'City Voices, City Visions' Premier Showcases Top Student Digital Videos

Release Date: May 28, 2008

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The first annual "City Voices, City Visions" Digital Video Awards Festival, a project directed by Suzanne Miller, will be held June 5.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The first annual "City Voices, City Visions" Digital Video Awards Festival -- the Academy Awards equivalent for Buffalo Public Schools students participating in an innovative digital film project guided by University at Buffalo associate professor Suzanne M. Miller -- will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 5 in the Market Arcade Cinemas, 639 Main St.

Taking on the anticipation and excitement of a Hollywood premier, middle and high school students from more than 50 Buffalo Public Schools classrooms will gather downtown to watch the digital videos judged the best student-made productions of the year.

The 12 best digital videos chosen from more than 40 nominated by Buffalo Public School teachers will be shown and recognized as winners.

"Some of these videos astounded teachers; they didn't know their students could produce such persuasive work," says Miller, associate professor of learning and instruction in UB's Graduate School of Education and director of the "City Voices, City Vision" project. "Teens who have been in this country less than a year worked to show their feelings about being Russian in America, about their African pride, about being citizens in the world," she says. "When viewing these videos, the UB team laughed and cried, and felt informed.

"We get to see the lives these students are leading through their own eyes and ears."

Featured categories will include Most Effective Soundtrack, Best Cinematography and Outstanding Editing. Other awards will be given in categories that address the curriculum-based focus of the program, including Best Literature-based Video and Best History-based Video.

"They've connected the English, history and science concepts to their personal and media lives," says Miller. "These films represent what can happen when 21st-century students draw on their media knowledge to demonstrate their understanding of Shakespeare or immigration or 'La Vida Loca' in ways that hold an audience."

Although the winning videos will not be released until the awards ceremony, Miller says the support of teachers, and the effort and engagement of students have produced "digital video surprises."

The awards will include three grand prize awards -- for Best Middle Grades Video, Best High School Grades 9-10 and Best High School Video Grades 11-12. Students with winning videos will receive engraved trophies. There will also be a drawing for a new digital video camera at the end of the evening.

"Urban education is much-maligned in the U.S.," says Miller. "In these videos, we see hopeful stories of students engaged in understanding what's important to learn in school and creating a way to make that significant for an audience."

The winning videos will be posted online at http://www.CityVoicesCityVisions.org on the night of the film festival. DVDs of the nominated videos will be available at the Market Arcade for teachers and students, as well as a limited number for those in the audience.

"This festival is an opportunity for Buffalo Public School teachers to show the fruits of their innovative practices and students to showcase their powerful voices and visions," Miller says. "Student-made digital videos provide a peek at the digital and media expertise student bring to school and often don't have the opportunity to draw on for classroom learning."

The event is sponsored by the City Voices, City Visions Digital Video Composing project, a partnership between UB and the Buffalo Public School District. The CVCV project focuses on supporting teachers in learning to use digital video composing as a powerful tool for students to learn in the school curriculum.

The three judges choosing the winning videos are Dorothea Braemer, executive director of Squeaky Wheel; Jonathan Federick, English and media teacher at Cheektowaga High School; and Paul Lamont, senior producer at WNED, the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association. The festival is funded, in part, by the John R. Oishei Foundation.

The public and members of the media are invited to the festival. Admission is free. For more information call 645-2696 or visit http://www.CityVoicesCityVisions.org. Or contact Miller at 645-2455, ext 1122, or smiller@buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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