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.
Many months ago, when Working Films started laying the groundwork for our Reel Aging residency and follow-up campaign, my understanding of issues related to aging was fairly limited. Probably like many people, especially my peers in our early 30s, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the later stages of my life. The older members of my family are in good health, so our family hasn’t had to deal with many challenges or crises related to aging. So, with no sense of urgency, and a culture that doesn’t particularly encourage us to think about our older years, my knowledge about “aging” issues was slim.
After watching the films and meeting the filmmakers we selected for the Reel Aging residency, I started having new and unexpected conversations within my own family. Questions came up with my parents such as “Can we talk about your concerns if you reach the point of not being able to live on your own?”, “What resources will we need to make those preferences a reality?” With my husband Johnny, we started to think more about what resources we needed in place for our retirement.
It was clear to me that the eleven media projects we selected for Reel Aging were powerful and compelling, but now, after spending five days strategizing with the producers at the recently completed Reel Aging residency and hearing from them directly about their passion for their projects, I am sure that these media projects will make an impact.
All of these stories opened new conversations among those of us that participated in Reel Aging: the media makers, our Working Films team and our two strategists from the “aging movement: Anne Basting, Director of the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Donna Phillips Mason, who recently retired from the National Council on Aging. We were lucky enough to have these two incredible women with us for the entire duration of the Reel Aging residency. They shared their experience and insight in the field and helped prepare the filmmakers to take their messages and ideas to the more than 40 organizations that joined us for the Reel Aging convening day on March 27th.
That day organizations such as Leading Age, AARP, the Scan Foundation, Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Administration on Aging, the Center for Creative Aging and many others sat down face to face with the Reel Aging media makers and offered ideas for how these film projects could be used in trainings, to foster essential conversations within families, to engage their memberships and to move public policy.
At Working Films we are looking forward to supporting not only partnerships between these individual media makers and organizations but also to coordinating a collective campaign that embeds the media projects into strategic change initiatives to improve and secure the rights, dignity, and overall well-being of older adults in society. Several organizations mentioned interest in a festival or series featuring multiple films and other media. This is just one potential avenue for collectivizing the projects. We are exciting about pursuing this idea and others with both the filmmakers and the organizations.
As for me personally, I envision more frank and interesting conversations about aging with friends and family and am delighted to have a new framework that will broaden my lens on the world and positively affect the community-based work that I do in Working Films’ hometown of Wilmington, NC.
Working Films is proud to announce the documentary projects selected for Reel Aging: Real Change, an initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These eleven compelling documentary films and transmedia projects explore aging from varied perspectives and will be tied to the ongoing policy work and grassroots campaigns supporting older populations.
The collaborative of Reel Aging projects was curated to include films that reflect the highest caliber of film-making, feature the most pressing issues facing older adults, and celebrate elders.
These projects tell inspiring stories of active, engaged elders who are changing our culture’s typical perception of aging as well as stories that powerfully illuminate the personal and societal decisions most of us will face as we care for ourselves and our loved ones. Equally important, Reel Aging includes films focused on justice for often marginalized populations that are aging.
Age of Champions (Director: Christopher Rufo) is the uplifting story of a group of athletes—a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole vaulter, octogenarian swimmers, and team of basketball grandmothers—all chasing gold at the National Senior Games.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs(Director/Producer:Grace Lee) tells the story a 96-year-old Chinese-American activist and philosopher inDetroit 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 tell an unexpected story of how one woman changed herself to change the world around her.
Coming of Age in Aging America(Director: Christine Herbes-Sommers) is a multi-platform project that explores a social transformation unfolding across our – and other modern – societies. America is an aging society, and it’s not just about old people. This phenomenon will change everything: how we approach education, work, health, housing, transportation, technology, medical care, and the economy.
Communities for All Ages (Director: Yoruba Richen)is a work in progress that will document five diverse communities where older adults, teens, and young parents identify and take action on issues affecting multiple generations such as health, safety, life-long learning and immigrant integration.
The Genius of Marian (Director: Banker White) follows Pam White in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease as her son, the filmmaker, documents her struggles to hang on to a sense of self.
The Graying of AIDS – Stories from an Aging Epidemic (Director/Co-Producer: Katja Heinemann) is a multi-media, multi-platform documentary project and integrated educational campaign centered on a series of digital video portraits that draw attention to a startling fact: By 2015, half of all Americans living with HIV will be over the age of fifty.
Kings Point (Director/Producer: Sari Gilman) is a short documentary that portrays the complexities of life in a typical retirement community through the experiences of six of its residents, providing a bittersweet look at our ambivalent relationship with freedom, self-reliance, and community.
Old People Driving (Director/Producer: Shaleece Haas) is a short documentary film chronicling the adventures of 96-year-old Milton and 99-year-old Herbert as they confront the end of their driving years.
Parenting 102: The Sandwiched Generation Speaks Out(Director/Producer:Mary Katzke) explores issues common to families caught between caring for their elderly parents, their own younger children, and their careers.
Prison Terminal(Director/Producer: Edgar A. Barens) is a feature-length documentary that breaks through the walls of one of America’s oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill, elderly prisoner and the hospice volunteers—they themselves prisoners—who care for him. The film provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.
Untitled Gay Retiree Documentary (Director: PJ Raval) traces a year in the lives of three LGBTQ seniors, and a lifetime of experiences, and confronts the realities of aging in the LGBTQ community.
Reel Aging: Real Change will begin with a four-day residency for these media makers to be held from March 23 – 26, 2012 near Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, March 27, the media makers will present their projects to regional, national and global NGOs, funders, government agencies, activists, and policy makers – all leaders in the field of aging who have a track record of supporting the rights, respect and health of elders. Together they will explore the ways in which the documentary film and new media projects can be used to protect and enhance the rights of older adults and advance personal and policy changes that will improve their and our lives.
Monica & David
by Alexandra Codina
May 19th 7:30pm
At 92Y Tribeca (New York, NY)
Closing out the 2010-2011 season, Monica & David is the love story of two adults with Down syndrome, and the family who strives to support their needs. Full of humor, romance and everyday family drama, Monica and David want what every adult wants—an independent life. Winner of the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, and an audience favorite at festivals around the world. Directed and produced by Monica’s cousin, first-time filmmaker, Alexandra Codina.
After the screening, there will be a conversation with the filmmaker and a panel consisting of:
Andraéa N. LaVant, Youth Development Specialist at National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.
Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology; Director of Graduate Program in Culture and Media; Director, Center for Media, Culture & History; Co-Director, Center for Religion and Media
Logan Levkoff, Ph.D, Sexologist, Sexuality Educator and Author
“New generations of people in this country should see disability as just a natural part of the diversity of our culture.” – Filmmaker of Including Samuel, Dan Habib
Including Samuel: The Power of Youth brings us behind the scenes of a youth summit, inspired by a Working Films strategy meeting and co-organized by filmmaker Dan Habib. This summit created an audience engagement campaign for Including Samuel that has extended the life and reach of the film. Teen-focused and teen-led, the “I am Norm” campaign was developed by young people for the full social and educational inclusion of people with disabilities. This peer-to-peer effort demonstrates how to empower youth in a way that is truly authentic and meaningful.
As you will hear in the video, Working Films collaborated previously with Habib and the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, to shape the overall audience engagement plan for Including Samuel. The idea of a youth summit is one of the ideas that were sparked at this meeting.
IMPACT is a series of videos created by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund focused on spotlighting film campaigns that ignite social change. Previous videos include “Deep Down: Make it Local,” “No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience” and “IMPACT: A Funder’s Perspective.”
The I am Norm campaign was envisioned during a Spring 2009 summit Working Films co-hosted with Filmmaker Dan Habib and the National Education Association. Our goal for the meeting was to develop an advocacy campaign using the documentary Including Samuel to advance the full social and educational inclusion of people with disabilities. At the summit, we all agreed that youth have to be at the table in devising the strategies needed to engage their peers.
The campaign was ‘born’ when twenty teenage leaders from across the country came together at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland last January for a National Youth Inclusion Summit. Before coming to the Summit, each teen held an Including Samuel viewing party and discussion in their community.
The I am Norm campaign is now working to:
• Raise awareness about inclusion through a viral video campaign and website. (The campaign is giving away 2 free HD video cameras to the best I am Norm videos submitted. One will go to an individual and one to a class/club. Details are on the website.)
• Provide opportunities for youth and adults to share their ideas about inclusion
• Promote inclusive practices in schools and community organizations
This week the campaign is partnering on outreach with the Inclusive Schools Network on Inclusive Schools Week (December 6-10). There are lots of ways you can get involved in supporting this incredible new, youth-driven campaign for inclusion and disability rights!
Help launch the campaign:
• Watch the 3-minute compilation video at either of these sites for a quick sense of the campaign’s content and personality. I promise you’ll enjoy it!
Working Films’ hometown, Wilmington NC, is gearing up today for the Cucalorus Film Festival. Named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by Movie Maker Magazine, Cucalorus is always a great time with an incredible lineup of films. We’re especially excited that a film we have done some strategy development with, A New Kind of Listening, is going to be at the festival.
A New Kind of Listening is the story of a visionary director, a one-of-a-kind theater group, and a young man who could not speak, yet found the voice he had been looking for all his life. A New Kind of Listening is both an advocacy call for the right of self-expression and a celebration of inclusive arts communities.
Director Kenny Dalsheimer and Producer Polly Medlicott, who is also the mother of Chris – the central character in the film, will be in town for the festival and are bringing their Inclusive Arts Campaign and Polly’s nifty pop-up teardrop camper to Cucalorus. Polly (and her trailer) have been promoting inclusive arts as she tours with the film across North Carolina and other parts of the country.
Look for the camper and Polly on Saturday morning in front of Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington. At 9:30am at Thalian, before the screening of their film, Polly and Kenny are hosting a breakfast and conversation open to all about how to make the arts in Wilmington more inclusive for people with disabilities. The film screens at 10:45.
Following the film there will also be another half-hour panel discussion with community leaders from the arts and disability advocacy on next steps for more inclusive and accessible arts in Wilmington!
We’re delighted to see great audience engagement strategy unfolding on our doorstep, especially when it’s going to help make our community more inclusive.
Including Samuel and the film’s campaign has big plans for 2010: a youth-driven inclusion campaign, international outreach, screenings across the country and more. But sometimes looking back is as exciting as looking forward. Filmmaker Dan Habib has shared a few spectacular highlights on the impact of Including Samuel that follow below.
20 TEENS & 48 HOURS
First, twenty teenage leaders from across the country held Including Samuel viewing parties in their communities, then came together at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD on January 8-10, 2010. Their goal was to develop an advocacy campaign to build awareness and support for the full social and educational inclusion of people with disabilities.
These teens created a powerful mission statement, developed two concepts for a national inclusion campaign, and created two prototype campaign videos — all in less than 48 hours! The campaign is under wraps and will be launched this spring! See more information about the Summit and the teens who took part, plus hundreds of photos at the Youth Inclusion Voices Facebook page.
A New Kind of Listening follows Chris Mueller-Medlicott, a young man with cerebral palsy who was mislabeled profoundly mentally disabled because he could not speak. Chris breaks through into stunning self-expression in this moving and inspiring film. The hour-long documentary, by Durham filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer, takes viewers inside the creative work of the Community Inclusive Theater Group, the cast of which is made up of members with and without disabilities, as they create and perform an original stage piece. Together they prove that a small community arts project has the power to transform lives. A New Kind of Listening weaves together deep feelings, playfulness, vulnerability, and unexpected loss in a joyful, painful celebration of our connection to each other. The result is a groundbreaking film with the power to change beliefs about intelligence, disability and what it takes to be heard.
February 10th, 2010 @ 3:30pm
Picture This… International Disability Film Festival
Calgary, Alberta, Canada http://www.ptff.org
February 23rd, 2010 @ 7:00pm
Sustainable Film Series
Fearington Barn in Fearington Village, Pittsboro, North Carolina
Screening followed by panel discussion with local artists and advocates to focus on inclusive arts initiatives in Chatham Country. “Sustainable Cinema Series” is a film series featuring documentaries, narrative and independent films involving producers, directors, subjects and/or locations in North Carolina. Visit the Chatham Arts Website for more information.
March 7th 2010 @ 7:00pm
Jubilee! Community Church
46 Wall Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 28801
A workshop entitled Eyes to See/Ears to Hear: Connecting Authentically to People Living with Disabilities, will be led by Mark Medlin and Polly Medlicott. A donation of $10 is suggested. Register by contacting Polly (828) 775-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org by noon of the workshop day.
March 8th 2010 at 10:00 a.m Family Support Network of WNC
11 Vanderbilt Park Dr., Asheville, NC 28803
There will be a focus group meeting on community inclusive arts, with speaker Betsy Ludwig from Arts Access. All interested persons, including people with disabilities and their families, are invited to attend.
Hollis Briggs, Valeria Hale, Denise Hale and Mildred Bethea. Photo by Ken Blevins (courtesy of the Wilmington StarNews)
Every year, Wilmington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade marches down Castle Street, starting at the Working Films offices in the old firehouse on 5th Avenue. Each year, our firehouse serves as the “green room” for the parade, with coffee and donuts for the organizers and volunteers. This year, parade organizer Hollis Briggs wants to use the parade to raise awareness of Bone Marrow Cancer and the pressing need for donors especially within minority communities. The Wilmington StarNews published a story today sharing the story of Denise Hale and her bone marrow transplant. (That’s the Working Films’ firehouse in the background of the photo.)