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The “Future of Quaker Education” Turns 20

by Paul Romano

On Friday, May 3, 2019 Brooklyn Friends School hosted the 20th Annual Bridge Film Festival. The three big events of the festival were screenings of this year’s entrees, a pizza party, and an awards ceremony held in the Pearl Street Meeting House. The evening was a cinematic night to remember!

The awards show opened by harkening back to the festival’s inaugural year via a spectacular Panthers Supreme dance performance set to Prince’s hit “1999,” and choreographed by Jamara Hill ’10. The host of the show was rising 11th grader and budding stand-up comedian, Alexei Brusiloff. Alexei was as gracious as he was funny, and went above and beyond his hosting duties when he extemporaneously named the Oscar-like awards ceremony, “The Georgies.”

Alexei said his inspiration for dubbing the awards “Georgies” was George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends. However, it turned out to be a prescient nickname, as George School would end up taking four out five of the statuettes. Friends Academy took the prize for Narrative Film, while George School received the awards for Documentary, PSA, New Media, and the coveted Spirit of the Festival award. This year’s Spirit award went to the student filmmakers behind “Rodney’s Whisper,” a film that highlights the social justice mission of educator and activist Rodney Glasgow.

Another highlight of the night was a visit by special guest speaker Drew Smith, Director of the Friends Council on Education. In a moving speech, he declared of the Bridge Film Festival, “In my opinion, this kind of collaboration is the future of Quaker Education, connecting students, faculty members, and boards across our geographic divides.” He also recognized the festival’s founder, BFS’s own Director of Media Services, Andy Cohen “as an extra early adopter of all the important trends that are coming, using technology to connect us and especially to connect our hearts and minds, to change the world through the power of Quaker education.” Drew ended his brief discourse with this special note of gratitude and support: “Thank you to Andy Cohen. You’re everything that Quaker education is about.”

The festival closed with Andy at the microphone, making his signature call for students to continue to “Let your film speak!

Here’s to 20 more years.

Watch a film of the Awards Ceremony below: