Facebook wasn’t planning on a graduation campaign until about 3-weeks before this film was produced. Like the rest of the world, no one anticipated graduations being cancelled prior to COVID. When they were, we observed an equally beautiful and heart-breaking behavior emerge on-platform: people were turning to social media to celebrate their graduates in senior tributes, form ‘Class of 2020’ Facebook Groups (dozens formed in just a few weeks) and come together in supportive conversation and solidarity. Upon seeing this, we knew we needed to celebrate, honor and amplify the voice of this very deserving Class of 2020 community.
Part of Us: A film directed by Jenn Nkiru (of Iconoclast) gives voice to this year’s 2020 graduates as they share excerpts of Marina Keegan’s, “The Opposite of Loneliness” essay alongside imagery of their school years and lockdown graduation “celebrations.” Initially penned in 2012, the essay was powerful then, and takes on even more meaning now. The film not only features real, multi-generational graduates from all walks of life, it was shot by the graduates themselves. Produced in the throes of a country-wide lockdown, the entire film was captured on the talent’s own phones, in their own homes.
Creativity during quarantine - a celebration of resilience made for students and by students (literally, on their phones): This film was one of the first remote productions of quarantine, at the height of the global pandemic. Directed remotely, the talent employed family members to hold phones (one crafty sister even propped the phone in her mouth to get a perfect angle,) “location scouted” via selfie strolls, and communicated completely over group video chat. We had acclaimed cinematographers guiding moms on how to hold phones, directors directing younger sisters on how to get a mirror reflection shot, and farm chickens accidentally running across frame. The production alone was a testament to the human spirit and people’s willingness to overcome and still create.
Once out in the world, the ‘Part of Us’ film was profoundly impactful resulting in millions of Facebook community members coming together to rally behind the Class of 2020.