PALO ALTO, CA – September 10, 2020 – Every June at Maplewood Middle School in suburban New Jersey, 6th-grade students participate in an end-of-the-year rite of passage: they compose a letter to their future 18-year-old selves. This extracurricular assignment not only encourages middle schoolers to reflect on who they are, but to imagine who they might become. After the letters are written and sealed, teachers safely lock them away for six years....and wait. When these same students are young adults ready to graduate high school, the teachers mail the letters back.
DEAR FUTURE ME, a new documentary short film in two parts, features both high school seniors opening their prophetic letters and 6th graders writing to their future selves. The results are surprising, engaging, emotional and most of all, heart-warming. But even more than reminiscing about their middle school selves, the letters prompt reflections on identity, race, sexuality and just how much growing and changing kids do in six short years.
For 25 years, no one was allowed behind the curtain to witness the poignant moment when the contents of these letters are revealed, until now. Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter tradition takes on a deeper meaning during our uncertain times, as the students grapple with quarantine rules, safety concerns, and missing daily real-life contact with their friends and teachers.
The parents, students and school district granted HP and award-winning directors Sarah Klein and Tom Mason special permission to film this ritual. According to Mason, “2020 has changed all of us in profound ways, and that really comes to the surface for these kids. For the seniors, it's a clear sense that their more innocent, younger selves could never have imagined that things would turn out this way… For the 6th graders, these letters highlight how difficult it's been to go through all this at such a formative age... but they still manage to have fun riding bikes, building forts, and just being kids. It's a resilient spirit that I think we can all take a page from.”
For HP, whose belief system centers on “keep reinventing,” this series is a natural extension of the company’s commitment to connecting audiences through the power of stories. “Storytelling is a longstanding pillar of the HP brand – whether it’s our partnership with the story-driven nonprofit Girl Rising or working with creators to bring films like DEAR FUTURE ME to life, we believe our brand must be a mirror back to our communities and reflect their lives,” explains Karen Kahn, HP’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer. “Elevating stories like these is core to our commitment to create technology in the service of humanity. These films tap into common emotion and experiences that bond us all.”
Produced by HP and Redglass Pictures, the films are being released on Thursday, September 10 on HP.com’s digital storytelling hub, The Garage and select VOD platforms. In addition to the films, HP has created a Dear Future Me mini-site, where viewers are encouraged to print instructions on how to write their own letters to their future selves.
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