The line up for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival has been announced and we are so excited to see filmmakers that we’ve worked with on this list! Congratulations to the teams behind American Promise, Citizen Koch and God Loves Uganda.
American Promise follows two African-American boys from middle class families as they navigate their way through 12 years at a prestigious New York City Prep school. The film is part of our Reel Education t collaboration, in which nine documentaries about various education issues came together for our residential training in February 2011.
Citizen Koch is the latest film by Carl Deal and Tia Lesson (Trouble the Water) that tells a story about money, power and democracy in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down limits on corporate political spending. The film was one of six films that attended our Reel Economy residency held in July 2012 in Washington, DC.
God Loves Uganda follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law. Paige Ruane, the films’ outreach coordinator, attended our Reel Change: Managing Social Issue Film Campaign residency last spring in Washington, DC. At the residency, Paige along with a room full of filmmakers learned how to make strategic plans to get their films and media projects out to the right audiences and form effective partnerships with organizations working on the issues in their film.
We are thrilled about each! Be sure to check them out when you’re at Sundance.
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.
I know this may be shocking news. However, my present health is good. I have had a strong recovery from the surgery itself. I’m getting better and stronger every day.
Although I am on a medical leave from the surgery, I am staying on as the Executive Director of Working Films and know that together with our amazing board, Co-Founder Judith Helfand, Deputy Directors Molly Murphy and Anna Lee, and our wonderful and dedicated team here at the firehouse and in other cities, we will continue to keep the organization strong, smart and strategic.
That said, I am not in the office day to day and am not checking my Working Films email. If you have work related inquiries, please contact Anna Lee, email@example.com.
You will continue to see updates on my health at the Caring Bridge site. I am going through the messages there, but taking it slow. So far I have been incredibly moved and touched by your lovely notes.
The biggest strengths of this organization have been our commitments to collaboration and building community. I have never felt the gift of those partnerships more than in the last two weeks.
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
On September 18, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor on my left temporal lobe, the part of your brain that controls speech and communication. I am going into surgery at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington NC, on Monday. September 24.
Here’s what I would like you to know now: I am feeling positive, while recognizing that this is serious with some scary outcomes. I encourage you to share positive karma with me.The staff has been remarkable: they have rallied around, and I am so relieved and so confident that Working Films will run brilliantly over the next couple of months.
You should also know that I have a very strong local support system, they are my gay and straight friends and family, and like all families they immediately stepped in offering support. They have already put together a support team, so I will be getting lots of tender loving care!
The greatest gift I have ever received has been the privilege to do this important work with such talented filmmakers, telling extraordinary stories of change that have inspired principled actions from their audiences. And best of all, to do this work with such a driven and smart staff; savvy progressive non-profits, NGOs and activists; and a committed and talented board. None of our work would have been possible without the incredible support and collaborations with our funders. I have every expectation of continuing this partnership with all of you, to go forth to the new challenges ahead for us on the important struggles for justice and equality.
For the best way to know more about what’s happening now and how to contact me, please go to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/robertwest This Caring Bridge site will be updated daily. Please don’t send emails to my work address or call my phone.
I welcome your comments and responses and prayers this week. Feel free to share this news with anyone you think should know.Best love. Be of good cheer.
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: