This October, Pickford Film Center will enter the third year of its Doc-ED program, providing free tickets, popcorn, and transportation for more than 5,000 middle schools students in Whatcom County to attend documentary film screenings at no cost to their schools or families. Doc-ED aims to expose students to new films that will inspire, educate and introduce a wider world outside of their classroom.

The program began in October 2014, with support from the Mary Redman Foundation. That year, just over 1,100 Bellingham middle school students were provided a film-going opportunity. In 2015, with the help of scores of individual donors, that number increased to include all 2,400 middle school students in Bellingham Public Schools. Bus transportation was included because it became clear that getting to the theater placed an undue burden on schools.

The burgeoning growth of Doc-ED can be attributed to to the steadfast support of Pickford community members. In addition to continued support from the Mary Redman Foundation 2016 donors include the Tulalip Tribal Foundation, Whatcom Community Foundation and over 250 individual donors.

The 2016 Doc-ED program will feature three incredible films, selected for their age-appropriate content, educational nature, and ability to impact/inspire students with new ideas, perspectives, and stories. These films are: Breaking a Monster; the story of three African American pre-teen musicians who embark on a real life adventure that could transform them into heavy metal rock stars, Elder in the Making; stories of the land, the treaties, and the culture that define the Blackfoot people, and What Tomorrow Brings; One year in the life of an all girls school in a remote Afghan village where educating girls is a radical concept.

All of these films are brand new, and are not viewable online or in any other local theater. A team including Susie Purves, Pickford Program Director Michael Falter, and Associate Programmer Jane Julian culled the films from hundreds of titles both at festivals and those released for distribution this year.

Discussion guides have been created by educator Jan Bonzon that include information and discussion topics about the subject matter as well as the structure of each film. Ties to the Common Core are also included.

Teachers and administrators interested in finding out more about Doc-ED can contact Education Outreach Manager Lucas Holtgeerts

Download the Discussion Guides for the following films here:

Elder in the Making

Breaking A Monster

What Tomorrow Brings