Submitted by: Pickford Film Center
October at the Pickford means Doctober – a month-long film festival dedicated to documentaries. Pickford Film Center is a thriving theater all month long and especially so in the mornings, thanks to Doc-ED, a program that brings thousands of middle school students through the doors of the Pickford to see a documentary free of charge – transportation and popcorn included!
In the 2017-2018 school year, Pickford Film Center offered every public and tribal middle school the opportunity to see a documentary for free through Doc-ED, giving students a chance to see new, eye-opening documentaries in the theater, where watching alongside other students is a meaningful shared experience. The program began in 2014 with four schools and approximately 1,000 students participating, and has since expanded to 10 schools and over 3,000 students in 2017. Pickford staff, board and volunteers are excited to see Doc-ED continue into its fifth year with great response.
Through generous grants, donations and annual fundraising efforts, the Pickford is able to offer tickets, transportation and popcorn to the students at no cost to the schools. Covering transportation costs gives schools outside city limits the chance to see films without the added hassle.
In an exit survey, a teacher from Shuksan Middle School said, “our population of students struggle to pay for field trips on their own,” and that they found Doc-ED to be “a wonderful experience.”
Last year, teachers chose from four different documentaries featured in the Pickford’s Doctober film festival. Doctober is the largest documentary film festival in the Northwest, and shows over 50 documentaries during the month of October.
The 2018-19 documentaries are Inventing Tomorrow, which takes a look at kid scientists from around the world preparing for the “science fair of science fairs,” and Youth Unstoppable, filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker’s 10-year journey through the global youth climate movement, from age 15 to 25.
The mission of Doc-ED is to provide students with inspirational films that will give them a window on different people, cultures and experiences from all over the world. In addition, classes are supplied with discussion guides to help supplement the film viewing and bring the experience back to the classroom.
Doc-ED is a program that both teachers and students have responded to positively, and only grows with each continuing year.
“I really enjoyed watching, the film was very inspiring,” a Whatcom Middle School student wrote in their evaluation, “the film taught me to be grateful for what I have.”
Teachers and administrators interested in learning more about Doc-ED can contact Education Outreach Coordinator Mikayla Nicholson.