“The Dividing Line of Chicago,” a 2016 short film produced through the Pulitzer Center’s partnership with Free Spirit Media, has been named a finalist for the CINE Golden Eagle Award in the youth documentary category. The film, a portrait of diversity and segregation in the city, was the product of seven weeks of reporting, filming, and editing in Free Spirit Media’s summer documentary filmmaking program by Yahyness White (producer), Jaliyah Armstead (reporter), Andres Delgado (cinematographer), and Casey Pitts (editor), whose group went by the name Jackson 4 Productions.
Free Spirit Media provides media production education to underserved Chicago youth. The Pulitzer Center has partnered with the organization for eight years to pair each documentary filmmaking team in the summer program with a professional journalist, who serves as their mentor from inception to screening. “Free Spirit Media appreciates the opportunity for our emerging journalists and media makers to engage with groundbreaking frontline journalists through this unique partnership," said Jeff McCarter, founder and executive director of Free Spirit Media. "Having an experienced partner to ask provocative questions and challenge our students to push themselves further—this is a gift."
Jackson 4 Productions was paired with journalist Eleanor Bell Fox, who guided them from brainstorming through production. The team faced challenges along the way, and their initial idea to focus on Chicago’s L system to tell the story of segregation and division didn’t pan out. With their mentor’s help, however, Bell Fox wrote in an email, “they pivoted well, incorporating what they learned from pre-interviews to create a beautiful short documentary that captures the perspectives of their peers and experts alike. I was really impressed by how well they worked together and each owned their role in the production process. It was a real joy to be a small part of their team!”
CINE honors exceptional professional, emerging, and student media annually through their Golden Eagle Awards. The distinguished jury of industry executives, academics, and filmmakers selects winning films based on criteria such as story, originality, effective use of resources, and filmmakers’ demonstrated potential.