Photographer Mark Vergari and I have been at the Jacob Burns Film Center in the Pleasantville the past three nights, watching the animated one-minute movies of more than 250 fourth-graders from across Westchester County.
For three months, “Minds in Motion” volunteers from the Burns have been at their schools — from Mount Kisco to Port Chester to Yonkers and New Rochelle — teaching them the tools of animation and watching the students create one-minute movies.
The goal might have been to make it seem like paper was moving of its own free will, but education director Emily Keating (inset) says the kids learned much more. They applied math and science skills. They learned how to communicate, negotiate, compromise. And all of this learning was disguised by piles of construction paper, magic markers and a video camera. If they were paying attention, they might have figured out that they were learning. But it seems they were having too much fun to notice.
The premieres on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday included a chance for the dressed-to-the-nines filmmakers to walk down an actual red carpet, flanked by parental paparazzi who were out in force, beaming at their kids’ achievements. On Tuesday, when a girl walked the carpet, I heard a dad yell: “Who are you wearing?”
The 39 films varied widely in content, from the everyday (a boy getting a haircut) to the fantastical (a pair of pants that escapes from a fitting room only to be chased by a mob) to the scientific (a demoted planet Pluto looking for its new place in the solar system).
You’ll be able to watch the films on lohud.com in the coming months, and we’ll have photos of the filmmakers, and a bit about their films, in the Express sections of the paper, so keep an eye out. We’ll also stop back at the Burns regularly, in September and January, and reporting what we see there from future classes of student animators.
To learn more about the Burns’ educational program — including summer-camp offerings — go to the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Education Page.
Photo by Mark Vergari: Jaime Peter, from the PEARLS Hawthorne Elementary School in Yonkers, walks the red-carpet at the world premiere of “The Epic Adventure of the Robot Turtles,” the animated one-minute movie she made with her classmates, as part of the Jacob Burns Film Center’s Minds in Motion program in Pleasantville, June 15, 2010.