Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Film in Schools helps Educate Kids about Acceptance

“Roni has tremendous dedication and single handedly has made the Film in Schools program a success, where she presents educational films to children and deals with discrimination at a grassroots level.” Nancy Stutman, Assistant Artistic Director

Roni Zee, the Artistic Director of the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival has taken on the fairly new “Film in Schools” program. This is a public and private school outreach program that helps teach brotherhood, tolerance and the difference one person can make. This year, the group is showing a film called “Life in a Jar,” a remarkable story that helps teach the Holocaust. The film is 40 minutes long, comes with a study guide and an essay contest with a cash award. Roni said that she and her husband recently visited a public middle school in rural Arizona. The school is primarily made up of Hispanic students who wear uniforms and I.D. cards to combat the violence that has occurred in the past few years.

At that school, Roni offered the essay contest, “Would you save a stranger’s life?” and the teacher sent a stack of essays. One in particular caught Roni’s attention. Roni said that the essay revealed some insights into the young author’s life and used the words, “horror and tragedy” to describe some of the very personal and upsetting events the woman had experienced in her young life. Roni says “I have been given a gift working on this project. When you read these essays and thank you’s.. they open up their souls to you. It’s very heartwarming.”

"Film is important in teaching the Holocaust because our students are visual learners. It is important for them to read about the Holocaust, but film can bring it to them in ways that they might not get through literature alone. As well, film can include survivor testimony, and as survivors are getting scarcer, that filmed testimony is all the more important. Finally, I have seen firsthand how students will go through a list on Netflix or in their local video store and will pick up a Holocaust-related movie and watch it. The unfortunate truth is that many of them would never do that with a book. That is also why film makers need to be responsible in their Holocaust films, and portray the truth, not sensationalizing it for our modern audiences."
Kim Klett, Dobson High School, Regional Education Corps, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

"Film matters in teaching the Holocaust because it individualizes the ungraspable number of six million. I told my students they could not grasp that number, but if they understood the story of one person, they have then understood the stories of the six million. Though an actual survivor is the most powerful testimony, films help establish the setting in which the Holocaust took place. They give the history a needed context."
Barbara Hatch, Cactus Shadows High School, Arizona Heritage Project, Advisor

Roni is also hosting a student film presentation on Feb. 21 at 10 a.m. called, “Blessed is the Match.” The film is for students from grades 7 through 12 and will be hosted at Harkins Camelview Five Theater in Scottsdale.

If you are a teacher or know a teacher who might be interested, contact the Film in Schools program at 800-838-3006. Our hope is that An Unbroken Chain will make its way into programs like this after its initial national theatrical release.

Incidentally the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival starts Feb. 20 in Phoenix. Visit their web site for details and tickets.

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