My students are full of pleasant surprises. Now that I’ve finally hit my stride, and my classes are going strong, I am bowled over every day by what I’m hearing and seeing from these budding documentary filmmakers. In the five-week professional course, the ten students are doing four short pieces that went into production this week.
Earlier in the week, one team focused on one of the top oud (a middle eastern lute) players in Egypt, who also happens to have been blind since birth. Yesterday, I shot with a team doing a film about the El Hosary Home for Orphans in 6th of October City, a suburb of Cairo. The founder of the center is a former pop singer who stepped out of the spotlight and channeled her energy and money into charity. She is an angelic presence at the home, the mother to all the kids and staff there, and loved by all.
The 43 children live in groups of four in small apartments, each including a bedroom (with four crib beds), a playroom and a full-time “mother,” a woman who spends nearly every day and night with them when they’re not in school. The kids were excited about the visitors with the camera, and were climbing all over me as I tried to shoot. The boys, especially, were thrilled to get some attention and affection from the three visiting men.
Today, another team worked in an area of town where thousands of Iraqi refugees are making their homes away from home.
Next week, another group will meet up with a former soccer star turned school headmaster.
And that’s just one of my classes. I’ll tell you about the amazing projects my graduate students have in the works in a later post.