We wait as tiny body parts are attached to a figure on a conveyor belt. Cut to the next scene and thousands and thousands of the same man are standing in formation reminiscent of Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors. The camera pulls back and there are still thousands more. “An epic animation,” reads the title over blaring star militaristic music, a soundtrack composed by the maker of this clever cut out animation entitled, “Infitus Aedificio”.
In another video called Gangs and Violence, Reanna Buckanaga asks her peers, “Do you know anyone in a gang?” The answer to this, and other questions, are given by a young woman with long, black hair, and a t-shirt, which reads, “You Know You Love Me.” She tells us in front of her kitchen window and we are riveted by her honesty. Her firsthand accounts are interrupted by statistics, and pixilated images of staged fighting, which let us glimpse into this world.
These videos and others are part of this Saturday’s seventy-minute program at the Walker Art Center. It’s a youth curated show of some of the Twin Cities finest media makers. Videos in this showcase surprise you with their range in subjects and technical abilities. While it is obvious that some have great skill in front of the computer and behind the camera, the less technically sophisticated will wow you with
their honesty and pull no punches approach. Subjects such as identity,politics, gun violence, gay marriage, public service announcements, and pure artistic expression are woven together with hand held camera work and quick editing.
The Twin Cities Youth Media Network sponsors the showcase. It’s an
alliance made up of several organizations, some established and others
just beginning to blossom,, meant to support the growing youth media educators here in the Twin Cities. Youth media is experiencing an explosion here and across the country: Listen Up, and Manhattan
Neighborhood Network, Current TV produce fine work made by youth on many of these same issues.
Youth media educators come from all disciplines and backgrounds. Nancy Norwood, at the arts high school Perpich Center for Arts Education has been teaching young people the art of photography, and video making fornearly 25 years. As she sits in her office in front of a large Battleship Potemkin poster, she remembers using the old beta portapak.Students’ ideas haven’t changed;only techonlogy has.
“I see the challenge of creating curriculum the same way you might develop a video piece.” She says she loves teaching as much as making art. “In many ways, I haven’t changed the way I teach. It’s still moving
image and sound.“Students benefit from this program whether they attend art school or not. They learn how to problem solve and they think about things differently.”
Many TC programs are after school endeavors for students, unlike the rigorous experience at PCAE. For some, this might be their only exposure to media technology and their only opportunity to speak to issues in their community through video. While Norwood take pride in her work, she validates her peer’s work and says that their existence is essential.
Second-grader teacher Kirsten Slungaard experienced Media
Mike Hazard from the Center for International Education, where they embarked on a video haiku project. From there she made
her own documentaries as part of history class The first one about Walt Disney and the second about the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In this Saturday’s showcase here narrative short Ananke will screen. It’s about kids making choices.
“Films can have a brilliant impact,” she says.
“ I learn more about myself and the rest of the world more than any other meduium.” For her, the organizations, which are part of the Twin Cities Youth Media Network, bring people together in a field where its very nature is solitary..
Many of the participants and all of the curators for this festival are
young women. That”s no accident. Organizations like TV by
Girls and the Walker Art Center with its Girls in the Directors Chair
festival encourage and support young women media makers.
“The technology has become so accessible,” says Laura Robardsgantenbein. She is a member of the Walker Art Centers Teen Arts Council. Her filmmaking endeavors started as a hobby until she attended a Directing Divas workshop at the Walker Art Center.
Lily Ball is another media maker and curator for the festival. She
started out at Phillips Community Television and became so interested that she willl gaaduate fromPerpich Center for Arts Education this year.
“ I enjoyed the freedom I had at PCTV,” she remarked after explaining how rigorous her studies were in the media program at Perpich Center.She also teaches 4th and 5th graders video production at Richard Green School every Tuesday.
“ A good youth media organization needs to encourage its participants and have accessible technical skills for their students,” said Lily
“Kids love cameras and they live in a media saturated society. Yet, we still have not permitted them to use the tools of production,”says Media Mike Hazard, artist in residence at the Center for International Education, anon-profit started in 1972, which produces programs for tv and teaches people of all ages how to make it themselves.The main thing is to never lose the joy of making and the experience of being in the world.”
He has worked in schools all over the twin cities, approaching the
most serious of subjects with a whimsical flair. His newest project is a film about the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, called “The Magic Green Bus” completed a project with students at Lake Country School
“Media literacy is a survival skill. To begin to perceive how it works,
how it’s made, and how it affects you as an individual is to begin to take control of your experience in this world.”
The All City Youth film Showcase is this Saturday at 3pm at the Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Pace, Minneapolis
The event is FREE.
The event is sponsored by the Twin Cities YouthMedia Network, which includes The Canter for International Education, In-Progress, Intermedia Arts, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, Perpich Center for Arts Education, Phillips Community Television, the Walker Art Center Teen Programs, The Humphrey Forum, TV by Girls, The Science Museum of Minnesota, and Independent Feature Project Minne