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In the 21st century, who gets to be 'gifted' in America and why? Help us explore the answers through the power of documentary film.

Directed by multi-award-winning independent filmmaker Marc Smolowitz, THE G WORD aims to be the most ambitious and comprehensive documentary film ever made on the controversial subject of GIFTED and TALENTED education in the United States. In recent years, public debate around equity and gifted education has been at an all time high in major urban centers like Seattle and New York City, showing how divided our country has become on the topics of giftedness, intelligence and neurodiversity. Now five years in the making, THE G WORD has already captured ground breaking stories and achieved unprecedented access to the communities that are most passionate about these issues. THE G WORD is currently in post-production and on target for completion in 2021.

Interviews, Scenes and Characters from THE G WORD

SYNOPSIS

Defying popular myths that assume most gifted people are wealthy, white, and will do fine on their own, THE G WORD reveals the economic, cultural, and gender diversity of our nation’s gifted and talented population at every stage of life, highlighting their educational challenges, social isolation, deep emotional sensitivities, and complex, neurodiverse brains. It puts a face to the physical threats experienced by many in our schools and society-at-large, while also revealing a large and lively community of people working hard to meet their needs while challenging the prejudice and trauma that comes with being labeled “smart” in the 21st century.

THE G WORD is framed by a very specific and urgent inquiry — “In the 21st century, who gets to be gifted in America and why?” Searching for an answer, we take an unexpected path into places and spaces across our great nation that warrant reconsidering. We visit rural, urban and suburban schools, the homes and private lives of gifted families, low-income neighborhoods, even the border with Mexico. We meet brain scientists, educators, and experts across a host of disciplines who help us understand that gifted people reside in all walks of life — including even our prisons. We learn that giftedness often sits right alongside disability as in the case of the growing numbers of Twice Exceptional (2e) people. We uncover that the social and emotional challenges being faced by our nation's gifted are actually quite common across school systems — public, private, charter, micro-school, and homeschool. And, we learn that all of this did not happen overnight. Decades of back story are visualized through animations and archival materials to help us understand how we arrived in this moment — a moment when a surprising number of American families are simply opting out of traditional school entirely.

Interviews, Scenes and Characters from THE G WORD

WHO DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD: 'GIFTED'?

GIFTED. It’s a word that conjures up elitism, superiority, and white privilege.

When most people hear the word gifted, they see the faces of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. THE G WORD contemplates the idea that giftedness looks, sounds, behaves, and reacts much differently. Using social justice and education equity as its major frame, THE G WORD explores giftedness through the lens of identity, through race, gender, class, sex, and even zip code because where you’ve grown up largely informs the kinds of educational opportunities you’ve had access to.

We’re going into places and spaces across this great nation where you might not expect to encounter giftedness.

The stories and experts featured in the THE G WORD represent no less than 19 states and hundreds of zip codes.

VISION STATEMENT

We believe strongly that there are people in this great nation who are not being seen for how smart they really are and that is a huge loss to our society. As the education system continues to unravel, families are simply choosing to opt out because there are no schools to meet their needs. THE G WORD will showcase their stories, give life to their voices, and create much-needed space for a national conversation about the importance of education in our country, and to really highlight why we should value our country’s smartest citizens.

TIMELINE & BUDGET

In recent months, we have adjusted our timeline in response to the Covid19 health crisis. As of June 2020, we are in early post-production and have begun the long-form edit. Summer and Fall 2020 will be focused on editing, continued fundraising, and deeper archival research for the film's history sections and to supplement specific stories. In Winter and Spring 2021, we will push this film towards rough cut and fine cut as we concurrently pitch to a range of outlets for completion funding. The second half of 2021 will be focused post-finishing and submitting to top-tier festivals. Our goal is to world premiere in the first half of 2022, followed by a dynamic national and worldwide rollout from there.

THE CHARACTERS & THEIR STORIES

Every person in the United States has one surprising thing in common. Each of us has an EDUCATION STORY. The particular details of that story will differ greatly based on type of school attended; demographics like class, race, gender, and sexuality; not to mention, the zip code we grew up in. But, to be sure, there is a social contract in this country that tells families very clearly -- each of your children will at one point go to school and be offered some form of a public education.

THE G WORD is decidedly national in scope even as it is also regionally representative. The film moves from California to Washington to Maryland, Minnesota to Arizona to Texas, and beyond, acting as a kind of container for diverse stories that reaffirm the very important concept that “gifted is local" and like most education issues, impacts rural, urban, and suburban communities.

CALIFORNIA & GEORGIA

Ilan & Church - Zip Codes 90032 & 31402

Church

Ilan is a 20-year old gifted LatinX transgender artist who we met while filming at the Early Entrance Program (EEP) at Cal State Los Angeles. For Ilan, EEP provided a safe haven to explore art and gender identity. While at EEP, they met their partner Church who identifies as genderqueer, and they’re now both in graduate art school at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia.

Animation Still by Ilan Conrado

Are gender identity, the brain, intelligence, creativity, and traumatic narratives interconnected? And, why are so many transgender and gender nonconforming tweens and teens showing themselves to be some of the most highly gifted students in our nation’s schools? These are the questions we're exploring with the help of Ilan and Church. Ilan is also providing original animations for the film.

The Hayes Family & Big Minds - Zip Code 94803

THE HAYES FAMILY

Twice Exceptionality (Being 2e) and neurodiversity are key aspects of 21st century giftedness. We explore what it looks like when giftedness sits right along side disability through deep and unfettered access to the Hayes family in Northern California. Anchored by the story of Melanie Hayes, a 57 y.o. Mom of 2e twin teenagers who founded the BIG MINDS Unschool for twice exceptional (2e) children, we spend intimate amounts of time getting to know each family member, including her kids, Dylan and Morgan who have very different learning and social challenges. The film presents the Hayes family as an “Every Family,” hence the above reference to "American Gothic," helping to normalize the traumatic aspects of what it means to grow up in a 2e household. As Melanie often tells us, 2e families are far more common than people think and parents are often demonized by school systems for bad parenting.

Dylan undergoes comprehensive intelligence testing

As part of the documentary, Dylan, age 17, has been filmed undergoing a full battery of neuropsychological, psychological and intelligence testing at Summit Center in Walnut Creek, CA, one of the most highly regarded testing centers for gifted and 2e people in the nation. This included interviews with their award winning team to help demystify the testing process for the broader public. Both Dylan and his sister Morgan see their participation in the film as their chance to change the world for 2e people everywhere. Being a champion for the underdog is common trope among so many of these families.

Solano Prison - Zip Code 95687

Men inside being interviewed about their educational experience and what it means to be "smart"

THE G WORD crew spent time filming inside Solano State Prison through a creative collaboration with the Marin Shakespeare Company’s game changer / restorative justice “Shakespeare in Prison” program. We filmed both a rehearsal and performance of PERICLES and got to know some 30+ men who are in for life without parole yet they hunger to express their intelligence and creativity. We encountered deeply moving personal stories from these men by chronicling and participating in their creative works. It was a powerful day, and yes, giftedness exists inside the prison system and it is very much connected to the detention to prison pipeline problem in our education system.

ARIZONA

San Luis - Zip Code 85349

Five minutes from the U.S. border with Mexico, and in the second poorest zip code in the state of Arizona, San Luis is a rural community comprised of Mexican Americans, Spanish speakers, and undocumented and migrant field workers. Yet, its Gadsden School District is consistently ranked as one of the highest in the nation using a number of measures, and its students compete with the most affluent in our nation when it comes to sending young people to Center for Talented Youth summer camps for advanced learners.

Giftedness at the U.S. border with Mexico in the Southern Arizona desert

THE G WORD documentary team has spent significant time filming in San Luis getting to know the people who are the players in this unexpected story. How has this community defied all of the odds while also challenging every mainstream stereotype about what it means to grow up by the border? It's a surprisingly simple proposition. Everyone at every level of this community cares deeply about the future of its kids. As a consequence, many of the young people go away to the top schools and come back home to the area to do great things and give back. Arturo, age 27, to the right, has been to Harvard, Duke and Columbia and is now a City Planner in Yuma, AZ. For years, he crossed the border on foot each morning to access the supports only available in Gadsden School District.

Lee Family - Zip Code 95020

The Lee Family are Migrant Farmers who have found ways to support their gifted children

The Lee Family has done the remarkable. They are migrant farmers who move with the agro-year and split their time between San Luis, AZ and Gilroy, CA. Despite having spent half the school year in San Luis and the other half in Gilroy—a very tough annual transition for any student—their daughter Brenda excelled. During high school she was actively involved in mentoring other daughters of farm workers. She has received scholarships to continue her university studies and is currently studying criminal justice at Chico State University in Chico, CA, with the goal of becoming a police detective to gain experience before heading back to law school and become a family lawyer.

TEXAS

The Center for BrainHealth - Zip Code 75235

The Brain Performance Institute in Dallas, TX is where our 2e and neurodiverse populations are being given serious attention and meaningful support through its Center for BrainHealth.

The staff here are pioneers in what they call the brain-health revolution, and serving the world’s neurodiverse populations is just one of a whole slate of important 21st priorities. Their cognitive neuroscience work on behalf of gifted and twice exceptional features a social learning program called “Charisma,” which includes VR environments, interactive games, role play, mindfulness, and hands on mentoring from coaches.

MARYLAND

Baltimore, MD - Zip Code 21251

Dr. Martin Jenkins at Morgan State University

The urban setting of Baltimore brings together various story arcs of THE G WORD, including -- the story of Martin Jenkins, a Black Scholar from the 1930s and 1940s who pioneered research on Black Intelligence and Black Giftedness, the work of present-day Black Scholar Dr. Joy Lawson Davis who is trying to make sure that Jenkins receives the recognition he deserves, and the journey of a family in present-day Baltimore that shows us how racism, poverty, and inequity continue to play out in startling ways for young, Black Gifted kids in our major urban centers, in spite of education programs trying to serve them and meet their needs.

At the 2018 National Association for Gifted Children Conference where we met two Dr. Jenkins Scholars, Haviland Whiting, age 16 from Tennessee, and John Sumter, age 13 from South Carolina. The ceremony in their honor was followed by a talk show style conversation which inspired a 4th grader named Elliott who was excited to meet other Gifted Black youth.

The Dr. Martin D. Jenkins Scholar Award is named after Dr. Jenkins, Father of Research on Gifted Black Students, and is designed to honor the achievements of highly gifted Black students who excel academically in school.

MINNESOTA

Fond du Lac Ojibwe School - Zip Code 55720

Giftedness resides in places and spaces we don’t predict or expect, and smart children are being identified and supported in spite of racism and poverty. In Northern Minnesota we discovered that the educators here have built something that is working because it is both culturally appropriate and celebrates the students' Ojibwe language and culture. They're also doing an incredible job of honoring the traumatic narratives that come with being Native American in the Great state of Minnesota.

There is a stunning amount of multi-generational trauma here tied to a brutal period, beginning in the 1800s and continuing into the 1970s, when Minnesota Indian children were forcibly rounded up and placed in boarding schools designed to erase their culture, identity, language, rituals, really anything about them that was Native or Indian. It was a profoundly moving experience and it is entirely clear that the Native American gifted students here are at the center of a nascent movement to breathe life back into their cultural identities and language.

WASHINGTON

Northshore School District - Zip Code 98021

Highly Capable Student Advisors who work directly with the Superintendent

Dr. Michelle Reid is the Northshore School District's visionary Superintendent who's working to change outcomes for under-represented students by making sure that every student in her District of 23,000 students gets tested for giftedness. THE G WORD team visited Dr. Reid at Bear Creek Elementary School -- 20 miles northeast of Seattle -- where the gifted and talented classroom is actually starting to look more and more like 21st century diverse America. This district is exemplar of Suburban America where 94 languages are spoken in its households. They've embraced the words HIGHLY CAPABLE over GIFTED, which is having great results. They're also focusing on the whole child and working hard to remove the "us vs. them" mentality that has plagued so many Gifted & Talented programs in public schools around the country.

The Northshore District provides evidence that communities and their schools can be more inclusive, more focused on equity, and ultimately quite successful at taking care of our nation's best and brightest children --- regardless of their race, class, language, sexuality, gender identity, or immigration status!

MEET THE EXPERTS

We've assembled an impressive group our nation's most dynamic experts and thought leaders to contemplate race, gender, class, and sexual identity, especially in relationship to giftedness, the IQ and 21st century ideas around what constitutes intelligence. Collectively, they represent some of the best universities, schools, media outlets, policy institutes, and educational research facilities.

Meet the experts who appear in THE G WORD

THE G WORD ADVISORY BOARD

Our Advisory Board is a diverse group of top-tier experts in the fields of psychology, education, policymaking, mental health and social justice. They are generous volunteers and community leaders who are dedicated to helping us realize an impactful feature documentary by early 2021.

SPONSORSHIP, PARTNERSHIP & FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAJOR DONORS

The following is an overview of pricing and recognition opportunities for sponsors of THE G WORD. This program invites private companies to join us on this journey of completing and releasing the film by early 2022. Non-profits, educational groups, professional associations, schools and consultants interested in becoming involved can participate in our National Partnership Network, which offers similar visibility and recognition outlined below but at a reduced pricing commensurate with their annual budgets.

Sponsorship Rate Card for THE G WORD

Fiscal Sponsorship - Tax Deductible Donations

THE G WORD documentary film is fiscally sponsored by the Center for Independent Documentary (CID), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, one of the top fiscal sponsors for documentary films in the U.S. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Tax ID #: 04-2738458. To make a tax deductible donation by check, be sure to write “THE G WORD” in the note/memo field so that the donation is directed to our film, and then please mail check to:

Corporate Matching Gift Programs | We highly encourage you to check with your employer to see if they have a Corporate Matching Gift Program, which may double your donation! Approximately 2/3 of companies with matching gift programs match employee donations to nearly any 501(c)(3) organization, like THE G WORD.

Major Donor Council | For those who are able to make gifts at $5,000 or higher, please consider joining our Major Donor Council. For more information, please click here: THE G WORD’s Major Donor Council. Individual major donors can qualify for associate producer, co-producer and/or executive producer credits on the eventual final film. To inquire, contact: Marc Smolowitz | marcsmolowitz@gmail.com | +1 415-370-0434.

THE G WORD TEAM

Marc Smolowitz, Director/Producer and Ron Turiello, Producer have assembled a team of accomplished and award-winning creative professionals to bring THE G WORD to life.

Learn more about Marc's film company 13th Gen at https://13thGenFilm.com

WATCH NOW | 6 SHORT WEB FILMS featuring a selection of STORIES, CHARACTERS and EXPERTS FEATURED in the upcoming documentary:

Almost 60 minutes of content | Go to: https://vimeo.com/showcase/5341657

WANT TO SUPPORT THE G WORD?

CONTACT: Marc Smolowitz, Director/Producer marcsmolowitz@gmail.com, +1 415-370-0434

THANK YOU!