Screenings with Meaning gets young people talking

Hackney young people, aged 15 and over, turned out in force on Friday 11 December to watch a free screening of Oscar award-winning film “Crash”, featuring Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Terrence Howard and Thandi Newton, at the Town Hall.

The event, organised by the young people who make up Hackney Democracy Ambassadors with support from the Council’s Youth Services, launched the forthcoming programme of bi-monthly “Screenings with Meaning”. The free film and debate events have been developed, in consultation with other youth Ambassadors, to support young people in Hackney to get involved in positive activities.

Hackney Democracy Ambassador, Jade Benn, 17, said: “We want to encourage young people to be more insightful about social and political issues in a way that they can relate to. The project will screen films that are entertaining and that will also provoke debate and promote involvement amongst young people from across the borough.”

The audience of around 100 young people, representing Hackney s diverse communities, attended the free screening in the Council Chambers. The film had broad appeal dealing with hard-hitting provocative themes, which evoked emotional responses from the young people as the rollercoaster plot of the film unfolded.

Collective cries of uproarious laughter as well as heartfelt gasps of shared concern were clear reactions to the onscreen problems of the film’s main characters.

Following the screening, the Democracy Ambassadors led a lively discussion on some of the film’s deeply controversial issues like stop and search, immigration, family breakdown, inter-racial relationships, cultural intolerance and, very significantly, how it is possible to combat the common stereotyping associated with young people today.

Young men and women spoke passionately about how here in the UK, as is demonstrated in Hackney, there is an alternative story to be told; one of valuing education, respecting difference and taking advantage of opportunities to achieve.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “This is an innovative project that has been chosen and developed by young people for young people in Hackney. It is one of the many exciting events on offer across the borough as part of our commitment to deliver positive activities all year round, and I urge young people to look out for forthcoming events and get involved.”

The Democracy Ambassadors already have a series of titles lined up for future screenings, including “Dangerous Minds” starring Michelle Pfeiffer, but welcome suggestions from young people on other films that will provoke debate, which can be posted on the Young Hackney website: