[Videolib] watch two award-winning online films by teens- STRUGGLING

Steve Fesenmaier (fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us)
Wed, 02 Jun 2004 15:15:45 -0400

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Play Struggling to Survive

Struggling to Survive
7:37 min
Youth Documentary
Dana Hall, Ashley Potter and Mary Profitt, Co-Directors, Appalshop's
Appalachian Media Institute, Producer

Winner of the Youth Documentary Award Sponsored by Time Warner

Teenagers in eastern Kentucky turn their cameras on the living wage
crisis in their community.

About the Film
Filmmaker Bios
Take Action Links
More About Struggling to Survive from Producer Appalshop
Struggling to Survive was produced during the Summer of 2003 during
Appalshop's Appalachian Media Institute, a community-media based
training program for Eastern Kentucky youth ages 15-20. During the
summer and fall of 2003, Mary Profitt, Dana Hall and Ashley Potter
conceptualized, shot and edited this documentary video. In addition to
Mary, Dana and Ashley, many other people helped make this video a
reality including everyone who sat down for an interview, Appalshop
filmmakers and other employees who offered their advice and
encouragement, fellow Summer and Fall 2003 interns and the AMI trainers.

The youth were inspired to make this video when they learned about a
Letcher County initiative to pass a living wage ordinance. They were
surprised to learn that a city, county or state could pass their own
minimum wage law that overruled the federal one, and they were impressed
by the fact that Letcher County, a small county in Eastern Kentucky
where they all lived, was pursuing this idea. While still in the
research phase, the youth talked to Carroll Smith, Letcher County's top
elected official and a proponent of a living wage, to get a sense of the
history of the proposed ordinance. But it wasn't until they spoke with
Debbie Gibson, a single mother trying to raise two children on a low
wage job, that they were convinced that this documentary had to be made.

After the original proposed ordinance failed in 1999, many of the
members of the newly elected Fiscal Court, the decision-making body of
Letcher County, ran their campaigns on a living wage platform. However,
when the ordinance came up for a new vote last year, they succumbed to
pressure from local business leaders and voted down the ordinance once
again. Carroll Smith has vowed to continue making the successful passage
of a Letcher County living wage ordinance a priority. For two years,
Debbie Gibson enjoyed a comfy job cleaning office buildings (with
benefits), until early last year when she was cut to half time w/o
benefits. At the time she appeared in the video she was looking for
other work. Since then she has returned to her position as a cashier at
the local grocery store, the same place she had worked for 15 years

Struggling to Survive is a winner of the See Change Make Change contest
held by YMDI.org, the first comprehensive Web portal for youth media

Play Books Not Bars
Books Not Bars
3:44 min
Campaign Portrait
Mark Landsman, Producer/Director for WITNESS

Winner of the Criminal Justice Award Sponsored by Open Society Institute

The teens of the Books Not Bars movement demand that education be the
government's priority, now and in the future.

About the Film
Filmmaker Bios
Take Action Links
More About Books Not Bars from WITNESS
Public spending to support increased incarceration is booming while
spending for public education has dwindled dramatically. Youth of color
are being discriminated against in their neighborhoods, in their
schools, and in the courts, where an African-American youth is 48 times
more likely to be convicted of a drug offense than a white peer. In
response to these critical issues, WITNESS joined together with Columbia
University Law School's Human Rights Institute and the Ella Baker Center
for Human Rights to produce Books Not Bars, a documentary about the
inspiring youth-led movement against the growth of the prison industry
in the U.S. After two years of collaborative campaigning with the Ella
Baker Center and other groups the "Super-Jail for Kids" proposal in
Alameda County, California, which was on the verge of becoming one of
the biggest per capita youth jails in the country, was derailed in part
by the efforts of the BOOKS NOT BARS campaign.

Books Not Bars premiered at the World Conference on Racism in Durban,
South Africa in August of 2001. It premiered on the WITNESS website in
April 2002 as a Rights Alert and was introduced by hip-hop musician
Q-Tip, with links provided for viewers to take action. Major screenings
were sponsored by the Colombia Law School Human Rights Institute with
additional facilitated screenings at NYU, Bard College and Sarah
Lawrence College. The video has also been used in classrooms across the
United States, screened at meetings of philanthropists, and excerpts
have been included at venues such as the Human Rights Watch
International Film Festival in London 2003.

WITNESS has worked with the co-producers of the project to distribute
the video widely to activists and other key players in the debate around
the growing presence of the prison-industrial complex. To that end, the
Open Society Institute supported a national mailing to 300 youth
activists and educators offering the video and lesson plans at a reduced
price in 2002. WITNESS also distributed Books Not Bars to more than 250
business and nonprofit leaders and philanthropists to raise their
awareness of the profit motive in the drive for expansion of the
prison-industrial complex. The video and accompanying lesson plans
developed by Street Law will be distributed to 300 public libraries
beginning in March 2004 through the National Video Resources Human
Rights Video Project.

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