Film Review: The World We Want

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AFI Fest

What appears to be another routine, feel-good, youth-oriented doc morphs into a motivational how-to for young activists as it gains momentum and impact. "The World We Want" recently world premiered at AFI Fest, where it shared the audience award for best documentary feature. Ideal for fests and school audiences, "The World We Want" also has a good shot at finding fulfillment on DVD and potentially broadcast as well.

The film profiles teenage participants in Project Citizen, a school-based international civics program administered by a California nonprofit and funded by the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies, as well as private organizations and individuals. Active in all 50 states and 65 countries internationally, the initiative educates students about local and national governance while involving them in real-world problem-solving.

Eight international groups of youthful activists initiating local projects participate in the doc as they prepare to travel to the inaugural Project Citizen International Showcase in Washington, D.C. and compete to win recognition as "Program of the Year." Individually and collectively, these kids from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Russia, Senegal and the United States seek to influence issues as diverse as underage gambling, access to clean water and reforming school nutrition plans.

Writer-director Patrick Davidson, a veteran executive and producer for network, cable and studio programming, traveled around the world capturing the kids' lives and their struggles to improve their communities. Substituting brief explanatory titles for heavy-handed voiceover, Davidson primarily lets the kids speak for themselves, their families and hometowns. Particularly affecting are the personal accounts of young people seeking communal reconciliation and advancement in war-torn Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Almost without exception, the teenagers reveal themselves as articulate, compassionate and motivated to improve their lives and those around them. Alternating profiles of the international student groups with footage of the D.C. showcase, Davidson adroitly brings the multi-stranded narrative to a stirring conclusion with the selection of the Project of the Year, voted on by program participants.

Shot on location in HD, "The World We Want" clearly benefits from Davidson's extensive production experience and eye for setting the teens comfortably in their environs. An easy rapport with his subjects also demonstrates his similar enthusiasm for their goals.

The uncluttered cinematography -- skillfully exploiting available light -- and proficient editing are smoothly professional, although the score, consisting of local music and upbeat contemporary instrumentals, comes on a bit too insistently.

Sure to win converts wherever it travels, "The World We Want" is a powerful and winning testament to youthful idealism and activism.

Production company: Patrick Davidson Productions
Director/screenwriter/producer: Patrick Davidson.
Co-producer: Roberta Davidson.
Directors of photography: Curt Miles, Brian Pratt.
Music: Paul Hollman.
Editors: Joanne Nucho, Bill Macomber.
No rating, 100 minutes.
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