This local filmmaker is exploring educational inequity in communities of color across the world - Generocity Philly

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Jun. 28, 2016 12:55 pm

This local filmmaker is exploring educational inequity in communities of color across the world

The documentary "Baobab Flowers" will highlight the commonalities between two Black female teachers working in primarily Black schools — one in Sao Paulo, Brazil and one in Philadelphia.

Gabriela Watson Aurazo (left) during the making of "Baobab Flowers."

(Courtesy photo)

When Afro-Peruvian documentarian Gabriela Watson Aurazo came to Philadelphia from her native Brazil to begin her M.F.A. in film at Temple University in 2013, her intentions were to study Black culture in America. What Aurazo found was a familiarity in the way women of color are undervalued in their communities.

Particularly Black teachers.

“They deal with the same issues in public schools. These are like, third-world problems,” Aurazo said. “I found it interesting that in Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in the U.S., there is such a lack of resources still in public schools — a lack of funding, students who come from dysfunctional families — and the teachers try to do things to change that.”

So, Aurazo decided to make a film that highlights the commonalities between the struggles of two teachers: Storm Foreman (African name Nyanza Bandele) in Philadelphia and Priscila Dias in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“They have so much in common that it is almost shocking,” Auroza said. “They’re both public high school teachers. They’re single parents. They both have religion of African roots. They both have a lot of passion for what they do. I saw it was really something I could explore.”

At the same time, Auroza said, she could use the film to promote cross-cultural dialogue by learning more about Black culture in America while raising awareness around Black culture in Brazil.

Auroza will finish shooting the documentary, titled “Baobab Flowers,” in Brazil this August to be released before the new year. But first, the crew is looking to raise $4,500 on Kickstarter.

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Auroza said the funds will be used to pay for high-quality post-production work. After the $4,500 is raised, the team will stretch to raise another $2,000.

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This documentary is personal, Auroza said, and making the film has been an eye-opening experience.

“It really showed me we’re dealing with a global issue,” she said. “Communities that face the most lack of resources are usually communities of color no matter which country we’re talking about.”

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