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Chappaqua Students Premiere Films in Pleasantville

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – A week after Academy Award nominees were announced, nearly 100 little filmmakers from Chappaqua gathered at the Jacob Burns Film Center on Saturday for a red carpet ceremony of their own.

Students from Seven Bridges Middle school were premiering short films created as part of teacher Maria Sarro’s visual literacy program. The films were inspired by Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings.

“We wanted to start really incorporating visual literacy into the curriculum, because so much of what they learn is through visuals,” Sarro said. “Really that’s where technology is bringing us. We’re learning through visions.”

Receiving the celebrity treatment, students walked the red carpet into a room of proud parents snapping away on their camera phones. Students, parents, teachers and administrators then packed the theater to watch the two-to-three minute films.

Attendees were also granted a glimpse into the actual filmmaking process. Previewing the films was a behind-the-scenes look at students working together on storyboarding, editing and rehearsing.

For the films, students selected one of the Four Freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want – to depict anyway they wanted.

“Sometimes they used interviews, sometimes they dramatized the story, sometimes they just did images,” Sarro said. “All different ways.”

Along with their films, students also wrote essays and created movie posters, which were hung throughout the Jacob Burns Media Arts Lab.

“I think what gratifies me the most is that the kids are so proud of their work, and they really see themselves as filmmakers and storytellers,” Sarro said. “And that means more to me than anything.”

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