Speaking to Portland City Council

Good Morning Council Members,

My name is Pilar Curtis. I’m from Arlington, Virginia and will be a senior this fall at Virginia Commonwealth University. This past April, I applied to the Media Institute for Social Change. As an aspiring journalist, I wanted to become a better storyteller. But the skill set I’ll be leaving Portland with goes beyond storytelling. The twelve students in the summer program are passionate about social justice, and the Media Institute has given us the opportunity to make a social impact through our documentary films. We’re screening two this morning, but all six documentaries are screening tonight at the Shout House in Southeast Portland. The films cover a wide range of topics. One focuses on Portland’s first female black cop. Another addresses income inequality as it follows a traveling jukebox. I’m proud of the work my peers and I have produced because each story is thought-provoking.

Filmmakers who focus on issues of social justice can be changemakers. I don’t think we’re so different from lawmakers. You were elected to create laws that improve the lives of Portlanders. We want to create change as well, but through a different medium. I hope our documentaries on Portland-related issues will spark a conversation about the soul of the city and raise awareness about the needs of its people.

Thank you.


-Pilar Curtis in a speech to City Council on August 10th before presenting our student films.