IMPERIAL — Proving that an individual’s hardships and motivations can transcend countries and cultures, local high school students were able to gain a better understanding of their world during a private film screening Tuesday afternoon.
Spearheaded by the Sundance Institute, the touring program Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue made its first stop at Imperial High School to showcase the feature documentary “Town of Runners” and hold a private question and answer session between the students and filmmaker Jerry Rothwell.
“It’s important to expand the students’ knowledge and understand that people around the world don’t necessarily live the way we live,” said county film commissioner Charla Teeters-Stewart. “It’s important for them to see someone else in their culture and their way of life.”
The documentary followed the lives of three young runners from the Ethiopian highland town of Bekoji. The runners struggled to strive for their goals of competing in the Olympics.
Local high school student Jovi Rodriguez, 15, was glad she was able to view the film.
“I thought it was cool and inspiring how they were like motivated to leave and go somewhere better,” Jovi said. “It was nice to learn about people in other parts of the world and how they live and what they do.”
Having encountered similar students, Film Forward Initiative Director Meredith Lavitt has seen firsthand how the film has inspired other youths.
“There were a lot of kids out there who came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Thank you for the opportunity to watch the film because it inspires me to follow my dreams and to work hard,’” said Lavitt.
“I think being able to turn that light bulb on in a student is a great opportunity and hopefully it helps them see that their struggles and challenges are similar to people all over the world,” she said.
Staff Writer Celeste Alvarez can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at email@example.com
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