|Luis Gustavo Martinez, Sarah Simpson, Hans Riemer, Katie Dellamaggiore, Delisa Saunders, and Kali Holloway|
On June 19th in Washington D. C., Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films presented a special Story Leads to Action in collaboration with Silverdocs. The event focused on feature documentary Brooklyn Castle and how to best engage both general audiences and strategic audiences (such as those influential in creating social change) during their upcoming "Back to School" 2012 theatrical release. The discussion centered on how to capitalize on the film’s momentum, built by myriad festival awards and combined positive catalytic energy surrounding their film, the power of chess, and upcoming election.
Panelists included Luis Gustavo Martinez of National Educational Association, Sarah Simpson of Afterschool Alliance, Hans Riemer of Montgomery County Council, Delisa Saunders, of American Federation of Teachers, Brooklyn Castle Director Katie Dellamaggiore, and Outreach Director Kali Holloway. The panel was moderated by Judith Helfand, Co-Founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films and , Manager of Filmmaker and Partner Services and Coordinator of the Reel Education Initiative with Working Films.
Starting out the conversation on the subject of outreach and engagement plans for Brooklyn Castle, the panel touched on connecting with local educational programs in the festival cities where the film screened (for example, SXSW). As Kali Holloway, Outreach Coordinator for Brooklyn Castle, stated, “No one knows the community better than those who work there.” Director Katie Dellamaggiore also stated the invite to a local event needs to come from a person in that community who has influence in the community, as it is all about word of mouth.
The panelists were truly inspired by the film. Luis Gustavo Martinez, pointed out that the part that talks about the “leaps of understanding” that chess students experience is applicable to all after school programs as a whole. Sarah Simpson also really appreciated the quality time the teachers and principals spent encouraging the students.
When discussing the future impact of the film, for Hans Riemer the film was really about believing in kids and setting high expectations. The encouragement of the students was fundamentally rooted beyond the game of chess. For Delisa Saunders, developing social action surrounding the film can empower and transform communities, leading to better lives for all.
Audience members were encouraged to reach out to public officials, making them realize the after school programs are not "extra", and are keeping kids connected to their schools. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg made cuts from the New York budget, and in the process completely eliminated the spending allocated for after school programs. One idea for raising awareness centered on chess games between the students and politicians or heads of companies—maybe Mayor Bloomberg! During the games, the two sides could also discuss the state of afterschool programs and the budget. –Perhaps to remind officials it’s not just a budget, but the lives of our children.