Downtown Community Television Center

Beyond Bullets Takes Aim at Gun Violence

An Army of Young Video Journalists on the Front of America’s Urban War


New York, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/15/2010 -- DCTV’s Beyond Bullets, a new media campaign to quell America's gun violence epidemic, is nearing launch and has stories to tell that are both heartbreaking and empowering. DCTV has hired six early-career video journalists to embed in high-crime communities in all five boroughs. Over the next eight months, they and an army of other young media-makers will produce an ongoing series of reports exploring the tragedy of gun violence and its solutions. Every three hours, a child is shot and killed on the streets of America. Media is partially responsible, and DCTV believes it can be part of the solution. Using video, social media and grassroots organizing, Beyond Bullets will engage communities in dialogue to discover roots and solutions to America’s gun violence epidemic.

Through December, the young video journalists will produce weekly pieces about these communities. Several of them come from these neighborhoods and have a personal stake in preventing gun violence on their streets. Hemamset Angaza was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant and raised in Crown Heights. Gilberto Francisco was raised in Harlem and now lives in the Bronx. A graduate of DCTV's PRO-TV Program, his films have screened at the Tribeca and Hamptons Film Festivals. Joining them is Kat Keene Hogue, who has been working on MTV's "16 & Pregnant" and "Brick City" as well as producing content for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Jessie Auritt is a regular contributor to The NY Daily News, Negesti Cantave is an emerging documentary filmmaker from Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Hena Ashraf is a young Muslim filmmaker and activist from London via Detroit. Their work will be supplemented by more than 20 students in DCTV’s PRO-TV youth program. These journalists bring an incredible diversity of backgrounds and experience to the project, and this variety will provide a multi-faceted approach to the critical issue of gun violence in New York.

"I’m very excited,” said project director Stephanie Skaff, "We have an army of talented young journalists dedicating themselves to covering gun violence in New York City. I think that anyone visiting our website or coming with us on our tour will be shocked by what they learn from these videos.”

Beyond Bullets was conceived five years ago with the multi-award-winning film, Bullets in the Hood, an Emmy and Sundance award-winning documentary about gun violence by two teens who have had eight friends killed by guns in the streets of New York City¬. Since then, DCTV has facilitated a citywide anti-gun violence media tour reaching hundreds of NYC youth, and conducted a 15-city investigation of gun violence with support from the Ford Foundation to build alliances with national leaders in gun violence prevention. Now, with the support of Knight Community Information Challenge of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The New York Community Trust, the campaign turns its attention to local communities. Our young video journalists will make pieces that illuminate the issue of gun violence in NYC and highlight local solutions.

In addition to being made available online, the Beyond Bullets videos will be brought to communities throughout New York City aboard the CyberCar, DCTV's mobile video production and exhibition vehicle. Since 2002, the CyberCar has been connecting people across the world by exhibiting content on the Times-Square-style screen on its side and providing immediate access to new video with its on-board broadcast production facilities. It has toured main streets across the country, taken young Russian journalists to New Orleans and began a peace-building effort by connecting young filmmakers who hailed from nations that were once at war with one another through a tour of the EU. This year, it will take Beyond Bullets to NYC neighborhoods, including: Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, Jamaica, Mott Haven and Stapleton.

"We’re picking up cameras instead of guns,” said Jon Alpert, director and co-founder of DCTV, “That’s the weapon that will improve our communities.”

This month, our video journalists are covering New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, one of Beyond Bullets’ prominent partners, in their struggle to end gun violence in New York. They have organized a series of “Lie-Ins” to honor those lost in the tragedy at Virginia Tech. The month’s events will culminate in NYAGV’s annual Albany Lobby Day on April 27th, where the subjects of the segments will converge to face off against gun advocates at the capitol.

The first videos will be released on and on the traveling CyberCar in May, and will be compiled into three 30-minute documentaries for broadcast on WNYC-TV later this year. Beyond Bullets is an innovative approach to a problem plaguing New York and the United States at large. Bringing together a group of video journalists as diverse as the stories they'll tell, Beyond Bullets is a unique opportunity to gain new ground in the war on gun violence.

About Downtown Community Center
Downtown Community Television Center, Inc. is a non-profit independent media arts center that fosters diverse viewpoints by providing professional media training, and stateof-the-industry resources, and by creating and exhibiting outstanding documentary programs, in the belief that diversity of expression strengthens our democracy and enhances civil society. DCTV’s broadcast productions reach over 100 million viewers each year and have won fifteen National Emmys, two Student Emmys, two DuPont-Columbia Awards, a Peabody, and every other major prize in the broadcast field. For over thirty years, DCTV offers unique programs for underserved youth, community programs, affordable workshops in digital media, production facilities, and equipment rentals. For more information, visit