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Friday, 05 May 2017 17:53

DIGICOM Summer Workshops Open

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It's almost summer, which means it's time to get in on the Professional Development Training workshops hosted by DIGICOM!

Teacher Workshops
June 12 - 16, we will offer our next round of intensive DIGICOM Workshops.  Digital Storytelling for Beginners will be open for registration on Wednesday morning, May 3 for PSUSD teachers and our community private schools on PD links. For our previously trained teachers, an invitation has been extended to register for Cinematic Production and TechniquesApplied Digital Storytelling, and Integrating Digital Storytelling into the Curriculum workshops. 

Student Screenwriting Workshop

DIGICOM will be expanding its Student Screenwriting workshop as we reach out to high school filmmakers from ACROSS THE COACHELLA VALLEY.  

As soon as school is out this summer we will host two week-long screenwriting workshops to committed students that want to hone their storytelling and script writing skills. The weeks will be staggered to accommodate the end-of-the-school-year schedules from the districts across the valley.  Date, time, and location details will be sent to our school contacts. 

High school students from Palm Springs Unified, Desert Sands Unified, and Coachella Valley Unified schools will join DIGICOM's professional trainers to explore narrative structure, format, visual storytelling, development of story, and the authentic voice of the author over the course of the week.  We're looking forward to an amazing, creative learning experience!

This month we sat down with Georgia Terlaje in her classroom at Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary.  Even before becoming a DIGICOM Fellow this year, Georgia was a DIGICOM leader. Three years ago, Georgia launched the DSL Engineer Report; a bi-monthly video news magazine created and produced by DSL students. The Report is broadcast to all the classrooms across the school, informing and entertaining the staff and students as it builds a sense of community. 

One of Georgia's objectives in starting the DSL Engineer Report was to interest other teachers and students in the power of digital storytelling. Not only was this objective achieved, but Della S. Lindley Elementary has become a model school for those that are studying the impact of this instructional method on learning.
This year the work being done at DSL attracted the attention of researchers at the Digital Learning Lab at the University of Irvine's Graduate School of Education. "What is happening at DSL gives us a unique opportunity to study the impact of digital storytelling in student learning." stated Dr. Mark Warschauer, Director of the Digital Learning Lab.

As Desert X's Education Program Partner, DIGICOM engaged high school art and video students in the Palm Springs Unified School District in a unique collaboration with internationally renowned artists participating in the inaugural biennial. DIGICOM students have been creating short documentaries about both their educational experience learning about the artists' professional creative practice, as well as the dynamic installation process of these site-specific sculptures. This eye-opening experience for the students presented a compelling opportunity for these international artists to inspire and be inspired by these young artistic minds of tomorrow. 

As the students interviewed the artists and documented their installation process, they learned that creating art is hard work, often inherently collaborative, and can involve complex principals more aligned with mathematics and engineering classes than traditional art classes. The image of the artist working in a solitary environment was dashed when the students visited artist Phillip K Smith's studio and found it looked more like an industrial architectural studio than a scene from the Left Bank. 
On March 1, we opened our doors to welcome our newest employee, Stephen Heslin.  What an asset!  Stephen comes to us NOT ONLY with great filmmaking skills, but he is also a natural when it comes to working with students, teachers, and members of the community. 
Stephen has jumped in and is providing input to help us manage our workflow, as well as working on several projects, including our Black Voices Rising programthe Student After School Clubsand preparing for our upcoming festivals.
Stephen comes to DIGICOM with over 20 years of video production experience, as well as several years of TV and Film Industry on set experience. He has a wide variety of skills including software development for film industry tools, corporate communications, and social media strategy. While working as a Video Producer for Entertainment Partners, one of the largest employers in the state of California, Stephen created a visual medium strategy that helped the company reach new clients and garner higher adoption rates for all their products. He has recently moved to Palm Springs with his husband Sean and their two rescue dogs.  
Friday, 05 May 2017 17:02

"Black Voices Rising" - An Update

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As Lead Producer of our "Black Voices Rising" program, Aaron Johnson hit the ground running this year, collaborating with students, teachers and community organizations on a number of complex and illuminating video projects. 
Pre-production planning has begun on a documentary profile of the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center that Aaron and DIGICOM will produce in consultation with Center Manager Jarvis Crawford.  The project will involve crews of digital storytelling students from three high schools.  Alongside creating a promotional video for the Center, DIGICOM will also assist students in producing documentary portraits of Desert Highland Community Members and Historical Portraits of James O. Jessie and his legacy.
Friday, 05 May 2017 16:59

DIGICOM Goes to College!

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In January, David Vogel and Tim Lentz went to the University of California, Irvine's Graduate School of Education to deliver an address to two graduate digital media classes led by Digital Media Lab founder, Professor Mark Warschauer. 
The lecture, "Digital Literacy in the 21st Century," explored how DIGICOM and the Palm Springs Unified School District have incorporated digital storytelling to boost student learning opportunities. The lecture was enthusiastically received and ended with an energetic Q and A discussion exploring how digital storytelling affects academics and the challenges of implementation. 
To check out David's presentation, click here.


Looking for a fresh approach to learning and teaching is common for veteran teachers. The teachers participating in the DIGICOM training and the Fellowship connect their lessons to newly acquired digital storytelling skills and create a larger and deeper learning experience for their students.
"In watching my students present, I now see that I have taken what I see as the most beneficial portions of every workshop I've attended and applied them to my teaching." Rufino Cuevas an English Language Development teacher with 16 years experience reflects on his year as a DIGICOM Fellow." Being a Fellow has really helped me to challenge myself. I've been teaching the same material in the same ole' manner now for about 10 years and being a Fellow has completely changed that. I expand my lessons and create more opportunities for students to speak, collaborate, and challenge each other." 

DIGICOM hosted its first Coachella Valley-wide High School Narrative Filmmaking Symposium, March 29th at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (Camelot Theaters).  The Symposium served as the launch for a new DIGICOM collaboration between students from school districts across the Coachella Valley.  With over 225 students in attendance from Palm Springs High School, Cathedral City High School, Desert Hot Springs High School, Mt. San Jacinto High School, Indio High School, Shadow Hills High School, Coachella Valley High School, West Shores High School, La Familia High School and Desert Mirage High School, the event was groundbreaking!

On WEDNESDAY MAY 24 from 6 - 8 pm, at the Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School, DIGICOM will present the DIGICOM X High School Film Festival With Short Films From Across the Coachella Valley, plus the premiere of our new documentary - Lights, Camera, Music.

This is the first year that DIGICOM will bring high school students from across the Coachella Valley to DIGICOM X to screen their films and we could not be more excited!  We are also eager to be able to premier our first featurette documentary, a behind-the-scenes story about a Coachella Valley Student Summer Rock and Roll Camp.

Prepare to be inspired when you see the talents of our valley's youth come together!  Doors will open at 6:00 with festivities to follow the screening!

On FRIDAY, MAY 19, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at the newly renovated Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School, the red carpet will be rolled out for our 2017 DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival!  This year's theme is One for All!
Now in its ninth year, the DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival is our fantastic FLAGSHIP Festival!  It's our largest red carpet event!  During the evening, we will screen videos from ALL grade levels K-12:  classroom projects, documentaries, arts and animation, personal stories, and even the occasional narrative short.  IF YOU CAN ONLY ATTEND ONE EVENT, THIS IS THE ONE!
Each year the festival has grown to become one of the biggest events in our community revealing the hearts and minds of our youth as they share their homework, their personal journeys, and their stories about life in our community and world.
On WEDNESDAY, MAY 10 at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Theater at Rancho Mirage High School, Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary will be presenting their 2nd annual DSL Elementary DIGICOM Film Festival. The event begins at 6:00 pm and you will NOT WANT TO MISS IT!
Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary's principal, Simone Kovats, and lead teacher, Georgia Terlaje, took the DIGICOM challenge last year to host their own Film Festival and the event was a smashing success!  So, this year, DIGICOM and Della S. Lindley are ready to do it again! Be prepared to be enchanted as you celebrate the stories created by DSL's Kindergarten through 5th grade elementary students.

Students and staff from DSL are thrilled to be able to share their stories on the BIG SCREEN with their families and the community.  Films that range from personal stories to the history of their school promise to delight you and will prove that DIGICOM's youngest filmmakers are our rising stars!

We're thrilled to introduce you to our new adjunct faculty member, Aaron Johnson, who will be working with us on a regular basis as lead producer of our groundbreaking new community video program Black Voices Rising! 
Starting now and into 2018 and beyond, Aaron and the DIGICOM Team will be working with members of the African-American community - young and old, teacher and student, parents and children - to produce short videos in PSUSD classrooms that illuminate the triumphs, tragedies, struggles and dreams of the black community in the city of Palm Springs and the greater Coachella Valley.  
Instead of playing video games and hanging out at the mall twelve teenagers spent the last few days of their winter break watching short films, reading scripts and learning about cinematic storytelling with DIGICOM Adjunct Faculty member and LA Screenwriting teacher, Ruth Atkinson. Ruth brought a wealth of life experience and a curriculum that ranged from character description to genre, point of view and structure. Students started brainstorming story ideas which culminated in them writing a script of their own.
Monday, 06 February 2017 00:00

DIGICOM's Winter Workshop Highlights

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During the winter break, approximately seventy Palm Springs USD teachers got their feet wet and hands dirty developing their digital storytelling skills in DIGICOM's Winter Professional Development Workshops. The five workshops offered were Beginning Digital Storytelling, Cinematic Production & Techniques, Curriculum Integration, Advanced Production Techniques, and the DIGICOM Fellowship Mid-Term Intensive.

Middle School Math Teacher partners with English Language Arts (ELA) colleague to produce a true cross-curricular digital storytelling project.

Veteran Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) teacher Colleen Veal and DIGICOM Fellow teaches Math, Special Ed and Physical Ed at Nellie Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City.  With 32 years of teaching experience and a masters degree in educational technology, Colleen has found new pathways to connect her students with the skills and strategies she's learned at DIGICOM's professional development trainings.  We sat down last month with Colleen and asked her to share her experiences.
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Teacher Profile: Mardi Hagar

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DIGICOM Fellows are among the most innovative and highly trained teachers inside Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD). The Fellowship is the the culminating program following intensive training in Basic, Cinematic, and Advanced Digital Storytelling Techniques as well as Curriculum Integration and Application training. Fellows are selected for extra support and coaching to transform their classrooms by applying 21st Century Skills & Literacies of Digital Storytelling.  

This month we sat down with Mardi Hagar, a DIGICOM Fellow and a veteran teacher for 18 years, to talk about her experiences in the Fellows program. Mardi teaches 6th Grade Honors Language Arts and Social Studies and she is a DIGICOM All Star.  

A day in the life in the DIGICOM office is hectic, creative, and full of energy.  We captured a few of the varied moments and put them together to give you a feeling for what it is like. By the way, you're always invited to come visit us in the office!

Click here or on the video below to enjoy a day in the DIGICOM office with us. 

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

Nationally Recognized Educator Confirms DIGICOM's Mission

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Mark Warschauer, founder of the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) Digital Learning Lab and Professor at the UCI Graduate School of Education recently visited our DIGICOM office and was gracious enough to sit down for an interview. 

Please click here or on the video below to learn what Dr Warschauer has to say about DIGICOM's role in education and its transformative effects on the lives of children and their families.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Teacher Profile: Sherry DiBari

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 Veteran Science and Math Teacher finds new pathways to reach her 21st Century students with video and the language of film

Reaching out to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classrooms was a key goal when selecting the Fellowship Class this year and we were looking for educators interested in sparking imagination and inquiry in their students.

DIGICOM's Winter Workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 3 through Friday, Jan. 6 from 8:00 - 4:00 at the PSUSD Service Center on Gene Autry. 

In October, Mark Warschauer, founder of the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) Digital Learning Lab and Professor at the UCI Graduate School of Education addressed the PSUSD Board of Education. Under Dr. Warschauer's leadership, UCI will be partnering with DIGICOM and PSUSD to research the impact of digital storytelling practice on student learning and teaching.

DIGICOM has opened its doors to a select group of Video Journalism students at Palm Springs High School (PSHS) for an in-depth, production oriented after school AV Club Intensive focused on the craft of documentary filmmaking.  The Club is building off of the work done this summer in DIGICOM's Summer Internship program.

Starting in October, DIGICOM is opening its doors to a select group of Video Journalism students at Palm Springs High School (PSHS) for an in- depth, production oriented after school AV Club Intensive focused on the craft of documentary filmmaking.  The PSHS Club will build off of the work done this summer in DIGICOM's Summer Internship program when high school juniors and seniors created an original documentary about AMP Camp, a youth rock and roll camp serving students across the Coachella Valley.
Our 2017 DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival this year will be held on a FRIDAY evening.
Mark your calendars NOW for Friday, May 19, 2017, 6:30 - 8:30 pm to assemble and celebrate the films made by our students and teachers at the newly-renovated Palm Springs High School Auditorium!  
The 2016-2017 THEME is ONE FOR ALL
This year DIGICOM is launching a number of new programs and we will be keeping you up-to-date on their progress.  One of the projects already in production is Black Voices Rising, funded by the Goodwin Family Memorial Trust. 
In collaboration with the Palm Springs Black Cultural committee, the James Jessie Community Center and the City of Palm Springs, DIGICOM will be working with black male youth to produce digital stories that illuminate the triumphs, tragedies, struggles, and dreams of the Black Community in the City of Palm Springs.  
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Fellows Assemble!

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Fellows in picture from left: Elaine Gershenson, MSJHS; Mardi Hagar, NCMS; Colleen Veal, NCMS; Nancy Blair, CCHS; Yvette Mocete, RMHS; Phil Carlton, CCHS; Sherry DiBari, JWMS; Tommi Jones, JWMS;  Rufino Cuevas, JWMS; Max Finneran, DIGICOM; Frank Guttler,  DIGICOM; Jessica Pack, JWMS
This May at the DIGICOM Festival, we introduced the first class of the DIGICOM Teacher Fellowship. A group of elite PSUSD teachers have pledged to work closely with DIGICOM to integrate Digital Storytelling into their regular classroom culture in the coming school year.
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

DIGICOM Hosting THREE Film Festivals in 2017!

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We are bringing our stories to life, and we have the videos to prove it!

DIGICOM exploded into three festivals in 2016!  In addition to our annual DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival, we added DIGICOM X - our high school narrative short film festival, plus site-based DIGICOM Elementary Film Festivals - with the first launched at Della S. Lindley Elementary!

Our annual audience attending the DIGICOM Student and Teacher Film Festival now is estimated at 1,000 a year.  With the number of high quality submissions dramatically increasing each year, we have expanded so more student and teacher work can be appreciated by a wider audience.  Hence, the additional launch of two new film festivals.

Thursday, 02 June 2016 00:00


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On June 16, 2016 at 6:30 PM in the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs DIGICOM will be hosting the very first annual DIGICOM X High School Narrative Film Festival.  The festival is being presented in association with the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

DIGICOM X is a new branch of DIGICOM which showcases and supports narrative high school filmmakers from across the Coachella Valley. For over 9 years, DIGICOM has been educating, supporting and celebrating student filmmakers at the annual DIGICOM Film Festival. The Festival has grown by leaps and bounds, with the 2016 edition hosting 1,200 seats at The Palm Springs Convention Center.  Thanks to the resounding success of DIGICOM and the growing number of high school students with a passion for narrative fiction filmmaking, the DIGICOM Film Festival is expanding with a new annual event - DIGICOM X. 

The 2016 DIGICOM X Film Festival will screen a wide variety of films, from film noir thrillers to comedic claymation vegetable warfare. This year, all films come from the Palm Springs Unified School District; but next year, the festival will be open to high schools from the entire Coachella Valley.  A select few future Spielbergs will receive awards for excellence in traditional award categories, such as Best Writer, Best Director, Best Picture, etc. The event seating will be first come first serve and is FREE.

DIGICOM X will feature live entertainment from DJ Alf Alpha (a Coachella Music Festival performer) and DTension (a band composed of 14 year olds whom have performed at
Stagecoach 2016). While the event will begin and end with live music, the real entertainment comes from the stories brought
to life by our valley students.

"For nearly a decade, DIGICOM has been active in Palm Springs' classrooms encouraging and coaching young people to raise their voices and tell their stories. DIGICOM X is just the beginning of an exciting year of growth and outreach to young filmmakers throughout the Coachella Valley. New festivals, new teachers and new voices. Welcome to DIGICOM X"   - David Vogel, CEO

To watch the DIGICOM X High School Narrative Film Festival Trailer, visit the link:

With the introduction of DIGICOM X, DIGICOM welcomes a new faculty member, Ruth Atkinson, a screenwriting advisor and story editor for Project Involve, Film Independent's (FIND) signature diversity program. Ruth will be teaching script writing classes hosted by
DIGICOM and presenting in classrooms throughout the school year. DIGICOM X will be hosted by Ruth, and DIGICOM's Max Finneran and Tim Lentz. Max is a MFA graduate film maker from NYU and Tim is a graduate of the DIGICOM Program. 

For more information on DIGICOM please visit our website at or our DIGICOM Facebook page at

To learn more about DIGICOM X, please visit our Facebook event


We are proud to report that on May 25th, the PSUSD Board of Education and Cathedral City High School (CCHS) unveiled the new name of the building that is home of the Digital Arts and Technology Academy (DATA).  "In honor of community member and DIGICOM CEO & Co-Founder David Vogel for his extensive donation of time, talent and resources to DATA, the 700 building was named the David Vogel Digital Literacy Building," proclaimed PSUSD Board President, Shari Stewart.
David started volunteering in Matt Hamilton's DATA Video Production classrooms at Cathedral City High School in 2008; the same year that DIGICOM was founded. Working with students on a daily basis, he shared his vast expertise, working with the best filmmakers in Hollywood as the President of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures, with the students.  Hamilton, now retired from the classroom, stated, "When David walked in and asked it he could help out, it was like having Michael Jordan ask if he could come and shoot some hoops with us.  My answer was YES!" Since that fateful day, David has continued to visit the DATA classroom, as well as other classrooms across the district, coaching and mentoring students as they work to learn the art of creating and producing meaningful digital stories. 
David showing how tall Jebari Wooten was when he met him.
Today, with David's leadership and vision, DIGICOM now impacts thousands of students throughout PSUSD. Over 25% of the teachers in PSUSD have received intensive DIGICOM Digital Storytelling training and are implementing the practice in their classrooms.  
Jebari Wooten, CCHS Junior, spoke movingly about the positive influence Vogel has had on his life since the 6th grade. "Mr. Vogel has had a huge influence on my life and what I want to do with it. He genuinely deserves this honor."  

"[David has] incredible amounts of dedication and love for the kids, and that's why we are honoring him today. He's a very special man." said District Superintendent, Dr. Christine Anderson.

BRAVO David!!
In addition to our regular June workshops for DIGICOM teachers and students, we are adding an extra week, June 20 - 24 to include teachers from across Riverside County. Teachers from Desert Sands, Desert Center, Beaumont, Corona-Norco and Hemet School Districts will be joining us for the FIRST Riverside County DIGICOM Workshop Series.  
During the week of June 13-17, we are looking forward to welcoming 30 new teachers in our Digital Storytelling Beginners Course and 75 returning DIGICOM teachers. Our returning DIGICOM teachers will attend customized workshops: Cinematic Production, Applied Digital Storytelling, and Curriculum Integration.

During the same week, 20 high school student filmmakers from across Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) will attend a week-long Screenwriting workshop taught by Ruth Atkinson, a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television industry. The students will be introduced to the world of screenwriting by exploring narrative structure, format, visual  storytelling, development of story and the authentic voice of the author. 


On Wednesday, May 25, Della S. Lindley (DSL) Elementary School organized their very own DIGICOM Film Festival.  The event, was the FIRST DIGICOM Film Festival to be produced entirely by an Elementary School! 
The young DSL filmmakers, their families, and teachers celebrated by enjoying a variety of student-created films created by   K - 5th graders. The films were screened at the Helen Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School (RMHS). The students walked the red carpet, posed for paparazzi, and received awards for their accomplishments.
Principal, Simone Kovats, was applauded for being a risk-taker and a hero to her students and teachers.  Embracing the value of digital storytelling and recognizing the efforts of her students and staff, Principal Kovats, said, "What a wonderful evening we had celebrating and recognizing our students and their teachers' digital storytelling. It was rewarding, as well as inspiring to see our school community come together in such a positive way."
DSL teachers Georgia Terlaje and Ricardo Flores were great hosts for the festivities!
The organizer of the event, Della Lindley teacher Georgia
Terlaje, reflected on the importance of the screening. "The students make these films, watch them in their classroom, and maybe a few other classes view them along the way.  But, to see the films in a beautiful theater filled with family, friends and teachers is a whole other level [of recognition]."
DIGICOM's Elementary Film Festival Producer, Donielle Gerrell, was both a former student of Della Lindley and a former student of Mrs. Terlaje. Donielle enthused, "Since I went to DSL, it's pretty amazing to see what students are now doing in classes! The students from elementary schools are excited to learn and this festival was just the tip of what they are capable of. I couldn't be more proud of all of the students and teachers!"
Festival guests were greeted by a live DJ, crafts, a Photo Booth and other activities to highlight storytelling and creativity, all organized by Della Lindley teachers, students & their parents.
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:00

Meet Our Newest Faculty Member!

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DIGICOM is proud to welcome Ruth Atkinson, a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television business as our newest Adjunct Faculty member. Ruth will be leading the Student Screenwriting Workshop this Summer. 
Ruth is a story analyst for the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Screenwriting and Directing Lab and Screen Queensland in Australia. She is also a story advisor for Film Independent's (FIND) Director's Lab as well as Project Involve FIND's signature diversity program, where she helps develop short film scripts which are produced and showcased at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
It was a triumphant night at the 2016 DIGICOM Film Festival! The community came together in force to celebrate the movies made by the students and teachers in Palm Springs Unified School District's (PSUSD) classrooms this year and to applaud the awarding of $27,000 worth of classroom grants and scholarships!
It was an evening where creativity and storytelling were the focus. Films ranged from a Star Wars parody, to human rights issues, to celebrations of love and family.  There were favorites for everyone.   
The big news of the night was the announcement of not one, but two new DIGICOM Film Festival events. The DIGICOM-X High School Narrative+ Film Festival being presented June 16 at the Camelot Theater and the launch of the first DIGICOM Elementary School Film Festival coming May 25 from Della Lindley Elementary School!
Della Lindley_s Film Festival_ May 25_ 5 - 7 pm at Rancho Mirage HS Theatre
Della Lindley's FIRST DIGICOM Elementary Film Festival will be May 25, 5-7 pm at the Rancho Mirage HS Theatre
If you missed the fun at the Convention Center you can screen all the films featured at the festival in their entirety any time at the  DIGICOM You Tube Channel.