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Reel Youth Film Festival at VIFF: films that empower youth

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Media can be medicinal or poisonous. The process of making media helps youth to understand the ingredients that go into what they are consuming. It equips them with the skills to analyze and discern. In addition to facilitating critical thought, youth media is a venue for creative expression within a medium that is engaging and dynamic.

Reel Youth builds community and meets young filmmakers where they are at. When final projects are shared with the community, youth media can become medicinal for cultures. It provides the opportunity to hear what is churning beneath us. When youth articulate their passions or frustrations through narrative, it allows us to catch a glimpse of underlying issues that drive behaviours. It is an opportunity to have a conversation and ask questions. When we listen to our youth, they are more likely to listen to us.

I recently had tea with Zoe Miles from Reel Youth. As we chatted, she prepared posters for the upcoming Reel Youth Festival premiere at the VIFF on October 12th and 13th.

This premiere will be a showcase of films that were created by youth throughout the world. Locations range from the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre, to the buzzing streets of India, to the calm beauty of Channel Rock on Cortes Island. Each unique group provides glimpses into their cultural realities, text message dialects, frustrations and pop culture perspectives.    

As I sip chai with Zoe, she speaks about the diversity of facilitators and young filmmakers that she works with. She lights up when she explains the experience of becoming immersed in the collective creative processes. In addition to an abundance of cultures and personalities that she works with, there is also a diverse selection of issues that are addressed throughout the films that are created.

The Reel Youth team are collaborative. They co-create projects and programs with other awesome organizations: OUT in Schools, the Knowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association, the Passion Foundation, the Society for Children and Youth of BC. and many others.

The RYFF will premier at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and then continue across Canada, and around the world, with over 30 screenings from Oct. 2011 through Sept. 2012.  

The Reel Youth Film Festival premiers Wed, Oct 12th 1:15pm and Thu, Oct 13th 6:45pm at the Pacific Cinematheque. 

For tickets and more information, visit

All of the paintings in this story are by Jordan Bent and were created for Reel Youth.

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