“The Children of Central City” is headed to the big screen. The 18-minute documentary short, directed by video journalist Emma Scott as a complement to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s multi-part series on the long-term effects of violence on New Orleans children, has been accepted into the 29th New Orleans Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday (Aug. 21).
creening in the Louisiana Shorts category, it is one of just 220 filmsselected to screen in this year’s festival from nearly 6,000 submissions, a record for the festival, and an increase of 25 percent from 2017 submissions.
“It’s been totally overwhelming to watch the response to this,” Scott said of the film and the companion enterprise series, written by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s Jonathan Bullington and Richard A. Webster, with photos and additional video by Brett Duke. “We were working on this for so long and the response has been kind of incredible.”
Like the series of the same name, “The Children of Central City” film — which was shot and edited over the course of nearly 10 months — focuses on players, coaches and families involved in the A.L. Davis Park Panthers youth football program for 9- and 10-year-old boys. They serve as de facto tour guides as the film takes a look into New Orleans’ violence-marred Central City neighborhood.
Along the way, it also examines how chronic exposure to violence can impact brain development in children and what is being done to help children deal with that trauma.
While the focus of the series is on one New Orleans neighborhood, Scott stressed that the themes at work are tragically universal — and that the children of Central City are emblematic of those in countless neighborhoods, in New Orleans and around the country, who are grappling with similar issues.
“This isn’t some niche, tiny thing that’s exclusive to New Orleans,” she said. “Ultimately, this type of trauma happens in every big city. It’s happening, and some cities are doing a better job than others at treating it.”
If there’s good news, it’s that people are starting to take notice. On the heels of the publication of “The Children of Central City,” the New Orleans City Council approved a resolution on Aug. 9 calling for a comprehensive, citywide approach to the prevention, intervention and treatment of trauma among children exposed to violence.
“I think it’s tragic and heartbreaking, but it definitely has an uplifting conclusion,” Scott said of the film.
She added: “We’re thrilled. We’re excited for it to get a wider audience. We’re excited to keep the conversation going in the community — because we’re not done yet.”
The screening schedule for the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 17 to 25 at venues throughout New Orleans, has yet to be released, as do the titles of the films selected to screen in its high-profile Opening Night and Spotlight positions.