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San Diego student filmmakers examine issues that assault their communities

LatinaLista — What happens when video cameras are put into the hands of teenagers and they are instructed to create films about the American Dream, community violence and immigration?
Three powerful documentaries, one which was selected to be screened earlier this month at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City.

Elly from Fighting Community Violence
The films were made by teenagers participating in the Teen Producers Project of the Media Arts Center San Diego. The students come from various San Diego neighborhoods and the films were an exploration of these three issues and their impact on the people in their communities.
The young filmmakers worked with media arts instructors from the Center and learned the whole process of how to put a documentary together, from research and interviews to filming and editing.
The three films, “Perspectives of the American Dream,” “I Want My Parents Back,” and “Fighting Community Violence,” present three different stories with a common thread — each issue has a profound impact on its community.

In “Perspectives of the American Dream,” teens compare and contrast the experiences of individuals from two specific San Diego communities, East African Refugees and Latinos, in order to examine the opportunities and obstacles these two communities face as they attempt to establish a life for themselves in a new city and country.
I Want My Parents Back” focuses on the issue of immigration by highlighting the story of a local San Diego family, the Muñoz family. Teens explore the ways the current immigration policy in their community affects the lives of its residents. This film was screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Fighting Community Violence” has teen producers documenting the effects gang violence has on former gang members, emphasizing the consequences of joining a gang as well as providing positive alternatives to participating in gang activity.

If you happen to live in the San Diego area, you’ll be able to see a free screening of each of these films, and the world premiere of “Perspectives of the American Dream” on Friday, June 27. However, if you don’t live near San Diego, some of the films are available to watch online, as well as, past film projects.
If these films are any indication, this generation is finally learning how to use the power of words and images and that’s a potent weapon when combined.

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