Lights, Camera, Students, Action!

Spike Lee; Penny Marshall; Stanley Kubrick - three giants who have dominated the film industry for decades. While it may be hard to imagine these stars before they were famous, all of them were once New York City public school children whose imaginations flourished against the backdrop of the most famous skyline in the world.

The Tribeca Film Institute and the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools, through the Fund for Public Schools, partnered together to showcase the artistic work of the latest crew of developing student filmmakers in the 1st Annual NYC Community School Film Competition.

The two minute videos, which had to be 100 percent student made, had to address at least one of three questions: What’s better at your school? Who makes a difference to you and why? What do you wish for at your school?

With winners chosen, the Office of Community Schools was able to provide creative excellence awards of up to $250 each to top performing students or student teams, thanks to generous private support.

Three videos were chosen as honorable mentions:

The Grand Prize winner was Mahfouz Soumare from Broome Street Academy Community School in Manhattan, whose creative video wowed the judges. Along with the monetary prize, Mahfouz received the prestigious honor of having the winning video premiered at Tribeca’s annual student film festival as part of their Tribeca Teaches screening.

Mahfouz enjoyed the experience and feels honored to have won the grand prize. As he works on his storytelling skills, his own story is uniquely interesting. Mahfouz was born in the Ivory Coast and he came to the United States approximately two years ago. His mother sent him to New York City to live with his older brother so that he could receive a better education. 

Currently, Mahfouz is working very hard to get good grades as college is his top priority – with the goal of attending Temple University. He made Broome Street Academy’s honor roll in his first semester and is a very talented soccer player who, as you can see, has a passion for taking photos and creating videos.

The student filmmakers were not the only ones who showed enthusiasm for the program. “This is the first time we’d ever attempted something like this and we’re eager to start building for next year,” said Michael Hickey, director of strategy and partnerships for the Office of Community Schools. “We’ve already begun to think about how we might expand the opportunity for students to showcase their work through such a renowned platform as the Tribeca Film Institute.”

Matt Darian