2017 NCTE Annual Convention

St. Louis, MO

This fall, we’ll come together in Houston to celebrate students’ voices and the impact they make in the world.

Save the date:
November 15-18, 2018

Learn More

NCTE Screening Room

2017 Annual Convention


We are excited to once again host a variety of films that convention attendees can enjoy for free. Many of the filmmakers will be on hand for questions and discussions around how you might use their films in your classrooms.


Be sure to leave time on your Saturday schedule to visit the NCTE Screening Room. All films will be available for viewing in Room 370.


The NCTE Screening Room is organized and sponsored by the Media and Digital Literacies Collaborative.

10:30 am–11:50 am: Midsummer in Newtown (78 minutes)
(Middle School, Secondary, College, Teacher Education)

Director – Lloyd Kramer
Producers – Tom Yellin, Braden Cleveland Bergan, Jo Budzilowicz
Participant Media and Vulcan Productions

“A poignant reminder that there is heroism in simply living each day. Midsummer in Newtown is a testament to the transformative force of artistic expression to pierce through the shadow cast by trauma. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, one grieving couple honors their daughter through music, while community children find their voice through a rock-pop version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

11:55 am–12:40 pm: The Bad Kids (45 minutes – excerpt)
(Secondary, College, Teacher Education, Rainbow Strand)

Directors – Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe
Good Docs

“Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for students at risk of dropping out. Every student here has fallen so far behind in credits that they have no hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school. Black Rock is their last chance. The Bad Kids is an observational documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal’s mission to realize the potential of these students whom the system has deemed lost causes.

The film follows Principal Vonda Viland as she coaches three at-risk teens––a new father who can’t support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home––through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their goal of a high school diploma. As Principal Viland’s educational approach unfolds throughout The Bad Kids, viewers are offered a practical model for how public education can address and combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of American schoolchildren. “

The Bad Kids movie

The Bad Kids Educator Toolkit

12:45–1:45 pm: BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez (60 minutes – excerpt)
(Secondary, College, Rainbow Strand)

Filmmakers – Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
California Newsreel

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is a new feature documentary offering unprecedented access to the life and work of renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez. An essential figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, the documentary reveals how Sanchez has been a continuing presence in American culture for nearly 60 years using her art to confront injustice and to lift up humanist themes. The film examines the artistic and political movements she embraced and influenced. Deemed ‘a lion in literature’s forest’ by Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez helped transform the university landscape, advocating for inclusion of African American Studies in curricula. She revolutionized poetry through her usage of street language and a unique performance style and is widely considered to be a foremother of today’s hip-hop spoken word movement. The film is rich with readings of her work accompanied by live music. There are lively appearances and commentaries by Sanchez’s contemporaries, Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey Jr., Haki Madhubuti and Nikki Giovanni, as well as the newer voices of Talib Kweli, Ayana Mathis, Jessica Care Moore, Bryonn Bain and Questlove.”

1:50–1:55: Soar (4 minutes)
(Elementary, Middle School, Secondary, College, General)

Writer, Director, and Animator – Alyce Tzue
Producer – Anson Yu

“A precocious young girl makes a new friend when a tiny boy pilot drops out of the sky on a broken flying machine. Now she must race against time to return him home, before her new friend becomes stranded on Earth forever.”

In only four minutes, filmmaker Alyce Tzue brings to life the ideas of invention, imagination, and friendship through incredible visuals and music. This short film has a wide range of appeal as a teaching tool, especially in the areas of creative writing and visual literacy from elementary to college classrooms. Its brevity allows multiple viewings and close readings for a variety of ages as well.

View it online today!

2:00–2:15 pm: Ilse (13 minutes)
(Middle School, Secondary, College, Teacher Education, Rainbow Strand)

Film by Leah Varjacques and Katherine Nagasawa

This documentary was chosen as an Editors Pick in The Atlantic, where author Nadine Ajaka writes:

Ilse Cruz was brought into the United States by her mother when she was 4 years old, and has no memories of her native Mexico. She also doesn’t feel truly American—because she’s undocumented. “American culture and Mexican culture, they’re both a part of who I am but I can’t understand either one fully,” she says. As a high school senior, the discouraging realities of Cruz’s legal status have begun to set in: She’s wary of ever leaving the country to visit Mexico, she’s not sure if she can go to college, or apply for federal aid to make it possible. In this short documentary, Ilse, we follow along as Cruz navigates the process of attempting to be in the United States legally. “When you’re not at least a resident, you don’t get as much opportunities as you could,” she says. “I want to get past college, and knowing that one day my dreams would be cut short because I can’t do something that I want to do, it just sucks.”

2:15–2:55 pm: The White Helmets (37 minutes)

(Secondary, College, General)

Director – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Netflix Original

“To save a life is to save all of humanity.”

Netflix describes their film as “They search for survivors among the wreckage as bombs continue to fall. These ordinary men are extraordinary heroes.”

To many of our students, the crisis in Syria is a faraway conflict they hear about in the news. In Netflix’s Oscar Award Winning documentary, the impact of the war in Syria is shown at the human level––bringing voices of men, women, and children to the forefront of the narrative.

The Screening Room thanks The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences for their assistance in securing the film for the convention.

The White Helmets won the 2017 Documentary (Short Subject) Oscar.

3:00–4:05 pm: Our Mockingbird (65 minutes)
(Secondary, College, Rainbow Strand)

Producer & Director – Sandra Jaffee

Bullfrog Films

“A lens to view race, class, gender and justice––then and now”

Our Mockingbird is a feature-length documentary that uses Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird as a lens to view race, class, gender, and justice––then and now. Woven through Our Mockingbird is the story of two extraordinarily different high schools in Birmingham, Alabama, who collaborate on a remarkable production of the adapted play, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Together these diverse voices reveal that as a country we have made progress but are still struggling with the issues of race, class, and justice addressed in the novel.

4:054:50 pm: Truth Underground (40 minutes – excerpt)
(Secondary, College, Rainbow Strand)

Director  Gerret Warner

Producers Jessie Warner and Mimi Gredy

Warner & Company

Three spoken word poets struggle through poverty, discrimination, PTSD, and abandonment to prove the power of the word. CJ Suitt grew up poor and Black in Chapel Hill, one of North Carolina’s wealthiest, mostly White communities. His high school English teacher inspired him to write and speak poetry, and through it he found his identity as a Black male.

Kamaya Martin’s life seemed perfect until her father left, leaving her mother with four kids and bills she couldn’t pay. Once an A student in Atlanta and the apple of her father’s eye, she languished at Durham’s Northern High School until a program offered through Sacrificial Poets taught her spoken word poetry and led to international team competitions in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Jeremy Berggren—a marine veteran trained in mortuary sciences—lost his best friend and fellow soldier to suicide. Haunted by what he knows about war and military life, Jeremy takes his country to task and calls for veteran support through his art. The 19th-century poet John Keats said, “truth is beauty.” And beauty is harsh.

Play the trailer.

5:006:30 pm: A Place to Stand (86 minutes)
(Secondary, College, General)

Director Daniel Glick

Producers Gabriel Baca and Daniel Glick

Catamount Films

“Abandoned by family and condemned by the government, the illiterate Jimmy Santiago Baca had little to live for when he entered Arizona State Prison. Yet beyond the rage and desperation, he found a new center––the quiet strength of poetry. For the first time ever, Jimmy had a future. And he blazed its trail with a fire that still burns today. Inspired by the award-winning autobiography, and featuring exclusive new details about this momentous transformation, A Place to Stand is a captivating saga of human redemption.”

Special Note: Attendees will have the opportunity for a brief Q & A with the filmmakers directly following the film. Jimmy Santiago Baca will also be attending NCTE as a speaker this year!

Facilitator Information


Stephanie Fleck, Barrington High School, Barrington, IL

Sarah Heldt, Barrington High School, Barrington, IL

Christina Anker, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL



Frank Baker, Media Literacy Clearinghouse, Columbia, SC

Mary Christel, Indian Trails Public Library, Wheeling, IL

William Kist, Kent State University, OH

Jane Nickerson, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC

Laura Brown, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL



Chrissy Fahrforth, Heartland Elementary, Geneva, IL

Thomas Crochunis, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA

Jolene Heinemann, Barrington High School, Barrington, IL

Jennifer Walsh, Barrington High School, Barrington IL