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Beyond Books and Screens

Lights, Camera, Action: Penn's Partnership with PSTV Brings Philadelphia Stories to Life!

Discover how Penn's Vitale Digital Media Lab, Penn faculty, and PSTV are empowering Philadelphia high school students to create impactful films through a year-long collaborative program.

Film Editing Workshop in Vitale Digital Media Lab

I'm thrilled to share with you an inspiring collaboration happening right here in our library between Philadelphia Schools TV (PSTV), and our very own Vitale Digital Media Lab (VDML).

For the past nine years, PSTV and Penn have joined forces to offer high school students from Philadelphia a unique opportunity to dive into the world of filmmaking. This partnership spans an entire academic year, running from August to May, and involves a creative journey through Ethnographic Filmmaking (ANTH 5830/EDUC 5466) and Community Youth Filmmaking (ANTH 5467/EDUC 5467.)

Under the guidance of Amitanshu Das, a senior fellow at Penn GSE and a visiting scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication, Penn students delve into ethnographic research methods and filmmaking techniques. They then collaborate with high school students and teachers to produce short films that capture the essence of their communities.

Amit has a long-standing relationship with us at the Vitale Digital Media Lab, stretching back over a decade and a half, so this collaboration with him was a no-brainer for us. With the expertise of lab consultant  Sam Dellert (That's me!), students receive invaluable support in editing their films using professional software like Davinci Resolve on the lab's Mac Pro computers. 

Amit Das instructing students in EDUC 5467 - Community Youth Filmmaking, Spring 2024

The outcome? Over 60 remarkable student films, each offering a unique perspective on the lives and stories of Philadelphia students. From thought-provoking documentaries to captivating fiction, these films cover a wide spectrum of themes and genres, all centered around school communities.

Thanks to PSTV's support, these films reach even more audiences through broadcasts on Comcast Xfinity PSTV Channel 52 and Verizon Fios Channel 20, as well as streaming on PSTV's YouTube Channel.

This program would not be possible without the support of the Vitale Digital Media Lab staff, such as myself (Sam Dellert), David Toccafondi, Noelle Faisca-Ramirez, and Christine Kemp.

To learn more about this impactful program, I encourage you to explore at

And for a deeper dive into the transformative power of these films and other film programs at Penn, please read: "Film for Social Change" by Dave Zeitlin in The Pennsylvania Gazette (Aug. 2018)

And of course, explore the art of storytelling through the magic of film by stopping by and visiting us at the Vitale Digital Media Lab.




June 18, 2024