Students develop digital public service announcements, short films in workshop


Right on: Participants for The Righteous Conversations Project direct their film and begin a scene during a digital workshop. Printed with permission of Rachel Fiddler

Kristin Kuwada

The Righteous Conversations Project held two programs this summer at Feldman-Horn gallery to bring together Holocaust survivors, who shared their stories, and students from multiple schools.

The project launched in 2011 at Harvard-Westlake under the direction of Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke, with the goal of creating an environment where students could learn about the holocaust from those who experienced it firsthand.

“I think students are very moved by the survivor stories and they are inspired to see that somebody could live in the most horrific circumstances and that these survivors were still willing to share their own stories,” Gaulke said.

Eight students from Harvard-Westlake, Orange County School of the Arts, ShalHevet School, Sierra Canyon School and Viewpoint School created, “Peace by Piece: The Story of Harry Davids,” at the digital storytelling workshop.

After interviewing Holocaust survivor Harry Davids, the students created a seven minute film and edited and combined his transcript with their own animations.

“It was amazing to hear from so many survivors and I learned so many different things both about the history of the Holocaust from personal stories and about filmmaking, animation, and art,” Becca Frishling ’19 said.

During the public service workshop, students wrote and directed four films titled “VE,” “Keep the Lights On,” “American Girl” and “The Test.”

These public service announcements were made to inform people of important social injustices.

The first film, “Ve,” was based on the issue of using preferred gender pronouns rather than assuming a person’s sexual identity. “Keep the Lights On” promotes the idea of education outside the classroom, where learning extends beyond basic school curriculums. A story about muslim acceptance, “American Girl,” stresses the need to break away from cultural stereotypes. “The Test” is a film that is centered around the reality of an unconscious bias among all of us.

There will be a gifting ceremony in the fall to screen these films for an audience and to donate the public service announcements to the student selected non-profit organizations.