The young will lead us to the light, is the message that binds two of the 2015 Sundance Short Film Challenge winners. 175 Grams and Isabelle’s Garden could not be about two more different young people. One is Ram Kumar a youth from Chennai, India and the other is Isabelle a teenager of the Choctaw, native American community in the US of A.
They are both stories of two young people who chose to see beyond the impoverishment and hopelessness to engage other members of their community to find hope and a way for the future.
175 grams follows the story of Fly Wild, an Ultimate Frisbee team some of whose members are from the slums of Chennai. Staring at a life of waywardness and frustration they are encouraged by Ram Kumar to come and play ultimate frisbee. In the process, they meet youngsters from other social strata. By interacting with other players these youths often move in a positive direction, rather than feeling hopeless. The game itself teaches them the power of discipline and teamwork where they play as equals without the discriminators of gender, money or education. Bharat Mirle and Aravind Iyer deliver a powerful story of renewed hope with 175 Grams.
Isabelle’s Garden by Jeff Palmer shows us the undying spirit of hope of Isabelle. Living in a community that respects the earth and is the keeper of ways no longer respected today, she nevertheless makes a consistent effort. She tends to her garden and delivers them to needy neighbours in her rickety, rusty too small for her, cycle. Her community, in turn, comes out to assist her in tending to her garden on her request. She is fully aware of the deprivation and difficulties her community members go through every day. Her free delivery of fresh vegetables and fruits make us marvel at this young girl’s message of hope. She shows us how the power of one can move many and collective affirmative action strongly can sustain communities.
These short films, each 8 minutes length narrate stories with a powerful message- no matter how young, how small, how weak or economically deprived you may be, you can still transform the world around you in a deeply meaningful way. The hard work and individual effort coupled with the intention to help their community impacts them and those around them with life-changing results for the better. These are young leaders who shape their future with their actions and instill hope by daring to hope themselves.