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A red carpet affair for Sacramento’s young filmmakers

Cameras flashing, limos, tuxedos and dresses: Thursday night at the Crest Theater, a film premier event will roll out the red carpet for a selection of bright young screenwriters, directors and actors.

But there will be no Hollywood A-listers — in fact, you won’t even pay to get into this event showcasing the brightest young filmmakers from Sacramento-area high schools and middle schools.

Sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Cooperation (CMC) and Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center (SCCSC), the premier will display three different types of films: youth voice stories and intergenerational stories that are both several minutes long, and 30-second anti-tobacco public service announcements.

For the youth voice stories, "we give them opportunities to share their voice, their reflections on who they are and their role in their community," said Nicole Jarred, Sacramento Regional Director of the CMC.

The youth voice stories range from a drama about gang violence and drug use to a piece about the high school dropout rate to school violence and bullying. "These students have dedicated tons of hours of service as volunteers after school every day to answer: What is my community?" Jarred added.

Students from schools submitted more than one film, and one high school in particular — Hiram Johnson High in South Sacramento — will be sharing three intergenerational story films and one PSA. The intergenerational stories will be on a former field-working Hispanic man who has now graduated from UC Berkeley, a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, and a Vietnamese man who was forced into a communist re-education camp for 10 years before emigrating to the United States.

"Kids from Hiram Johnson are second-language kids, or they come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and when you show them these storytellers, you show them a different world that they don’t get to see, so they can see themselves in different places now," said Hiram Johnson High School teacher David Varella, who donated his own cameras to the youth to film their projects.

To round out the night, there are also eight anti-tobacco PSAs, which run for 30 seconds each. After they are all screened, a panel of judges, many of who are from the Sacramento Youth Commission, will choose the best one, and the PSA will be shown in local theaters.

The idea is that "for every dollar you spend in smoking prevention, you save $3 in health care," said SCCSC project director Shane Brock. As part of an initiative called Prop 99, the youth will be "addressing the issue of outdoor secondhand smoke and how to cut back on tobacco use in the youth-rated [G, PG, PG-13] media," he added.

"Tobacco is still the no. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States, and secondhand smoke is the third-leading cause of death for those who do not smoke," said Brock.

Brock also said that more than $1,000 dollars in prizes will be awarded Thursday night, and Mayor Johnson, the city superintendents and board of supervisors were invited.


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