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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

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Kids' video contest, Take a Shot, adds prizes for 'The People Speak,' other themes

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The "Take a Shot" kids' video contest is still about "how kids can change the world and how Pittsburgh can change the world," says Carl Kurlander, president of Steeltown Entertainment, which started the contest three years ago.
 
Inspired by, and originally focused on, Jonas Salk's pioneering polio vaccine work here, the contest now has several new themes for video entries -- including the environment, nonviolence and "The People Speak" -- and $10,000 in prizes.
 
"The People Speak" theme stems from the Steeltown-sponsored event last May in which actors Matt Damon, Frances McDormand and John Krasinski (in town to film the just-released "Promised Land") and local activists read here from the work of Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and subject of "The People Speak" documentary. Take a Shot is now partnering with Voices of a People's History, founded by Zinn and others, to bring to life the stories of lesser-known movements and people instrumental in the country's history. Voices is also providing Take a Shot with curriculum materials to help teachers encourage their students to participate. "That's really important to us," says Kurlander. "We've really been inspired by how teachers have used this in their classrooms."
 
On Jan. 19, this year's Take a Shot contest will launch with a free showing of "The People Speak," which features Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pink, Eddie Vedder and others. "We'll use that kickoff to inspire kids to make videos on how you make change in your community," Kurlander says. On Feb. 24, before that evening's Oscar broadcast, Take a Shot will hold a filmmaking workshop at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
 
Last year's contest category, "Pittsburgh Innovation," and the original "Polio: Then and Now" category remain as prizes as well.
 
The contest entry deadline is May 1, after which the judges, who are still being chosen, will take two weeks to view the films and the public will have a 10-day online voting period to decide on two $1,000 prizes for middle-school and high-school films. On May 18, a film fest at the History Center will announce and screen the winners and highlights from other films.
 
Writer: Marty Levine 
Source: Carl Kurlander and Rachel Shepherd, Steeltown Entertainment
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