On Monday, January 13th, 125 DATA students attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival Student Screening Day.
Along with students from 8 other valley high schools, DATA students screened two films at the Palm Springs High School auditorium.
The first film, Wadjda, was the first movie to be filmed in Saudi Arabia. The story focuses on a young girl's struggle to fit in with the culture of her country while working to earn money to buy a bicycle (girls were not allowed to ride bikes in Saudi Arabia until after the release of Wadjda). The film's director, Haifaa Al Mansour, said that she was nervous about screening her film for American teens, but was elated to find that they connected with the universality of the story. Despite the cultural barriers, students were able to invest themselves in the title character and her struggles.
DATA DS students Jason Bullen and Stefania Populaca were given the opportunity to speak with the film's director, Haifaa Al Mansour. For them, it was a unique opportunity to speak with someone who had overcome so much to create a film she could be proud of.
After Wadjda, all students were treated to lunch from Chipotle before returning to the auditorium for The Crash Reel, an award-winning documentary that follows professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce as he struggles to regain his life after suffering a traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Kevin's story connected with students as they watched him go from being one of the world's top athletes to learning how to walk and talk again.
As a special surprise, Kevin Pearce was flown in from Utah for a Q&A session with students after the movie. As they asked questions, many students explained that they had been fans of Kevin's for a number of years and the chance to see his story and speak with him in person was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
PSIFF Student Day is always a highlight of the year, and this year was no exception (it was arguably the best Student Day yet).