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What to know:
WE THE CHILDREN is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 8-16
22 minutes
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Once in a while, a documentary comes along that knocks you out! Directed and produced by Academy Award Nominee Jamal Joseph, this one does just that. I love hearing what young kids think about the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. What a great idea to let third and fourth graders choose the subjects they actually want to learn about at the Pono Democratic School. It is wonderful to see kids get so excited about their education.

One of their teachers, Jessica Greenberg, introduces a great notion that the fourth branch of government is actually "We the People." Kids discover that they have a voice to express their opinions about the goings on in American government. Students of many different ethnic backgrounds create a survey to ask other kids about their thoughts on the 2016 election.

The cinematography is very effective in the scenes where the Pono school children are calling various people to inform them about the upcoming survey. This shows the maturity and confidence of these youngsters. The cinematography is excellent. I especially enjoyed the shots of scribbled rough drafts of the survey questions, leading up to a final typed draft. It shows a true work-in-progress. I like the classical background music. The music director chose a theme that conjures up images of political royalty dancing in the White House.

It is surprising how well these school kids analyze the results of their survey. They present the respondents' answers using quite sophisticated pie charts and bar graphs, showing various percentages. The production designer chose a classroom at Long Island University as a place for the kids to present the results of their survey to an adult audience.

My favorite part is when one young student exclaims how hard (impossible, really) it would be to share the survey with every single kid in Harlem. She throws her hands up in exasperation to emphasize the point. It is quite appropriate acting for a documentary.

The message of this film is that children's education can be much more meaningful for them when their curiosity, creativity, emotions and natural intelligence are engaged.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 16, as well as adults. Reviewed by Jeff M, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror. Any film festival looking to show an outstanding example of a contemporary school should certainly consider this film.

We the Children is a short documentary about children' s thoughts and feelings on politics. Sparked by the 2016 elections results, we witness how a group of children, ages 7 to 11, at a democratic school in Harlem, New York City, responds to their concern about the direction their country might take as a result of Donald Trump elected as president. Through an ongoing journey that involves their own civic law education, community involvement, and activism, they ultimately question the general perception of children' s limited role in politics and open the door for further discussion.
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