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Beyond Bullets at True/False Film Festival |
This past weekend, I made my annual visit to Columbia, MO for the True/False Film Festival. This documentary festival is just amazing. From world-class films to local community involvement, every detail is impeccably cared for and the lovely town comes together for discussion about important issues, charming storytelling hours and party after late-night party.
There were two films at the festival this year that particularly inspired our work here at Beyond Bullets: Steve James' The Interrupters, about our friends at CeaseFire Chicago and To Be Heard by Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Roland Legiardi-Laura and Amy Sultan, about three incredible teens in a poetry writing workshop in the South Bronx.
In 2009, we filmed with Ameena and Ricardo, CeaseFire's violence interrupters from the Englewood site, who are two of the three subjects of The Interrupters. Steve James, director of the seminal Hoop Dreams, spent over a year with CeaseFire, filming their difficult, dangerous and important work as real-life superheroes in communities where cyclical violence is ever-present.
CeaseFire Chicago's founder, Gary Slutkin, is not the first person to use a public health approach to gun violence -- David Kennedy's Ceasefire deserves credit for initializing this approach -- but The Interrupters focuses primarily on the story of three committed, remarkable people who risk their lives every day for the sake of their communities, turning their own lives around and making a difference. We can't wait to spread the word about this film. Check it out here: The Interrupters.
To Be Heard is another remarkable, hopeful film about three young poets in the South Bronx. These teens are enrolled in the Power Writers Program, a poetry and writing workshop at Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, and you can see from the exceptional quality of their writing and the beautiful friendships they've developed that this program is the best thing that's happened to them.
We're always trying to spread the word about positive alternatives to violence in the communities where we work, and we hope this film does great things for the Power Writers Program. We're so happy that the film is positive and hopeful, too, because more urban teenage stories deserve to be that way! Learn more about the film here.