ALL PHOTOS BY LIZZY BROOKS, SFFS YOUTH CURRICULUM MANAGER
Last week, SFFS Education hosted six free screenings of Fruitvale Station—with director Ryan Coogler and other special guests in attendance—for a combined audience of just over 2,000 teachers and students in San Francisco and Berkeley, including four theater screenings, one school screening, and one visit to the SF Juvenile Justice Center. Prior to the screenings, a Fruitvale Station Viewing Guide was created by SFFS Education and sent to all participating teachers as a supplemental resource to encourage students to think critically about institutionalized racism, civil rights, and police brutality and also stem further research and discussions beyond the screening experience. The Viewing Guide is available for download on FilmEd., the Film Society's newly launched online community and toolkit for educators.
SFFS Youth Education Manager Keith Zwölfer noted that Coogler was one of the best guests he's ever had in the 10 years he's been doing the Screenings for Schools program and is honored to have worked with him. At one of the school visits, Coogler was joined by Oscar Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson for the Q&A, and for the final day of school screenings Coogler's consulting producer, good friend, and SFFS FilmHouse Resident Ephraim Walker also took part in post-screening discussions. All in all, it was a truly amazing and inspiring way to close out the semester for our Bay Area students!
Some feedback from the participants:
Thank you for introducing us to the amazing work that you do. The Fruitvale program was a resounding success. The reviews from the kids, teachers, counselors, probation officers and other guests has been very positive. Ryan's approach during the Q&A session was right on target. His tone and message resounded with the entire audience.
Big thanks for imagining this event as a powerful and important reminder about the intersection between media, social justice, and the importance of telling all stories. I was quite impressed with the way our kids asked insightful questions and tackled touch issues that bite to the bone. Thank you for the hard work to put this on. Quite an important part of a full curriculum!
This event was very meaningful to our kids. The subject matter was specific to their personal experiences. The Director, Ryan Coogler, was able to communicate with them in a manner that was instructive but never "preachy." The kids were talking about this experience long after the event was over. The program also had a profound effect on the adults in the audience.
This movie/case triggers a lot of trauma for our students so it's not an easy one to just watch and walk away from. Having Ryan and Ephraim there helped to lighten up the mood after the movie and talk about it both as a real thing but also as a process of filmmaking.