Brownstones to Red Dirt
In a world where e-mail and text messaging is changing the way young people communicate, a handful of students learn the power of writing letters the old fashioned way in this documentary from filmmakers Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker. A sixth grade class in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant district is given an assignment to become pen pals with kids from another country. But the youngsters are not communicating with typical overseas students -- they begin exchanging letters with orphans from Sierra Leone who are struggling to get by in the wake of the nation's brutal civil war. Bed-Stuy may be a lower-middle class neighborhood in the eyes of many, but the hand-written letters and snapshots from their new friends open the students' eyes to the hardships suffered in the rest of the world. When one of the kids from Sierra Leone expresses his desire to help others even less fortunate than themselves, their American pals step forward to make a difference, setting up a barbeque as a fund raiser for their compatriots. Brownstones To Red Dirt was an official selection at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival.