Working Films is still hard at work with the filmmakers of the Reel Education collective. We’re excited about plans we have in the works to bring the Reel Ed films to cities across the country, where they can advance education organizing and advocacy on important issues such as arts education, the achievement gap, after school programming, and positive approaches to school discipline.

We’re also delighted to announce that we’ve added two new films to the collective, A Community Concern which tells the story of how community organizing can be a powerful force for positive educational change, and Who Cares About Kelsey?, the new project about full inclusion of students with behavioral and emotional disabilities from Including Samuel filmmaker Dan Habib. These new additions address specific topics that weren’t covered in the original groups of seven projects that attended our Reel Education residency.

All of the Reel Education projects have been doing amazing work, winning awards and prompting dialogue and action. Here are a few highlights of their most recent efforts:

  • You may have seen the champion chess team from Brooklyn middle school I.S. 318 in on the front page of the NY Times a week or so ago. Brooklyn Castle, which features the incredible story of those same kids, is garnering awards and rave reviews on the festival circuit.
  • The team that produced To Be Heard  just got a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to support their recently launched Power Poetry Project – the world’s first mobile poetry community for youth.
  • Mariachi High will broadcast on PBS this summer as part of their Summer Arts Festival a multi-part weekly series and collection of new original online content that takes viewers across the country and around the world, hosted by award-winning television, film and stage star Anna Deavere Smith.
  • Shakespeare High recently won best documentary at the Sonoma International Film Festival  and had great cinema runs in NY and LA this spring. Folks are loving the film and writers know it has the power to promote arts education.
  • In addition to garnering awards in festivals around the world and being put to work in community settings across Europe, Our School recently scored a giant win in their effort to achieve educational justice for Roma children. After a recent special screening at the Romanian Ministry of Education, “the Ministry committed to making Our School part of the teacher training curricula by the start of the new school year. The National Council for Combating Discrimination asked for DVDs that they could start using in training programs the following week.” Read a great overview here of how filmmaker Mona Nicoara, her team and their allies working on Roma education have made this – and more – happen over the last year.
  • Who Care About Kelsey?  is already receiving rave reviews from educators and mental health professionals at sneak preview screenings at conferences. Here’s a great overview of the film in extensive piece in the Concord Monitor.
  • Clips from A Community Concern were recently featured as part of KQED’s American Graduate Teacher Town Hall. KQED broadcast the film in April as part of their offerings for the American Graduate project, and later this year it will be offered to all the PBS stations under the American Graduate banner. American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis.

For more information on our Reel Education initiative and to see trailers for all of the projects please visit our Reel Education project page. Or feel free to contact  AnnaLee at alee@workingfilms.org

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