New York City children strike a life learning chord at the prestigious Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program in the new documentary Some Kind of Spark, filmed by the Award winning filmmaker Ben Niles.
The moving documentary makes it debut at the fifth annual DOC NYC film festival. America’s largest Documentary festival is scheduled for from November 13th to the 20th. The event will be showcasing at the IFC center, SVA theatre and the Bow Tie Chelsea cinemas.
According to the Music Educators National Conference, children’s music education has sharply declined over 20% since 2001. Ben Niles, director of the award winning film Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037),” chronicles six children (ages 8-12) from all over New York City as they embark on life changing experiences in his new feature length documentary, Some Kind of Spark.
Niles filmed six children over a 3 year period, as they ceased the opportunity to study music in Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program (MAP), a Saturday outreach program for students from communities that are underserved in the arts. Some Kind of Spark intimately captures the students and their dedicated teachers, as there budding and profound relationships build upon every lesson.
Some Kind of Spark contends in the Metropolis Competition at the documentary film festival on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 2:00pm at the SVA Theatre. Niles will participate in a post screening Q&A with the MAP students featured in the film. Niles expressed, “I’ve always been a big believer in music education and what they’re doing over at MAP got me excited. They’re changing lives through music.Niles said he wanted to try and make an impact through his film.”
Some Kind of Spark paints a deeply intimate portrait of the students struggles to do well in school and in the program, by allowing them to patiently tell their own stories. Spanning borders and ethnicities, gender and class, the film quietly but effectively, illuminates such pressing contemporary social issues as high poverty rates, low family literacy and weak school family relationships. These kids go on a musical journey, both inspiring and very challenging.
This is a new world for these children many who have never even heard of Juilliard – and the demands are high, even for beginners. Each child has his/her own conflicts and hurdles to overcome. Niles’ captures range from a first recital and stage fright, to a lack of practicing and dedication, to a shortage of funding for an instrument. Ultimately, Some Kind of Spark is about transformation, aiming to serve as an inspiration for other programs across the nation. Niles hopes the film nurtures two of our most valuable national treasures: our children and our musical heritage.
Ben Niles and Plow Productions are planning to partner with museums, universities, symphonies and theaters to organize screenings for their community members and supporters, in hopes of channeling additional funding toward music education. Plow Productions is also creating an innovative web space that will serve as a virtual stage for children across the country to upload videos in which they can showcase their musical talent and explain the importance of music to their lives.
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