Teen Filmmakers Start a Conversation

Members of Boys to Men (Family Matters’ Teen Boys Program) have hosted four community screenings of their film, Silence the Violence, a documentary that looks at the multiple causes of gun violence through the eyes of young men in Chicago. The film is a culmination of roundtable discussions with the police and the community at large.

Silence the Violence was filmed in Rogers Park and includes stories from all around Chicago. It was produced by Chris Spence, Family Matters’ Director of Teen Boys and Youth Engagement, and members of Boys to Men. Funding for the film was generously provided by the Community Church of Wilmette.

The young men in the film provide courageous, genuine reflections about life and death. They maintain that the violence is an issue of easy access to firearms and lack of access to alternatives to violence. The result is a powerfully arranged collection of everyday footage, statistics, 911 calls, and personalization of what have come to be all-too-familiar news stories.

Through the screenings and panel discussions, Family Matters seeks to offer Rogers Park youth a platform for relating their experiences of discrimination, sharing their opinions on the issue of gun violence, and providing other youth an opportunity to offer insight on promoting peace within our neighborhood and city.

“The experience I had at the theater was amazing. It gave me a platform to show other people how minority youth, including myself, struggle in the neighborhood we live in and to tell our personal story. Being on stage answering questions from the audience made me feel as if I was a spokesperson, speaking on behalf of the people in my community.”  

– Elijah, Boys to Men member

The four screenings (held at the Community Church of Wilmette, Centered Studios, and the New 400 Theaters) were followed by panel discussions, which engaged diverse audiences in constructive dialogue with the young men. Given participant responses, we believe that they emerged with a deeper understanding of these complex issues.

“The screening was a great thing. I love the way I got to talk about our community problems and to find a solution. We need all the help we can get to make our community a better place.”

– Derek, Boys to Men member

Proceeds from the screenings support Project RISE, which offers internships for the youth at local businesses.

We are hopeful that the screenings have inspired future opportunities for collaboration and justice-oriented action.

If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a group screening of the film, please contact Amanda Reuter at amanda@familymatterschicago.org. We would also welcome feedback from anyone who attended one of the screenings.

If you would like to make a contribution to support Boys to Men, please follow this link.

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