To Be Heard Premieres on Public Television

Premiering on Public Television in January, To Be Heard
Three Teens from the Bronx Tell Their Stories of Friendship, Love, and Struggle, Showing How a Radical Poetry Class Can Ignite Change

“The film offers more substantive insights into pressing issues of public education and urban poverty than many political commentators muster in a career” – The New York Times

Independent Television Service

(San Francisco – December 14, 2011)— A verité film intimately shot over four years, To Be Heard is the story of three teens from the South Bronx whose struggle to change their lives begins with writing poetry. As writing and reciting become vehicles for their expressions of love, friendship, frustration, and hope, these three youngsters emerge as accomplished self-aware artists, who use their creativity to alter their circumstances. Produced and directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer and Amy Sultan, To Be Heard will premiere on PBS nationwide beginning January 1, 2012.

Focusing on three students at University Heights High School in the South Bronx, the poorest urban county in the United States, To Be Heard introduces viewers to Karina, Anthony, and Pearl who have all struggled since birth. Every day, they directly confront the suffering and oppression of poverty, broken families, and an indifferent, often hostile school system. Enmeshed in the story of the three teens is a look at the source of their inspiration – a nontraditional poetry class called Power Writing. Lead by two of the filmmakers, Roland Legiardi-Laura and Amy Sultan, Power Writing is an optional three-hour-a-week class open to all students, at-risk, academically gifted, or both. There are no grades and there is no set curriculum, but in the workshops students learn the elements of writing, vocabulary, and style and are encouraged to express themselves in a safe, non-judgmental setting that welcomes all kind of views and voices including the language of the streets. Designed to empower students, Power Writing has a simple motto, “If you don’t learn to write your own life story, someone else will write it for you.”

To read the complete ITVS article,