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Student composers contribute scores to documentary shot by Syrian teen refugees, showing at MPLS-STP Intn’l Film Festival this Sunday, April 17

This Sunday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. at the Saint Anthony Main Theatre, the film My Dream, My Right will be presented as part of the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). The documentary is the culmination of a 3-week project of the Za’atari Film Workshop that provided camera phones and instruction to Syrian teens living in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. The nine shorts that comprise the film were scored by composition students from McNally Smith College of Music.

There will be a Q+A following the film with the directors, producers and composers. More info is available on MSPIFF’s event page.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press picked up the story of the film last fall, interviewing Composition major Mariah Timm about the experience.

“The stuff this kid has been through, and he’s only maybe 10 years old, it’s just really tragic that something like that has happened to him and his family,” Timm said. “But the video isn’t all heavy. It’s just some kids playing around in the sand and flying kites and getting excited about it.”

The project was co-sponsored by Voices of the Children and Save the Children, and organized by Aaron Wagner, who connected with McNally Smith’s Vocal Performance faculty member (and childhood friend)  Shon Parker. Parker instantly recognized the project as an opportunity to engage the students with one of the College’s core principles — preparing students for their futures by providing them with real world opportunities for work.

“Most of our students don’t even know what’s going on in Syria,” Parker told the Pioneer Press’ Maja Beckstrom. “They’re busy developing their craft. They’re insulated. So, when we first showed them a picture of the camp, you kind of saw their jaws drop.”

The final film was screened for the refugees in Jordan last fall, and McNally Smith students gathered at 4 a.m. to participate in a live streaming event with them.

“The first question our students asked was, of course, what did you think of the music? Did you like what we gave you?” Parker said. “The Syrian kids were all talking at the same time, so it was difficult to translate what they said, but the main takeaway was they couldn’t believe some students from America were willing to write music for their documentaries. There were lots of smiles. It was pretty great.”

Complete list of composers from McNally Smith: Andrew Brassard, Carter Lange, Ethan Elseth, Jeffery Kornfeld, Jemma Heigis, Mariah Timm, Marko Maksimovic, Rahul Shah, Tyler Straka

My Dream, My Right
Sunday, April 17
11:00 a.m.
St. Anthony Main Theatre