The story of one year in a boldly inefficient and startlingly upbeat New York City public middle school that mixes 10-14-year-olds in almost all their classes — and somehow it actually works.
Awkward/Awesome is a unique film about a universal experience – growing up. It is a happy story about a happy place, full of hope, encouragement, and plenty of cringe-worthy and laugh-out-loud moments, something everyone could use right now. This rare window into the daily life of tweens at school offers an up-close, face to face, exploration of life as an adolescent today, and an unprecedented view into a high-performing middle school that brazenly flies in the face of convention by embracing this unique and powerful time of life with extreme optimism, intellectual rigor and good fun.
Over the course of one school year we discover a world where students are challenged and engaged but miraculously there is no bullying and friendships flourish across traditional social boundaries of class and race.
What is the special sauce? How does this work?
This film is a precious inspiration.
"Uplifting and delightful. A deeply satisfying and optimistic view into the critical years between childhood and adulthood, and one school that embraces the messiness of teaching kids this age. Calamandrei was embedded in the school for a full year – and the film reflects that rare intimacy that can only come from this kind of filmmaking. She lets the school year unfold before our eyes, laying bare the school’s passion, intermixed with their processes, the natural chaos and the kids themselves. By the final shots, like the final days of a school year, there is that gratifying feeling of having seen and grasped the whole picture."
— Kristina Reed, Academy Award winning producer, parent, former middle school student
— Sara Davis Powell, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Education, Belmont Abbey College
“A novel and extraordinary window into the world of early adolescence. Candid. Unfiltered. Thought-provoking. A must-see.
— Penny Bishop, Dean, University of Maine
“An eye-opening view into the lives of tweens at school, chock full of fabulously frank kid commentary and permeated with priceless moments that give us a palpable feel for what it means to be a tween today. A poignant and important documentary for anyone working to help young adolescents thrive.”
— Denise Pope, Co-Founder Challenge Success
Award-winning director/producer of independent feature documentaries: The Tiger Next Door (Animal Planet), Prisoners in Paradise (PBS) and children’s media for The Jim Henson Company, LEGO, and Scholastic. Program Manager for Clinton Global Initiative (CGI America) and Head of Programs for Urban Green Council. MA, Documentary Film Production, Stanford University. BA, Literature, Brown University.
“The Tiger Next Door”
There are more tigers in private captivity in the US than there are roaming wild in the world. Twenty-four of them live in Dennis Hill’s backyard.
• World Premiere HOT DOCS International Film Festival Toronto, Canada 2009
• “A great documentary” – Bill Maher
• “Beautiful. A seamless narrative that challenges thinking adults.” – Huffington Post
• Animal Planet broadcast in all major US markets
• Extensive international distribution in Asia, Canada and Europe
“Prisoners in Paradise”
A one-hour historical documentary about Italian POWs held in USA during WWII.
• Best Documentary — Rhode Island Film Festival, 2001
• PBS broadcasts in all major US markets, International - Spain, Latin America, and Italy
“At Arm’s Length”
Short - Premiered at Sundance Film Festival 1990
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