TEENS LEARN TOLERANCE

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A MUST-SEE DVD 'SEEDS OF CHANGE'


Caryn Eve Murray

July 24, 2005

It's not quite the hot summer movie of 2005, and its running time is barely three minutes, from first lines to final credits.

But to its teenage cast - ranging from Justin Morales of Islandia and Sadie Pincus of Commack to Mayra and Erik Martinez of Brentwood - it is, in many ways, even more this year's must-see than "War of the Worlds" or "Batman Begins" could ever hope to be.

The video, "Seeds of Change," draws its power from a four-letter word - hate - and that word's ability to destroy through acts such as persecution and genocide.

Produced by Brooklyn videographer Pierre de Gailland, the DVD was released for viewing by schools and community groups right before summer break.

But not before the teens attended their own private, low-key premiere.

"I first saw it at least four weeks after we filmed it and wasn't really sure what to expect," said Mayra Martinez, who will be a senior at Brentwood High School this fall. "When they finally played it for us, we were blown away. Oh, my God, I said, I can't believe we just did this."

The video, in which each of the 15 teens recites in close-up, details some of history's most horrifying genocides against a backdrop of stark photos. It was the closest Martinez, 17, said she and her brother, 16 - both first-generation Mexican-Americans - had come to such horrors.

As participants in Seeds of Peace, coordinated by Adelante of Suffolk County and the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, the teens were players in a much larger script that began last fall.

"They've had anti-bias training, they got to see the film 'Farmingville' and experienced holiday sharing in December," said Kelly Alpert-Vest, director of the Y's community relations and author of the video's script. The teens are now helping put together a study guide to accompany its distribution.

Just a few weeks after its release, it was honored at the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, after a screening before 150 people.

"The most important thing, is that it starts conversation," Vest said. "And it gets people thinking."

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

 

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