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Freedom Institute Launches Pilot Program Turning Young Clients into Documentary Filmmakers

Film project

image via flickr - lifebeginsat50mm

Freedom Institute is partnering with Old School Films in an effort to supplement services for a select group of teen-aged clients. Under the direction of filmmaking mentors, these teens will learn technical skills for making a documentary film and then be partnered with a local senior citizen who they will profile in their films. The program was originally developed to link inner-city youth who want to tell stories with older people who have stories to tell. It grew from a personal experience of Old School Film’s Executive Director Aaron Lubarsky. “Over ten years ago I was teaching video production to kids in Harlem. Around this time my grandmother started showing signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s. When I would visit her, I was really saddened by the neglect of what was a whole life before her illness.” So Aaron started pairing curious kids with senior citizens. Now the program is a fixture at Citizen Schools which offers extended learning days to kids.

Luckily, Aaron is also a longtime friend of Carrie Sanders, Director of the Freedom Institute Family Program. “I had a session with a teenager who wanted to get involved in after-school activities but couldn’t find a film or photography program,” said Carrie. “That night I happened to have dinner with Aaron - there was no coincidence.”

The program at FI will be an eight-week course starting next week. For three weeks the participants will learn the basics of equipment, shooting, directing and editing. Then they will be partnered with a senior at a local center. After filming their interviews they will be responsible for editing with deadlines. The project culminates in screenings at both the senior center as well as FI.

Carrie, as well as the rest of the FI staff, is very excited about the new program, “Ideally, we want to see kids expand their social networks, boost their self-esteem and potentially reduce their risk-taking behaviors.”

We will keep you updated.

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