YEREVAN—From October 28 to November 15, the U.S. Embassy is partnering with the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies to launch a “Youth Empowerment” project, which includes an American Documentary Film Showcase, an essay contest, chess with Armenian grand masters, and master film classes for young people. The project was introduced at Tumo during a press conference on October 28, which included the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern, Tumo Director Marie Lou Papazian, producer/editor Nelson Dellamaggiore, director/producer Katie Dellamaggiore, and independent filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt.
The showcase’s opening film, Brooklyn Castle, is the remarkable and improbable true story of Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, New York; defying stereotypes, it has the highest ranked junior high chess team in the nation. It tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the United States. The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives as well as on the chessboard, and is as much about the pain of their losses as it is about the anticipation of their victories. Ironically, the biggest obstacle thrust upon them arises not from other competitors but from recessionary budget cuts to all the extracurricular activities at their school. Brooklyn Castle shows how these kids’ dedication to chess magnifies their belief in what is possible for their lives. After all, if they can master the world’s most difficult game, what can’t they do?
The film will be shown in Armenia’s three main cities: Yerevan , Gyumri and Vanadzor. The next 23 films will be screened at Tumo, and they all follow the theme of the showcase, “Youth Empowerment.”
In addition to the films, the “Youth Empowerment” project sponsored an essay contest for young Armenians to describe an inspiring teacher in their lives. The contest received over 3200 entries, and was co-sponsored by Dasaran.am. Winners will be announced at the opening film reception by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern.
Internationally recognized filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, director/producer Katie Dellamaggiore and three-time Emmy award nominated director Nelson Dellamaggiore will run a series of master classes for a group of young people at Tumo. The filmmakers will work with groups of Tumo students who have been studying scriptwriting, cinematography and editing over the course of the past year at Tumo, in order to produce short films on topics of concern to them.
Armenian grand masters Levon Aroyan and Gabriel Sargsyan will play chess with a select group of boys and girls prior to the premiere. Other VIPs will also be present.