As part of the third annual Portland Children’s Film Festival, every sixth-grader in Portland is scheduled to attend a screening of the documentary “I Am Eleven” at the University of Southern Maine on Wednesday.

The Australian film is one of several in the film festival being held around the city.

Sixth-graders will watch the documentary, discuss it afterward and incorporate it into their curriculum in the classroom, organizers say.

Each one also will be asked to finish the phrase “When I was 11…” on a piece of paper, have their photo taken with it, then upload the image online for an international media project.

“This is bigger than just going to see a movie,” said Laurie Boxer-Macomber, a lawyer on the steering committee for the film festival.

The Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey traveled the world for six years and interviewed 11-year-olds in 15 countries to produce the film. The children in the film share their thoughts on such subjects as love, war, global warming, music, terrorism, family, happiness, religion and the future.


Gathering the children on USM’s Portland campus is important, too, so they can see themselves in a higher-education environment, said Lynn Kuzma, dean of the university’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and a member of the film festival’s steering committee.

“Age 11 is such a special time in every child’s life,” Kuzma said. “It’s amazing to see all those kids on campus … we want them to feel ‘I belong here.’ ”

The Portland Children’s Film Festival runs from Wednesday through Sunday and features more than 15 films and multimedia events appropriate for children from 3 years old up to adults.

The annual festival is sponsored by the East End Community School and USM’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:[email protected]

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