Emmy Award-winning documentary from Jane C. Wagner and Tina DiFeliciantonio takes a disarming look into the lives of teenage girls, working to shape their identities in the ’90s. Girls Like Us streams free until Friday, August 26 as part of ITVS’s Indies Showcase.
An ethnically diverse group of four working class girls strut, flirt, and testify in this vibrant, affecting portrait of teenage girls’ experiences of sexuality. Filmed in South Philadelphia and following its subjects from the ages of 14 to 18, Girls Like Us reveals the conflicts of growing up female by examining the impact of class, sexism, and violence on the dreams and expectations of young girls.
The Horse Boy, (airing Tuesday, May 11 at 10 PM, check local listings) explores one family’s unforgettable journey as they travel halfway across the world in search of a miracle to heal their autistic son. On April 21st, WHYY and Community Cinema hosted a screening of The Horse Boy in Philadelphia. More than 200 people packed the venue, including many parents who are raising children with Autism. To create engagement opportunities, ITVS awarded WHYY’s Learning Lab a grant to support the Family Media Project, an innovative video project that explores how three local families have engaged in their child’s autism diagnosis. Candid and eye-opening, the project not only provides a platform for education but a forum for families to tell their own stories. Parent Bill Zukovsky shares his experience working with the Family Media Project:
Bill Zukovsky with his son Andrew
Wow… What an amazing experience! I couldn’t believe I was going to have a camera on my shoulder and a microphone wrapped around my arm while I tried to capture what it was like to be my son, Andrew. There is no way I would even take a photograph, let alone video tape something that was going to be shown online. What was I thinking taking on this project? But let me tell you something, I’m glad I did.
I got plenty of footage of Andrew in school, playing around the house, and more interviews than I can even use. But what happened next would stay with me for a lifetime. Sitting in the editing room, I got to see the raw footage and what I saw just amazed me. For the first time, I sat back and got to see how other people, both Andrew’s peers and the adults in his life, saw him. How accepting they have become of him and all his quirks, and how he is starting to fit in with the world around him. The longer the editing went, and the more we attempted to get everything under the five minute time limit, the more my chest swelled. Of course, while I’m sitting there barking orders — “No, I don’t like that” … “Cut it here” … “That has to be in there somewhere!” — I’m choking back the tears of joy in seeing my son join a world that I never thought he would enter.
The WHYY Learning Lab creates an opportunity to help others understand what it’s like to be you; your problems, your issues, your trials, and your triumphs. But during the process, I learned a lot, and not just about how to frame a shot or cut a clip. I learned that my son has come a long way in his development. He does have the capability to lead a typical life. He has a lot to offer the people around him and can teach them about patience and understanding. It gives me hope and desire to keep giving Andrew all the opportunity I can to make his life something great.
- Bill Zukovsky, participant in the WHYY Learning Lab’s Family Media Project
The Horse Boy will air nationally on Independent Lens on May 11 at 10:00 PM on PBS (check local listings).
Last night, Community Cinema hosted a screening of the Independent Lens film The Eyes of Me at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Pa. The film follows four visually impaired teenagers in Texas as they face the usual challenges of adolescence while simultaneously learning to navigate a world designed for the sighted. Regional Outreach Coordinator Cindy Burstein gives an overview of what happened and discusses the local impact.
The panel –– organized to represent an intergenerational view on being blind –– shared personal experiences as compared to those in the film.
The lobby of the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia was bustling with activity, as volunteers gathered for the Community Cinema screening of The Eyes of Me.
Fran Fulton, a staff person with Liberty Resources, Inc. (a partner in presenting the event) was busy training a Villanova University sorority on how to serve as sighted guides. Fulton, who is blind, reminded the volunteers that some of the most basic things that sighted people take for granted are important to remember when assisting blind people, such as telling them which direction the seat is facing, and placing the hand of the blind person on the seat in front of them as a way to guide them into an available chair, which may be four or five seats down the row.
Audio describers from Amaryllis Theatre Company were setting up equipment for live audio description, and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters from the Deaf-Hearing Communication Center were getting acquainted with the space and ready to provide sign language interpretation for the panel discussion taking place after the film.
On Wednesday, September 23 at 6:30 PM, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia will host a Community Cinema screening of D TOUR with a special “Skype appearance” afterward by Pat Spurgeon from the indie rock band Rogue Wave.
D TOUR chronicles Spurgeon’s search for a living kidney donor and the challenges with finding a viable match. Learn about the myths and facts of organ donation from a panel of local experts and get a chance to ask Spurgeon questions about his life, what he’s learned and how he’s moving forward. Staff and volunteers from the Gift of Life Donor Program will also be on hand to sign up organ donors and answer your questions.
CRIPS AND BLOODS: Made in America, which examines the conditions that have led to the devastating gang violence among young African Americans growing up in South Los Angeles, played to a full house at The Rotunda, an arts and culture space in West Philadelphia. The event was co-presented by ITVS and WHYY, in partnership with the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network, Scribe Video Center and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Following the film, Cliff Akiyama, a former deputy sheriff and currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, led a panel discussion. Akiyama opened the Q&A with an impassioned plea to the audience––to look at the issue of gang violence with “open hearts and minds” and consider multiple approaches to a solution, beyond just law enforcement.
Other panelists included Darryl Coates, executive director of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network; Everett Gillison, deputy mayor of public safety; Dorothy Johnson-Speight, executive director of Mothers In Charge; and Jack Stollsteimer, Pennsylvania Safe Schools advocate and former federal prosecutor of drug gangs in Philadelphia.
Each of the panelists discussed the impact of violence in Philadelphia and in their personal lives. They stressed the importance the film played for being a tool to bridge a serious conversation about prevention and alternatives.
Questions came from teachers, who had been assaulted by students and wanted practical information about how to identify gang signs and symbols, and youth involved in community service on school grounds, probing suggestions about more ways to fully engage others.
Statistics were presented about the number of gangs in the United States, the number of weapons that enter Philadelphia’s public schools on a daily basis and the fact that the issue of gangs exists in many ethnic groups and a far-reaching problem. One parent became emotional when sharing her frustration about the personal challenges she faces when sending her children to school every day.
There was much more to discuss after the formal program ended, and many lingered afterward to talk with panelists and each other about resources and information. The turnout and level of seriousness during the Q&A showed the widespread concern and the number of people interested in getting involved to address this problem.
The film was certainly a powerful catalyst for bringing the Philadelphia community together around a common and heartfelt concern.