Films BYkids, a collaboration between THIRTEEN and the non-profit organization, BYkids, pairs accomplished filmmakers with teenagers from around the world to create short personal documentaries that educate and encourage understanding about global issues. Season two features four films: “I Could Tell You ‘Bout My Life” focuses on the juvenile justice system in the U.S., “My Beautiful Nicaragua” explores the effects of climate change on coffee growers in Nicaragua, “Out of Aleppo” follows Syrian refugees living in Germany and “Walk on My Own” examines cultural shifts around child marriage in Senegal.
“This was both heartbreaking and hopeful…They touched our souls tonight.” – Season One Viewer, Kentucky
“I Could Tell You ‘Bout My Life”
Michael Martin, a 19-year-old boy from Harlem, N.Y., endured a challenging upbringing. At age 17, he was party to a felony. Unable to post bail, he was sent to Rikers Island, one of the country’s most violent prisons, where youth and adults are incarcerated together. After his release, Martin was determined to turn his life around. He joined a support program for formerly incarcerated youth, was hired to paint murals in New York City and began working toward his GED. With guidance from filmmakers Chiemi Karasawa and Hollis Meminger, Martin shines a light on the juvenile justice system, while providing a message of hope and encouragement to others.
“My Beautiful Nicaragua”
Twelve-year-old Edelsin Mendez’ family has been growing coffee for generations in rural Nicaragua, but climate change and shifting weather patterns are contributing to a devastating crop disease that threatens coffee production. Harvests have decreased dramatically and poverty is on the rise in her community. Mentored by filmmaker Joyce Chopra, Mendez shares the impact of climate change on her family, and the ways in which her community is striving to maintain its traditions and livelihood while forging a sustainable future.
“I watched one of your programs and was so moved that I had to let you know. I am a school teacher in a rural district. We have very little diversity here, and I try to bring a global perspective to my lessons when I can. I am always searching for tools that may cause my students to empathize with others.” – Season One Viewer, New Jersey
“Out of Aleppo”
Seventeen-year old Mohammad Shasho and his family narrowly escaped violence and destruction in his hometown of Aleppo, Syria. Like millions of Syrians, the Shasho family fled their war-torn country in search of safety. Now, they are struggling to make a new life in Berlin, Germany, learning to navigate a different culture and communicate in a foreign language. Mentored by filmmaker Anja Baron, Shasho shares how he and his fellow refugees are surviving displacement — finding strength and comfort in the arts, education and new friends — and their hopes for a brighter future.
“Walk On My Own”
Thirteen-year-old Ndèye Fatou Fall from Keur Simbara, Senegal was born free to choose her own destiny. Had she and her friends been born eighteen years ago, they would have been forced into marriage, or subjected to the life-threatening ritual of genital cutting, which has impacted an estimated 200 million girls and women alive today in 30 countries. With guidance from filmmaker Elizabeth Hummer, Fall reports on the changes that have happened around her since her village abandoned these practices, and the ways in which these cultural shifts have empowered and transformed her community.