Film focuses on marginalized youth

At-risk youth want you to see and 'Hear the Story'

Ingrid Rincon-Sanchez, a young woman from Columbia, is determined.

She goes from store dropping off her resumes at the Scarborough Town Centre in hopes of finding employment. Although she dreams of a career in journalism she needs a job to make ends meet at home.

She is young, educated and persistent but it seems it’s not enough to help her find somewhere to work.

“I like to come in person to try to find a job. It’s more effective than going to employment agencies. I’m registered with about seven of them and I have no job,” Rincon-Sanchez talks into the camera as she is followed around the mall by a film crew.

Filmmaker Alison Duke has focused on Rincon-Sanchez as one of the three subjects in the documentary “Hear The Story.”

It was produced through the Youth Documentary Training Project as an initiative of the City of Toronto’s Community Safety Plan, to teach young individuals about teamwork and filmmaking.

The film was also shot to examine perceptions of crime and safety in some of Toronto’s at-risk neighborhoods. The project was launched in the summer of 2005 and the group began filming in October of the same year.

Getting the film on the roll

In the summer of 2005, 10 young people of colour began filming “Hear The Story,” which shows the subject’s hopes and dreams. Alison Duke directed the film.

“When we met to start putting together the documentary, the most popular issue that came up amongst the group was racism and discrimination,” she said.

“But it went beyond discrimination based on the colour of your skin and stretched over to discrimination based on your age and what neighborhood you were from.”

Duke co-ordinated the five-month project and taught the participants about the process of documentary filmmaking and storytelling. Approximately 80 people applied and the final 10 were chosen based on their personal stories of struggle, interest in storytelling and filmmaking.

“I wanted to choose people who had an interest in filmmaking, because after all it is a documentary training project, hopefully they’ll go on to do more work,” Duke said.

The film is 30-minutes long and follows three of the 10 participants through their daily lives in neighborhoods such as Rexdale, Scarborough and the Jane Street and Finch Avenue. Cara Eastcott narrated the film.

“We need to recognize that youth of colour have potential,” she said. “We need to recognize, especially in the neighborhoods we highlighted, youth of colour are no different than any other young person. We have the same dreams and hopes as youth that are more privileged do.”

Film offers community a different perspective

“Hear the Story” was screened in City Hall’s council chamber on Sept. 12, 2006.

Mayor David Miller, who introduced the film, said at the screening that the film was “something that entire communities can benefit from.” He also said that the documentary will be used to “engage young people in discussions about the challenges they face in their own neighborhoods.”

The film is available to download on the City of Toronto’s website at

Youth organizations and groups that deliver programs for young people can order their free copy through the City of Toronto’s Community Safety Secretariat. There was no mention whether the film will be shown in schools across both school boards.

“Youth from the 13 priority neighborhoods should see this film so that they can realize their potential and see that they’re not alone,” Eastcott said. “This video sends out a message… We’re not all violent or lazy…We want to become someone, make something out of ourselves. We just need to be understood…”

After filming “Hear the Story,” Rincon-Sanchez still has not been able to find employment in the field of television and journalism, but she is working.

“After the documentary I learned the importance of our roles as individuals,” Rincon-Sanchez said. “Every human being is faced with challenges and obstacles. My challenge was to find a job, hopefully in the field of journalism and television. Did I get it? No. But I’ll keep going.”