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Gladys Bensimon’s timely documentary A Way Out will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 10!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 06/06/2017

Gladys Bensimon’s timely documentary A Way Out will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 10!

Gladys Bensimon
’s timely documentary A Way Out will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 10!

Here is my interview with A Way Out Director Gladys Bensimon:

Nigrin:  Your timely feature documentary is about three young men from Newark, New Jersey who successfully beat the odds. Please tell us more about your film and why you decided to make it.

Bensimon: I created this documentary to understand why has it been decades that we’ve been talking about racism, poverty and inequality in America, considering that the US is one of the riches countries in the world. Why is it that while we’ve identified the various problems, we’re not closer to a solution? The problem in my view centers on one word: “Opportunity.” When I read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliners, it further reinforced my belief that the people who succeed and thrive in life are those who receive support and opportunities to take their lives to the next level. My subjects are the outliers.

Additionally, after doing some volunteer work teaching minority middle school children in an after-school program, I learned that those individuals who are born poor and with lack of any realistic opportunity to succeed will have a much harder time to escape poverty than someone who has one opportunity or more.



 
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So, we made the film to interview both people in poverty who’ve been able to somehow become successful as well as many experts in poverty, economics, business, and politics to understand and focus on the factors of success that lift people out of poverty.

The film focuses on three minority men who made it successfully out of the school-to-jail pipeline.

Nigrin:   Your film weaves together compelling stories about these men with incisive reflections on the historic, economic, and cultural roots of poverty, and on the history of racism and inequality in the U.S. What kind of support did they receive to help them in their quest to get out of the situations they were in?

Bensimon: If we look at the stories of each individual in A Way Out, they are very different from each other. That said, some factors of success rose to the top: Formalized and prioritized education was a driver of success. Family, community, and mentorship was another. Finally, entrepreneurship was another major one. What really saved Rodney and Tony, was they were identified as high performers and placed in special magnet programs – with that opportunity much success followed. In Ken’s case, he had strong religious and adult mentorship that helped him recover and also saved his life.

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can rely to our readers?

Bensimon: The stories that had the most impact on me were actually during my inspiration and discovery period – stories of the middle school students whom I was teaching as a volunteer in Newark. Their dramatic exposure to violence, and death were the last push for me to pursue the production of this documentary. They weren’t thinking about their homework; they were thinking about if their parents would be shot when they go home. Opportunity is hard to come by in urban America. These kids’ stories were chillingly similar to the upbringing of my documentary subjects. While Tony, Ken, and Rodney found their way out, we don’t know what the future holds for the children in those classrooms. My hope is that this documentary will shed some light and impact the efforts placed into educational, community, and mentorship programs in urban America, so we see more and more success stories. 

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Gladys Bensimon’s timely documentary A Way Out will Premiere at the 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 10!

A Way Out
will be followed by the wonderful documentary film Sistas Conversation by Shelley Titus. Here is more info on this screening:



 
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A Way Out – Gladys Bensimon (Hoboken, New Jersey  A Way Out is a timely documentary about three young men from Newark, New Jersey, who successfully beat the odds that could have left them poor, incarcerated, or even dead...They beat those odds not by luck, but rather through the consistent support they were given and the opportunities they chose to pursue. Filmmaker Gladys Bensimon weaves together their compelling stories with incisive reflections on the historic, economic, and cultural roots of poverty, and on the history of racism and inequality in the U.S.. 2017; 53 min.  Special Guest Appearance by Director Gladys Bensimon!

Sistas Conversation – Shelley Titus (West Orange, New Jersey)   A lively documentary about a group of diverse women who take on topics that include the Black Lives Matter movement, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and the threat posed by ISIS.  Sistas Conversation serves as a conversational time capsule of 2016. 2016; 64 min. Special Guest Appearance by Director Shelley Titus!

Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to all New Jersey Film Festival Screenings!

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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