We are excited to announce that Reel Economy will be part of the 2013 Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative’s Annual Conference from June 4-6 in Boston, MA. The Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative, is a network of state-level grassroots organizations that advocate for progressive and adequate state taxes.
This conference will be open to allies and advocates involved in the tax fairness and economic justice movement: community leaders, activists, and organizers, legislators, people concerned with tax policy, people not yet concerned with tax policy, , journalists, foundation representatives, people with good ideas, and others who believe in the power of a bottom-up movement!
We’ll be there to kick things off with an advanced screening of Inequality for All and we’ll represent Reel Economy in a workshop on how to effectively use film to advance economic justice campaigns. Click here for the full agenda and registration.
As you may know, this past fall, Robert West, Working Films’ cofounder and executive director for the past thirteen years, was diagnosed with GBM, a fatal brain cancer. Robert has embraced this news with grace, love and courage.
This is a special opportunity to honor Robert West’s vision and his invaluable contributions to the field of social issue documentary filmmaking across the country, around the globe and at home in North Carolina.
Please join us if you are at the festival and in the area. We will also post updates on our Facebook page while we are here, so be sure to check them out.
Sunday, April 7
10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Carolina Theater, Cinema 2
(brief program begins at 10:30)
Two million young people in the United States that have emotional or behavioral disabilities. 60% of those students are likely to drop out of school. African American students over 3 1⁄2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their White peers.
These are sobering facts, but there is good news. Many people and organizations from community organizers, to national associations of mental health professionals, to educators are working to change the way schools approach discipline and teaching in order to improve outcomes for all students. And even better, those folks now have a collection of new media resources from the Who Cares About Kelsey? project to help them in their efforts.
A few months ago we introduced you toWho Cares About Kelsey?, the project from Dan Habib (creator of Including Samuel). The documentary features Kelsey Carroll. Kelsey lived with homelessness, self-mutilation, abuse and ADHD. She was a likely high school dropout — until she encountered an education revolution that’s about empowering, not overpowering, teens with emotional and behavioral disabilities. The overall project also includes nine mini-films documenting the lives of kids with emotional and behavioral disabilities and shows innovative educational approaches that help these students to succeed.
In mid-October I facilitated a strategy summit where two dozen leaders in educational justice, mental health, substance abuse and educational reform worked together to hone the outreach and engagement strategy for the film.
Together with Working Films, Dan had laid excellent groundwork for the summit. We came into the meeting with a draft outreach and engagement plan that was crafted through input from several of the organizations that attended the meeting and their allies. Through small group breakout sessions, dialogue and interactive exercises we generated a list of primary objectives for the campaign, honed the list of target audiences, and created key strategies for the campaign that will advance the specific objectives.
Importantly these strategies are tied to the existing work of the organizations in attendance. For example, the folks in the room that do policy advocacy work at the national and state level will be the organizations that Dan works with to pursue our legislative advocacy strategies for the film project. This includes possibly producing one additional short form piece of media highlighting alternative, positive approaches to school discipline that could be used by these groups in constituent meetings or policy briefings along with accompanying data.
All of us that were in the room together for the WCAK meeting left energized and ready to collaborate. As Dan pursues collaboration with them individually and as a group we will track the impact of the WCAK project media in schools and communities across the country. Look for another update on the project in 2013 right here. In the meantime check out where WCAK is screening or watch short videos from the project at www.whocaresaboutkelsey.com
It’s that time of the year again! Cucalorus Film Festival 18 will kick off this Thursday and will run throughout the weekend here in Downtown Wilmington. Working Films has partnered again with the folks at Cucalorus and this year we’re bringing you two films from our Reel Engagement series that will be included in their “Works-in-Progress” documentary program. Films under this category are unfinished works that are screened in an informal workshop setting where filmmakers can seek feedback and receive input as well as share information about their films.
Xmas Without China
Thursday, November 8 @ 7:45 PM
Pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom Xia to challenge his American neighbors to survive the Christmas season without any Chinese products. Fed up with toy and food recalls, the Jones family down the street eagerly accept the consumer mission-impossible and are drawn into a surprising intercultural exchange with the Xia family.
Tom Xia, who is the star of the film and also one of the producers, and the director Alicia Dwyer will be in attendance to dialogue with the audience after the screening! They are putting the finishing touches on the film and making plans for their audience engagement and are looking for input from both filmmakers and folks working on the issues the film addresses.
Grace Lee Boggs is a 96-year-old Chinese-American activist and philosopher in Detroit who has dedicated her life to creating the next American Revolution. What Grace means by revolution and her journey through a century’s worth of social movements — from labor to civil rights, Black Power to environmental justice — tells an unexpected story of how one woman changed herself to change the world around her. In the wake of the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street, Grace’s 70 years of experience as a movement activist provide both a long view and inspiration for a new generation of 21st century citizens to be the change they wish to see in the world.|
Filmmaker Grace Lee (who yes, shares a name with her subject) will be in attendance and is looking forward to a conversation with the audience both about the film’s content and how it can be used as a tool to advance intergenerational dialogue and action on important social issues.
Working Films’ staff will be facilitating the post screening Q&As at these events! Please join us. For more info on how to get tickets for these and other Cucalorus events go to: http://www.cucalorus.org/tickets.asp
On October 2nd, I attended a screening of Blue Vinyl (a documentary by Working Films’ cofounder, Judith Helfand about the hazardous effects of Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC) at the Aperture Gallery in NYC. When I stepped out of the elevator onto the 4th floor, I was greeted by enormous photo prints of industrial Louisiana landscapes along the corridor of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Holy Rosary Cemetery and Dow Chemical Corporation (Union Cardbide Complex), Taft, Louisiana, 1998.
The Union Carbide Corporation purchased the property of the Holy Rosary Church, built circa 1866. A replacement church was constructed in the 1960s in nearby Hahnville, but the cemetery was left behind. In 2009, Dow (which now owns the complex) leaked 26,720 pounds of vaporized ethyl acrylate (EA), a Class II toxic air pollutant, into the atmosphere. No fine was levied, but Dow has pledged a $100,000 contribution to the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children, which is led by the wife of the current governor of Louisiana.
As I made my way around the gallery, I started to see the connection to this Blue Vinyl screening. The photos on display are a part of Petrochemical America: Picturing Cancer Alley, a collaboration between photographer Richard Misratch and landscape architect Kate Orff, which presents itself in a 240 page book exploring this region of intense chemical production and the detrimental effects the byproduct has on the land and the human beings that live right next door, in direct line of toxic chemicals.
A giant map that identified every chemical component manufactured by these factories took over one wall of the exhibit.
A map displaying the entire area of the United States connected to the Mississippi River as “Cancer Alley”.
After the screening, Gina Wirth of SCAPE led a discussion with environmental health historian David Rosner (who appears in the film) and Mike Schade (a co-creator of the campaign that was built around Blue Vinyl), Campaign Coordinator for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). The Petrochemical America exhibit paired with the Blue Vinyl screening really brought back memories for David as he had spent a lot of time in Louisiana working on PVC related cases and he recounted stories of his time in Cancer Alley.
Although the film has been out in the world for 10 years, CHEJ continually uses it to hold screenings and discussions as it is still relevant to the issues faced by communities that live in close proximity to toxic chemical plants. Mike highlighted the successes CHEJ has had in getting corporations to phase out PVC products. These companies include Apple, Google, Target, and IKEA among many more. Currently they are focused on getting more NYC schools to go PVC-free. According to a CHEJ factsheet “children coming into contact with vinyl flooring have been found to have a higher risk of developing asthma, the #1 cause of school absenteeism and a leading cause of hospitalization for children”. You can read more facts about affects of PVC on children’s health on the CHEJ website. Below are some ways that you can take action now!
Switch to green cleaning products in your home.
Chemicals in traditional cleaning products can cause serious health problems in children, including, neurological disorders, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. Use our green cleaning resources to make the switch in your home, school, or wherever you use cleaning products.
Form a Green Flag Team in your school.
CEHP’s Green Flag Schools Program for Environmental Leadership provides a framework for students to become environmental leaders and contribute to positive change in their communities. Through the program, students of all ages learn environmental concepts, investigate their schools, and identify solutions for making their schools safer and healthier. Download the Green Flag start-up materials.
Working Films is happy to announce that ESoDoc is now accepting applications for their 2013 sessions. In the past, executive director Robert West and senior social media strategist Kristin Henry have participated in their workshops as trainers. ESoDoc is a great opportunity for European filmmakers, new media professionals, and NGO film practitioners to learn new ways to develop their documentary and film projects to drive social impact. At ESoDoc, participants are able to plan their project in a creative environment and learn new financing, production and distribution strategies during 3 intensive sessions.
The next application deadline is January 14, 2013.
The 3 sessions taking place next year will be in the Netherlands (March 2013), Norway (May 2013), and Italy (September 2013).
Who Should Apply?
- Intermediary and senior documentary filmmakers, authors and producers, who are willing to extend their production possibilities to new sectors, new forms and new platforms.
- NGO-communication representatives and professionals from the new media sector, who are eager to learn about new forms of storytelling, about combining creative documentary with social communication and advocacy intents. read more…
The first session of ESoDoc 2013 will take place in The Hague in partnership with the Movies that Matter Festival. Movies that Matter is one of the main platforms for engaged cinema, with documentaries and movies that stir the debate about human rights, human dignity and situations where these are at stake. The partnership between ESoDoc and Movies that Matter will create new international networking opportunities for our participants.
ESoDoc renewed the long-standing partnership with Documentary in Europe, which led to the joint organization of the final session of ESoDoc 2012. In 2013: ESoDoc’s session – including the final public pitching – will take place along with Doc in Europe’s seminars and pitching sessions, which will bring numerous commissioning editors and players from the audiovisual industry to this common event.
Promoters & Partners
ESoDoc 2013 is organized by ZeLIG School for Documentary, with the support of EU’s MEDIA Programme, Autonomous Region Trentino Alto-Adige, BLS – Business Location Südtirol, Nederlands Filmfonds, NFB – Dutch Association of Film and Television Professionals, Movies That Matter, Documentary in Europe and with the collaboration of numerous international partners.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information or visit www.esodoc.eu
ESoDoc – European Social Documentary
c/o ZeLIG School for Documentary
via Brennero 20/D
39100 Bolzano (IT)
T: +39 0471 302030
F: +39 0471 977931
For kids in our hometown of Wilmington, NC that love chess, even a summer thunderstorm couldn’t keep them from coming out to play the game in the park and watching an outdoor screening of Brooklyn Castle. Thanks to our co-hosts for the event, Cape Fear Independent Film Network, we had four big tents to keep us dry while students from local elementary and middle schools competed against one another on the chess board. The kids and their families had a great time competing before the film, and by the time we were ready to start the movie the skies had cleared.
This Brooklyn Castle screening was part of our work with the Reel Education collective. We’re supporting the work of nine documentary filmmaking teams whose films are engaging educators, parents, youth, and policy makers in actions to improve the quality of education in their communities and in the nation as a whole. This screening certainly advanced the mission of the project. In addition to being a lot of fun, the screening helped make connections between organizations which will ultimately lead to more kids being exposed to chess and other high quality enrichment programs in the Wilmington community.
The audience heard from teachers George Preiss and Doris Flowers about how the students at Noble Middle School and Pine Valley Elementary benefit from being part of their chess clubs. Then, principal Eric Irizarry and enrichment coordinator Cameron Bolish from newly reopened D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a public middle school serving inner city Wilmington, talked to the crowd about how they need additional support and advisers for their fledgling chess club. Steve Morales, head of the Wilmington Chess Club, was there and willing to provide assistance to them and other schools in the area that are starting clubs. He and the other members of the club are trying to do more to support scholastic chess in Wilmington, and the Brooklyn Castlescreening was a great way for him to network with folks, like the leaders from Virgo, who could use their help. Things will get more exciting on the local scholastic chess front this fall. Mr. Morales announced a sanctioned scholastic tournament that the group is hosting at nearby Wrightsville Beach in November, and that some of the kids who played chess at the screening will be participating. We also had youth from DREAMS, an amazing after-school program that serves many kids from across our school district, represented at the screening. Students from their teen council volunteered to setup at the event and got a shout out before the screening.
It was a fun evening for all involved, where a sizable crowd got to see this amazing film and make connections to after-school programs in our community. We’re looking forward to doing more screenings of other Reel Education films to support efforts to improve education for all kids in our local area.
While most of our work is both national and international, Working Films has a high profile in our small coastal town of Wilmington, NC. We’re in a landmark 1912 brick firehouse and contribute to the vibrancy of local efforts, including environmental efforts and support for the LGBT community. On Friday, August 24th, Working Films hosted the 3 year anniversary of Port City TakeOver, an organization that brings together the LGBT community and our straight allies as a way to socialize and network. As take of this celebration, we invited local gay and gay-friendly organizations in Wilmington to share who they are, what they are working on, and how people can get involved in each group. Community organizations included Wilmington Pride, Wilmington Pride Youth Group, PFlag, and the Children of Pride, check out the photos here:
Last March, Working Films announced the fourteen mini-grantees for the Reel Power Film Festival, a series of documentaries that bring you stories from the frontline of our energy future. Organizations hosted Reel Power events to encourage cross-pollination of grassroots organizing strategy and to inspire their communities to leverage local resources and networks.
Here are some of the exciting report backs that we’ve received from the first screenings:
Frack Free Catskills is a group fighting fracking in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Communities, as well as throughout New York State. They organized a conference that brought together organizations opposing coal, gas, nuclear energy, and tar sands in order for various communities to gain strength and inspiration from each other in similar struggles. The Reel Power Film Festival (RPFF) kicked off their conference. They screened Dirty Business and hosted a panel discussion afterwards withfilmmaker Peter Bull along with Donna Branham of Keeper of the Mountains, Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountain Keeper, Manna Jo Greene of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Paul Gallay of Riverkeeper, and Duncan Meisel of 350.org. The conversation revolved around local actions needed to resist coal and other fossil fuels. They will continue to show the films in a series in order to keep the local energy and participation high.
Mass Energy Consumers Alliance is a 30-year old nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable. The RPFF screenings of Dirty Business and Gasland engaged audiences in their work to support the development of community-based wind and solar projects, as well as their efforts to make the state coal-free. The mini-grant supported action events, including a tour of a wind turbine, voter education on energy legislation and an opportunity for audience members to sign up for green electricity.
The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition is a statewide organization that works to end mountaintop removal and other coal industry abuses. The first of their 4-part RPFF series kicked off with Gasland earlier this summer. They used the opportunity to educate the audience on public hearings scheduled to discuss the issue of surface mining.
Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of MS is a relatively new organization that provides opportunities to learn, experience first-hand, and find new ways in improving lives through sustainable choices. Gaining Ground, in partnership with the Students for Sustainable Campuses, hosted screenings of all of the Reel Power films and trailers in conjunction with the community and university Earth Week events. Each film included a Q&A where audience members were invited to join the organization’s sustainability efforts, with several folks signing on as new members.
Clean Water for NC works to promote clean, safe water and environments as well as empowered, just communities for all North Carolinians. Gasland and Split Estate were screened by CWFNC with Yadkin Riverkeeper and the Dan River Basin Association in two rural communities that are currently gaining the interest of gas companies. The local news covered their first screening where a local resident commented: “I think watching [Gasland] should be a requirement before allowing anyone to sign a lease allowing fracturing on their property. It just makes no sense to think about maybe trading a little energy now for no water forever.” Several volunteers signed up to approach local government officials in nearby towns and counties about passing resolutions against fracking and 60 people, representing most of the households present, signed up to receive weekly “Frackupdates” about state and national events, advocacy opportunities and news summaries.
If you would like to catch one of the RPFF’s screenings, be sure to check out the Working Films Calendar for updates.
September 13th, 7 pm Dirty Business 511 West Main St, Appalachia VA 24216
Hosted by Southern Appalachian Stewards (SAMS) with a discussion and ways to get involved.
September 16th, 6:30 pm Deep Down Historic Oak Hill School
140 School Street, Oak Hill, WV 25901
Hosted by Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition with a discussion and ways to get involved. September 17, 6 pm – 10 pm Reel Power Film Festival at Union College
Union College Student Center
310 College St, Barbourville, KY
September 20th, 7 pm Deep Down 511 West Main St, Appalachia VA 24216
Hosted by Southern Appalachian Stewards (SAMS) with a discussion and ways to get involved.
September 28th, 7 pm Split Estate Unity by the Sea, 901 Brawner Parkway, Corpus Christi, TX 78411
Hosted by the Texas Drought Project and a Q&A with special guest Sharon Wilson, Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project and more.
Fireworks on Independence Day start the month of July out with a bang, but for Working Films the real excitement came at the end of the month. That’s because we had the pleasure of hosting our Reel Economy residency and convening July 23-26.
Supported by and presented in collaboration with Chicken and Egg Pictures and The Fledgling Fund, Reel Economy brought together six documentary projects that tell personal stories of the most pressing economic issues with a group of nonprofit organizations, foundations and other allies that are working for economic justice. The featured films in Reel Economy were American Winter, Citizen Corp, Escape Fire, Solarize This, We’re Not Broke, and Xmas Without China.
After the residency, the filmmakers and economic justice organizations met for a day of networking and strategizing about how these films can fit into the ongoing work of these allies. The diverse groups of participants included Green For All, Jobs With Justice, National Physicians Alliance, Institute for America’s Future, Moms Rising, and many others.
Leading up to the final convening day of Reel Economy we spent three days in Arlington, VA with just the filmmakers, where we enjoyed this awesome view of the Potomac:
Aside from enjoying a change of scenery from the Wilmington office, we helped the participating film teams plan the nuts and bolts of their audience engagement strategies.
While at the Reel Economy residency, filmmakers got practical advice about engagement campaigns. For example, they heard from Barbara Abrash, a Working Films board member and longtime expert in the field, about evaluation strategies. They also had the chance to explore the new Sparkwise platform for sharing a film’s impact and heard from Kickstarter’s director of film projects, Elisabeth Holm, about best practices for crowd sourcing. Much of the residency included opportunities for filmmakers to think strategically about how they want to engage organizations as long-term partners with their campaigns. All this work led to the final convening day of Reel Economy when they presented their projects to key organizations.
We had a great guest instructor that joined us for the week. Steve Schnapp of United for a Fair Economy was our expert in residence and helped to ground our strategy in the needs of organizations that are at work on these critical economic and social justice issues.
Most importantly, the filmmakers were also able to learn from one another. Some films in the group, such as We’re Not Broke and Escape Fire, have been out since early 2012 and have partnerships that others could build upon. The flip side is that some of the films are still in production, but with the residency have already begun the process of engaging with partners and planning for audience engagement. That’s the beauty of these thematic residencies; it’s truly a space for folks to collaborate rather than compete, and we find that the filmmakers gain critical lessons from one another’s experiences.
Between their support for each other, Steve’s preparation from the organizing perspective, and Working Films’, the Fledgling Fund’s, and Chicken & Egg Pictures constant message to the filmmakers of viewing their film as a gift and resource for the folks working on these issues, all of our work paid off on the final convening day. After hearing pitches from the filmmakers, the participating organizations suggested concrete ways they might use these films. From screenings of American Winter at gatherings of the National Association of Social Workers to creative uses of Solarize This in the upcoming campaigns of Green For All, the organizations discussed specific ways that these films could be used to advance their work.
We are looking forward to launching a collaborative effort that over the next few months will feature these multiple films that will build a stronger movement for economic justice and support the work of these individual organizations.