Project VoiceScape: Meet Filmmakers Mohamed Gardner and Imani Peterkin

by |

View the full Project VoiceScape documentary short films and vote your favorite until Sept. 30, 2011!

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.

View a clip from Mohamed Gardner and Imani Peterkin’s Project VoiceScape film Seeds of Hope.

Mohamed Gardner and Imani Peterkin - Project VoiceScape

Project VoiceScape filmmakers
Mohamed Gardner and
Imani Peterkin

Imani Peterkin and Mohamed Gardner, of Albany, N.Y., are Project VoiceScape‘s youngest grant winners.

“I wanted to be a full-time novelist or something of that nature,” says Mohamed of his earliest memories.

“It was when I was 6 that I kind of wanted to become a film director. I didn’t fully want to become a filmmaker until I had gotten a little older, around 9 or 10.”

Now 12, Gardner has five films to his credit.

For Imani, 15, it was her interest in photography that lead her to filmmaking. Unlike Mohamed, she hadn’t been behind a video camera until 2010, when the two began collaborating at Youth FX, a digital filmmaking program started by Bhawin Suchak in 2008.

Suchak suggested the young filmmakers apply for a Project VoiceScape grant, which they received earlier this year.


Imani and Mohamed’s documentary, Seeds of Hope, belies their age. Their film is about a mother in Albany’s South End who loses her son to gun violence and builds a garden in his memory. Inspiration came for the filmmakers when they met the mother, Allison Banks, and found out more about her approach to ending violence in the inner city.

“Allison Banks told us her story and asked us if we would like to do a movie on her,” says Imani. “So we took it as an opportunity to say something about an important issue.”

Musa Syeed (Bronx Princess)

Imani and Mohamed’s
mentor is Musa Syeed
(Bronx Princess)

The filmmakers worked with the facilitators at Youth FX and had additional guidance from award-winning filmmaker Musa Syeed, whose Bronx Princess aired on the PBS program POV in 2009.

“Musa gave us great feedback,” says Imani. “He said that we did great, that we just needed to start it off with what’s the movie about, and go more in depth with Allison.”

“The best tip I’d received from [Syeed],” says Mohamed, “was going to the place where Alison’s son was killed to give the audience the setting.”

With Syeed’s help, the filmmakers worked to tighten their final edit and re-examine how they were using music along with their storytelling.

The film is almost complete and the filmmakers have strong ideas of what they want audiences to take away from watching.

“Even though loss is all around you, and that’s something we really can’t stop from happening (but it is preventable), you can deal with it,” says Mohamed. “Violence is all around us, and it’s important to know that there is a light in darkness.”

Says Imani, “You can take something that is a negative… and turn it into something positive.”

Follow the progress of all the Project VoiceScape filmmakers and their award-winning documentary mentors, along with videos and more behind the scenes coverage, at the Project VoiceScape blog.

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.