Newark International Film Festival screens East Orange SWEP student film

EAST ORANGE, NJ — A short documentary titled “Beyond the Barrel: An East Orange Story,” which was produced by students of the East Orange Summer Work Experience Program with the help of award-winning broadcast journalist and filmmaker Samson Styles, was selected for a special free screening during the Newark International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11. Following the screening, there was a panel discussion featuring the participating students and Styles.

The film investigates the impact gun violence has had on these children and their communities, as well as their hope to move beyond it. The film also notes that, although many cities across the United States have experienced upticks in violent crime over the course of the pandemic, East Orange has not.

“Gun violence is unacceptable,” Mayor Ted R. Green said in a press release. “The senseless killing has got to stop, and East Orange stands firmly behind these young men and women in their efforts to build for themselves and their community a better, brighter and gun-free future. I’ve met with these young men and women and I am committed to working with them to make a difference here in East Orange and beyond. The Summer Work Experience Program is about opportunity, and once again this year these students have made the most of it — for not just themselves, but the community at large.”

Styles, who directed and produced the Cinedigm documentary “Killing Beef: Gun Violence in the Black Community,” plans to submit “Beyond the Barrel” to other film festivals across the United States and expects the documentary to be aired nationally.

The Newark International Film Festival is a three-day festival founded by Kenneth Gifford, director of the Newark Office of Film & Television. According to NIFF, it received more than 6,000 submissions from creatives in 83 countries in eight categories ranging from narrative feature and documentary to web original and music video. Many celebrities, filmmakers and producers also returned to the festival again this year, namely among them Lance Gross, Tyrese Gibson and the Tate brothers.

“These students are extraordinary and East Orange is on the cutting edge of preparing its young men and women for life, financial freedom and, importantly, participatory democracy. Without participation by the people, there really is no democracy, only alienation and oppression,” said Jamila Davis, the author and entrepreneur who started V.I.P. Online Academy, a SWEP partner. “But this generation is poised to make a difference — and I’m ready to make it with them.”

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