Three weeks ago I watched my peers in MediaLab prepare for their big-screen debut at the Tribeca Film Institute’s Our City, My Story showcase, and last Friday night I had the honor to watch their hard work and dedication be brought to light.
We were welcomed to the event by a large billboard sign that read “Bright Lights, Big Screen,” and then we stepped on the red carpet to have our pictures taken like true film professionals.
MediaLabbers brought their ‘A’ game to Tribeca, looking sharp for the cameras. Behind them is Tribeca’s step-and-repeat wall. (These walls are commonly used at important events like the Academy Awards.)
The morning screening, which was exclusive for student filmmakers, was held at Tribeca’s Performing Arts Center in the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), while the evening screening for public viewing was held at Chelsea Clearview Cinemas. Though both atmospheres were busy I was able to ask Tribeca’s Director of Education, Lisa Lucas, where her motivation to organize the show came from. “We want to connect young filmmakers with an audience,” she said.
When I spoke to aspiring student filmmakers in the audience they shared how they felt that having money to make films was a big factor in being able to participate. “I’d love to have a lot of money to participate in this, but cinematography equipment and key editing programs like Final Cut Pro cost thousands of dollars. I don’t have that kind of money.” Personally, I feel lucky to be working with MediaLab, where students are provided with the equipment and guidance they need to produce their own films. And thanks to the Tribeca Film Institute, young artists have one less thing to worry about: they have a center where they can go to view and share their work!
As soon as Type Cast appeared on the big online casino screen the MediaLab crew cheered and the other students in the audience made a short improvisation to the opening song. It was a proud moment for all of us, as we all knew the secrets behind every scene and the steps taken to make Type Cast possible. Joshua Diaz, one of the main characters in the documentary, shared how “I got to spread awareness about diabetes, and I did so with MY story… It’s great to see it actually getting out there.” The entire MediaLab crew was thrilled to share our work with an audience that can take the film’s message to heart and make better decisions to promote good health.
Tribeca did a fine job when it came to presenting a wide range of issue-driven films: undocumented immigration, gentrification, the politics of food, gun violence, and the education system. A crowd favorite was the short documentary A Block from Home by students from John Dewey High School. In this film, gun violence victim Brandon Ragnot re-enacts his near-death experience and shares his remarkable journey to recovery. Brandon”s was the only film to receive a standing ovation, something that has never happened before at the festival according to Lisa Lucas.
All in all, the MediaLabbers had a wonderful time. Thank you to Lisa Lucas and the Tribeca Film Institute for organizing this incredible event!