UPIKE Film and Media Arts to host screening for Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary as part of Southern Circuit Film Series

The University of Pikeville Film and Media Arts program is proud to present a screening of Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary, winner of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival’s Best of Fest award. The free event on Tuesday, October 22, at 6 p.m. in Armington Science Center’s Chrisman Auditorium will include both a screening of the film as well as a Q&A with the film directors, Lindsey Seavert and Ben Garvin.

Love Them Firstfollows charismatic school principal Mauri Melander Friestleben as she works to undo two decades of history and close the achievement gap for her students in a Minneapolis school system. 

“Some of [the students] have very valid reasons to feel hopeless,” says Friestleben, “but I choose hope … They are children. They’re pure. And imagine if we, as a society, loved them first.” Under her leadership, standardized test scores began rising for the first time, but when the school encounters a heartbreaking setback, Friestleben is forced to confront the true measure of student success at Lucy Laney in a story of inspiration, heartbreak, perseverance and the power of love.

In a director’s statement, Garvin and Seavert note that “Minnesota struggles with the largest achievement gap between black and white students in the nation, but every community has a failing school. We hope that by opening up a window into a world few often see, our audience will think more critically about the inequities and injustices students of color contend with in classrooms every day, especially when it comes to standardized testing, the nation’s yardstick for measuring underperforming schools.”

The event at UPIKE is made possible through the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a South Arts program. Since its inception in 1975, Southern Circuit has brought some of the best independent filmmakers and their films from around the country to communities throughout the South. The program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

About South Arts 

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.