After a recent five-week stint at the Center for Creative Youth, Yusuf Jones is excited about beginning his senior year at Bridge Academy in Bridgeport and honing the filmmaking skills he learned at Wesleyan's University summer program. Jones is part of the public charter school's Art of Filmmaking program, offered under the auspices of the Westport Art Center and funded by a multi-year seed grant from the Westport Sunrise Rotary, the Fairfield County Community Foundation, MSG Varsity and the Tribeca Film Institute.
Founded by Sandy Lefkowitz, coordinator of the Westport Youth Film Festival, the curriculum offers urban youth the opportunity to learn the process of making a film, including developing a concept, screenwriting and editing techniques. Lefkowitz describes filmmaking as "a great vehicle for bringing young people together" and a way to learn about life. In creating the program at Bridge Academy, she hoped to share her passion for filmmaking and also expand their knowledge of the world. At the helm of the Westport Youth Film Festival, Lefkowitz noticed obvious disparities between films submitted for inclusion in the festival. "It was obvious that some of the filmmakers were so sadly underequipped that their films didn't have a chance of being accepted," she noted.