THE MISSION OF THE G WORD
Who Gets to be 'Gifted' in America and Why?
We are a team of experienced filmmakers who believe in the mission of THE G WORD. With THE G WORD, multi-award winning Director/Producer Marc Smolowitz is aiming to deliver the most ambitious and comprehensive film ever made on the topic of Gifted and Talented education in the United States. This effort is framed by a very specific and urgent inquiry — “In the 21st century, who gets to be 'gifted' in America and why?”
All donations will be tax deductible.*
Defying popular myths that assume most gifted people are wealthy, white, and will do fine on their own, THE G WORD reveals the economic, cultural and gender diversity of our nation’s gifted and talented population at every stage of life, highlighting their educational challenges, social isolation, and deep emotional sensitivities. It puts a face to the physical threats experienced by many in our schools and society at large. It also reveals a large and lively community of people around them working hard to meet their needs while challenging the prejudice that comes with being labeled 'smart' in the 21st century.
Who Do You Think Of When You Hear The Word 'Gifted'?
Gifted. It’s a word that conjures up elitism, superiority and white privilege. Think Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. The misguided belief about gifted people is, “They’re smart, they’ll be fine.” THE G WORD is a deeply personal feature documentary that explodes the mythology around what it means to be gifted in the 21st century, revealing the educational challenges, social isolation, emotional sensitivities and physical threats faced by many gifted individuals in our schools and society and the search for solutions.
A mosaic of revealing stories told by children, adults and elders will explore giftedness, intelligence and neurodivergent learners across the age spectrum and ask, “In the 21st century, who gets to be 'gifted' and why?” Searching for an answer, THE G WORD takes an unexpected path, visiting rural, urban and suburban schools, homes of gifted families, low-income neighborhoods, brain scientists, educators and policy experts to discover that gifted people reside in all walks of life - including even our prisons – but many go unrecognized and don’t receive the support they need to fully thrive, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
THE G WORD takes a deep dive inside our education system, which, over the past 30 years, has refocused resources to focus on students who are working below grade level. In all but six states, programs for gifted students have been abandoned in the face of declining budgets and shifting priorities. At the same time, our understanding of intelligence has changed thanks to emerging knowledge from the neurosciences. Giftedness and learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand, but special education programs are not equipped to teach these children.
Viewers of THE G WORD will come away understanding the risks of maintaining the status quo and the need for new approaches to harness the potential of gifted individuals not only for their own sakes, but also for the benefit of society at large.
Where We Are Now
THE G WORD is currently in production and is 75% shot. With your help we'll finish principal cinematography by the end of this summer (2019) and will then move forward with post-production in the fall.
Four Stories To Introduce You To THE G WORD
The videos below spotlight a selection of stories and experts featured in THE G WORD. Though each short video stands on its own, they’re part of the larger picture we are currently investigating and shaping.
Meet the Experts - Five compelling thought leaders discuss one of the key questions that has become central to THE G WORD -- "Who gets to be 'Gifted' in America and Why?" Using social justice and education equity as a frame, we invite these leading experts to contemplate gifted education alongside issues of race, gender, class, and sexual identity, especially in relationship to concepts of the IQ and new ideas around what constitutes intelligence.
Features: Van Jones, Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D., U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Andrew Solomon, Ph.D., Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.
Exceptional Minds - Big Minds is a very special micro-school in the San Francisco Bay Area for Twice Exceptional (2e) children. In this video we meet Melanie Hayes and Judy Jones, the Founding Director and Assistant Director of the school, as well as some of the special needs children who are benefiting from this unique approach to gifted education and neurodiverse learners. Melanie Hayes and her family have emerged as substantial characters in the film.
My Family Still Calls Me Gabby - In this intimate character profile, Ilan a 20-year-old gifted LatinX transgender artist from the Early Entrance Program (EEP) at Cal State Los Angeles represents a new kind of diversity in 21st century stories about giftedness, intelligence, and gender identity.
Zip Code 83549 - In San Luis, the 2nd poorest zip code in the state of Arizona, the Gadsen School District is consistently ranked as one of the highest in the nation. Its students compete with the most affluent in this country. Curious? Watch ZIP CODE 85349.
Black Intelligence: Racism, poverty, and inequity continue to play out in startling ways for young, Black Gifted kids in our major urban centers, in spite of education programs trying to serve them and meet their needs. Watch BLACK INTELLIGENCE.
Ready To See More?
Stay close for updates! During the arc of this 40-day Kickstarter campaign, THE G WORD team will release two newly produced stories that take you to spaces and places where you wouldn't expect to encounter giftedness.
The first story is about San Luis, a community located right up against the USA/Mexico border, and the little-known Gadsden School District, which resides in the second poorest zip code in Arizona.
Set in the Greater Baltimore area, the second story travels through time to show how racism, poverty, and inequity continue to play out in startling ways for young, black gifted kids in our major urban centers, in spite of education programs trying to serve them and meet their needs.
How We Will Use The Funds We Raise
THE G WORD is currently in production and is 75% shot. With your help we'll finish principal cinematography by the end of this summer (2019).
Our Stretch Goals
If we raise $60,000, we'll aim to raise an additional $60,000 to enable us to move into post-production this fall. All funds raised will support our goal of introducing a dynamic national conversation about education policies affecting gifted individuals and their families.
THE G WORD Team
Marc Smolowitz and Ron Turiello have assembled a team of accomplished and award-winning creative professionals to bring THE G WORD to life. Below is the team so far.
Why Should I Back This Project?
Every person who grew up in the USA has a surprising thing in common — an “education story.” The particular details of that story will differ greatly based on the type of school; demographics; location. But, without question, there is a social contract in this country that tells us our children will be offered “a fair and appropriate” public education. When that “education story” goes well, it's often one of the proudest things we can share with others. When it doesn't go well, it can be one of the most troubling aspects of a person's identity and experience. And, sadly, Gifted and Talented Education is overburdened by these dark and disheartening narratives.
After decades of overall invisibility, our gifted/2e young people are now facing huge challenges as we near the 2020s. Literally, millions are trapped in schools that don’t address their needs. Their outlier status makes them vulnerable to bullying, social isolation, boredom and acting out. Many end up in prison. Every state has a different definition of what gifted means. There is a vacuum of leadership and funding even as new leaders emerge. There is clearly an emerging crisis that has not been addressed. As we work on this film, we’re asking quite directly -- how can we help fix this? How can our film add value to the wonderful work that pre-exists us? As a consequence, our goal is to help expand awareness and illuminate the often misunderstood traumatic experiences of students, parents, and educators who are at the center of our stories.
Special Message from Co-Producer Tim Kulikowski
Producer Ron Turiello Explains What's So Important About THE G WORD
Please join us in addressing this crisis which has to do with so much more than education - it's about who we value in society.
How You Can Help
1) BACK THE PROJECT at whatever level you can. Every contribution -small and large - counts! Check out our awards, we've put together a fun collection - there's something for everyone!
2) SPREAD THE WORD! It takes tremendous community support to fund a Kickstarter! Crowdfunding is about lots of people getting together to donate modest amounts of money. So, please, share our page on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check our Kickstarter media kit for sample posts, stills and more.
All donations (beyond the value of any reward received) are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Center for Independent Documentary.
NEW REWARDS ADDED!
Pledge $100 now and Dan Van der Vieren, Rubik's Cube enthusiast, math teacher, and friend of THE G WORD will physically arrange 225 Rubik's Cubes into a mosaic personalized thank you with your name! You will receive a nice-quality digital image of the mosaic - see the rewards section for an example. In addition to our first reward, a thank you & social media shout out, and our third reward, personal access to stream THE G WORD before its release to the public.
Pledge $250 now for a signed book from Dave Eggers, your choice of book! This is a very special reward, sure to make any fan of his writing happy. Our producer Ron Turiello proudly sits on ScholarMatch's Board of Directors, an organization founded by Eggers to connect students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible.
This reward also comes with access to view THE G WORD before its public release.
Special Thanks for Help and Donations of Rewards
The following people have contributed time or gifts to make this Kickstarter campaign possible:
Ed Amend, Maratea Cantarella, Kate Bechtel, Austina De Bonte, Joy Lawson Davis, Dave Eggers, Teresa Filipowicz, GHF - Gifted Home Schoolers Forum, Barry Gelston, Center for Independent Documentary (CID), Cynthia Z. Hansen, Dr. Melanie Hayes, Danielle Holke, Heidi Molback, Mike Postma, Great Potential Press, Paula Prober, Felicity Ross, Julie Skolnick, Ron Turiello, SENG - Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, Mira Simon, TECA - Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Dan Van der Vieren.
Making a movie takes a community, a full list of donors to THE G WORD can be seen here.
... for reading to the end and hopefully we've convinced you that starting a national conversation about education policies affecting gifted individuals and their families is so critical as we head into the 2020s. Thank you for your support.
Please connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter - @TheGWordFilm - and we'd appreciate if you share our Kickstarter campaign far and wide. We've even put together a Kickstarter media kit that has everything you need - stills, videos, sample posts, and more.
Marc Smolowitz, Director/Producer of THE G WORD, Ron Turiello, Producer of THE G WORD, and the whole G WORD Team
Thank you for supporting THE G WORD.
* All donations are tax deductible through Center for Independent Documentary (501c3), less the cost of reward gifts offered.
Risks and challenges
Given that THE G WORD is 75% shot with most stories underway, the risk is minimal. With your help we're going to finish principal cinematography by the end of summer 2019 and move forward with post-production in the fall. To date, we’ve filmed dozens of interviews with some of the most prominent experts in the fields of giftedness, intelligence theory, and neurodiversity. As a team, we are 100% committed to seeing THE G WORD through and thank you for your support and encouragement. In terms of a release, we are aiming to be ready for festival screenings in 2020.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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