Film festival at Country Day aims to help today’s youth become future trailblazers
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 06/21/12 - 10:06 AM | 47453 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
"Inside Hana's Suitcase" and "Sing Your Song" are just two of the five feature films that will be screened at the inaugural Young Leaders Film Festival at La Jolla Country Day School June 22-24. Courtesy photos
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After a few film-loving moms attended the Sundance Film Festival last year, they simply could not get the extraordinary films they saw out of their minds. The independent films, which rarely make it to large commercial theaters, contained powerful messages and riveting stories that most people would never get the chance to see and experience. More importantly, the films would never reach the eyes and ears of the films’ most crucial audience — the young leaders of tomorrow.

The San Diego-based moms — Pat Hughes, Kathryn Brinton and Carol Tager — banded together with a determination to bring these vital messages home and share their film-going experience with the youth in their community. The result of this steadfast determination was the birth of Moms With Issues (MWI), a partnership among the three women who made it their mission to employ the art of cinema to encourage teenagers to become the innovative minds and influential leaders of tomorrow.

MWI, in conjunction with La Jolla Country Day School (LJCDS), will screen five carefully selected, highly acclaimed independent films on the school’s grounds for MWI’s debut Young Leaders Film Festival — a three-day film festival complete with feature film presentations, expert panel discussions, student participation and short film screenings.

“We know Country Day is deeply committed to leading-edge education and innovation, so once we developed the idea, we offered it to them and they enthusiastically accepted,” said Hughes, parent of an upcoming LJCDS senior.

Not only is the festival part of the school’s new Summer University Program, the students themselves will work in conjunction with other youth around San Diego to serve in vital roles of the film festival’s production and management.

One of the endeavors the ladies of MWI took on was the exhaustive gathering and careful vetting of hundreds of independent films to select the ones best catered to their target youth market. After months of hard work, the trio came up with five award-winning films to screen for the students at La Jolla Country Day School and the San Diego community at large.

“The toughest thing is to curate the films,” said Hughes. “After screening hundreds of films, including over 40 that we saw at Sundance, we have selected five feature films that fulfill our mission to inspire the minds of our 14- to 18-year-old young leaders. These five films tell the stories of ordinary human beings pushing beyond their limits in ways that are extraordinary.”

All of the films presented at the festival expose youth and their families to far-reaching stories about the valiant human spirit that triumphs through adversity. Despite the variety of plotlines, all of the stories share a common theme: They all exemplify real-life examples of how personal triumph and individual dedication can foster change in society.

“These are masterfully crafted films with social, political or cultural themes involving courage, conflict, leadership and possibility,” said Hughes.

Like the message MWI hopes to get across to youth — that the planting of a small seed can lead to fruitful growth and positive change — the festival organizers are starting small and working to make a difference through the event as it expands over the years.

“As with any new venture, we want to make sure the mechanics work,” said Hughes of the inaugural festival. “Our intention is to grow this one within the city, and our aspiration is certainly to take this model to as many markets as possible.”

All films will be shown at the Four Flowers Theater on La Jolla Country Day School’s campus, 9490 Genesee Ave. Ticket prices are $7 per film screening or $15 for the opening day film screening and reception. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call (858) 333-8792.

Schedule of films:

“Sing Your Song” chronicles the story of singer Harry Belafonte’s little-known heroic role in championing human rights the world over. The film will be featured as Young Leaders Film Festival’s opening night film on June 22. The screening will be preceded by an opening reception and brief panel discussion at 6:30 p.m.

“5 Broken Cameras” documents the intimate eyewitness account of a Palestinian villager whose cameras provide screenshots of the violence and protest that unfolds daily near the volatile West Bank region. June 23(10 a.m.) and June 24 (4 p.m.)

“The Hammer” depicts the struggles and successes of deaf UFC champion Matt Hamill in his determination to win a National Collegiate Championship, despite his perceived disability. June 23 (1 p.m.)

“Inside Hana’s Suitcase” features the real-life story of a Japanese teacher and her schoolchildren who unfold the life journeys of George and Hana Brady and their struggles as Jews in Czechoslovakia before World War II. June 23 (4 p.m.) and June 24 (1 p.m.)

“Musical Chairs” tells the romantic tale of two New Yorkers who come together through their love of ballroom dancing. After one of the pair is bound to a wheelchair as the result of a tragic accident, the other helps introduce her to a new world of competitive wheelchair ballroom dancing. June 23 (7 p.m.) and June 24 (10 a.m.)

• The festival concludes with “Sunday Night Shorts” — a screening of six short films, plus StoryCorps from National Public Radio and films from La Jolla Country Day School’s inaugural Student Video and Film Festival. June 24 (7 p.m.)
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