Fighting racism with video

Young filmmakers from two Vancouver schools were finalists in this year's Racism. Stop It! national video competition. Students from Killarney film and theatre department were recognized for their video "Multiculturalism" and Templeton Secondary Schools' film department was recognized for "Diversa-T."

Ten videos from across Canada were chosen out of hundreds of submissions for the annual competition which is sponsored by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada. Winners were announced in Ottawa at an awards ceremony on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Watch the videos on YouTube here.

Each year the VSB's Anti-Racism and Diversity coordinator Angela Brown holds workshops in schools to discuss racism and diversity issues with students and to prepare the young filmmakers with the critical tools they need to articulate their ideas.

"Working with film students has inspired me to teach anti-racism education through the lens of media," Brown said. "The Racism. Stop it! competition enables students to give voice to often unheard stories through the artistic medium of digital storytelling."

"It's extremely rewarding to have witnessed over the years that when students are provided opportunities to have courageous conversations about complex and personal topics, they feel safe to share their lived experiences and they listen openly to the experiences of others.  These students have used media as a catalyst for positive social change.".

Nick Akrap, media arts instructor at Templeton Secondary, is proud of his school's first entry from Grade 9 students called "Diversa-T." This was Templeton's fourth year as finalists in the video competition, but it was the first time younger students have participated.

Produced by Michael Lupo, Alessandro Freeman, Estevan Sinarta, Jeremy Benjamin and Jacob Juras, "Diversa-T" brings the viewer to an exciting fashion show where a designer is being interviewed about his new clothing line, the "Diversa collection." The video uses upbeat dance music, dramatic lighting and a fast editing style to bring a message about the appeal of diversity and multiculturalism in Canada.

"It was interesting to watch the students develop their idea for the video. They started with the idea of a fashion show and a t-shirt called the Diversa-T. They tried the idea of models wearing one black, and one white shirt, then had the idea of multi-coloured shirts to make a rainbow, and finally settled on the brand name "Diversa" emblazoned on red and white t-shirts to signify Canada's national colours" said Akrap.

Killarney Secondary's "Monoculturalism" was produced by senior students in Jonathan Friedrich's film and television class. The video was produced by Grade 11 students Igor Swarovski, Steven Roste, Alyssa Singh, Rebecca Morrisson and Michelle Sokalofsky. The video highlight's Swarovski's advanced editing skills and Roste's comedic writing and acting skills.

In the video, a bland-looking Roste seamlessly appears as multiple versions of himself, an editing method called "cloning."  In a monocultural world everyone looks the same and we see black and white shots of the multiple characters playing at the playground. Mundane music and the sameness of this world culminate in the message "Life is dull without diversity." In contrast, a colourful classroom scene is introduced with a group of joyful students dancing to upbeat music, bringing a fun ending to the video.

The Racism. Stop It! national video competition was open to students from 12 to 18. The top ten videos will appear as 30 second public service announcements on national television, including MuchMusic. All the winning videos will also be broadcast this summer during Canada Day celebrations at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

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