Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

New York Times Calls To Be Heard “One of the best documentaries of the year”

The New York Times review of To Be Heard is out, and we could not be happier. Paul Brunick loved the film.  It opens today. Check it out.

Here’s the full review:

On paper, “To Be Heard” may sound like the kind of production that’s better at “raising awareness” than at holding anyone’s interest. In a straightforward vérité style, it tracks the intertwining trajectories of three underprivileged New York City teenagers whose lives are transformed by their participation in a pedagogically progressive slam-poetry program at University Heights High School in the Bronx. There are inspirational triumphs and painful setbacks, and, yes, the students read their poems in sincerely unguarded performances.

But check your cynicism at the ticket booth. “To Be Heard” is one of the best documentaries of the year.

The film offers more substantive insights into pressing issues of public education and urban poverty than many political commentators muster in a career. Situations are presented in all of their messy detail. While the psychological toll of systemic racism and pervasive financial hardship is dramatized in powerfully human terms, the film refuses to elide less readily sympathetic problems, like drug use, single-parent households and domestic abuse. “To Be Heard” contains and invites passionate debate. As one teacher remarks about a troubled student, “There is no facile solution.”

Ultimately, though, the intimacy of the portraiture is so raw that it transcends sociology. These students — Anthony Pittman, Pearl Quick and Karina Sanchez — are three of the most authentic and complex young adults you’ll find in any film this year. And each is a genuinely great writer: technically accomplished and emotionally overwhelming. They aren’t just the subjects of “To Be Heard.” They’re its stars.


Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer and Amy Sultan; director of photography, Mr. Martinez; edited by Mr. Martinez; music by Wendy Blackstone; produced by Mr. Legiardi-Laura, Mr. Martinez, Ms. Shaffer, Ms. Sultan and Jill and Jim Angelo; released by Dialogue Pictures. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes. This film is not rated.


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Columbia University Reviews To Be Heard

The film will be screened at the IFC Center’s DocuWeeks: Theatrical Showcase August 19-25, and at the Rooftop Films: Summer Screenings in Chelsea on August 13th and East Harlem on August 16th

Liz Hoelzle sat down to watch To Be Heard and wrote a review about it for the Arts & Humanities at Teacher’s College program at Columbia University.

Each of the teachers featured in To Be Heard display an extraordinary commitment to their students and seem to have a calling to impart a love of literacy. They continually impress upon their students the idea that controlling language is a route to freedom. Legiardi-Laura stresses this idea when he states, “If you don’t control language in this world, you go to jail. Whether it’s a physical jail or a mental jail doesn’t really matter.”

As “the tripod” continues to grow and flourish in their poetry, even experiencing the thrill of participating in a citywide teen poetry slam competition which one of them wins, it seems that everything will turn out just fine. But more challenges await them on the horizon, and their commitment to poetry and to one another is tested. The audience rejoices and cries along with the characters, and is ever inspired by their consistent reliance on poetry for survival.

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Teacher-Directed Ed Reform Flick Attempts Oscar Nominee Bid

Here’s a little press release we sent around today.

Teacher-Directed Doc Confronts Literacy Crisis Head-On

Film Has Won Six Recent Awards, Tracks Three Bronx Teens Escaping Poverty through Poetry

See “To Be Heard” at AFI Silverdocs in Silver Spring, Maryland June 24-25, 2011

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Work, , , , , , ,

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