies, Joel is awaiting her acceptance to The Manhattan School of Music (fingers crossed), Griffin was accepted to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance in NYC and Desiree´is now working as a P.A. on the HBO series Treme´. These are major accomplishments in the lives of our kids-- and major milestones for us as we watch them advance into the world of adulthood. Amazing to me that it is has been three years since we did this production of Once On This Island in New Orleans. Even more amazing that five years has passed since Hurricane Katrina. As the immediacy of the disaster begins to fade from the public mind, After The storm Foundation remains committed to the idea that Art (i.e. music, dance, and theater) can be more than just an extracurricular activity for a kid. Art can become the means by which young people redefine their relationship not only to themselves but also to their community -- and to the world at large.