College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

USM to Sponsor “I am Eleven” Film Documentary, International Project

Age 11 is a pivotal time in a person’s life – lots of mental and physical changes about to happen; sixth-grade for many American kids; energy, activity, enthusiasm and excitement abound. 

The USM College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, in conjunction with the Portland Children’s Film Festival (PCFF), will present a special public showing on Wednesday, April 2, of the award-winning documentary, “I am Eleven,” depicting children around the world at age 11 and their unique thoughts and feelings. 

Audience members also are invited to participate in the international “I am Eleven” project. Individuals will complete the phrase “When I was 11 … “ on a template form and have their photo taken while holding the form. The photo then will be uploaded online for public viewing on the project website. 

Taking part in the film presentation will be Bethany Campbell, newly appointed director of Portland Adult Education, who will welcome the audience, and Portland Adult Education graduating students, many of whom are from other countries. 

The documentary presentation is part of a larger, cross-generational program taking place that day, sponsored by the college and involving every sixth-grader in Portland Public Schools, according to Lynn Kuzma, dean of USM’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHS) and a PCFF Steering Committee member. 

The “I am Eleven” event is being considered as the signature event for the annual children’s film festival, she said. 

“Age 11 is such a special time in every child’s life,” Kuzma said. “We are inviting every sixth-grader in Portland’s public schools on campus to view this wonderful documentary and to think about their own lives as 11-year-olds. 

“But we also want people in the greater Portland community to remember that important period of their lives,” she continued. “We think this can be a special opportunity for all of us to share something unique about ourselves and to connect as children, adults and families.” 

The details of the public film showing are: 

·      “I am Eleven: A World of Voices with One Thing in Common”; for older children, teens and adults; international documentary film presentation and participation in the “I am Eleven” international project; sponsored by the University of Southern Maine College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the Portland Children’s Film Festival; 6-6:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. speaker presentations, featuring Bethany Campbell, Portland Adult Education director; 7 p.m., film showing; Wednesday, April 2, Hannaford Hall, Abromson Education Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland campus; suggested donation, $5. For more information, go to 

“I am Eleven” is an award-winning documentary created by Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey, who traveled the world for six years and interviewed 11-year-olds in 15 different countries. The children share their thoughts on such subjects as love, war, global warming, music, terrorism, family, happiness, religion and the future. 

The “I am Eleven” project, based on the film’s website, encourages all people to finish the sentence “When I was 11 … ” and share a story for online posting. The site already features hundreds of photos and stories. 

Kuzma described the Portland Children’s Film Festival, now in its third year, as one of the premiere cultural events for the Portland region. This year, the event, which runs from April 2-6, will feature more than 15 films and multi-media events appropriate for children from 3 years old up to adults. The annual festival is sponsored by the East End Community School and USM College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. 

“We are very proud to be affiliated with the Portland Children’s Film Festival and to be able to use our resources at USM to reach out and engage the local community,” Kuzma said. “The festival brings high-quality, international films for children and also runs an outstanding filmmaking contest. The “I am Eleven” event fulfills the mission and vision of both the festival and our college.”

For more information about the Portland Children’s Film Festival, go to

For more information about “I am Eleven,” go to