F R E E is a feature-length documentary following five teens through a year in an Oakland dance program. Their journey in the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company reveals how collaborative art can be a foundation for personal discovery. Follow them through a year of becoming F R E E.
Follow the youth of Destiny Arts through a year of becoming...
"The violence that we experience in the streets, or in our families, or in our minds...or whatever thoughts you have about yourself require silence. Attention. Love."
-- Sarah, Artistic Director, Destiny Arts
"To be free is an act of bravery."
If you Knew Me_2
"...I like to push myself to do things that really girls really shouldn’t do but can’t do. I want to be the girl who does it."
"...I am sitting on a sidewalk because my people don't want me in their house anymore. To them, I am old and tattered. There's a sign taped to my forehead that reads F R E E."
"...I don't know where I would be without dancing. I wouldn't know myself, I wouldn't know my breaking point. I wouldn't know how to calm down. Without dancing, I would be scared of myself."
"...I was still hiding behind what people wanted me to be. I was scared to show who I really was."
"...It happened. It's not just a nightmare or another page in my diary. It happened. It happened to me."
"...F R E E particularly stands out..."
David Collier’s beautifully photographed images of [Oakland] and an original soundtrack by Todd Boekelheide add to the film’s impact.
“...an uplifting colorful documentary.”
A Documentary Film
Suzanne LaFetra and David Collier felt in their bones that Destiny Arts was special from the very first time they attended a performance. It was a shocking reminder of what it means to be a teen in Oakland. Yet, they were impressed and captivated by the students' ability to herald their personal struggles for a public audience. In a place where 1/3 of all teenagers drop out of high school, how is Destiny Arts able to successfully guide these teens though this tumultuous period? Natives of the Bay Area, raising four teenagers of their own, the two paired up in this labor of love to tell the story of five remarkable youth and their journey of becoming F R E E.
Director/Producer/Director of Photography
David Collier is an award winning documentary filmmaker, and the principal and founder of Studio B Films. He received an Academy Award nomination in 1993 for his feature length documentary For Better or for Worse. Studio B Films is a video production company in Berkeley, specializing in commercial work and documentary-based storytelling.
Suzanne LaFetra is a freelance writer, journalist and filmmaker. She is the Executive Producer of the documentary, She Wants to be a Matador (2009). She has long believed in the power of film as a medium for social change. Being the mom/stepmom to four adolescents has made her particularly keen on the youth development work portrayed in
F R E E. This is her directorial debut.
Jennifer Chinlund is an award-winning editor. She has edited dozens of documentary films including Children of the Amazon, The Self Made Man, Discovering Dominga, Baby It’s You, and Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, which won an Emmy and was nominated for an Academy Award. Other broadcast credits include Secrets of Silicon Valley and Beyond the Call, both on Independent Lens; Coming to Light, Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, on American Masters; and Ishi, the Last Yahi, on PBS’s American Experience. Her films have been shown at many international film festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, San Francisco, Telluride Mountainfilm and Tribeca.
Todd Boekelheide is an award-winning sound engineer and composer. He has scored more than 60 films, including Spin, Regret to Inform, Inside Bellevue, The Future of Food, Hearts of Darkness: a filmmaker’s apocalypse and Nina Takes a Lover. He has earned both Emmy and Academy awards for his work.
Destiny Arts Center is a dance, theater and martial arts organization based in Oakland, CA with a mission to end isolation, prejudice and violence in the lives of young people. The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company was created as a forum for youth to express a message of peace and empowerment through dance, theater, martial arts, rap and song.
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"What we're doing here is revolutionary for a bunch of teenagers."
"For me to be free is an act of bravery; society can no longer define me."
"If you really knew me, you would know that sometimes I care a lot about what other people think of me. Even though I know it's stupid and I shouldn't, it still happens."
"Everybody isn't the same, so you understand other people's lives better than just yours."
“Dance feels magical when you aren't thinking about anything else...you just want to hit it your hardest.”
"No matter how confident I come off, the littlest thing can make me recede back into my snail shell."
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Oakland has the highest per-capita crime rate in California.
Oakland's homicide rate is seven times the national average. Nearly half of all homicides are people under the age of 25.
Approximately 1/3 of all teenagers drop out of Oakland high schools.
99% of the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company over the past 25 years have graduated from high school. More than 90% go on to college.
F R E E the Documentary © 2014
Website designed by Elizabeth Feder
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