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  • Writer's pictureREBECCA OSOWSKI

GlobeDocs encourages understanding, reflection

(L-R Deanna Pam, Isara Krieger, Makai Murray, Jessica Estelle Huggins, Dr. Akilah Cadet) discuss the film The Highest Standard, answer questions, and provoke thought and reflection. Photo by Rebecca Osowski

Last week, The Boston Globe held their ninth annual GlobeDocs Film Festival, a five-day in-person and virtual event sharing documentaries and short films from local and well-renowned filmmakers. This year, the festival showed 28 new films in theaters and online.

GlobeDocs started as a monthly series offering free film screenings and has now developed into a full-fledged festival once a year. According to Linda Pizzuti Henry, the executive director of GlobeDocs, the festival “proudly celebrates the work of creative artists who are amplifying the voices of our community.”

The Boston Globe, which has served the greater Boston community for more than 151 years, collaborates on this project, allowing “an opportunity to convene essential conversations with journalists, filmmakers, and audiences who are equally committed to these pursuits; pairing local, independent journalism with the unique perspectives of creative storytellers,” Pizzuti Henry said.

The lineup of films this year cover a wide range of topics, including education, climate change, immigration, LGBTQ+ discussions, art, the economy, and so much more. Following each in-person screening, there is a panel discussion with those involved in the film. These panels are moderated by Boston Globe staff and while most happen in person at the theater, some are recorded Q & As.

I was able to attend the opening night film and world premiere of The Highest Standard. The story follows three Boston-based middle schoolers through Beacon Academy, a 14-month program for low-income students of color that prepares them to apply to the most competitive, private, predominantly white high schools in the Northeast.

Overall, I enjoyed the film, and it allowed the audience to reflect on Massachusetts’s education system and begin to understand a new facet of it that most of us do not have to experience. For example, at the beginning of the film, viewers follow a 14 year-old from Brockton to school in Boston. He details a two, sometimes two and a half hour commute across three trains, requiring him to wake up as early as 5 a.m. to get to school on time. Those of us that live in the suburbs oftentimes have the luxury of walking, or getting dropped off by a parent, or taking the school bus, and never have to wake up that early to get to school on time.

The panelists after the film opened my eyes to the biases we have, and while bringing light to an organization that does so much good, explained why it is so unfortunate we have to have them. Dr. Akilah Cadet brought up a valuable bias lesson in the discussion following the film. Following decision day in the film, Meleah, one of the main characters, explains she did not get a full ride to Concord Academy, her top school. She says she received $60,000 in financial aid, however still owes $1,000, a comment that made everyone in the audience laugh. Cadet then explained that while $1,000 may seem small for us, $1,000 for a lot of people of color in underprivileged communities requires everyone to make sacrifices, forces parents to work more, and eliminates other opportunities or necessities.

GlobeDocs provides an interesting opportunity to learn and reflect many people do not have access to. As mentioned, the films cover many topics and provide a deep dive into them, providing information and understanding only those that live it get to experience.

By viewing any of the films, you see the issues through the eyes of those living it, and by being a part of the discussion, you learn from those that are not only great storytellers, but oftentimes work with these issues. The films are thought-provoking, informative, and encourage conversation, learning, and reflection.

Reflection is important, especially for college students. We learn tangible skills and about who we are while in college, but as we enter the ‘real world’, how much do we really know and understand? I feel these opportunities for a better understanding of the world are critical to help prepare us in a different way. Yes, I learned from a storytelling and journalistic stance, but I was able to better understand inequality, oppression, and bias not only in education, but in society.

The moral of The Highest Standard story and this one is to take every opportunity presented to you. It may educate and prepare you in ways you did not know you needed or were lacking. Always reflect and try to better understand what is happening in front of you, whether you personally see it or not.


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