L.A. Director Brings “Romeo Is Bleeding” to Aspen

The poster for the new documentary Romeo Is Bleeding.

The poster for the new documentary “Romeo Is Bleeding”.

The week of September 25-30 brought the Aspen Film Fest to our small town. With this came Jason Zeldes’ first film, the documentary, Romeo Is Bleeding.  The Aspen Film Festival sent this movie and its director, Jason Zeldes, and its producer, Michael Klein, to AHS for a visit and a showing of their film.  Two other films, Frame By Frame and City of Gold, also visited our school, in hope of providing AHS students with an education on the film industry.  

Romeo Is Bleeding focuses on the inner-city of Richmond, California, and a group of students who create their own rendition of Romeo and Juliet about the two rivalries in their city.  The main character is Donte Clark, a young man who joins the group Raw Talent, which focuses on these inner-city kids and gives them a chance to tell their stories through spoken word.  The teenagers in the film obviously lead a more difficult life than those of us here in Aspen, but at the same time “every kid has their own set of challenges”.  Maggie Mackey, the woman who chooses which films enter film festivals, believes this is why it is so important for AHS students to see movies like these and learn about other students in our very own country.

Education through film is one of the most important things to the Aspen Film Festival, and is why the  organization sends in these artists to share their work with students.  Regna Jones, the Education Coordinator for Aspen Film Festival, sets up meetings between the film makers and educators.  She believes film is a strong education point for teenagers.

High schoolers have incredible minds and a unique and fresh way of looking at the world,” Jones said. “I know it sounds cliche, but you are the generation that is moving society along into the future. It is our responsibility as educators and artists to provide a rich and diverse experience for you through the highest quality of education and to give you the opportunity to be challenged in your thinking, to be curious about the world and learning, and to ultimately find your individual passion and drive to make the world a better place. Film highlights ideas, places, issues, stories and people from around the world and ultimately is a medium to reflect on what it is to be human and the common experiences and emotions we all share.”

Jones also shared information on how often, coming to the school and sharing films with high school students, is their favorite part of their visit to Aspen entirely. Mackay also believes it was director, Zeldes, and producer, Klein’s, favorite part of their visit here.  

Senior Andy Vernier was inspired by the film, which he viewed in Gretchen Calhoun’s class, and found it very worth his time.

“I got a chance to learn about a city I never even knew about, as well as film. It was such a cool thing to have in my class,” Vernier said.

The experiences AHS provides students through having speakers like filmmakers is very special and brings together our community.  Next time a film comes to town, check it out.