On Monday night, Colorado College graduate Holly Carter ’84 returned to her alma mater to explain the importance of BYkids, an organization that provides kids around the world with training and equipment to make documentaries about their lives.
On its website, BYkids outlines its belief “that we can understand the world’s challenges—and how to best meet them—through the personal stories of young people. BYkids is a global movement that uses storytelling through film to inform, engage and inspire action.”
Carter began her career as a writer and editor at the New York Times, where she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She then decided that the New York Times had a “white man colonialism” way of reporting, and it felt dangerous to her. “Empathy is missing in our national dialogue, and kids are the best journalists—they tell it how it is,” she said with a grin.
The night started off with the screening of two short films: one about coffee production and climate change in Nicaragua and another about displacement in Colombia. This was only the third time that they have been screened.
Carter was dressed in a long red blazer ready to take on any and all questions from the audience about documentary filmmaking and how she got to where she is today. “The documentary platform is larger than we think it is, and the art of making documentaries is finding common ground,” Carter answered. “The more we disrupt the better.”
“We have a system,” said Carter, describing how the organization chooses the kids who will produce the documentaries. “The topic must be globally relevant. Then, we pick the country, partner with a nonprofit, and choose a film mentor for the child we pick.” Both of the documentaries shown Monday night follow the lives of two young girls in the face of environmental and structural violence—and the circumstances that have shaped their narrative.
“My Beautiful Nicaragua” follows the life of 12-year-old Edelsin Linette Mendez and illuminates the consequences of climate change. The second film, “Displaced but not Defeated” is set in Colombia and follows the story of a displaced 16-year-old girl, driven from her home by decades of civil war. Now, living in the slums in Cali, she attentively puts a face on the cost of civil war and the drug trade.
The promotional video shown primarily has kids from across the globe explaining that their stories which “may not change the world but might change yours.”