Working Films’ Co-founder, Robert West was awarded with the 2013 Frank Harr Community Service Award, presented by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington LGBTQIA Office. The award recognizes a person or organization promoting visibility and understanding of LGBTQIA issues and who are working towards improving the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Wilmington, NC and surrounding areas.
Robert was nominated for the award because of his tireless effort with Working Films’ Reel Equality campaign in 2012, launched in response to the proposed ballot measure which placed a ban on same-sex marriage and legal recognition of domestic partnerships in the NC constitution. With the goal of turning audiences into supporters of statewide efforts to fight the ban, Robert led the curation of six films to educate citizens on how bans like this can have devastating consequences. These include: The Campaign, Sole Journey, Gen Silent, Marriage Equality, Out in the Silence and Freeheld.
The award was presented at a ceremony on May 4th, honoring Robert’s determination to fight the ban and his unrelenting commitment to the rights and equality of the LGBTQIA community.
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)
Our core effort for Reel Power 2012 was the Reel Power Film Festival (RPFF) – a series of targeted grassroots screenings and events to build solidarity among frontline communities and push for renewable energy alternatives. The films in the series offer new points of entry for difficult conversations about changes that need to be made at the local, state and national levels. Through grants to on-the-ground organizers and nonprofit groups, we connected to those leading change in affected communities and encouraged them to cross-pollinate their strategies for environmental justice.
Our goals for offering the Reel Power Film Festival mini-grants were to:
Reach frontline communities where natural resource extraction such as mountaintop removal and fracking, or coal-fired power is made and the residents are leading the organizing efforts. We also included backyard communities where alternative energy solutions are being led by the residents.
Select groups that were working on urgent issues and had tangible ways to engage the community in advocating for just and sustainable practices.
Provide access to the collection of films for grassroots groups that needed funding assistance in order to be able to host the Reel Power Film Festival.
Increase cross-pollination of organizing strategies across issue focus so that groups can learn from other struggle, build solidarity, and explore where they fit in the bigger picture.
Midway through the effort, I posted an update on the events to date, and would like to share more highlights below:
Green Paw Aggies, NC A&T Greensboro NC
Green Paw Aggies is a new organization at North Carolina A&T University that is working to engage students in the green movement and helping to make the sustainability efforts in the Triad more inclusive. They kicked off their RPFF with Gasland in March 2012 and plan to show Sun Come Up in March 2013. They are using the festival to engage their student government association, student activists, and local residents to get involved in issues of fracking, climate change and supporting sustainability efforts.
NM Interfaith Power & Light works with nearly 200 faith communities throughout the state to oppose new coal-fired power plants and natural gas fracking in the state. They also assist faith communities to become sustainable and energy efficient by planting community gardens, installing CFLs and weatherization materials, updating furnaces, cooling systems and appliances to more energy-efficient models, and identifying funding sources for solar installations. NM Interfaith Power & Light partnered with Canterbury Campus Ministry, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church and St. Mark’s on the Mesa Episcopal Church for the RPFF. During the month of October, they used Sun Come Up, Gasland, Split Estate and Dirty Business to motivate audiences to call on the Governor to support the pit rule, a law that requires oil and gas companies to line their pits of toxic waste to avoid ground and water contamination.
Preston Citizens’ Alliance for Resources and Environmental Safety (Preston CARES), Kingwood WV
Preston CARES is a grassroots organization in north-central West Virginia fighting the development of a waste separation facility and industrial landfill for hydraulic fracturing waste. They are also resisting the industry’s push to expand fracking into their community. They partnered with local groups including Whiteday Creek Watershed Association, Friends of Deckers Creek, and Friends of the Cheat to host the RPFF on Sunday, October 14th. Screenings supported their efforts to engage area residents on landowner rights, the public health risks and technology behind hydraulic fracturing, and the impacts of gas development on the land and water. Audience members shared what they had learned at an industry-friendly “Town Hall” meeting the following Tuesday. At the meeting, two people with fracking on their property spoke out to industry representatives to change the course of the one-sided pro-industry dialogue, asking hard questions and demanding that decision makers protect citizens and the environment.
SAMS works to stop the destruction of local communities from irresponsible surface coal mining and improve the quality of life in the coalfields of southwest Virginia. In August and September, they showed Split Estate, Gasland, Sun Come Up, Dirty Business, and Deep Down to encourage people to join efforts to stop the Coalfield Expressway – a plan to use mountaintop removal mining to flatten an area throughout Southwest Virginia to make way for the road while the coal companies keep the profits from what they extract. This taxpayer-financed road (a.k.a. strip mine) could potentially receive $2 billion in federal funds.
Sustainable Tompkins is a citizen-based organization laying the groundwork for the transition to a resilient local economy. They are focused on energy efficiency, climate protection, green purchasing, sustainable community development, green collar jobs, sustainable enterprise, greening heath care, and economic/ecological justice. Their initiatives are on the leading edge of new systems for sustainable living. They launched the RPFF with Sun Come Up in Owego, NY early this month. They plan to use the festival to boost support for regional battles against fracking and to share positive stories about building a better future through truly sustainable communities.
The Texas Drought Project works to involve Texans in climate change issues through the lens of diminishing water resources. They used the RPFF in Corpus Christi in partnership with South Texas Alliance for Peace and Justice, Texans for Peace, the Clean Economy Coalition, and Corpus Christi Progressive Caucus. Special guests and experts participated: Sharon Wilson of Texas OGAP for Split Estate; Dr. Al Armendariz, former EPA regional administrator and now Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign for Dirty Business; Bruce Melton, Engineer and filmmaker on issues related to climate change for Sun Come Up; and Flavia de la Fuente of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign for Deep Down. At the screenings, audience members were invited to continue their interest and participation in the issues by joining demonstrations against Corpus Christi becoming a major terminal for coal export, a costly venture in terms of pollution and taxpayer dollars. They were also invited to participate in two town halls: one against a liquid natural gas conversion plant, and the other about fracking in the Barnett shale and the Eagle Ford shale.
The Future of Reel Power
We’re excited to take what we learned in the past two years with the Reel Power collaborative and build on this work to strengthen the movement for climate justice and a clean energy future. Contact campaign director Kristin Henry for partnership opportunities or to host a Reel Power screening event: khenry [at] workingfilms.org.
Timed to the February 4th PBS Independent Lens rebroadcast of his award-winning documentary As Goes Janesville, Brad Lichtenstein is launching BizVizz, the first mobile iPhone app to make corporate behavior transparent. Just snap a picture of a brand’s logo and a simple graphic screen instantly displays essential facts about America’s largest corporations. Do they pay their taxes? How much money do they get in government subsidies? To whom do they give their political donations? BizVizz currently has 300 companies and over 900 brands with plans to expand.
Filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein says he created the app after filming a company in his movie obtaining taxpayer dollars without even so much as a public hearing. “I watched the democratic process being subverted and felt that we should do something on a grander scale to make corporate behavior more transparent; especially when we’re all called on to do our part during these tough economic times.” The Independent Television Service, funded by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, backed BizVizz to extend the movie’s impact.
Seeking a wider audience for BizVizz, Lichtenstein teamed up with fellow Reel Economy filmmakers, Vicky Bruce and Karin Hayes, whose 2012 Sundance film We’re Not Broke exposes how US multinational companies offshore profits to avoid paying taxes. Together they are working with non-profits including the Tax Justice Network-USA, US PIRG, the F.A.C.T. coalition, and others to expose corporations’ all too often bad behavior.
We think BizVizz will appeal to consumers who prefer to “shop their values”, citizens and activists concerned with corporate accountability, and reporters on the economics beat. With this new app, a walk down the shopping aisle can reveal how most brands are owned by only a few companies. Users can discover that Boeing received over $450,000,000 from South Carolina in subsidies to help build their now grounded Dreamliner; that Wells Fargo, recipient of at least $25 billion in bailout funds, paid negative tax; or that the fiscal cliff deal actually extended a tax break that will allow GE to once again file for a refund instead of paying tax in 2013. “This is public information,” says Lichtenstein. “We’re just making it visible.”
Stephanie Bleyer, a long time friend of Working Films, is an outreach and engagement campaign manager for films such as American Promise, God Loves Uganda, and Escape Fire (Sundance 2012). Stephanie has written a two-part blog post on how to effectively and efficiently raise funds for socially engaged projects. By covering topics from finding your prospects to writing your proposal, she has put together a ton of helpful information for fundraising. Check out the following excerpts below (with links to full story) and be sure to look out for part 3 next month!
…While I’m creating the master proposal, I assemble a list of 100 fundraising prospects, which I will ultimately pare down. I cast a very wide net to include every philanthropist and foundation investing in the issue area and the art discipline, as well as foundations that are focused on specific geographies, genders or races. The issue funders (e.g., health, education, environment, women’s development, etc.) may not fund art, but they understand the importance of advocacy and communications and are often eager to support creative efforts that can serve as a bullhorn for their cause.
There are a number of ways to find prospective funders. Take a look at the annual reports, 990s and sponsorship pages for your partner groups. If your work is closely aligned or if your project will positively impact that partner, their funders may be interested in your project. Then take a look at who sponsors relevant conferences, events and workshops, and who has funded your competition. Spend some time on the funders’ websites and look up their profiles in the Foundation Center‘s online database (you’ll need to join to have access)….(READ MORE)
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.
We’re happy to announce that during the month of October, two films in our Reel Engagement Initiative are set for theatrical release! Escape Fire, part of our Reel Economy collective, will hit theaters on October 5th and Brooklyn Castle, a film from our Reel Education series, will make its theatrical debut on Oct. 19. Both films have already received outstanding responses from audiences at film festivals and screenings across the nation.
The makers of Brooklyn Castlehave started a campaign to increase support for chess and other enrichment programs, and to engage audiences in this important work across the country. They’ve already been making great progress on this campaign with events at film festivals and at special sneak preview community screenings, but there’s definitely more exciting things to come! For more information on how to support after school programs, and the I.S. 318 national champion chess team, visit Brooklyn Castle’stake action page.
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 email@example.com 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