In Progress wins at 2021 MY HERO film festival

Times Report
Crookston Times

In Progress filmmakers from Minnesota and Wisconsin had films that placed in the 17th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival including three filmmakers from Crookston. Congratulations to '8 Minutes and 46 Seconds' by Angel "Miracle" Espericueta which won the Dan Eldon Youth Activist Award; '5400 Children' by Morgen Arguelles which received 1st place in the High School Experimental category, and 'Love Can Heal Us All' by Azomali Obisakin which received 1st place in the Elementary category.

In Progress is an organization that works with developing artists of all ages and provides opportunities for artists to develop their skills as digital storytellers and leaders through the use of photography, video, and music. Their purpose is ‘to diversify cultural dialogue and pave the way for new voices in the field of digital art making.’    

This small non-profit has been promoting the voices of new and emerging artists since its inception in 1996, breaking down barriers of geography, class, education, and culture in the process. It emerged from a series of youth-based workshops where, ‘the youth became adults, became artists, and were looking for ways to continue making and connecting.’ Today, In Progress works with approximately 1,500 artists annually and reaches tens of thousands through exhibitions and screenings. 

“In our work, we seek to develop relationships with artists directly in the communities they live," says executive director Kristine Sorensen. "We always include families as partners in this process, which means we often have parents creating with their children, and children producing with siblings and parents. It is a creative, chaotic and supportive place for artists to develop."

"In 2021, we operated two arts studios in the state, and provided other workshops, residencies, exhibits and screenings in some of the smallest communities in Minnesota,” she added.

In Progress is also known for working with artists that typically would not have easy access to creating in digital form. This translates to 98% BIPOCI artists living in rural, tribal and the inner city, and those living in low-income and poor households. In Progress, works with the core value of shared learning experiences, shared tools, and shared spaces. 

“We use digital art creation as a tool for public discourse while building the skills of new and developing makers so they may create, teach and lead,” Sorensen continued.

MY HERO would like to acknowledge In Progress, a small non-profit from Minnesota for their phenomenal work and contribution to the arts’ world and to our 2021 MY HERO Film Festival.

Love Can Heal Us All

"In this film, which placed 1st in the Elementary School category, a young person, Azomali Obisakin, states her case that love above all else is a healing force. The documentary includes interviews with parents and kids and reflects on how acting consciously in love is good for all. Azomali is 9 years old now but was just 8 when she produced her movie. This film is her first, but she is already proving herself a talented and dedicated filmmaker. She sees video as a means for teaching others about the power of love. She is currently in pre-production on a second video that will take a deep dive into bullying, racial bias and what might be called misguided 'love'."   

5400 Children

"5400 Children received 1st place in the High School Experimental category. Morgen Arguelles is 17 years old and a senior at Crookston High School. She has been working as a photographer since the age of 14 but moved into video in 2020, as she felt the issues related to family separation was not receiving enough local or national attention. She wanted to speak clearly to an adult audience with her work, hoping to share the message that the actions of the U.S. government regarding family separation was having a deep and negative impact on youth. She chose to show the faces of young people with photo and video imagery projected onto their faces to illustrate that impact. She is currently working as a curator and community photographer at our studio that is located in Crookston."

8 minutes and 46 seconds

"Winner of the Dan Eldon Youth Activist Award, Angel "Miracle" Espericueta's film is a video poem dedicated to the memory of George Floyd and those that stood up in protest against his murder by police. Angel is now a high school graduate. She has been following social injustice play out her entire life on social media and so she has become a commentator of these experiences through her video work. In her production, she reached out to fellow youth and to three photojournalists to produce the imagery that would accompany the spoken work piece she created to acknowledge the murder of George Floyd. Angel was honored in last year's My Hero Festival, for her video "Cries of the Children," and was recently awarded $10,000 from the Waterers for her work in social justice, the arts and rural communities."

On presenting the Dan Eldon Award at the MY HERO International Film Festival, Kathy Eldon said: “The George Floyd movement is kept alive by films and creative activism and your film is going to reach a different kind of audience. I love the juxtaposition of the imagery against the music and against the spoken word. It was just wonderful.”

About MY HERO International Film Festival

The MY HERO International Film Festival brings together professional and youth filmmakers who honor local and global heroes working for positive change in the world.  Thanks to generous sponsors, prizes are awarded to elementary, middle school, high school, college and professionals in a variety of categories including documentary, narrative, music video, animation, experimental, and more.

To view the 2021 award-winning films, go to myhero.com/Winners

For more details about MY HERO's International Film Festival, please visit myhero.com/FilmFestival

Morgen Arguelles
Azomali Obisakin
Angel "Miracle" Espericueta