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by Ruben Oestlund
January 26th, 2011

Incident by a Bank, classroom screening. Every year the Sundance Festival picks out a couple of movies to screen for students at Park City High School. The festival has incorporated something that my colleague Erik Hemmendorff often talks about: the fact that with kids, specific experiences need to be forced. Kids shouldn’t decide for themselves what films they watch – we should decide for them.

Erik has told me how he got interested in film. It was through a screening arranged by his school. He was around twelve and the best thing he knew at that time was probably The Goonies. Suddenly he was exposed to Kes by Ken Loach, an experience which demanded something more from him, and gave him an experience that actually changed his life. It was an experience he wouldn’t have been able to choose for himself. No twelve-year-old can do that. When twelve-year-olds get to choose, they go for Big Momma’s House 2.

The good thing about classroom screenings is that the audience gets to meet the filmmakers. Hopefully they will find out that there are people out there who take this seriously. People who might give them a new way of looking at the world.

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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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