Documentary Shows Literacy As A Weapon Of Survival

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The new documentary To Be Heard follows three students from the Bronx during a rough time period as they tell their story of friendship, struggle and making it off the streets when no one else believed they could.

Karina Sanchez, Pearl Quick and Anthony Pittman, three best friends better known as “the tripod,” join a poetry writing program, “Power Writing,” at University Heights High School in the Bronx. This 87-minute documentary takes you through the transformation of these friends as you watch Karina grow and overcome abusive issues with her mother, Anthony’s struggle to remove himself from street life, and Pearl’s journey to accepting and loving herself enough to believe that life can be better for her.

In the film’s opening Pearl shows her room and her wall of negativity. On her list of things she views as negative characteristics are “minority” and “Black.”  Her journey to overcoming these insecurities is evident throughout Power Writing program.

“I’ve learned that this is who I am and that accepting and loving myself first is the most important thing,” said Pearl.

In a world where they had no one else, they had each other and relied heavily on the three legs of their “tripod.” Throughout the Power Writing program, they grew closely with their teachers and mentors, Amy Sultan and Roland Legiardi-Laura who served as co-directors and producers on the documentary.

“As far as I was concerned, I didn’t have a mother,” remembered Karina Sanchez, now 24. “Amy was my mother.”

The documentary follows the kids through their high school years and beyond, and shows the character change each of them go though in that time period. Anthony Pittman’s progression was especially challenging trying to leave his life in the streets behind. His story is heart-wrenching as your hopes grow for him throughout the film, and then die.

These three are resilient and using words and their weapons of choice, only brings them closer to the life they never thought they’d have.

To Be Heard has been shown and prized in film festivals including Seattle International Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, Doc NYC Documentary Film Festival and many more across the country. To Be Heard opens in selected theaters on October 12, 2011.

To Be Heard: Trailer from Edwin Martinez on Vimeo.

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