Sitar Arts Center students produce documentary about dying teacher

A group of art students in D.C. found a unique way to honor a beloved teacher as he was dying from liver cancer. They created a documentary during his last days in classes at the Sitar Arts Center, a program that provides arts education for low-income students.

Tim Gabel had been teaching there for 10 years, never missing a day, until he became sick.

His last months became the subject of a documentary produced by sitar students, entitled 'life as a collage'.

From producing and directing to even composing the film's original music, seven students managed every aspect of creating the documentary.

Forrest Penrod, a 16-year-old student, directed. For him, the project was about much more than shooting and editing.

“I learned how to deal with death, I learned much more about emotions, who I am as a person, how I deal with death,” he said.

Their teachers, Brandon and Lance Kramer of Meridian Hill Pictures, said despite the students' youth, they were amazed at their ability to manage the sensitive subject. The students showed “maturity, creativity, innovation, sensitivity and compassion,” Kramer said.

“The thoughtfulness that they all directed towards this project was just unbelievable,” he said.

“For some people who really loved Tim, they can know that Tim is still there through the film,” said student Tokunbo Adedeinde.

Through the film, the students have immortalized what became Gabel's last art lesson: “Do your art because that's your art and the most important thing you can do is to finish it no matter what happens.”

The film premiered it last night to family and friends at the Sitar arts center.

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