Friday, February 02, 2007

Project Citizen Documentary Film Trailer

Veteran Disney executive and independent film maker Patrick Davidson's documentary about Project Citizen.

A documentary film entitled The World We Want will focus on the inspiring stories of young people from around the world participating in the international civic education program Project Citizen. Project Citizen–a program created by the Los Angeles-based Center for Civic Education–aims to equip young people for effective citizenship through hands-on civic projects.

“It’s an empowering approach to civic education that fosters critical thinking, teamwork, creativity, and other skills for effective democratic citizenship,” explains Charles N. Quigley, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education.

The program captured the imagination of veteran Disney Channel executive and television producer Patrick Davidson, who is producing and directing the documentary film about it for release in US theaters in early 2008. This spring, Davidson and his crew turned their cameras on students at schools in nine of the more than 65 countries implementing the Center’s Project Citizen program, including the United States.

Davidson recently returned from filming in Senegal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, India, Russia, Indonesia, Colombia, and Jordan, and expects to feature students from all of these countries in his film.

“After 21 flights, visiting 20 schools, reviewing more than 30 Project Citizen presentations, and meeting hundreds of sensational students, I am more convinced than ever that we have a very special story to tell,” says the filmmaker. “It is a story of empowerment–the power of passionate young people taking responsibility for their future.”

Davidson’s Project Citizen documentary will examine the challenges and success stories of young people working for positive change in communities around the world, using the Project Citizen model. The film will also show students presenting their Project Citizen “portfolios”–displays explaining the public policy issues they are trying to address–to an international audience of more than 300 students, educators, and policy makers at this summer’s International Project Citizen Showcase in Washington, DC. Students from each Project Citizen team describe a public policy problem they have identified in their community, present the information their team gathered about it, the solutions considered, the public policy proposed to address the problem, and an action plan to implement it.

For Davidson, who has produced numerous films and television shows on education, civics, and democracy for clients like ABC, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Discovery Networks, National Geographic, and the US Department of Education, the subject of citizen empowerment and civic education is not an unfamiliar one. But what energized the filmmaker during his recent “Project Citizen World Tour” was the competence, commitment, and excitement he found everywhere Project Citizen was being utilized.

“As frightening as the world may appear today at times, after interacting with the Project Citizen students, I feel that the future is in very good hands,” said Davidson, crediting the program with helping young citizens take control of their own lives and improve the lives of their communities. “Project Citizen is not a political initiative, it is a course in personal and citizen empowerment, and it is happening all over the world.”

Davidson was also impressed with Project Citizen’s interactive and real-world approach to civic education:

“In every school the teachers told us they love the Project Citizen program because of how it works and what it is doing for their students. It requires that students work together, to get out into the community, and to interview and interact with adults, administrators and government officials. In every case they say they love the program primarily for the growth they see in the students themselves.”

For more of Patrick Davidson's impressions, see his CIVNET blog.