Project VoiceScape is a partnership with Adobe Youth Voices, PBS and POV to mentor today’s best young documentary filmmakers. Keep up with news from the filmmakers and their mentors on the Project VoiceScape blog.
While on his way to his video production class at KDOL-TV, Damari Lawrence, a junior at Skyline High School in Oakland, California, regularly walks, skateboards and rides his bike down Oakland’s International Boulevard, also known as “The Track.”
It’s a part of the city notorious for drug deals and prostitution. And much of the sex trafficking that takes place on The Track involves underage girls.
Damari was concerned for the safety of his younger sister and the many young girls in his neighborhood, and was inspired to create a documentary about this problem, and that became the Project VoiceScape grant-winning documentary, The Track.
Damari joined forces with a dynamic group of young filmmakers at KDOL’s Media Enterprise Alliance, led by director Jeff Key. One of these filmmakers was Lal Thapa, a 18-year-old originally from Bhutan who’d spent most of his life in refugee camp in Nepal.
Since arriving in Oakland two years ago, Lal has thrown himself into a variety of pursuits that would put any overachieving college prep student to shame. Between playing soccer on his high school team, activism efforts at Oakland’s Chinatown Youth Center and holding a part-time job to provide financial support to his family, it’s hard to imagine how Lal also found time to contribute to a grant-winning film, let alone earn a place in the freshman class at San Jose State University in the fall.
Damari and Lal were joined by a third young filmmaker, Jyoti Gurung, who got a new perspective on the issue when she joined Oakland police officers Joshi and Scotts on a “drive along” of The Track.
By the end of productions, the filmmakers had interviewed Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Nola Brantley, the founder of MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth), and Barbara Lora-Muriera of the Interagency Children’s Policy Council of Alameda County.
With the additional guidance of media mentors Jenny Chu and Jennifer Maytorena Taylor (New Muslim Cool), Damari, Lal and Jyoti are set to screen The Track at an October showcase of Project VoiceScape films at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.