To Be Heard

  • To Be Heard
© Courtesy of IDFA 2011
Type : Documentary
Original title :
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2011

Three teenagers from the Bronx take a poetry course and learn how to put their stories into words, while dreaming of a life where anything is possible.

Teenagers Anthony, Karina, and Paul are growing up in the Bronx, a place where opportunity is scarce and children grow up fast. Anthony puts it this way: "What are you supposed to do when your five o'clock shadow arrives at two?" Karina is the oldest of six children. She has to take care of the others most of the time, especially now that her mother is pregnant again. Pearl has a list at home with things she is proud of and things she feels work against her. She is in constant fear that she won't make it in life. Ever since they started taking an intense poetry course led by some inspiring teachers, they have discovered they all have a very special talent with words. They learn how to tell their stories, express their emotions, and dream about a life where anything is possible. The filmmakers follow the students during the course and in their daily lives. In the words of Pearl, "I am not going to settle with normal, I gotta be extraordinary." Despite their sometimes tragic stories, they become more self-confident - and their energetic, intelligent lyrics prove to be remarkably strong and catchy.

Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez, Roland Legiardi-Laura, USA, 87 min.

Directors: Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura
Photography: Edwin Martinez, Michael Julian Berz, Adrian Martinez
Editing: Edwin Martinez
Sound: Adrian Martinez
Music: Adrian Martinez, Wendy Blackstone
Deborah Shaffer, Roland Legiardi-Laura for To Be Heard Productions
Amy Sultan, Edwin Martinez

Executive producer: Sally Jo Fifer for ITVS International
Jim & Jill Angelo for Dialogue Pictures

Involved TV Channel: ITVS International


  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

With the support of