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North Philly Teens Go International In Sundance Film Festival

Do Remember Me, which uses media-making to connect teens all over the world, features in “The World Is As Big or As Small As You Make It”

From a rec center in North Philly to a shopping mall in Kazakhstan to a track field in Paris, the ten-minute Sundance-commissioned short film “The World Is As Big or As Small As You Make It” has made the local teen organization Do Remember Me the subject of national internet hype.

 

According to its website, the Do Remember Me Project is “designed to explore, examine and critique the media and social objectification of youth,” utilizing arts and technology to transform the self, the neighborhood and the community of teens living in North Philly. The film shows teens in the program carrying around video cameras, documenting their everyday lives - their playgrounds, dance crews, and the questions that haunt them. Using Skype and Instagram, they send these videos across the world, exchanging glimpses of teenage life as it exists in seven countries.

Made by Sundance alumni Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing of Loki Films, the short was a partnership between Loki and artist Sannii Crespina-Flores, Founder of Do Remember Me, who submitted the idea for the film on social media. Currently an artist-and poet living in Philadelphia, Crespina-Flores says the project “retool[s] what [the teens] already have… their cellphones, their ipods, their iPads.”

It is a profound delight to watch the teens revel in their curiosity and in their neighborhoods, as they give tours of their most intimate surroundings and try to make stories out of their own distinct sense of “normal.” Calling the program “an exchange of possibilities,” Crespina-Flores says “Puberty is puberty. Being a teen is a teen…They’re more connected and more alike than they are separate.”

Yet the film does not stop at the simple pleasure of forming global connections. “Have you ever experienced racism, and if so, how?” A Japanese girl asks the North Philly group eagerly. The response comes: “Yes I have experienced racism in my life. When I was at the store, I actually had someone following me thinking I was stealing something…that made me feel sad.”

In this moment, the film draws out the mission of Do Remember Me to its fullest extent – not only a film about globalization or the genius of technology, but also about the great societal barriers faced by teens, and especially teens of color, right here in Philadelphia. The beauty of “The World is as Big Or As Small As You Make It” is that alongside barriers, resistance can be also be found – in the very act of young people telling their stories, on a global scale. 

Click here to watch the film, or to be connected to The Do Remember Me Project's website.