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Contact: Wendy Milette

MY HERO Film Festival Winner Explores Dropout Rates for Black Students

LOS ANGELES, CA – November 20, 2010 – “Why So Low?”, a film exploring the drop out rate of African Americans at San Francisco’s Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, has one first place in the High School division at The 6th MY HERO International Short Film Festival. The short documentary began when a group of friends wondered why only 3 African American males had graduated from their high school last year. Donel Finks, Angelica Escobar, Edgar Ulu, Fernando Torrez and Frank Nelson investigate this occurrence and film their findings.

Villy Wang, President and CEO of BAYCAT.org, guided the young producers on their film 'Why So Low?'

African American students comprise the 2nd largest racial group at the school, but their demographic has the lowest graduation rates. The filmmakers found that the largest factor in the dropout rate is not a lack of skills but a lack of resources. Poverty is the true culprit. Thirty percent of the families in the area earn less than $10,000 a year and local adolescents make up 27 percent of the youth in the juvenile system.

Freshman Gerald, said, “Like, when I was in second grade, I was getting bad grades, so it seemed to me that they’ve been making my prison cell since I was in the second grade. It’s not good to be thinking they’re already expecting you to go to jail.”

The filmmakers turn the camera to Thurgood Marshall students who offer suggestions and observations. “The students here are the future community managers or the next gang members or the next step into wherever this community will go,” said Hill, a Marshall High sophomore. “So, we actually decide the fate of this community.”

Villy Wang, among other winners, are recognized at the 2010 MY HERO Short Film Festival

The 6th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival showcases the world’s heroes as seen through the eye of the camera. This year’s festival takes place November 20, at the George Lucas Building on the USC campus. Since 2005, the festival has attracted filmmakers of all ages and abilities from the countries including Jordan, Senegal, Australia, Mexico and Montenegro.

The festival is part of The MY HERO Project, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that celebrates the exceptional people who motivate and inspire us by working to make the world a better place. MY HERO is now celebrating its 15th year of promoting cultural awareness and fostering personal expression and international communication through its award winning web site www.myhero.com. Students and adults from around the world use this free, universally accessible resource to share written stories, artwork, music and short films about the heroes who have touched their lives. Teachers from more than 120 countries use MY HERO curriculums in schools, after-school programs, community workshops, libraries and media centers.

Audience awaits anxiously for the next film at the 2010 MY HERO Short Film Festival

Entries are now being accepted for the 7th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival, which will be held in November of 2011. Filmmakers may submit films of up to 10 minutes in length in the following categories: Narrative, Animation, Experimental, Documentary or Excerpt. The deadline to enter is June 1, 2011. For more information, visit the festival web site at: www.myhero.com/filmfestival.

To view “Why So Low?” and other award winning films, visit the MY HERO screening room at: http://myhero.com/2010

Last changed on: 1/11/2011

BAYCAT.org Explore the opportunities that BAYCAT has to offer

Why So Low? Watch 'Why So Low?' by Donel Finks, Angelica Escobar, Edgar Ulu, Fernando Torrez and Frank Nelson

2010 MY HERO Film Festival Winners Enjoy all the winners of 2010's MY HERO Film Festival

Thurgood Marshall Academy Learn more about the Thurgood Marshall Academic High School

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