This summer I lived in France for a month for a French language and cultural immersion program. While there, I began to shoot a short film that would become ‘Redefining Opportunity’. I conducted and filmed short interviews with twelve of the students on my study abroad program. During interviews, I asked each student what they thought a student who would be more likely to travel abroad would look like, and how they fit that narrative. With their stories as a canvas, the themes of privilege, race, and socioeconomic class were all explored.
I chose to do a film on this topic because I knew that as a young Black woman raised by a single mom, society would never have expected me to get a full scholarship to travel abroad. This is not the narrative society has written for a person of color (POC). Expectations for us are often set very low. Knowing this, I was very grateful for the opportunity I had to come to France. There were quite a few other students who felt the same way. I sought to show the dynamic among the students on the trip. There were White people who were and weren’t aware of their racial privilege. There were POC that were/ weren’t aware of their socioeconomic privilege. Then there were some who had neither of these privileges. After filming, it was evident that many of the students interviewed viewed their position differently. It was quite the experience.
Upon returning to the U.S., I was given the amazing opportunity to have a screening for my short film in downtown Chicago. Alongside my film, art was presented, and music and poetry were performed. Following the screening of the short film, we had a brief Q&A with the audience. Subjects touched on during the Q&A were different types of privilege, the effects of a lack of educational privilege, and effects the film had on others. (Photos taken of the event can be seen above.)
I’m still in awe that my short film has been appreciated by a vast amount of people. I never expected to be able to have a screening for it, especially not downtown. This film means so much to me, I hope it touches many more the way it touched me.
And now, without further ado, here is “Redefining Opportunity”:
(Photos by Stella Binion)