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When the lights dim at the 10th Anniversary Women & Girls Film Fest at New London's Garde Arts Center Sept. 10, there will be some very proud young filmmakers in the audience. They are the New London middle school students who participate in S.I.S.T.E.R., a Connecticut College Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) mentorship program for adolescent girls, and the videographers, editors and directors behind the 14-minute video, "Women & Girls Who Inspire."
The film, which will be screened during the festival, is the result of a year-long documentary filmmaking project designed by Tracee Reiser, associate dean for community learning and director of OVCS. The middle school students met with their mentors - female Connecticut College students who intern and volunteer through OVCS - each week to learn how to carry out research, build a storyboard, conduct interviews, shoot video and edit. They interviewed women from Connecticut College and the New London community and filmed them talking about opportunities, resources and the power of women.
"The film they created demonstrates how women are change agents," Reiser said. "It highlights the importance of making healthy choices for a positive and healthy future and emphasizes how important it is to have women role models."
Sarah Tabet '10, a film studies and gender and women's studies major, was excited to get involved with a project that so closely aligns with her interests.
"Filmmaking empowers young girls because it provides them with tools to get their voices heard," Tabet said. "The knowledge and encouragement they received from the women they interviewed in the community was inspirational to witness. Middle school is such an important growing stage for young girls, so it is imperative they get advice from successful, working women."
As part of the project, the S.I.S.T.E.R. participants used their research of role models to create quilt pieces to represent women who encourage, motivate and inspire. The quilt is on display at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London and will be on display at the film festival.
The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund provides support for OVCS mentorship programs, and the S.I.S.T.E.R. filmmakers project was supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut Women & Girls Fund.
The Women & Girls Film Fest, sponsored by the Women & Girls Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, is Thursday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Proceeds will benefit the Women & Girls Fund and the Garde Arts Center.