“Hope in America” Wins Grand Prize at Film Festival

By FSM Communications

This August, two Free Spirit Media (FSM) students traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Denver on a mission to produce a documentary film framed by the question, “What are the grounds for hope in America?”

Brandon Hummons and Chris Frills, seniors at FSM’s partner school, North Lawndale College Prep Charter High School, are ranked first and second in their class. Brandon and Chris are both talented media producers and have been star students in FSM classes and special projects. Accompanying Brandon and Chris was Joseph Berry, an NLCP alumni and graduate of Southern Illinois University, who now works as an instructor with Free Spirit Media.

This FSM team interviewed delegates, protesters and politicians as they worked to interpret this important moment in history from their valuable perspective.

While they were at the DNC, Brandon and Chris emailed daily reports back to their high school classes, sharing the energy of the convention and helping their peers make a personal connection to politics.

Reflecting on his experience, Chris shared, “Never before have I seen people so energized by politics.” The morning of Senator Barack Obama’s speech, Brandon wrote to his class, “We had nothing on our minds but the thought that this is the day that history will be made.”

Returning to Chicago with over 10 hours of footage and a new school year underway, Chris and Brandon worked to focus their story into a five­ minute film, “Hope in America.”

FSM entered their piece into the “Looking for Democracy” film festival sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council, the Independent Television Service, Independent Lens, Kartemquin Films, IFP Chicago, and the Columbia College Television Department.

“Hope in America” was awarded the grand prize.