Y.O.U. – Selalah and Tiaira Scott’s Story

For over 40 years, Evanston-based non-profit Y.O.U. has been providing quality programs and services to youth. Their vision is that all young people acquire the skills, self-confidence, and opportunity to participate fully, freely, and responsibly in the life of the community.

The Scott Family shares their story of how Y.O.U. has impacted their lives in this video:


About the Video
Producer, Director, Editor: Shuling Yong
Cinematographer: Jeff Perlman
Production Assistant, Additional Sound: Andrea Blake


Y.O.U. – Tyler’s Story

Meet Tyler. Bright student. Strong role model. Aspiring journalist. One of the 15,000 lives that has been touched by Evanston non-profit organization Y.O.U. (Youth Organizations Umbrella, Inc.) over the last 40 years. She’s also one of the talented young men and women I had the privilege of meeting while on my journey to document the impact that Y.O.U. makes in our community.

With comprehensive after-school programming, assistance with homework, enriching summer activities and leadership development opportunities, Y.O.U. enables every youth the opportunity to realize their full potential, regardless of their economic backgrounds. I’d also like to highlight, especially, the organization’s one-on-one mentoring program. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a good mentor in life and am so glad the kids get paired with their own mentors through the program.

To learn more about Y.O.U., visit their official website at www.youevanston.org

About the video
Produced/Directed/Sound Recorded by Shuling Yong
Cinematography by Jeff Perlman 

Best doc feature at Tribeca an eye opener into disability.

I had a nice long chat with my buddy Cindy today about what life is like for people with disabilities and how they can be better integrated into society, especially once the safe space of schools is no longer available to them. Cindy volunteers regularly at Park School in Evanston, where she said that most of the students were aged between 6 and 20 and had Down Syndrome.

I’d been thinking about the dilemma of whether integrated school systems where students with disabilities are mixed in with typically developing students  is more of a boon or a bane for them. On one hand, mixing the kids early on will allow them to get to know each other on a more personal level, and thus increase the level of understanding of the challenges they face. This could translate into more people with disabilities being able to find employment later on.

On the other hand, as my friends Taylor and William pointed out during our discussion, young children can be really mean. Without guidance from parents and teachers about mutual respect and not judging books by their covers, integrating kids that way could put children with disabilities in the direct line of fire of verbal abuse.

And then there’s the whole issue of training teachers to be able to differentiate their teaching well enough to match the varied learning levels of all their students. And because training costs money, funding will always remain an issue.

So when I came across the list of winners at the Tribeca Film Festival on the NYT, Alexandra Codina’s Monica & David caught my eye. When I saw the trailer, it was love at first sight. My heart melted like putty.

The film follows the marriage of Monica & David, two adults with Down Syndrome, and their family members who strive to support them. I’m definitely looking forward to a screening near me. :)


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Talking Pictures Festival – on the road there…

I’m honoured that The Talking Picures Festival co-director Ines Sommer invited me to join her programming team yesterday to review some of the hundreds of entries received from all over the world. And many thanks to Tim for putting the idea in my head in the first place. Sitting in a theatre with other very experienced filmmakers and film enthusiasts discussing each short we viewed was a great learning experience, and tremendous fun.

We saw everything from music videos to animations to experimental shorts from places like Australia, Spain and even Estonia. It’s amazing how being a part of a festival programming committee will bring you the chance to watch thousands of films. And it’s up to us to make sure that what makes it to the big screen is top notch quality.

Definitely not an experience you get from going to film school. Loved having my eyes opened to what goes on behind the scenes when I submit my work to festivals. What a great way to spend 3 hours on a Saturday! Look forward to bringing you more updates on how things are going. If you’re in and around Evanston/Chicago, do swing by! :)

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