Picturing power

On March 29, nearly 100 young people and adults gathered at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis for "Represent!" a screening of 11 short films created by young people in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The work reflected what's on the minds of many teens, from racial stereotypes to environmental pollution to the need for teen gathering spaces.

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Alyshia Jackson, Za'Asia Hunter, Anders Lee, Kenny Bankhead (left to right), and other filmmakers talked about their work. Kong Her of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship moderated the discussion.

Six Minneapolis young people in Hope Community's documentary film program used clips from rap videos and interviews with young people and cultural scholars to create "Video Politics," a short film with a powerful message: a person's worth does not come from how they dress, and women especially don't need to dress in skimpy clothes or look like pop singer Beyonce to be considered beautiful.

Seventh-grader Za'Asia Hunter and eighth-grader Alyshia Jackson, two members of the team that created "Video Politics," and high school senior Enia Kyle, who was interviewed for the film, reflected on their experience making and screening their movie, and the power of film to give credibility and visibility to young people and their ideas. They also talked about the power of connecting with other young people and learning that they share common concerns. Listen to an interview with them here.Watch "Video Politics" here.


Kenny Bankhead, a 17-year-old high school student in St. Paul, was part of a team that created a public service announcement calling for fathers to play a role in the lives of their children. Kenny got his start in filmmaking when his probation officer suggested he participate in a youth program offered by St. Paul Neighborhood Network. Kenny credits that introduction to arts and media with helping him get on the right track and develop skills for a career in entertainment. His first project was a video on racial profiling that has since been used by St. Paul Police in training officers. Listen here to Kenny talk about making his first film.

"Represent!" was co-sponsored by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Weisman Art Museum, with participation by Hope Community and St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

Read coverage of the event by the Twin Cities Daily Planet and view other short films screened at the festival.


Great blog! The podcast and links to the video really captured the event. It was an exciting and powerful event. In talking with the Youth Guides afterwards, they were definitely proud to be a part of the event and really walked away with a sense of making a difference.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs