Another Season Gone By: Community Cinema 2009-2010

Posted on July 1, 2010

One of the initiatives that we’re proudest of here at ITVS is Community Cinema, because it goes right to the heart of our mission to take independent films (all of them part of this Independent Lens season) into the community and engage local audiences with the subject matter in ways that activate them to make a difference. This year we were flabbergasted at the sheer numbers of people who came to the 650 events we produced (more than 40,000 in attendance in 65 cities!), but also the quality and energy of the discussions that grew out of the screenings. Duong-Chi Do, the associate director of communications here at ITVS, runs the numbers for us on the 2009-2010 season of Community Cinema. Click through for details, and prepare to be amazed!

Community Cinema wrapped up yet another record-breaking season — with more than 40,000 people attending 650 events in 65 cities across the country. Working behind the scenes were Community Cinema’s regional outreach coordinators and producing partners who spearheaded the events and collaborated with more than 1,000 local and national organizations. Among our partners were the Autism Society of America, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, American Council for the Blind, Youth Service America, and American Red Cross chapters across the country. Following are highlights from our engagement work on the nine outstanding films that were selected for the 2009-2010 Community Cinema season:

(left) D TOUR director Jim Granato and (right) June R. Wallace, Community Affairs Coordinator, California Transplant Donor Network at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center

D-Tour Screenings of D Tour brought together approximately 2,500 community members across the country. The events featured interactive discussions and provided a platform for a variety of local and national organizations involved in issues of organ donation education, health-care reform, and music education. Most importantly, event organizers featured opportunities for audiences to register to become organ donors: an estimated 75 audience members registered nationally after participating in Community Cinema! Read more about D-Tour screenings>>

Between the Folds Live paper folding demonstrations that brought together many generations were a highlight of the November 2009 Between the Folds screening events. The events brought together more than 5,300 audience members across the country and provided a platform for a variety of local and national organizations involved in issues of math and science education, origami/paper folding, book arts, and artistic expression to engage with students, educators and audience members of all ages. Many educators attending the events noted that they planned to use origami as a teaching tool in future classes, some even talked of starting clubs at their schools. National partners included the Mathematical Association of America and OrigamiUSA. Read more about Between the Folds screenings>>

Kembrew McLeod, co-producer of COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS, answers questions from the audience with Tony Berman of Berman Entertainment and Technology Law, who is featured in the film.

Copyright Criminals Screening events brought more than 3,200 young, diverse audiences together across the country to examine the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.  Local artists and musicians, teachers and students and many in between enjoyed live music and sampling demonstrations, in addition to energetic discussions (and sometimes debate!) on the legal battles around copyright and artistic ownership. Read more about Copyright Criminals screenings>>

Garbage Dreams Garbage Dreams screenings were a striking example of how Community Cinema can take a global issue and connect it to local concerns. Events across the country made a direct tie between the recycling practices of the Zaballeen in Cairo to what communities in the U.S. can do to reduce waste in partnership with their local government and grassroots recycling initiatives. Dozens of Community Cinema markets across the country partnered with local waste management programs and recycling organizations to present screenings of Garbage Dreams, with audience members walking away with clear action steps on how to reduce waste and promote sustainability in their communities. More than 5,800 people attended the events, co-presented by national partners GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives), Cloud Institute, Working Films and Recycle Bank. Read more about Garbage Dreams screenings>>

At one of the DC area YOUNG@HEART events (l to r) Pauline Jakobsberg, Douglas Yeuell, Adrienne Price, and Michon Boston

Young@Heart More than 3,000 audience members flocked to Community Cinema screenings of Young@Heart despite the severe rain and snowstorms that overtook much of the country in December of 2009. The film brought together young and old alike to enjoy the film along with live music performances, senior talent shows, and interactive discussions. The events launched discussion on a variety of issues from creative aging and active living to senior health; a common chord struck at many of the discussions centered on the need to foster more programs and activities that promote intergenerational dialogue. Young@Heart provided a unique opportunity for Community Cinema to build partnerships with national organizations like the National Center for Creative Aging and local senior service providers such as community centers, senior health centers, retirement and assisted living facilities. Read more about Young@Heart screenings>>

The Eyes of Me Through local screenings of The Eyes of Me, Community Cinema partnered with dozens of blind schools and organizations that work to build independent living skills for the blind and visually impaired. Most screenings offered audio description and closed captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired, a first for Community Cinema and a valuable experience that has shifted many local organizers’ perspectives on what it means to create events that are truly accessible. On-site screenings for blind students took place at the Overbrook School For the Blind in Philadelphia, Arkansas School For the Blind, and the Arizona School For the Deaf and Blind. Community Cinema reached more than 3,000 community members across the country through local engagement events. Read more about The Eyes of Me screenings>>

Dirt! The Movie Dirt! The Movie drew an enthusiastic response from local audiences and partner organizations across the country. One of our most well-attended films of the season, screening events brought together more than 6,000 people and featured eco-fairs, hands-on gardening and composting demonstrations, and provided a platform for partner organizations working in the areas of soil conservation, urban gardening, and environmental education to reach new constituents. National partners included Bioneers and Youth Service America, who provided environmentally themed volunteer opportunities related to local screenings. There was a strong response from educators and students at these events. Read more about Dirt! The Movie screenings>>

The Horse Boy The Community Cinema screenings of The Horse Boy was positively received from autism advocates, health professionals and families raising children who have autism. The screenings provided education on autism to a wide audience, raised awareness of the need to create communities that are more “autism friendly,” and connected audiences to local resources available to people affected by autism. Of special note is WHYY’s The Horse Boy Family Media Project, which received an outreach grant from ITVS to support creation of a space for families affected by autism to share their stories. In collaboration with several local autism organizations, the project documented what has helped Philadelphia families overcome adversity through short video projects. Read more about The Horse Boy screenings and the Family Media Project>>

A Village Called Versailles In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, screenings of A Village Called Versailles engaged audiences in rich discussion around the intersection of immigrant and refugee rights, environmental justice, youth leadership, community organizing, and sustainable land-use. Local leaders and experts shared opportunities for involvement with local environmental justice initiatives happening across the country and in audience members’ own backyards. In addition to creating a forum for discussion around environmental issues and the political participation of the Asian Pacific American community, local chapters of American Red Cross were on hand to provide resources for disaster preparedness. The screenings of A Village Called Versailles made important connections to current events, particularly with the recent oil spill affecting the Gulf Coast. A large  percentage of fishermen in the Gulf Coast are Southeast Asian Refugees, with a majority being Vietnamese-American whose livelihoods have been deeply affected. Read more about A Village Called Versailles screenings>>

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