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During COVID, These Oakland Teens Made a Film About Diversity and Empathy

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By Sarah Givens

Open any newsource these days and the reminders of human intolerance are everywhere. From George Floyd to the rise of Asian American hate, it’s rather soul crushing, really.

But there are also signs of hope out there, like a group of Oakland teens who are now finishing up a mini-documentary about the empathy they’ve found not just in spite of the diversity of their city — but also because of it.

“I want people to realize that we’re all interconnected in some sort of way even though we might be drastically different in race, ethnicity or sexuality,” explained Sara Lam, a co-producer and editor for the film.

The film, “OF OAKLAND,” tells the story of four Oakland teens and explores their different cultures and experiences growing up in Oakland, as well as their commonalities. Check out the trailer below:

“My favorite part of the film is being able to see the differences between the characters, but then as the film goes on, seeing the way they relate to and connect with each other,” explains Sofia Verani who is co-producer and director for the film. “You see the ways they’re united even though some of them don’t really communicate with each other. And I think that represents Oakland really well.”

Both Sara and Sofia are graduating Oakland public school seniors and both will be studying film when they start college this fall — Sara at Cal State Long Beach and Sofia at Emerson College. They, along with the four characters in the film, are all current students in Youth Beat’s film classes for Oakland public school students.

You can see the film and support these talented young filmmakers!

“OF OAKLAND” premiers Tuesday, May 18th at 5pm, as part of Youth Beat’s Virtual End-of-the School-Year Screening Party and Fundraiser.

Learn more and get your FREE tickets right here.

And tell a friend! Youth Beat’s students are mostly low-income, inner-city kids who are dreaming BIG about telling their stories. You might just walk away feeling a bit better about the world . . . and you will definitely get to see some fantastic films!

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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