UNA-NY Screening the Issues


I Could Tell You 'Bout My Life

Please join us for this special documentary screening
followed by Q+A with

Founder and Executive Director, BYkids

Documentary director and producer

Film director

Moderated by

Executive Director, Global Youth Leadership Institute 


Wednesday |  November 20, 2019

6:00 p.m. |  Registration and Reception
6:30 p.m. |  Film Screening followed by Q+A
7:30 p.m. |  Reception

Screening begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.

Dolby 88 Screening Room
1350 Avenue of the Americas (at West 55th Street)
Lobby Level
New York, NY 10019



UNA Members: $10
UNA Student Members: $10
Guests and Non-Members: $15

Purchase all advance tickets for the film HERE

I COULD TELL YOU ‘BOUT MY LIFE was filmed, directed and narrated by 19-year-old Michael Martin. In this BYkids film, mentored by filmmakers Chiemi Karasawa and Hollis Meminger, Martin created his film to reflect on his incarceration on Rikers Island and the effects it had on his life.

On April 10th, 2017 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law inspired by the “Raise the Age” movement and New York is now raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old, no longer prosecuting and incarcerating 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. When Michael Martin got arrested at age 17, this law did not exist. As a result, a judge sentenced him to jail time on Rikers Island.

With his first film, Michael recounts events that led to his incarceration. He describes being bored, “hanging with the wrong crowd” and interviews his 64-year-old grandmother about raising five children in a single bedroom, East Harlem apartment.

When Michael asks his grandmother, Cynthia, how she became his guardian, she recalls how his mother “had problems,” and in order to avoid Michael falling into foster care, she “told that social worker I was taking you home with me.” She describes using a monthly $231 from the Human Resources Administration and wages earned during 12-hour shifts, Cynthia fed and clothed Michael and his siblings.

In crafting his film, Michael uses music and spoken-word poetry to process his own experiences with crime, poverty and incarceration. His uses art to help him both reflect on, and better understand, the forces at work in his community. Narrating his journey, he raps from songs he wrote, while using a percussion track as a minimalistic score.

”It’s important to tell your story because everyone has a different point of view and you never know when your point of view can help the next person. It’s a chance to speak about how you feel, and establish a connection,” he remarks.

When Michael asks his parole officer if he can imagine a better alternative to incarceration, he says, “I believe in education over incarceration” and reminds us that a year of incarceration costs the same as a year at an Ivy League university. Since his release, Michael has taken classes at Friends of Island Academy in order to obtain a GED.

Please join us for this special screening, one or four BYKids Season Two films airing on Public Television in 2019. Our guests this evening to discuss the film after the screening will include the young filmmaker himself, Michael Martin — as well as Holly Carter, founder and executive director of BYkids, and award-winning documentary director and producer Chiemi Karasawa. The discussion will be moderated by Matt Nink, the Executive Director of the Global Youth Leadership Institute.


Chiemi Karasawa is an award-winning documentary director/producer who founded Isotope Films.

Her films include Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, The Betrayal: Nerakhoon (Academy Award Nominee, Emmy Award Winner), Billy The Kid, and Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (premiering at Tribeca Film Festival in 2018). She has worked with notable directors including Spike Jonze, Jim Jarmusch, Sam Mendes, Stephen Frears and Martin Scorsese as a Script Supervisor.


Matt Nink has been the Executive Director of Global Youth Leadership Institute (Milwaukee WI, and Lake Forest, IL) since 2005. He also has twenty years of experience as an award winning English teacher and administrator at three high schools in Wisconsin, U.S.

Among his achievements, Matt has developed and improved many dynamic programs for students and teachers in the areas of leadership, cross-cultural competency, youth empowerment, and social justice. He has created engaging curriculum and measurement tools that have received national attention and focus on GYLI’s four pillars: collaborative leadership, multi-cultural identity, religious pluralism and environmental sustainability. He has conducted successful student and faculty workshops at k-12 schools and universities throughout the U.S., as well as in Costa Rica, Panama, India, and Nigeria, and the Dominican Republic. He has presented at conferences in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Matt has guided GYLI from its beginnings with small groups of students in the US, to working with more than 500 participants every year from around the world. He models the collaboration that GYLI preaches, and this has allowed GYLI to work for the US State Department, World Learning, and other international organizations.

In addition to his educational work, Matt has volunteered widely in the Milwaukee community, through the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Succeeds city-wide education effort, and St. Sebastian Church. Matt is currently a board member of Pius XI Catholic High School in Milwaukee. He also serves on the Wisconsin State Advisory Board for the US Global Leadership Coalition.

Matt holds a BA from Boston College and a MA from Northern Illinois University. He lives in suburban Milwaukee with his wife and their four children.


Because kids tell honest and important stories, but often go unheard, the non-profit organization BYkids was created to pair master filmmakers, such Albert Maysles and Ric Burns, with youth (ages 8-21) from around the world, to create short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues.

By giving kids the tools and mentoring to make documentary films about their lives and packaging those films for a wide American audience, BYkids gives voice to youth from diverse cultures, and encourages international understanding and engagement by giving viewers concrete ways to respond.

In October 2011, Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations, became a core advisor for developing BYkids partnerships with United Nations agencies, extending the story sourcing, on-site logistics and strategic outreach for BYkids films. "Each BYkids youth storyteller mobilizes our conscience towards a larger sense of global solidarity. BYkids reminds us that we are one Humanity," said Mulet.

Holly Carter is the Founder and Executive Director of BYkids. Holly began her career as a writer and editor at The New York Times and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Since then she has lived in Korea as a Henry Luce scholar and print and television journalist; produced an award-winning documentary on Margaret Sanger; co-founded North Carolina's Full Frame Festival; served as a consultant for The After-School Corporation; produced the PBS series Media Matters; and most recently was the Executive Director of The Global Film Initiative.

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