Bailey Brings Research to Life in Urban Film Fest

Popular culture’s influence on youth is undeniable. Educators are increasingly recognizing the great potential of capitalizing on student’s interest in pop culture and media to advance literacy education. Warner doctoral student, Brian Bailey, an experienced science teacher and film buff became intrigued by the expressive and curricular power of film production for urban youth. Concentrating on his dissertation, which focuses on the use of film production as a literary practice, Bailey is studying the issue of media usage in literacy education.

Bailey believes that schools over-emphasize standardized testing through “traditional” forms of writing, which hinders innovative thinking by students to express their own ideas and identities. This is especially relevant given that we live in a multimedia society whereby video tends to be a dominant form of communication. One of the purposes of Bailey’s dissertation is to observe the “multimodal literacy practices that students use to participate in a community of filmmakers at school with particular attention given to the ways in which this process manages to engage students in meaningful critical literacy events and challenge traditional definitions of literacy and popular culture.”

On May 25, 2005, Bailey brought his research to life as he hosted the Rochester Urban Youth Film Festival, co-sponsored by the Rochester City School District and the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Bailey, working with East High School Art teacher Philip Lange, constructed this festival as a way to give Rochester City School students the opportunity to show their work in an authentic film festival.

“I attended a number of film festivals in suburban schools in the Rochester area and was highly impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and creativity,” Bailey said. “I wanted to see the same opportunity for city school students who are also producing high-quality videos.”

The festival took place at East High School where 19 films were evaluated for creativity, originality, and technical quality by an evaluation panel.

Judges included: Tim Beideck, filmmaker based in Rochester; Heather Laton, artist and Assistant Visiting Professor of Art at the University of Rochester; Jack Garner, film critic for the Democrat & Chronicle; Reenah Golden-Collier, performance poet, spoken word artist, community activist, and educator; Tony Exton, teacher and founder of the video production and analysis course at Fairport High School; Shabaka Collier, a local filmmaker and videographer.

Bailey’s hope for the future of the festival includes seeing each city high school have their own film festival followed by one large city-wide festival at the Little Theatre.

“I continue to be amazed by the expressive and powerful ideas that students communicate through video productions. The film festival helped my research by allowing me to see the depth of what students have to say about the world through this medium. Their creations in video are rich forms of multimodal literacies that deserve the attention of educators and the broader community.”

Tags: Brian Bailey, literacy education, Rochester City School District, Rochester Urban Youth Film Festival, standardized testing