The Teen Experience, Through Their Eyes

Project VoiceScape, led by the documentary program POV, paired middle- and high-school artists nationwide with experienced filmmakers to tell the stories these teens see influencing the lives around them. The following short films were among the top teen documentaries and grant winners in a 2011 competition. Project VoiceScape is a project of Adobe Youth Voices, Adobe Foundation’s global signature philanthropy program; POV, public television’s award-winning showcase for independent nonfiction films; and PBS.

WINNER: BEST DOCUMENTARY

This Gay and Age

Through a series of interviews with gay teens, Morgan Wilcock of Minneapolis examines the influence of media and culture on how teens deal with sexual identity. "Television programs, popular songs, and news reports either strongly advocate gay and lesbian expression or suppress it, rarely finding middle ground. Students, as a result, are forced to make drastic decisions about where they stand on the issue, for better or worse," she says.

WINNER: MOST INSPIRING DOCUMENTARY

The DREAMER

In The DREAMER, Emileigh Potter of San Antonio, Texas, tells the story of a Benny Veliz, a talented student who was brought the United States as a child and is now ineligible for legal residency. "I hope the audience will take [away] that not all illegal immigrants are 'criminals,'” the young filmmaker says. “They want to live the American Dream. They want to get the best education that they deserve."

The Haves and the Have Nots

Madena Henderson of Troy, N.Y., found inspiration for her documentary in the process of applying to college. In The Haves and Have Nots, she looks at the obstacles students who come from financially challenged backgrounds face as they considered higher education and the debt it will carry, and she seeks to encourage them not to give up.

Little Steps

In Little Steps, Matthew Seife of Scarsdale, N.Y., tells the story of the Miracle League, a baseball league for children on the Autism spectrum. He drew on his own experiences volunteering with autistic and special needs children, and sought to show how much disabled youth can gain in camaraderie and life skills from participating in sports.

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