Apr 9, 2024 - News

Philly high-schooler's doc places third in C-SPAN's StudentCam

Philly high school student Anna Berman in her fast-fashion documentary.

Philly high school student Anna Berman in her fast fashion documentary. Screengrab

Anna Berman worked at a breakneck pace to finish her "fast-fashion" flick.

Why it matters: The then-junior at Philly's Science Leadership Academy made her deadline in time to win $750 for third place in C-SPAN's national StudentCam competition for the documentary, "Fast Fashion — A Race to the Bottom," which explores the industry's global economic and environmental toll.

What they're saying: The final days before the contest deadline were a blur as she furiously edited hours of interviews and news clips, fine-tuned a script and created graphics for the six-minute film, Berman tells Axios.

  • "I missed out on a bunch of things I wanted to add," says Berman, who has since transferred to Philadelphia Virtual Academy. "I was disappointed in myself. I could have done so much more."

Stunning stat: The average American spends more than $1,400 on clothing, the most of any country in the world, Berman says in the film.

  • The U.S. consumes "almost a quarter of the billions of garments sold globally each year," which she says has had an "immense negative impact" on the clothing industry.

Fast fashion: The cheap, quick production of trendy new clothes accounts for about 10% of the world's carbon emissions, per CNN.

  • The documentary included a news clip of a pile of discarded clothes in Chile that left such a large imprint it was captured on satellite imagery from space.
  • As demand for fast fashion intensified, prices tumbled from $160 for a single item in the 1960s to about $27 today, Berman says.

Zoom in: Berman, an aspiring fashion designer, tells Axios she decided to make her film when her American history teacher assigned it to students to boost their grades.

  • She worked her sources — a neighbor had a job at a clothing factory and her aunt worked in costume design — to land more than a half-dozen interviews, including one with a representative of fast-fashion giant Uniqlo.

Other winners: El Palmer, Violet Brenner and Clarissa Lanzas of Science Leadership Academy, $250 honorable mentions, "Funding our Future."

The bottom line: As for her history grade, Berman says that she ended up with a B despite finishing third in the contest.

  • "That's good for [that] class," she said.
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