Directors' Statement


On a chilly autumn night, we sat in a circle while the youth of Destiny Arts Center shared their stories with each other. They began with the words “If you really knew me …” We knew we were witnessing something important.

“If you really knew me, you would know that I spend most of my day on Facebook.”
“… you would know that my parents split when I was five.”

Each time around the circle, deeper stories emerged.

“If you really knew me, you would know that these are cigarette burns.”  
“… I was raped as a little girl.”

The young people were from Oakland, California, and this was the start of a new Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company. Plenty of hip hop dance moves were made that day, but the sharing played a special role in bonding the group.

We filmed over the course of a year, documenting the process as the teens turned their stories into art. After making F R E E, we understand the immense power in the simple act of sharing a story. Whether by listening or by telling our own, walls come down, bridges of empathy are built, and real change can happen.

– Suzanne LaFetra & David Collier, filmmakers