Tag Archives: essay

7 Films from the Full Frame Film Festival that Students of the World students should watch and why.

This post was originally written for and posted on the Students of the World national site at http://www.studentsoftheworld.org

Full Frame as a film festival is amazing and I would highly recommend that everyone try to make the trip down to Durham every year. But I understand that many times life creates some obstacles that make that a difficult venture. However, you can get a taste of the festival experience by watching some of the films that premiered/screened there. Plus nothing makes you a better filmmaker than watching films. Here are my recommendations (in no particular order) for other SOW students.

Private Violence dir. Cynthia Hill
Awarded The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at Full Frame this year, this intimate and powerful piece about domestic violence is a film that everyone should watch. Hill and her partner Rex Miller spent many months with some women as they deal with an issue that impacts millions of women both in the United States and around the world. Beginning by attempting to answer the question, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” the film explores the many layers that complicate the issue of domestic violence and abuse in general. Private Violence is a fantastic example of the power of individual stories, the importance of trust and courage especially when telling difficult stories.

Captivated-The Trials of Pamela Smart dir. Jeremiah Zagar
Beautifully directed, Captivated, is a twisting and turning exploration of media and the power that it wields. A great conversation starter about media, it asks both content creators and consumers to question the things we make and see, even while we are watching the film. This film is the documentary companion to Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet’s fantastic Network. Zagar is masterful in the mixing of archival and shot footage, and his method of framing and presenting archival footage is beautiful and poignant.

The Hand that Feeds dir. Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick
Scrappy, funny, and moving this film takes a look at something that most people don’t pay attention to-the rights of low-wage workers. Following the journey of a group of workers in a “Hot and Crusty” shop in New York City, The Hand that Feeds is an amazing example of clarity and editing as you follow the works over quite a long period of time but still fully understand the narrative. It does an amazing job juggling a color ensemble. The film deals with an issue that impacts millions of people but is hidden to many, there are moments of heart-wrenching disappointing, bu the film is wonderfully fun and inspiring, an important reason that made it the winner of the Full Frame Audience Award.

Ivory Tower dir. Andrew Rossi
A film that has some structural issues, Ivory Tower, is still a piece that I would recommend to everyone, especially if you are a student. Well-researched and full of differing perspectives, Ivory Tower, explores the higher education system and some of the issues that have arisen as the system and expectations have changed. A great conversation starter about education and our American system in particular, it will may make you think differently about the years (and money) you are spending in college.

The Case Against 8 dir. Ben Cotner and Ryan White
Following the appeal case of two California couples against Proposition 8, The Case Against 8, looks beyond the legalese and explores the people behind the case. A wonderful example of how to compress years into a well-structured and organized, as well as deal with a diverse cast. The Case Against 8 is a beautiful and moving film that inspires as much as it reveals.

Evolution of a Criminal dir. Darius Clark Monroe
First person documentaries are not normally what people imagine documentaries to be but Darius Clark Monroe’s Evolution of a Criminal, is an intimate, powerful story about the filmmaker and those around him. Winner of both the Reva and David Logan Grand Jury Award and the Center of Documentary Studies Award at Full Frame, Evolution of a Criminal, mixes interviews with recreations beautifully and powerfully. Monroe’s thesis film out of NYU, he expertly plays with expectations and rhythm as he explores criminals and criminality. Darius Clarke Monroe is a filmmaker to keep an eye out for.

Hacked Circuit dir. Deborah Stratman
A beautifully shot short film that explores foley artists, I admit that this pick is a bit self-indulgent. As a filmmaker I’ve always love getting a chance to explore some of the lesser known steps of filmmaking. Beyond the seeing the amazing amount of detail that the artists take, the entire film is shot in one floating take, and contains some clips from one of my favorite movies. Go check out Hacked Circuit and appreciate one more aspect of filmmaking.

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When I Cry

Never judge from a single moment

Never judge from a single moment

Know that when I cry I am not ashamed. Not ashamed of the tears running down my face, the growing redness of my eyes, and my inability to breathe consistently. That as you judge me I’m still working and thinking.

Know that when I cry, it is not negative. It is not bad or sad or weak that I cry. That tears are natural and beautiful just like a smile or that twinkle in my eye.
Know that when I cry it is not about you. It is not about the words you’ve said or the things you did. That whatever you think you did to target me, to make me cry, is not true.
Know that when I cry it is always for me, by me, in me. You did not break my heart, I did for believing and trusting you. You did not defeat me, I did. You did not hurt me, I did. You can say that I don’t have that control. And I don’t, but neither do you.
Know that when I cry I am strong. I am as strong as when I laugh or when I shout. I am always fighting, whether it is through tears and gritted teeth or with a smirk on my face.
Know that when I cry I appreciate everything that you do. Whether it is a hug or a gentle words, know that every bit helps but also know that whatever it is I will fight, I will work through it, and I will ask for help.
I will change, for better or worse, and I will cry. Just like I will smile, shout and laugh. I will cry and I am proud of it.
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I’ve been busy (really, I’m not trying to garner attention or sympathy.)
(Perhaps, a little) School, fencing, projects, personal relationships-everything that composes normal life for a student-athlete. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Knowing that I am doing things that I love to do, and I am (was) good at it.
Even as close as two weeks ago, I was ahead on work-emails were replied to in seconds, things were done and I had some free time. However, now…Well now I’m not so ahead (not that I’m particularly behind.)
What has changed? I’m not entirely sure but I have a hunch.
I don’t really have time for hunches-I have a biology exam tomorrow, another draft of a play to write, sequence 5 of my feature, scheduling to do for my documentary project, scheduling to do for CAN, readings to do for my COMM class, and probably more (nevermind, my collegiate fencing duties, my relationships with people, my personal goals and my vanity.)
Perhaps I’ll talk more about my specific projects and duties. But I don’t really have time for that. I could be writing about a dystopian future right now, instead I am writing about how I am feeling (why I am feeling) in an attempt to right myself for the amount of work I need to do.
The thing is, my hunch at least, that I’m afraid (terrified, paralyzed by) success. Silly, ridiculous, and unfortunate, really.
It’s not that I’m satiated by it-the opposite. The mere taste, the slightest whiff of success makes my brain crave it, my mouth waters and want to grab it (whatever it is) and hold it close to me, squeezing (protecting) it.
Failure has always been my companion (muse?) and when it side steps behind me, behind success, I feel different (anxious.) The drive is still there (stronger than ever.) But the focus disappears, it is as if victory (as fleeting as it is) taints me. Poisons me and I don’t want anymore doses…so I stop.
Success is a strange beast, it fills me with pleasure but it terrifies me. It is never alone, it has friends that torment me. But most importantly (potently,) it makes failure a stranger again. Who was once a friend becomes a stranger, who in the dark becomes an enemy. It is the fear of someone that I knew so well that tinges success, because I know that if I let success through the door failure would follow close behind and stab my in the back. So I open the door for success, linger on the glorious view and just stare.
It doesn’t make sense, it isn’t productive, it is extremely frustrating, and I want it to stop. The issue is how.
Perhaps this post is an attempt to fix my problem. By writing it out, trying to understand it, that I will find the solution. Maybe I will, hopefully I do.

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Well exams are here @ school and I’m starting to break out…Productivity is down, so hoping for some inspiration that will start up the engine again. In English one day, we were assigned to write an essay about exams (coincidently because a friend and I had made a presentation to the faculty about exams…) This is what I submitted sans any real editing. I’ll get to editing and the real juicing up in my free time (which might be in about 5 years…)

Bringing Education and Evaluation to the Future

Education is important. The importance of an education is so high, that they United States government spends 46.7 billion dollars on the Department of Education. Without it, we would not be the world that we are today; we wouldn’t know how to find the derivatives of numbers, or how to properly use the semi-colon. Without it, we wouldn’t know how to build a car, let alone drive one. The absolutely amazing fact is that we wouldn’t even be sent back to the Dark Ages because even in 450 AD they had schools. Education is important-but is testing necessary?

The very first standardized test was used in the Han Dynasty in China in 206 BC, to correctly evaluate the abilities of men attempting to enter the government. These imperial examinations covered music, archery and horsemanship, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of public and private rituals and ceremonies. Further along, military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography were added to the list of subjects. Participants of these set tests were expected to properly perform and know everything in front of proctors, as well as amid hundreds of their peers. Crowds would anxiously wait for their results, chatting nervously to each other, sweating as they wait to find out if they passed. This type of evaluation began to spread and eventually was adopted in many other countries, including the United Kingdom, big sister to the United States. This type of system has lasted for more than 1300 years.

In 1300 years, we have harnessed electricity, invented ways to fly through the sky, created pathways across the globe, and flown to the moon. Yet we are still testing in the same way as our Asiatic ancestors?

A system that has worked for more than 1300 years demonstrates that it works. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. And exams are necessary, without them we wouldn’t know what we need to work on, both as students and teachers. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to properly evaluate the entire education. Without them, we wouldn’t be properly preparing students, the future generations, for what is out in the real world; life is just a giant test and an A+ is thriving and surviving. But is life the same as it was 1300 years ago?

With a new world, there are new challenges that must be prepared for. A test based in the 540 BC doesn’t exactly prepare for 2010 (horseback riding and archery really are not that vital in the digital age.) We have adapted to new security threats, new information about the environment, and even the problem of properly sending human beings to space. Why not adapt testing too?

Currently testing often calls for some sort of extreme standardizing that was unheard of in the Han Dynasty. Each subject back in the Han Dynasty would take 24-48 hours to complete, allowing for proper evaluation of the participant. Now, three hours are given to comprehensively show the understanding of weeks of material. This causes undue stress that often results in “superficial” learning aka “cramming.” This does not properly evaluate the education received by the student, which is unfair both to the student as well as the teacher. However, it must be noted that these types of tests do lend to certain subjects, specifically depending on the purpose of the course. If the purpose of a history course is to know who does what and when, then a multiple choice scantron is absolutely acceptable.

What this new digital, globalized world now opens so many new doors of opportunities in not only learning and teaching, but also testing. Studies have shown that there is an increase in scores, when students are allowed some access to computers and computer-based instruction. Furthermore, other studies have shown that student’s attitudes towards learning and their own self-concept improved consistently when technology was involved. It isn’t just about technology but advances in teaching, for example the use of modeling, could be implemented and adapted towards better testing.

This school has always had a tradition of innovation and excellence, why not take the resources that we have and find a new and better way to soar into the future?

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