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They Built a Film Festival and Created a Community Event

By LeaderTalk Contributor — April 21, 2009 2 min read

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Our school hosted a international school film festival last week. The Shanghai Student Film Festival is in its second year. It was a wonderful event that allowed the students in our “little” city of Shanghai to come together to celebrate the art of film making and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Amanda DeCardy writes on U-Tech-Tips a great summary of the event. She writes it was one of the most rewarding professional experiences of her career. Why she asks?:

The number of students from international schools across Shanghai and across the world that were able to participate and be a part of this event were inspiring to me. Elementary students, middle school, high school… all were represented and each and every one of them brought something unique to the festival. From the gregarious student to the shy student, many students were able to explore learning 21st century style by telling stories using film as the medium. As Scott McCloud mentioned in his opening S2F2 speech, films are still a relatively new medium and the potential to discover new things using film is great indeed.

Scott McCloud was in attendance at the event, having spent the week in the city seeing a few things while in Shanghai. Most importantly, he spent his week interacting with our students and learning from them as they learned from him.

From what I can see, the film festival brought more than a bunch of kids together who worked hard in their after school hours. Instead, I saw a passionate bunch of learners coming together to share their learning. Yes... learning! Students were engaged. They learned planning. They learned dedication. The learned about the power of creativity, collaboration in the spirit of competition. There were winners and losers, but frankly speaking, the winners and losers were all equally happy no matter what the result. Most interestingly, the community that was created also created an audience and that audience was left wanting more.

Let’s face facts. Our kids toil over detail work for projects and grades. Their work, while sometimes fun and enjoyable, often heads to the dark closets of their parents memories for a few years and that is it. Some schools (not many) have invested in infrastructure to “preserve” the work for portfolios and digital records. Kids will work hours and hours on a project, fulfil the requirements and then have a simple number or letter grade assigned based on a rubric. Some just get grades based on a teacher’s opinion. None of the work ever gains an audience. This is not the case in these films. I observed work that was clearly created for course assignments. I observed biographies, science labs and humanities projects all created with the dedication of the students who are driven to succeed. The difference is the community recognized the work as their own. A film was a part of them. Our festival included student written narratives, documentaries, public service announcements, animations, and more. I laughed. I cried (really!). I was proud.

I’ve loved working with David Gran, Mikey McKillip, Jonathan Chambers, Amanda DeCardy and all of the others on the board for this event.

You want to start your own Film Festival? Start here. David Gran has done a great job on a prexi to tell you how and he has created a wonderful ning site as well on International Student Film Festivals.

Check out the webpage: //www.shanghaifilmfest.org/ for further information. I predict an expansion of the festival in years to come.

Andrew Torris
This entry has been reposted on “Sentiments On Common Sense”

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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