SMALL TRUTHS portrays an integral facet of immigration via the words and visages of children.
Second graders in a Staten Island, NYC public school are filmed as they present written and
illustrated pieces based on an experience of their choice, “Write something, a few sentences to describe - an important memory or event - so that when you tell it, someone will understand what it’s like to be you”
The overall tone is upbeat, often funny and charming. Their stories are simple and cheerful - washday chores in Mexico, making pizza with mom, a visit to the park; a few are recollections of upsetting or traumatic events - parent deportation, a dad as a crime victim, a house fire, a snake bite.
Additional footage was shot in their homes and neighborhood, a blighted area with a transient population, largely Hispanic with a large influx of Mexicans. Bias issues plague the community.
The principal, AP, ESL specialist and a classroom teacher offer commentary, explaining approaches employed to help students reach their potential. A charismatic social worker specializing in the challenges of newcomers provides a narrative thread. Lightly underscored is the relevance of strategically applied arts programming in public schools.
(four of the adult speakers are émigrés from Cuba, Poland and Nigeria)
Using the reportage of children is an equalizer, an illumination of universal human similarities... and testimony to shared values. Hearing their earnest voices and learning the travails of their families spurs respect. The tenor is gently optimistic.
For information on screenings
with options for Q & A, lecture or discussion forums at your school, professional venue, cultural or community organization please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New to documentary filmmaking, Yuster embarked on her first major project when she realized she was uniquely situated to share the stories of young immigrants. A frequent teaching artist in NYC public schools, she developed a program with a literacy component:
“Write something, a few sentences to describe an important memory or event — so when you tell it, someone will understand what it is like to be you,"
Significant, self-defining memories are then illustrated; the students engage deeply. Their accounts, startling, often funny and moving, can create a bridge of understanding within disparate communities if brought to a wide audience. Bias issues abounding and a social/political climate polarized, earnest children speaking plainly have notable appeal, with the power to edify if presented via popular medium.
Working with friend and colleague, filmmaker Michael McWeeney who shared this vision, they documented the children’s words and images. Their collaborative effort, Small Truths illuminates universal similarities, promoting a more hospitable attitude and alleviating tensions.
"the subtle tact of having young children show common values easily fosters connection, respect and affection "
I became fascinated with images around the time I was 5 years old, when I started clipping photos I liked from newspapers and magazines. At 11, I picked up my first camera. I remember the anticipation of waiting for the film to be developed at the local pharmacy, and the excitement that came with finding that one good shot in the pile of prints when they finally arrived. I had no idea then that the skill I was cultivating would eventually provide the opportunity to travel the world, meeting fascinating people and telling their stories - some powerful and vibrant, others sad and vacant. For more than 25 years, I’ve worked to capture the moments in our lives that define who we are, the places that shape us. I’ve shot everything from hard news to travel, fashion to animals literally crossing my path. There’s probably nothing that I don’t enjoy shooting. My work has covered the gritty, dark side of humanity (murder investigation, anyone?) to the bright, lively streets of a tropical paradise. In 2007, I began delving into multimedia. I’ve become adept at video, combining images, copy and music into woven stories that captivate my audience. From the everyday to the extraordinary, I believe my work exceeds expectations time and again, because I truly love what I do.
©2012-2015 Small Truths All Rights Reserved