Canadian Educator and Film Director running film program in Cambodia
High School English and Media Teacher
Location (City or Town):
Richmond Hill, Ontario
About Me or Reason for Joining the GEC:
My name is Jamie Cohen and I am an educator and filmmaker from Toronto, Canada.
I worked in TV and film for several years before going into education. In 1999, I joined Saturday Night Live after calling Lorne Michaels' office twenty five times before his call was returned. Lorne Michaels agreed to meet Cohen an hour before Chris Farley's last public appearance on Saturday Night Live. Michaels told Cohen that he reminded me of himself thirty years ago, and hired me on the spot.
In New York, I also teamed with Jack Healey, former Director of Amnesty International and the visionary behind the legendary Amnesty International Concert Tour of the 90s, on several media-related human rights projects for the Free Burma Campaign. Mr. Healey describes Cohen as an "honest, forthright person of immense talent and vision."
I hold a BA in Film Theory from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelors of Education from Brock University. In 2006, I worked for a semester as a guest lecturer at Taylor's College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where my students produced documentaries on the Holocaust from Muslim perspectives and founded a local student film festival showcasing new voices in Asian cinema.
My work as an educator has also resulted in two other completed film collaborations with students in Toronto. "School'd" is a docudrama about one day in the life of a teenager gang member created with at-risk high school students at West Toronto Collegiate. "Portrait of a Divorce" is a documentary about a middle-class family going through a divorce through the perspective of one of the children. It was produced with students with behavioral challenges at the alternative-private school, Freemont Academy.
I'm interested in how media can be used to connect diverse culturals beyond borders and teach universal, authentic lessons.
I am a:
Grade Level or Age of Students You Work With (if applicable):
Global Education Projects Sponsored By You or That You're Involved In (if applicable):
The Human Rights Action Centre is sponsoring the following initiative conceived and run by Jamie Cohen:
1) To run a half day film-writing/filmmaking workshop for a) university students b) Cambodian children
2) To create a 5-minute documentary with local filmmakers or university students commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A leading human rights website, HRAC, has committed to play the short film to a wide audience across North America. This would be excellent exposure for local filmmakers and university students interested in media and film.
Number 2 and 3 would be combined.
I will be in Siem Reap, Cambodia to represent a film I directed.
My film is called, "The Barber of Kigali". Inspired by extraordinary true events, "The Barber of Kigali" is a dramatic short film about Patrick, a Rwandan barber living in Toronto, who must decide whether to kill or not to kill his next client, the dreaded Colonel who murdered his father in the Rwandan genocide.
The film is inspired by the true story of Patrick Sharangabo, a 25 year old Rwandan man now living in Toronto who is the receipient of the New Pioneers Award presented by the University of Toronto for community activism.
I made this film as an educational tool to promote discussion with my students about issues related to genocide, the human rights of children and the moral responsibility of nations to stop genocide. The film has played in 7 film festivals around the world including the Boston International Film Festival and premieres in Toronto at the National Film Board on December 20th. As an educator, I taught World History at Taylor's University-College in Malaysia and now teach at a high school in Toronto.
I received a cultural grant from the Canadian Government and from Human Rights Action Centre, a Washington, D.C. organization founded by Jack Healey, the former Director of Amnesty International which has provided me the opportunity to attend the Cambodian festival.
I'm looking for educators or individuals who are interested in contributing their time and talents to this project. It takes place in Cambodia from December 26 - January 4.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and meeting with inspiring educators in Siem Reap.
Favorite Education Resources:
Authentic-real world sources. For example, instead of just reading about the Rwandan Genocide, I brought in a young survivor to make it real for my stuents.
A book called: "You Can Handle Them All"-- which gives teachers with specific advice on how to deal with all types of misbehaviours exhibited by a wide range of students.
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