Rooftop Presents Free “To Be Heard” Screenings, Youth Writing Workshops, Poetry Slams

Rooftop Films brings the power of poetry to the streets of New York with three free events based around this award winning 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 co-host screenings in East Harlem, Chelsea and the South Bronx. Each event will be a celebration of the power of writing, with a poetry workshop for teenagers, a performance slam, and a screening of the award-winning documentary To Be Heard.

These screenings are generously supported by The Fledgling Fund, and presented in partnership with El Museo del Barrio, The Lexington Academy, The High Line, Joyce Kilmer Park and Mainland Media.

**For young people interested in attending any or all of the the free “power writing” workshops with the stars of the film, and/or interested in reading their work at the poetry slam, please email

Saturday, August 13
@ The Lexington Academy (131 East 104th St on Lexington Ave., East Harlem, Manhattan)
5:00pm-7:00pm – Power Writing workshop at El Museo del Barrio (131 East 104th St. on 5th Ave.)
8:00pm-9:00pm – Poetry slam and music at The Lexington Academy
9:00pm-10:30pm – To Be Heard screening
10:30-10:45pm – Q&A with filmmakers and documentary subjects
In the event of rain the screening will be held indoors at El Museo del Barrio.

Tuesday, August 16
@ The High Line Lot (29th St. between 10th and 11th Ave., Chelsea, Manhattan)
4:00pm-6:00pm – Power Writing workshop (on the High Line under the tunnel at 14th St.)
7:00pm-8:00pm – Poetry slam and music
8:15-9:45pm – To Be Heard screening
9:45-10:00pm – Q&A with filmmakers and documentary subjects
In the event of rain the screening will be rescheduled for Tues., August 23.

Saturday, September 17
@ Joyce Kilmer Park (161st St. and Grand Concourse, South Bronx)
4:00pm-6:00pm – Power Writing workshop (in the park or at a location TBD)
7:00pm-8:00pm – Poetry slam and music
8:15-9:45pm – To Be Heard screening
9:45-10:00pm – Q&A with filmmakers and documentary subjects
In the event of rain the screening will be rescheduled for September 18.

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. Film, poetry, live music, DJs, theatrical performances, food, drink and all sorts of entertainment will fill the streets in a dynamic, community event open to all.

Together with the creators of the critically acclaimed documentary film To Be Heard, the Power Writing program will be hosting three days of spoken word workshops and a slam poetry competition. Staring 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, with music from DJ Dooga. 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. Two iPods will be awarded for winners of each poetry slam.

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.

In addition to these screenings, Rooftop Films and the makers of To Be Heard will be hosting free events in three New York City public high schools: Automotive High School, Brooklyn Tech, and New Design High School, three schools in which Rooftop has been hosting education programs for years. These programs will take place in the fall.

This series of screenings is part of Rooftop Films ongoing efforts to build community through the medium of film and to deepen audience engagement with specific films by creating events that are immersive and elaborate. This series is a continuation of our work with The Fledgling Fund, following our successful events surrounding the films No Impact Man, End of the Line, and Gasland.