16-year-old DMV filmmaker making difference with film on youth mental health

The filmmaker says she wants to empower Black and brown youth who are going through mental health issues by letting them know they are not alone in their struggles.

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Wise beyond her years, 16-year-old Anah Ambuchi is putting her talents to good use by creating impact through filmmaking.

The actress, writer, director, and producer is based in the Washington, D.C.-area and on Tuesday evening will be debuting her sophomore film #DTMUS (Don’t Tell Me Ur Sorry) at the Silver Spring Civic Center. The 22-minute short film is inspired by true events that follow two African American teens who experience experienced the pandemic in different ways.

“I’m so excited to debut #DTMUS in the DMV,” Ambuchi said. “No one is talking about the Covid virus anymore, but as a young person I have seen how Covid has taken a traumatic toll on young people to the point that our everyday lives have changed and are still changing till this day.“

The film aims to shed light and raise awareness about mental health issues experienced by students. This topic is important to Ambuchi because she started to experience anxiety and the feeling of not belonging after the pandemic came to an end and she had to go back to school. She also moved from Chicago to the DMV. Having to adjust to new scenery and make new friends sparked this interest within herself.

“That was the problem. It was the problem that the friends that I did have just saw me as their Affirmation app or someone to uplift them and always be there for them, but no one was there for me,” she said. “So I think that that was very important for me to showcase this, because a lot of brown and Black people, they don’t want to talk about their mental health and what they went through because they don’t see it as mental health.”

After seeing the film, she hopes people will take mental health more seriously, especially the adults when it comes to communicating with their children.

“Check on your child. Just because they say, oh, I’m fine, doesn’t mean necessarily that they’re fine. And also for the teens out there to communicate with their parents, because it’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to ask for help,” Ambuchi insightfully said. “Like, you don’t have to struggle alone, you don’t have to suffer alone.”

Ambuchi is already thinking of ways she can continue to make change in the future. She wants to have her own organization that for young marginalized groups, providing them with resources if they are interested in filmmaking. The program would provide people with cameras, mentors, and overall resources to help give people a head start in the passion.

“So I hope from there I can create that organization and provide for these communities,” Ambuchi said. “And also I hope to continue to make projects that inspire and create conversation and make it uncomfortable. But that’s okay because we need to have these uncomfortable conversations in order for change to be made.”

The debut screening of the film is made possible through the Safe Summer Fund Grant Youth Program from the governor’s office, and will be hosted by Howard University student Sydnie Collins. It is set to start at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5. 

Click here to register to go to the free event.

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