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Lynwood Unified Students Explore World of Filmmaking in Youth Cinema Project

30 fourth-graders and 29 sixth-graders from Lynwood Unified’s Helen Keller and Rosa Parks elementary schools eagerly searched through the more than 200 celebrity handprints and autographs engraved in the cement of the forecourt at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

The two groups of students settled into the red, plush chairs of the Chinese Theatre for a special film screening of “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” on Nov. 13, as part of the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project.  

“This was an incredible day for our students to experience the excitement that comes with a special viewing at a historic theater,” Helen Keller Principal Luz Castillo said. “The students have been incredibly responsive and imaginative, and they are learning state standards through filmmaking.”

The Youth Cinema Project, created by Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actor Edward James Olmos, is a community and education program adopted by Lynwood Unified that brings industry professionals to schools to teach filmmaking skills. The award-winning program gives students the opportunity to tell their stories and ideas, while also showing them potential careers in the film industry.

Youth Cinema directors conduct lessons two days a week for an hour and a half to instruct on the various aspects of film. Over the course of the school year, students will explore the four pillars of filmmaking: creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration.

For the culminating project, students work in groups to create a story through a writing and editing process. They then present their ideas, and the class selects four stories that will be transformed into film. These four films will be showcased at Lynwood Unified’s annual festival of the arts in May 2018.

Libier Rodriguez, fourth-grade teacher from Helen Keller, works with the Youth Cinema directors to connect the film lessons with the core curriculum. Rodriguez’s class recently learned about conflict resolution through understanding protagonists and antagonists.

The project-based learning program further develops creativity and reinforces literacy through idea development, script writing, story editing and film rehearsal. Students also explore other areas of the film industry such as audio recording, cinematography and marketing.

Lynwood’s rich visual and performing arts program is made possible through a partnership with the District and the Latino Film Institute. 

“The District is committed to developing curriculum that provides students access to meaningful learning activities,” Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite said. “We look forward to seeing the creativity and talent in our students’ final movie projects.”