Thursday, September 1, 2011

Junior Youth Film Festival

In the winter and spring, three local junior youth groups had separately made movies. The members of the groups and the animators wanted to have an opportunity to show their movies together, to have a film festival. One of the animators began communicating with some others about when and where to have this, and with the assistance of the coordinator figured out a date and location. One of the junior youth had suggested having it at a local movie theater, which seemed a bit preposterous at the time, but in pursuing the idea, it appeared to be a logical option.  The date was set to correspond with the Saturday after the junior youth intensive week and the vision started to take shape of showing these films that had been worked on for months and months by the junior youth as a way to set a high standard of excellence for what junior youth can produce. The night before the animators and coordinators were very worried, because the theater had capacity for 230 people and only 40 had replied to the invitation on Facebook.

The day of the festival, junior youth, animators, members of the Baha'i community and many new friends all arrived excitedly at the theater, filling it up! The diversity of the people gathered was beautiful. A prayer was offered for youth followed by a song started by an excited junior youth group. The first and second movies were shown, with time afterwards for the junior youth group that made it to answer questions. There was so much love and enthusiasm poured out in response to the films. Each film spoke for itself with a sweetness evident of junior youth exploring their spiritual reality, probing questions of hope, struggle, storytelling and the power of their group. After the intermission, three live performances were given. Two of dance and one rap piece. These performances really provided a lot of joy, of seeing the talents first hand of the junior youth, and the profound acceptance of effort. Many of the stratifications based on race and class within our community melt away as junior youth all have the opportunity to use their talents and capacities through dignified expressions of culture. Watching the final movie with all of the junior youth and friends was a truly moving experience. It was a story about overcoming fear and the power of prayer and it was legitimately scary! People in the theater were yelling back at the screen, cheering on the characters and gave such sound encouragement to the group that produced the movie. The depth of ideas and the power of expression that junior youth have to offer the world spoke for itself through these movies.