This year, ODE had the honor of hosting its first local film screening to celebrate the youth and young adults who participated in the statewide Directing Change Program and Film Contest! I had the pleasure of organizing the event, and even I was taken aback by the way it organically manifested itself to embody all the festiveness and jubilance of a school environment, with the extra touch of ODE’s warm community welcoming!
Seven film teams were recognized for their hard work, with an additional nine honorary mention for films that were created but had not been officially submitted. The night celebrated the important roles played by the five film advisors who supported the seven films coming from Aragon High School, Burlingame High School, Woodside High School, and Str8 Jacket, a local dance group. It was rewarding to watch the audience of BHRS employees, community members, students, their families, and others consume the talent and wisdom condensed into 60 seconds of mental health awareness content, and interact with the organizations present at the resource table section from Youth Leadership Institute, Pacifica Prevention Partnership (members of the North County Prevention Partnership), and the San Mateo County Pride Center. Even more riveting was the way the room received and connected with the eight panelists for over 30 minutes as they shared their experiences, perspectives, and feedback about the films submitted into Directing Change in comparison to over media’s stigmatizing display of mental illness. The panel was composed of the regional third place filmmakers from the Public and Mental Health Advocacy Club of Burlingame High School, adolescent peer advisors from Be the Change Youth Coalition, a collegiate representative from Pacifica Prevention Partnership, a graduated parent from the Lived Experience Academy, and BHRS’s Crisis Coordinator, Molly Hendricks. Through the empathic guidance of ODE’s own Siavash Zohoori as the moderator, each panel member vulnerably shared experiences such as individual cultural stigma about mental health, personal involvement with helping a loved one through a crisis, and combatting media misrepresentation in popular movies and shows like 13 Reason Why. (Click the following link to learn how responsibly address suicide depicted in media: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points.)
Beyond films, food, and panelist, the night was infused with music for mingling and great family-friendly raffle prizes for the community to enjoy! If you were not able to attend, you missed a great event, and even greater films! Luckily, there’s a solution for the latter issue. To view the films submitted in this year’s season of Directing Change Program and Film Contest, visit this link: http://www.directingchange.org/films-by-county/#San Mateo.
To learn more on how you can get ready for the next season of the Directing Change Program and Film Contest to participate as a film advisor, film judge, or filmmaker (high school students, or youth and young adults ages 14 – 2–), visit http://www.directingchange.org/ or contact Sylvia Tang (email@example.com).
Written by: Chenece Blackshear