Arts Listings

‘Growing Up in Oakland’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday August 06, 2009 - 10:45:00 AM
Young filmmakers at work for the Growing Up in Oakland Youth Film Festival.
Young filmmakers at work for the Growing Up in Oakland Youth Film Festival.

Growing Up In Oakland: Youth Film Festival will be presented from 2 to 5 p. m. this Saturday at the Peralta Hacienda, the six-acre historical park at the restored Antonio Peralta House (listed on the National Register), dating from 1870, in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. Admission is free; tours of the Peralta House are $3. 

“This is the first we’ve had,” said destiny Webster, Community Programs Associate at the Peralta Hacienda. “We’re excited about it—and proud of how the kids participated.” 

Seventeen films will be shown, “the bulk of them autobiographical,” according to Webster, with two public service announcements and one documentary (themes chosen by the participantsz) on abusive relationships, seen from both female and male perspectives, as well as from the perspective of a younger person.  

“It’s something we’ve been doing with the middle school students of United For Success Academy,” said Webster. “It started out last fall, with them creating autobiographies. They range from being about summer activities to as deep as gang violence, how the community is affected, the filmmaker as well as the others in the Academy.” 

Webster explained the process for making the films. “Over two semesters, there’re several kids in each of three group, and we have 22 youth interns, between the ages of 15 and 20, who help out at our three day-a-week summer camp, which is going on right now—from the second week of July till the end of August.”  

The fimmaking and the festival tie in to other programs at the Hacienda, which was nurtured by the Friends of the Peralta Hacienda since the late 70s, and opened as a park in 1996.  

“Part of our mission is to archive local stories,” Webster said. “There was Faces of Fruitvale in early 2000. Local residents tell stories, and groups like Story Corps. put them on audio. It’s a great opportunity for the community, which is made up mostly of immigrants, and of people who came from the South, who tell what Fruitvale was like, and how it’s changed.” 

Webster reflected on both the films and the oral histories, their importance to the community and its youth: “All these stories need to be collected in our libraries. We have media literacy, voice-over programs, to help get their stories down through the Youth Digital Storytelling program. It’s really powerful, the kids thinking of their own involvement, of being part of change.” 

There are other regular programs at the park, including environmental science and hands-on history. “One of our rooms has a rotating exhibit,” Webster said, “with different things featured, including things the kids made. In November, there are urban altars, when altars are built to honor the lives lost to violence that year. Oakland Unified Schools ties in that way.  

“There’re tours of the House every second Saturday of the month, from 2 to 4,” Webster continued. “Wells Twombly books teachers for field trips, local elementary schools. We teach the significance of the site, how Fruitvale became Fruitvale. There’s a new gardening club, with a local youth garden on site.” 

Webster also has her own Global Chef program, “bridging cultural gaps with food. In summer it’s only about an hour each day, but in the fall, one day a week has a four to five hour day, with Bret Harte Middle School kids.” 

Webster concluded with the enthusiasm that underlines the motto of the Peralta Hacienda, Every Human Being Makes History: “It’s a great time for Oakland to be together with other conscious people, who appreciate kids looking outside themselves, at their own lives, the community ... These kids are amazing!” 



2–5 p. m., Peralta Hacienda 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. Free admission. House tours, 2–4 p.m., $3. RSVP for tours: 532-9142.