News in 2008

Film Society’s Educational Outreach Program presents Freedom Writers
Desert Hot Springs High School students to meet casting director

On May 29 and 30, the Palm Springs International Film Society's Educational Outreach Program will present a screening and discussion of the film Freedom Writers to over 600 students at Desert Hot Springs High School.

Freedom Writers follows the career of idealistic teacher Erin Gruwell, portrayed by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Gruwell accepted a position at a newly integrated Long Beach high school in the wake of the L.A. Riots with the intention of helping those who need it the most. She realizes that in order to teach them, she must understand and respect their rocky and racially diverse histories. When Gruwell discovered that most of her students had personal experience with gangs but no knowledge of the Holocaust, she finds a bridge with which to teach tolerance.

Freedom Writers
After viewing the 2007 Humanitas prize-winning film, the freshman English students will hear about the film first-hand from the movie's casting director, Margery Simkin. An enthusiastic speaker, Simkin is eager to discuss the film's true story and how she discovered actors to represent these powerfully dramatic characters. Margery Simkin has acted as casting director for films such as Erin Brockovich, Twelve Monkeys, Top Gun and the upcoming James Cameron movie, Avatar.

Freedom Writers
The program has worked with teachers and administrators in Palm Springs Unified School District to enrich the existing curriculum with screenings and discussions of pertinent films. At the college level, the Film Society has connected with students around the valley through its expanded Internship Program. Offering the opportunity to observe and contribute to the process of organizing two annual, world-renowned film festivals, participants in the program have had the chance to learn first-hand about the vital role that film festivals play in presenting and promoting independent films. The Program makes free tickets available to local high school and college students during its two main events of the year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January and the Palm Springs International ShortFest in August.

The expansion of the Palm Springs International Film Society's Community Education Program has been made possible thanks in part to a generous grant award from the Bank of America. "Their support has enabled us to add a much-needed position to our year round complement of staff as we work within our community to develop cultural enrichment and educational opportunities. We are privileged to have Bank of America as a partner in this endeavor and wish to acknowledge their ongoing commitment to supporting the arts and education," said PSIFS Executive Director, Darryl Macdonald.