Photo of Youth FX from 2018 by Kiki Vassilakis 

Youth FX  exists to allow Albany teens to take an unflinching look at the serious issues that impact their lives through the lens of a video camera. On Thursday night the Spectrum 8 movie theater will host the program’s 10th world premiere for the screening of eight short films made by young directors. 

“Last year there were a string of murders and shootings in Albany,” says Bhawin Suchak, founder of the program. “Every year we give young people a space to tell their stories. So there is a serious exploration of the ramifications of gun violence, stories that deal with identity, about dealing with the challenges of being what society wants you to be.”

Spectrum 8 plays host to the event for the fifth consecutive year.  An encore presentation is set for Tuesday, April 23.

Artistically, Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” is likely had a major influence on the filmmakers, says Suchak. “The film deals with police violence, gentrification a lot of things that are happening right now in these kid’s neighborhoods,” says Suchak.

The program’s longevity means that some of its early participants like Darian Henry are now running the show. It’s become a program that not only allows teenagers to express themselves but to become professional artists.

“We show eight films,  do a Q&A and it’s important because it showcases this work as art that should be discussed and dissected. We really want them to see themselves as filmmakers. It is a window into the world of young people but it is more than that,” says Suchak.

With 10 years behind him and a large documentary project currently on his plate, Suchak says he’s been thinking a lot about how the program will continue without him.

“I’ve been out of town a lot more lately and yet these guys continue to run what is essentially a production company. I’ve been talking to people in other organizations about the idea that if you value what you’re doing you need to start training your successors. You need to let go and learn to trust these guys.”

Suchak says being forced to see things from his a teenager’s perspective has made him a better filmmaker and teacher.  

“I’m 44 year years old and I still have to be accountable to young people every day. I have to be prepared that they may not take the answers I give them. They hold me accountable and Youth FX has thrived because of that.

The Youth FX 2019  World Premiere takes place at Spectrum 8 Theatre on April 18 at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students.