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VT Filmmaker Gets NEA Award


Barnet filmmaker Bess O'Brien and her cast of Vermont teens have been "shouting it out" since 2008, when her film Shout It Out premiered. Since then, the movie O'Brien calls "the real High School Musical" has been touring schools, sparking conversations about teen issues. Think "Glee" (there's sparkle, singing and dancing) with less catty humor and more earnest explorations of themes like eating disorders and teen pregnancy. (And more Vermont mountains in the background.)

Now O'Brien and her actors have received the National Education Association’s SuAnne Big Crow Memorial Award. They'll accept it tomorrow at the NEA's annual convention in New Orleans.

O'Brien and the kids are being recognized "for their contribution to human and civil rights," says a press release from Vermont NEA, which helped fund the film. National NEA President Dennis Van Roekel calls Shout It Out "an excellent vehicle for addressing bullying and harassment at school."

Indeed, the movie has a subplot about cyberbullying -- a hot topic these days.

Check out the story I wrote on Shout It Out when it premiered. And look for O'Brien's new film in 2011: It's Ask Us Who We Are, a documentary O'Brien says is about "foster children who have overcome the odds."