BALTIMORE YOUTH FILM ARTS
Baltimore Youth Film Arts launched in March of 2016 with the workshop Inside Out: The Art of the Video Diary. Social Documentary Photography, Discovering Station North, and Performance and Storytelling completed the slate for spring. Thirty-five fellows worked with seven instructors and assistants to create the first films and photographs for the BYFA website gallery. Their work was shared with family, friends, partners, and supporters at the first BYFA screening in June. That inaugural session set a high standard, one that fellows and their instructors have continued to meet. The gallery they established has grown into an archive as rich, varied, challenging, and rewarding as the city and the people it celebrates.
BYFA was conceived to encourage young people in Baltimore to tell their own stories on film. Workshops seek to teach mediamaking and storytelling skills while fostering critical thinking, personal expressiveness, and collaboration. The original three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was approved in December 2015 and called for the participation of 75 to 100 fellows in nine workshops per year, three workshops per trimester. Since then BYFA has welcomed more than 400 fellows, many returning season after season to collaborate with more than 100 instructors and teaching assistants in ninety workshops in sixteen locations. In addition to regular end-of-session screenings, the program has hosted public storytelling events and open houses with walk-in workshops, and sponsors the Born in Baltimore Film & Photography Festival, open to all Baltimore residents (borninbaltimore.org). Several BYFA fellows and teaching assistants have been Festival finalists and award winners. In 2018, the project B Seen B Heard was launched (bseenbheard.org), representing BYFA’s participation in the international photography project Inside Out. And in 2019 Johns Hopkins University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation renewed their financial support of the program for a five-year term, allowing BYFA to continue to evolve and to include new voices with new perspectives.
Baltimore Youth Film Arts has been a collaborative enterprise from its first days. In preliminary community meetings, organizations and individuals in the arts, youth media, reentry, employment development, and education shared ideas freely, allowing BYFA to benefit from their collective experience and insight. The program has partnered with the youth media organizations Griot’s Eye, The Megaphone Project, and Root Branch Productions, as well as the anti-violence project Safe Streets East and the community program The Harambee Center. It is sustained and enriched by ongoing partnerships with Baltimore City Schools, MICA, and Morgan State University. Its curriculum reflects the contributions of professional filmmakers and photographers from all corners of Baltimore, including faculty from Johns Hopkins, MICA, Morgan State, and Towson, and undergraduate and graduate students from Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, Morgan State, Towson, and UMBC. BYFA films and photographs are the work of out-of-school youth from across the city, and of students from high schools and colleges including Baltimore Design School, Baltimore School of the Arts, Carver, City College, City Neighbors, Digital Harbor, Edmondson-Westside, Frederick Douglass, Green Street Academy, Mergenthaler, Western, BCCC, CCBC, Coppin State, Towson, University of Baltimore, and UMD Baltimore.
Baltimore Youth Film Arts is proud of the art the fellows have created. Of all contributions, theirs is the most important. Their intelligence, penetration, creativity, and compassion are fully in evidence in the website gallery. They speak eloquently for themselves and for their city.