OAKLAND -- Stories of gang violence, youthful offenders and runaways too often fill the pages of local newspapers and electronic media. leaving the multitude of positive stories untold. Project YouthView (PYT), however, has set out to change that trend with its annual film festival.
A program of Alternatives in Action, PYT celebrates the creativity of young filmmakers and their power to raise awareness and affect positive change in their communities. Now in its 10th year, the festival takes place at 7 p.m. Friday at Oakland's historic Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway Ave. Previously, the event had been held at the Alameda Theatre.
"Filmmaking is wonderful," said teenage filmmaker Lily Yu, who won the Audience Choice Award for her music video "Limitations," a video that focused on black civil rights (both past and present) in Oakland in last year's competition. "PYV allows me and other young filmmakers to show a large audience that we are capable of making an impact through film."
Yu, who graduated this year from Skyline High as a junior, produced "Pressure" for this year's festival.
"The film hits pretty close to home," she said. "I wanted to show the stressful reality of high school students, which comes off to many adults as lazy and overreacting, which might be true. But it is a real thing for us students, and I hope the film will help others relate."
Born in China and raised in Oakland, Yu will continue her studies at California Institute of the Arts in Southern California this fall.
"The biggest challenge I've faced as a filmmaker is not being seen as one," Yu said. "Other filmmakers, who have gone to film school or worked on large budget projects, sometimes look down on me. To them, I'm just a young girl who made a few videos and got lucky. It can be really frustrating."
But Yu believes Project YouthView is helping change that perception.
"It's great to see a festival that showcases all the amazing films the younger generation makes," she said. "Programs like Alternatives in Action and BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) help us become better storytellers, better filmmakers. It's important to have someone believe in you."
The Paramount Theatre event features 12 Bay Area youth-produced film shorts and a special showing of the Sundance-winning documentary "Rich Hill." Chosen from more than 45 submissions, the short films use powerful images, animation, music video and narrative storytelling to shed light on such issues as school pressures, growing up in foster care, the impact of violence on urban youth, technology addiction and grappling with conflicting cultural identities.
In addition to the Audience Choice Award Yu received last year, the evening also includes a Judges' Choice Award, selected by a distinguished panel of judges that includes Russell Simmons and Terence Winter of the award-winning HBO drama "Boardwalk Empire" and Rachel Winter of Oscar-nominated "Dallas Buyer's Club." Both the Audience and Judges Choice winners will receive cash and prize gifts.
Proceeds from Project YouthView benefit the multimedia programs of Alternatives in Action.
What: Project YouthView's annual film festival
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland
Tickets: $7 for youth and $20 for adults; a $125 VIP donation for two tickets includes appetizers and drinks during a private reception following the event.
Information: Tickets can be purchased at the Paramount Theatre box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at www.alternativesinaction.org or www.paramounttheatre.com.