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PPS Students to Participate in Diversity Dialogue

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PPS Students to Participate in Diversity Dialogue
Posted on 03/23/2015
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More than 500 Portland Public Schools students will participate this week in a dialogue about immigration and diversity, hosted by the University of Southern Maine.

On March 25, the university will screen the film, “I Learn America,” by internationally award-winning filmmaker Jean-Michel Dissard. Dissard's documentary film tracks five teenagers at a public high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., who are striving to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, and create a future of their own while coming of age in a new land.

The screening will be followed by a Q  & A with Dissard. Accompanying Dissard will be Sandra Staniszewska, a Polish immigrant student featured in the film. A workshop at Deering High School about immigration issues will follow.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district. About 32 percent of the district’s students speak a primary language other than English at home.

Dissard’s film is presented by USM as part of the fourth annual Portland Children’s Film Festival (PCFF), which this year runs from Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29. Lynn Kuzma, USM Interim Executive Director of the Metropolitan University Initiative, is an organizer of  the PCFF.

The annual festival, which is a Portland Public Schools’ initiative, presents internationally acclaimed children’s films, original student films, witty short films and family documentaries and offers opportunities to engage with artists, filmmakers, community organizations and more. The PCFF welcomes attendees of any age to the festival, which takes place at venues throughout Portland.

The PCFF was conceived and organized by East End Community School parents and teachers. Inspired by Portland's diverse and creative community and a shared interest in film and the arts, they wanted to couple an opportunity for local families to view quality independent and international films with hands-on programming designed to encourage local children to explore their own talents and interests in filmmaking.

For more information on the festival, such as how to purchase tickets and the dates and times of film screenings and other events, go to www.portlandchildrensfilmfestival.com.