Huffpost Arts
Mark W. Guay Headshot

Through the Eyes of the Youth: Filmmakers Without Borders

Posted: Updated:

Right now, a child sits on a pile of rubble in Syria with a fistful of sand sifting through his fingers remembering the day armed ISIS militants abducted a man from the streets -- a man we all know as James Foley.

Over in Ferguson, Missouri, a group of kids sit on a basketball court struggling to make sense of the riots in the streets.

And in a window in Gaza sits a boy watching fighter jets scream overhead as he listens to his mother and father cry over the loss of another friend.

What if these children had the chance to share their story with you?

We're living in a precipitous time where a child with a camera can deliver a beautiful story faster than The New York Times of 1990. Just take a look at how Twitter rocked a revolution in Iran and allowed anyone with a smartphone to tweet out news. Like sharing the beautiful story of Neda, for instance.

The youth have an unbelievable story to tell -- one that we don't get to see and hear often enough. It's the chance for us to see through the eyes of youthful innocence, childlike wonder and adolescent confusion. And it's a chance for the children to share their world with us through the art of visual storytelling.

The art of storytelling unites us as humans more than the press tends to give credit to. Before fighter jets screamed through the night sky, humans of all backgrounds sat around a fire sharing stories -- with the best storytellers getting the attention of Homer as he would recite The Iliad.

I recently sat down with Corey Boling and his team over at Filmmakers Without Borders to talk about how we could put the power of visual storytelling in the hands of the youth around the world. Soon, a team of highly-skilled teaching artists will be sent on a fully-funded year-long trip to the neighborhoods of struggling youth around the world to put a camera in the hands of a child who yesterday struggled to find a pencil.

Telling the story is easy, yes, but crafting a compelling narrative that holds the attention of a crowd? That takes finely tuned skill, a skill Corey and his team share with the youth around the world.

Filmmakers Without Borders, a 501(c)3, works like Peace Corps for filmmakers. It's the opportunity for an expert in the field to take one year of teaching abroad in a developing country like Sierra Leone or Cambodia and turn it into a lifetime of storytelling for a group of struggling youth.

Fellows are fully funded and provided with film equipment along with being located in a school that speaks English. Curriculum is also provided for fellows to use throughout the year, starting with how to craft a compelling narrative and moving into the finer complexities of turning the written word into a visual masterpiece.

In a world obsessed with data, let's pause for a moment and remember that a good story will always stick longer in our memories than a pie chart of big data.

The youth have the ability to share the raw truth of a story as they struggle to understand the events unfolding before their eyes. They have the ability to bring adults into a youthful frame of reference, one that may perhaps lead to bridging borders instead of dropping bombs.