Speaking in Tongues

About the documentary:

At a time when 31 states have passed English Only initiatives, one urban school district in San Francisco is exploring the provocative notion that speaking a foreign language can be a national asset.

Meet Julian, Jason, Kelly and Durrell. Four typical American kids – with one exception. Their parents put them in schools where, from the first day of kindergarten, their teachers speak mostly Chinese or Spanish.

"Speaking in Tongues" follows four very different kids as they encounter the challenges and delights of becoming fluent in two languages. Together they represent a nexus of challenges facing America today: economic and academic inequities, de facto segregation, record number of new immigrants, and the need to communicate across cultures. Using a verité story-telling approach, "Speaking in Tongues" follows these kids as they enter the portal of language and open their minds to new ways of thinking and being in the world.

In a time of globalization and changing demographics, bilingualism offers them more than an opportunity to join the global job market – language becomes a metaphor for breaking down barriers between ourselves and our neighbors, be they around the corner or on the other side of the world.

Winner of the 2009 San Francisco International Film Festival's prestigious Audience Award, "Speaking in Tongues" has been praised for shining "an illuminating lens into the increasingly relevant topic of multilingualism in a globalized world" by the NorthWest Film Forum. "A lively, smart and timely film about the new globalized world," says Graham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Trailer & more images:


The task:

Summer 2010 – Kristin joined the team as the film's advocate and broadcast strategist, with the goal of securing as many PBS station air dates as possible for "Speaking in Tongues," especially in "Back to School" broadcast slots.

The results:

Over a four month period, Kristin's efforts secured more than sixteen hundred broadcasts of "Speaking in Tongues," covering 81% of the US, making the film available to well over ninety-two million homes across America.

There were more than thirteen hundred broadcasts of "Speaking in Tongues" during the "Back to School" targeted window of August/September 2010.

The reactions:

"I can't thank you enough for your good work getting our film out into the world. I feel very satisfied with the way our broadcast turned out, and that is due entirely to your work. I do hope one of these days we can be in same room so I can buy you a drink to celebrate. And, if it's ok with you, I will continue to send filmmakers your way. So many of us can benefit from the skill and energy you bring."

Marcia Jarmel, filmmaker

"Dude, you rock! Dude, being the all-purpose greeting of not these days, as we have a high-schooler.....
Thanks for all the great work. We are VERY EXCITED about it."

Ken Schneider, filmmaker

"Thanks, as always, for your fabulous work. You rock."

Sreedevi Sreepathy
Associate Director of Broadcast and Distribution, ITVS

About the filmmakers:

PatchWorks Films

San Francisco-based PatchWorks Films specializes in films that explore contemporary social issues though intimate character stories.

Among his many credits, producer, editor and sound recordist, Ken Schneider, co-edited the feature documentary "Regret to Inform," winner of the Peabody Award, Indie Spirit Award and Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, as well as the IDA Award for most distinctive use of archival footage; nominated for an Academy Award and a National Emmy.

PatchWorks Films co-founder Marcia Jarmel has been producing and directing documentaries for more than 15 years. Her best- known work is the ITVS funded "Born in the USA," which aired on the PBS series Independent Lens and was hailed as the "best film on childbirth" by the former director of maternal health at the World Health Organization. Marcia's films include "Collateral Damage," a mother's lament about the human costs of war that screened worldwide as part of Underground Zero: Filmmakers Respond to 9/11; "Return of Sarah's Daughters," an examination of the allure of Orthodo Judaism to secular young women; and many others.

"Speaking in Tongues" is Marcia and Ken's third feature documentary.

The website:

Patchworks Films.net