DePaul Documentary Filmmaking for Girls shows off work at premiere

Apr 30, 2019
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Press contacts:
Office of Communications – Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;
DePaul University Communications
Kristin Claes Mathews:

Today is the last day for aspiring female high school filmmakers from the Chicago Housing Authority to apply for the 2019 Documentary Filmmaking for Girls program at DePaul.

Earlier this week, this year’s group showed off what it learned.

The CHA 2018 class of the award-winning DePaul Documentary Filmmaking for Girls program debuted its work during a premiere screening at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The films featured were: “South Side Pride,” “Without Dying” and “Phenomenally Me,” which were filmed in the summer of 2018. The audience also saw “Birthday,” a film from 2017 that is currently on the festival circuit.

Afterwards, the filmmakers participated in a Q&A with writer and film advocate Chaz Ebert, CEO of Ebert Enterprises and a DePaul alum, and Liliane Calfee, program director and instructor within DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Ebert, who grew up in CHA, was still living there when she took her first film class. After visiting the program in 2017, she has become a staunch supporter of the film project.

Once again, she was stunned by the work of the filmmakers.

“I can’t believe they take someone who has zero film knowledge and, in six weeks, they produce something like this,” Ebert said.

The CHA/DePaul Documentary Filmmaking for Girls program features work from high school females who live in public housing across Chicago. It debuted in 2016, and has returned every year to rave reviews.

This year, 12 young female residents participated in the program, exploring culture and community through their unique lens.

This year’s themes included a celebration of self-expression through hair, a positive perspective on Chicago’s South Side, and humanizing the approach to drug addiction and homelessness.

“Going into our fourth year, we’ve witnessed the transformative power of this program,” Calfee said. “Whereas many of these young women come in thinking of a film career as a pipe dream, they complete our summer with a great deal more confidence and with more industry connections. I’m so thrilled when I get calls and emails years later from past participants telling me about a script they wrote, asking for a letter of recommendation to film school, or inquiring about film projects or directors they can shadow. If we want more diversity in the media industry, we need to be deliberate about how we create more access. Our program does just that.”

DePaul’s faculty filmmakers and graduate student mentors guided the teens as they conceptualized and executed the short films.

In addition to focusing on the technical aspects of filmmaking, they emphasized leadership and team-building skills.

The program is made possible through CHA’s non-profit affiliate, Springboard to Success. For DePaul University, the alliance with CHA complements its Vincentian mission to promote service, inclusion and social mobility. Since 2016, the College of Computing and Digital Media added two more CHA summer youth intensives including interdisciplinary design and screenwriting.

For a gallery of photos from the event, click here:

For more information on how to apply, visit