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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

A Perfectly-Timed Antidote to Despair

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy and Founder, Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F)

Allan dressed to present 2023 AAHSFF Award for Best Music Video w/ Nicole Borman (U. of Fla. undergrad and AAHSFF social media intern) and Jackson Oliva (High School student). PHOTO CREDIT: Zaire Ivey

I don’t know about you, but I have been working overtime to prevent a creeping sense of

hopelessness. I've been inching toward despair for a world that feels increasingly on the brink of disaster. During my long life, it has never felt more like humanity has lost its way and is almost determined to self-annihilate.

To ward off such hopelessness and despair, I have turned to what has always brought me hope: children and youth. Perhaps that’s why I chose a profession as an educator and why my lifelong work has been spent in the service of children and those who care for and about them.

But until I became a dad and granddad, although I entered my profession to teach and help severely, emotionally-disturbed and autistic children and later worked with “normal” and gifted students from graduate school up to preschool, I never realized how much the children taught and helped me. I have learned that the apex of parenting and grandparenting (and teaching) occurs when nurturing your children is nourishing to you.

In conversation with two of the 500 high-school filmmakers attending last weekend's AAHSFF event in NY. PHOTO: Josh Balogh

And so, it should come as no surprise that my participation 10 days ago in the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) was so uplifting. Two and a half days immersed with 5,000 high school students, teachers, parents, grandparents, and other filmgoers in a six-story multiplex with 25 screens in New York City’s Times Square, was just the antidote I needed! For 11 years, The AAHSFF has enjoyed the honor of supporting and showcasing the world’s best student storytellers, with more than 15,000 submissions representing all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

The creative and joyful intensity of the AAHSFF event precluded room for despair. The quality and creativity of films submitted from around the world, multiplied by the energy and enthusiasm for life and its possibilities for good, were just what I needed.

It also reminded me of the manifold opportunities we each have to bring joy, kindness, and a

sense of sanity to a world that constantly seems to flirt with collective insanity bent on self-


* * *

PHOTOS by Josh Balogh and D3F Promotional POSTER DESIGN by Michael Duggan

Last month's AAHSFF event had me looking forward, once again, to brighter days ahead as the countdown continues to our 3rd Annual Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) New Year's Day call for entries. You can visit our D3F FilmFreeway page for more details on this year's themes, submission requirements, and deadlines. Get ready to share your daddying stories!

Lights! Cameras! Daddying!


Allan Shedlin has devoted his life's work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019, he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He has conducted daddying workshops in such diverse settings as Native American pueblos, veterans groups, nursery schools, penitentiaries, Head Start centers, corporate boardrooms, and various elementary schools, signifying the widespread interest in men in becoming the best possible dad. In 2022, Allan founded and co-directed the Daddying Film Festival & Forum to enable students, dads, and other indie filmmakers to use film as a vehicle to communicate the importance of fathers or father figures in each others' lives. Allan earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D and GRAND D-A-D the most important “degrees” of all.

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Ben Killoy
Ben Killoy
05 nov. 2023

Glad to see Allan showed up as best self and represent. Keep up the great work!

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