To Be Heard [Chelsea]
Documentary Feature
Free Show

Tuesday Aug 16, 2011
4:00pmWriting Workshop at 14th St. on the High Line.
7:00pmPoetry Slam w/ DJ Dooga & poets from the film at The Lot (30th St. btw. 10th & 11th Ave.)
8:15pmFilm Begins
9:45pmFilmmaker/Subject Q&A

The High Line
In the Lot, Near the High Line
Southwest corner of West 30th Street and 10th Ave, New York, NY 10001
C/E to 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, 1 to 23rd Street & 7th Avenue


This Show Presented in Partnership With
Fledgling Fund

Rooftop Films brings the power of poetry to the streets of New York with this documentary about lives and language on the edge: three teens from the Bronx tell their stories and show how a radical poetry class can ignite change.

Rooftop Films will be hosting a free youth "power writing" workshop, a live poetry slam, and a screening of the award-winning documentary "To Be Heard." The event will be presented in partnership with The Fledgling Fund.

To Be Heard (Edwin Martinez, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan) tells the story of three teenagers who find friendship and empowerment through writing. As a celebration of their triumphs, Rooftop Films and the filmmakers will be offering a free “power writing” workshop to local teenage aspiring writers, and creating a showcase for emerging writers to read their work in a public poetry slam.

The writing workshop is free to the public. To participate, please email

Together with the creators of the critically acclaimed documentary film To Be Heard, the Power Writing program will be hosting an afternoon of spoken word workshops and a slam poetry competition. Starting at 4pm, 25 high school students have the opportunity to participate in a workshop entitled, "Make 'em HEAR You." Through small group lessons, writing challenges, and a chance to debate which 2011 music artist is the best at getting his/her point across, students will leave the workshop with at least one poem they can feel proud of. Workshop participants will also get a free To Be Heard / Power Writers t-shirt.

Following the "Make 'em HEAR You" workshop, an outdoor poetry slam will begin at 7:00. Participants of the workshop are strongly encouraged to compete in this event. However, if they're not quite ready for the limelight, students can use their newly honed appreciation for effective poetry to help the rest of the audience choose a winner. Prizes will be available for different poets.

Students and alumni from Power Writing classes--including the stars of To Be Heard--will also be competing. This slam is open to the public and will be a perfect prelude to the film screening at 8:15pm.


To Be Heard (Edwin Martinez, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan | New York, NY | 87 min.)
To Be Heard transcends the confines of an advocacy film, but it’s hard to come away from it with anything other than absolute encouragement for the arts in schools. The filmmakers are developing a social media campaign designed to empower and give voice to the unheard in our city via text message. At Rooftop we work in New York City public schools and we’ve seen firsthand how artistic expression can open up possibilities for students who never thought they had them. Early in the film, Pearl reveals a list of her good and bad traits, which she keeps on her bedroom wall, and it’s heartbreaking to read that her bad traits include “big,” “black” and “ghetto.” But the Power Writers program has a motto: If you don’t learn to write your own life story, someone else is going to write it for you. It’s through the process of writing down these feelings that Pearl and the others begin to overcome these insecurities to see their own potential.

This is not to say that To Be Heard has some happy Hollywood ending. The students continue to live in neighborhoods where a $6/hour job at McDonald’s doesn’t compare to the money you make hustling dime bags on the corner (and at least hustling you can make your own hours.) These teens are still raised by single mothers and they “step over dead bodies like it’s just another day.” One of their teachers, Joe, tells them that he can’t teach them what he knows, only how he knows, and each of these students takes away life lessons that will carry them through whatever it is they face in the future. The opening shot of the film, with all its overbearing New York noise, frames what these teens are up against, and by the end of the film, their voices have definitely been heard.

Rooftop is thrilled to be screening To Be Heard here in the Bronx, and we hope you’ll spread the word about the Power Writers program and the film’s advocacy campaign. Visit their website to learn how you can get involved.

- Stephanie Skaff


DJ Dooga
Adrian is an independent DJ/Producer as well as a freelance production field mixer/recorder for documentaries, short films and ENG coverage. His venture into production sound started in 1999, where he assisted his older brother, Edwin with his student films as a boom operator. In 2005, Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker, Deborah Shaffer became interested in a poetry class in the Bronx that Adrian was an original and continuing member of. Her interest allowed him the opportunity to work with her on the feature film To Be Heard, a documentary about that class and three amazing poets that emerged from it. Since then, he has been contributing his skills and gaining experience on several feature documentaries, short films, events and promotional material, continuing to seek out more interesting and exciting projects.

As a DJ, Dooga aims to impress and has been working his craft since he purchased his first set of turntables in the summer of 2005. Since then, he has been expanding his play list, skill set and fan base, consistently impressing nightly skeptics and wallflowers with his solid mixing and well thought out song selection. All over New York City, he has performed at wild loft, house, and underground dance parties, benefits, fundraisers, weddings, bars, pubs, lounges and clubs. Recently, he has developed a relationship with Eye Productions and Bobbie Brown Cosmetics, producing custom upbeat mixes for their photo shoots intended at keeping everyone energized. In addition to DJ’ing, Dooga has been focusing on music production, teaching himself the use of various Apple based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) programs and is currently working on remix-mixtape collaborations with NYC based DJ Gio Alex and local lyricists.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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