CineMedia educates youth through the camera’s lens


Nicole Haun

The audience finds seating inside the remodeled Lobero Theatre with room for 600 people on Sunday Feb. 9 for the Youth CineMedia documentary showcase, bringing “social justice through the lens of today’s youth.”

Wilson Hartsock, Channels Staff

Education, cultural identity and an outcry for social justice set the tone for those present at Youth CineMedia’s premiere of their short documentary series Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Lobero Theatre.

The documentaries shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival ranged from themes of police brutality, local gang injunctions and youth culture in Native American reservations.

The goal of the Youth CineMedia production group is to put a camera in the hands of the underprivileged youth, and allow them to express themselves through the lens.

Films like “Stop Killing Our Sons” and “No Letters Allowed Behind Bars” helped voice the injustice that some of these students have seen and felt over the last few years. While other films like “Trip to Anahuac 2013” and “Tesuque Grandmother Speaks” gave a more cultural perspective.

The audience reacted with bursts of applause and moments of silence for the victims of friends and families that participated and attended the screening of these documentaries.

“For the most part I felt that the documentaries were really moving to the audience,” said City College Student Cole Hoyt. “However, I wish they showed a film of the opposing side.”

Osiris Castañeda started the group in 2003 while he was working with the UCSB Arts & Lectures department at the SBIFF and realized his true love for the education of the youth.

“We have to embrace and nurture the children of the community, give them artistic opportunities, and opportunities in education,” Castañeda said. “And we’ll see them grow and flower into wonderful people.”

With almost nothing except a camera given to him by a friend, activist and rap metal artist Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Castañeda set out on his mission to enrich the lives and culture of the youth communities.

Joel Furman, Deputy Public Defender for Orange County, had heard about the screening and came to give his support to the programs involved.

“These are really pressing issues and the idea is really cool,” Furman said. “It empowers the youth.”

Furman hopes to network with the organizations that work with the Youth CineMedia. American Civil Liberties Union, Young Survivors Legacy Support Network and the People Organizing for Defense and Equal Rights all work with Castañeda to promote their cause.

The Youth CineMedia has completed over 200 documentaries about social justice and enriched education since its inception and hopes to add more projects to its roster in the future.

“Crack the door open for any kid in this town,” Castañeda said. “And I guarantee that they’ll bust it open.”