Kids With Cameras – Changing the World.

A commitment to go beyond simply putting cameras in the hands of disenfranchised kids is shown in a number of projects around the world. The Born Into Brothels team through their KWC organization is pioneering outreach that goes well beyond their film and workshop projects. This Sunday, February 11th, there will be a special event for The KWC School For Leadership Arts and Hope House (Asha Niwas), “a nurturing home where up to 150 children from Calcutta’s red light district can come to live, learn, and grow. ………….The model for Hope House will be unveiled at a special benefit dinner hosted by the restaurant Tabla in New York City on Sunday, February 11, 2007. The dinner will feature five of this country’s most lauded Indian Chefs. The goal of the evening is to raise a portion of the money needed to purchase land, build the home, create a college fund, and provide programs that will develop the children’s skills and enrich their lives. We are looking to raise $1 million dollars for the project; $200,000 has already been raised.”

Recently, also here in NYC, the renowned film making family, pioneers of Direct Cinema, The Maysles - “Salesman,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Grey Gardens” – began working with young filmmakers in Harlem, NY. In the Village Voice, Jan 9th, Ed Alter wrote a great feature on the project. He writes, “Albert moved his operations into a renovated Harlem brownstone last year, a close-knit Maysles team, spearheaded by his son Philip, created a program designed to teach documentary film making to disadvantaged youth—Maysles-style. The group partnered with the Incarcerated Mothers Program, part of Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families, an East Harlem–based organization that creates activity programs for children with parents in prison. Launched under the name “On Our Side,” a pilot course with half a dozen youngsters aged eight to 12 ran successfully on a shoestring budget this past summer, and the organizations are now gearing up to continue and expand the program early this year.”

Downtown Community Television in Lower Manhattan has offered Pro-TV, a documentary production program for older teenagers, since 1978. But, Alter notes, “whereas DCTV focuses on community reportage and political engagement on the youth-media model (a recent production, for example, documents the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans),” “On Our Side,” gears itself toward the younger set, “showing kids the possibilities of using nonfiction filmmaking for more personal expression—how to suss out the “human element” of a moment.”