The stories of heroes

The MyHero Film Project marks its 15th year of encouraging young people and others to celebrate inspiring people.

November 25, 2010|By Ashley Breeding,
  • Winners Holly Carter, Villy Wang, Tommy Carroll, Logan Cascia, McKenna Young, Jackie McMahon, Rocky Romano and Wendy Milette, left to right.
Winners Holly Carter, Villy Wang, Tommy Carroll, Logan… (Coastline Pilot )

The MyHero Film Project, which aims to enlighten and inspire people of all ages with hero stories from around the globe, recently celebrated its 15th anniversary at the annual International Film Festival in Los Angeles, where eight aspiring filmmakers from Laguna Beach received awards for their touching documentaries.

Held at the Ray Stark Family Theater at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, the event showed screenings of 37 winning films from more than 20 countries, and awarded filmmakers in an array of categories for outstanding work.

"It's really taken off since our first film festival in 2005, where we screened in a 75-seat theater," said Wendy Milette, director of the event. "It's so great working with these young people and helping them to learn to creatively use digital media to tell hero stories."

Among winners from Laguna were El Morro Elementary student Luc LaMontagne, for his documentary about ZeroTrash founder Chip McDermott, whose mission is to "green" the planet; Thurston Middle School student Jackie McMahon for her visual celebration of creativity; and Laguna Beach High School students Austin Dodge and Ryan Cavanaugh, for their documentary about fellow filmmaker and activist John Anthony's work in Burma, now known as Myanmar.


The concept for the project came during the mid-1990s, when the O.J. Simpson murder trial dominated the mainstream media, something the children of MyHero founders Jeanne Meyers, Rita Stearn and Karen Pritzker were constantly seeing on TV.

"We wanted to use the media to celebrate the best of humanity," Myers said. "We hoped that if we built a venue online for people of all ages from around the world to share their hero stories, then like-minded folks would join in and help the project grow into a digital library of hope.

"What began as a simple idea has become a global learning community that bridges the digital divide, promotes peace and tolerance, and allows people around the globe to have their voices heard in a safe, child-friendly environment."

Now having drawn millions of scholars, writers, filmmakers, educators, artists and musicians to create the largest existing database of heroes, Meyers said she grows increasingly impressed with the quality of work, craftsmanship and communication tools that progress each year, and would like to see even wider sponsorship by individuals, corporations and media outlets.

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