Teen suicide, race, disability, gender and sexuality, domestic violence.
These are some of the hot-button topics teens touch on during their time at the Youth Documentary Academy, a seven-week summer class for students ages 14 to 18 to learn documentary filmmaking from professional filmmakers, faculty and guest artists.
Some of those films are now the backbone of “Our Time,” a new, seven-part TV series premiering Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS. A free launch party is 7:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Goat Patch Brewing Company. RSVPs are requested.
The series will air weekly at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays.
“PBS, and TV in general, is missing that youth voice,” said Karen Walldorf, the documentary academy’s deputy director, “And our films fill a hole in media where they don’t really represent youth voice or story. It was a great natural fit.”
First up in the series is an episode devoted to teen suicide, including “Under the Wire,” by 17-year-old Madison Legg, who confronts her younger brother after a suicide attempt and has a revealing conversation with him. In “Surviving,” by 17-year-old Sorin “Téa” Santos, the filmmaker, who attempted suicide, confronts his parents, who were forced to admit their son to a psychiatric hospital.
An introduction and interviews with the filmmakers bookend each episode’s films.
“We are a hot spot for suicide and suicide prevention and mental health in Colorado Springs,” said Walldorf. “It’s on everybody’s mind, especially our young adults. It’s what we want to talk about. It’s also a taboo topic. People are afraid of triggers and causing more damage, but we need to open the conversation, and reach out to those youth who feel like they can’t talk to anybody, that they have no way out.”
The documentary class first started in 2014, and each summer about a dozen students are accepted into the program. Walldorf estimates more than 60 kids have completed the training, and more than 65 films have been produced. Applications for next year’s tuition-free fellowships are online now at youthdocumentary.org.
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