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‘Colorblind’ reunites 3rd-grade class

Documentary feature being shown at Gloria Film Festival in S.L.

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When Pamela Peak and other members of her third-grade class reunited with their beloved teacher Alvin Bell on "Good Morning America," it was a moment made for television.

Actually, it was also made for the big screen, and former stage and soap-opera actress Peak wound up shooting her own documentary feature about that emotional reunion, "Colorblind."

Peak also spearheaded the reunion efforts, having been motivated by the death of her sister-in-law and best friend. "In my quest to overcome the tragedies that hit many of us in midlife, I decided to fill my life with those whom I loved and those who loved me," she recalled during an e-mail interview. "So, late one night, I began my search for a couple of my special classmates I could never quite get off my mind."

With the help of her third-grade "boyfriend," Tim Lysinger, Peak began tracking down their former classmates, who were now in their 40s and scattered around the country.

The two used the Internet and e-mails, and discovered that all of them were curious about what happened to Bell, their social-studies teacher at Cerveny Elementary School in Detroit (he was also the only black teacher at the mostly white school during the 1960s).

Peak said she was amazed to find him alive and well, "but even more amazing, for some reason our dear Mr. Bell remembered each and every member of our special grade-school class. He even remembered what we told him we wanted to be when we grew up.

"As an adult I realized what my classmates and I couldn't have seen as children — that our dreams were as special to him as they were to us."

"Colorblind" is one of several films playing at this year's Gloria International Film Festival, a five-day event showcasing movies "that stir the soul, heal the heart and enrich the world," according to organizers.

Peak said she's looking forward to sharing her experiences with the people of Utah. "I wanted to create a documentary film that brought us all back to our childhoods. If the audience leaves the film and they can't stop thinking about all the kids they loved from their early days, and about their own favorite teacher, then I know I've done my job."

The film will screen at the festival on Thursday and Friday (at 7 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively).

A portion of ticket sales will benefit the Christmas Box House for abused and neglected children.

More information on the Christmas Box House is available at www.thechristmasboxhouse.org. For more information on "Colorblind," browse www.colorblinddocumentary.com.

If you go

What: The Gloria International Film Festival

Where: Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South

When: Tuesday through Aug. 13, 4-11 p.m.

How much: $5 per screening ($10 day passes and $25 festival passes are available)

Phone: 965-5100

Web: www.gloriafilmfest.org

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com