Monday, August 31, 2009

TEN9EIGHT - the countdown begins

As many of you know, we wrapped up post-production on our newest film, TEN9EIGHT ( earlier this summer. We had the good fortune to be invited to screen a sneak peek at the ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL, which is where US Supreme Court justices and Administration officials and captains of industry mingle and brainstorm. (They could also, incidentally, be seen walking around in shorts.) A shout out to Kitty Boone who helped insure that the screening was a stunning success in Aspen.

Our friends at PLUM TV not only promoted the screening, which was sold out - but arranged for me to interview a few of Aspen's glitterati attending the Ideas Festival, including the Daily Show's Black Senior Correspondent, Larry Wilmore. Click here for his very funny interview. (Note to self: never wear an unflattering white tee shirt on television.)

But it was Rodney Walker who stole the show in Aspen - everyone wanted to shake his hand - and I was so proud when he stood up to the microphone in an open session with US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to ask a question about how the Secretary intended to get parents more involved in their children's education. Arne Duncan, for his part, made it clear that he is doing his job for the Rodneys of this nation. To see Arne Duncan's introduction to the film, check this out.

We also had another sneak peek recently with an audience of students - and one comment left me humbled and touched. "I am so glad I saw this movie," said a 16 year old inner city student. "I am going to become a Queen, a Diva... people are gonna know my name." And the fact that a single student felt more optimistic about her future and her ability after seeing the film - well - that was the whole point of making this movie. (Stay tuned - the film will be released in November during Global Entrepreneurship Week).

The film chronicles the stories of several inner city kids, as they compete in and prepare for a nationwide business plan competition (hosted by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), and I am indebted to the Templeton Foundation for providing major funding for this project, and to the Kauffman Foundation, for their funding and support. I am also indebted to Steve Mariotti and my other friends at NFTE, who allowed me unprecedented access to these students and to the program itself.

I also feel so fortunate to have a new set of teenage friends - those who graciously agreed to let me interview them and prod them (and their families) about their lives and experiences - and people who are so full of opportunity and exuberance. They leave me Facebook messages and text me. And what struck me profoundly throughout the process of making this film is this fact: There are millions of kids just like Rodney and Mac and Jessica and Jamal - in every state, in every city. All of whom are seeds. Seeds with the potential for an explosion of color and vibrancy.

All they need is just a little bit of water.