How do you make your documentary film resonate with local audiences and issues? How do you build a bridge between community activist groups and the movements in your film? Watch how Deep Down’s film team is bringing together grassroots leaders from Appalachia with community leaders from across the country engaged in similar struggles.
Deep Down’s protagonist Beverly May, co-director Jen Gilomen, and outreach director Lora Smith traveled to Chicago for an ITVS Community Cinema Screening partnered with members of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). The group toured the Little Village neighborhood, a community known as “The Midwest Mexico,” to learn about their struggle to fight the abuses of several toxic industries including two massive coal powered power plant that are poisoning their air and people.
IMPACT is a series of videos created by Working Films and The Fledgling Fund focused on building film campaigns that ignite social change. Previous videos include “No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience” and “IMPACT: A Funder’s Perspective.”
We may not be holding a rally like Jon Stewart did, but we do hope that our newly revised curriculum New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina will bring more sanity to conversations about culture, identity, immigration and globalization in classrooms and communities across North Carolina. With laws like the one passed this spring in Arizona and politicians running ads saying things like “This is Alabama; we speak English. If you want to live here, learn it,” it’s clear that anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States certainly isn’t diminishing. There is clearly a lot of education that we need to do.
New Faces Video: From Latin America to North Carolina
Here’s a sample of one of the videos from the New Faces curriculum explaining why a diverse range of Latinos have moved to North Craolina from Latin America.
Unfortunately Latinos are the primary targets of this backlash. When I listen to media reports or even participate in conversations with friends and acquaintances I realize that often this sentiment is fueled by a lack of factual information related to Latino communities and to the subset of Latino immigrants. We need more opportunities to get the facts and to have civil dialogues about these important issues. Our multimedia curriculum, New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina uses documentary film clips, discussion and engaging learning activities to help learners understand more about themselves and about the Latino community in North Carolina. Ithas been re-designed to spark meaningful conversations and consciousness-raising on issues such as the roots causes of migration, the immigration system, the breakdown of stereotypes and prejudice, characteristics of Latino cultures, and struggles for workers rights. New Faces is a multimedia curriculum for use in middle and high schools classroom and for adults in professional development or popular education settings.
We’ve worked hard to revamp New Faces so that it encourages learners of all backgrounds to reflect on their own cultural identities and immigration histories, giving them important context for learning more about North Carolina’s multifaceted Latino communities. The curriculum was first released in 2007 and well received by educators, human service professionals, and community groups alike. We’ve expanded the curriculum to include 5 units and better indexed the lesson plans so that teachers and community leaders can pick lessons that will be most useful for their particular purposes. We’ve also added new content and shifted the framing of some of the original content to make it more approachable for learners from all walks of life. All the New Faces lesson plans and documentary films clips are available for free at www.workingfilms.org/newfaces, and a DVD of the films clips is available at no charge for teachers and non-profits in North Carolina
Don’t miss the deadline to apply for Reel Engagement: Managing Social Issue Film Campaigns.
Upcoming next month, Working Films and the Fledgling Fund will lead a field building training aimed at the effective management of film campaigns. This 4 day hands-on workshop is designed for individuals who are interested in developing the skills necessary to be an Engagement Coordinator; designing and managing creative and meaningful audience and community engagement campaigns for independent social and environmental issue documentary films or media projects.
Are you interested in developing skills to effectively manage film campaigns on social justice issues? If so, you should apply to our latest Reel Engagement workshop, Managing Social Issue Film Campaigns, which we designed with the Fledgling Fund. This 4 day hands-on workshop is designed for individuals who are interested in developing the skills necessary to be Engagement Coordinators; designing and managing creative and impactful audience and community engagement campaigns for independent social issue documentary films or media projects.
As Thursday is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re thinking about our impact in the sustainability work that we do, and the change that media projects like No Impact Man can spark.
How do filmmakers create an audience engagement campaign that is unique, yet has ties to a movement that already exists? Gillian Caldwell, Campaign Director of 1Sky, puts it simply when speaking about their partnership with No Impact Man, “It’s important that the relationship be reciprocal.”
Working Films and The Fledgling Fund are excited to bring you the second video in our series, No Impact Man: Activating Your Audience. It illustrates the benefits of mutually beneficial relationships and demonstrates creating opportunities for participation that extends the story beyond the film. Watch the video and find out how No Impact Man and its partners, like 1Sky, worked together to move participants from individual action to collective action.
“Good work!” to our colleagues at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
The Festival kicks off this Thursday, April 8, with a stellar and rousing line up. We’re connected to a number of films and filmmakers at the fest; join us in celebrating their success!
On Friday, April 9th at 4pm, at the Carolina Theatre’s historic Fletcher Hall is the Center for Investigative Reporting’sDirty Business. Dirty Business demystifies “clean coal” and explores the extent to which increased energy efficiency and wind, solar and thermal power might make “clean coal” unnecessary and uneconomical. Join the filmmakers Peter Bull and Justin Weinstein and some local folks from NC Interfaith Power & Light and Duke Environmental Alliance afterward for the Q&A. Working Films is currently developing Dirty Business’ audience engagement and hosting a strategy meeting later this month with national NGOs.
Two other films for which we will be hosting strategy summits will be at Full Frame: Stanley Nelson’s Freedom Riders and Stonewall Uprising by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner. Both projects will also be featured on the PBS series American Experience.
Freedom Ridersis the inspirational story of eight months in 1961 when more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives in protest against Jim Crow laws. It screens at Cinema 3, Sunday, April 11 at 4:10 pm.
Stonewall Uprising , an essential history of gay rights in America, centers on June 27, 1969, the night that patrons of Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn refused to be rounded up and shamed in a series of unjust arrests. It screens on Saturday, April 10, 4:30 pm, Cinema Four.
Would you like to see the United States recycle just as much garbage as they do in Cairo? Then check out this Garbage Dreams widget. You can watch a clip from the award-winning film about the inspiring recycling practices of the Zaballeen in Cairo and sign onto a letter asking President Obama to support policies that will assure 75% of our trash gets recycled by 2015. Most importantly you can use the widget to sign up to host your own screening of the film and create an ever bigger impact with it in your community.
Please be sure to click on the share button in the widget and post it to your blog, Facebook or Twitter, or just pass it along through email so that others can check out the film and get involved!
Missed last week’s invigorating Story Leads to Action at the 92YTribeca that we co-hosted with Chicken & Egg Pictures? Fear not, filmmakers Elizabeth Mandel and Beth Davenport have agreed to share their lessons learned from the evening for your benefit:
photo by Chicken & Egg Pictures
Three years after filming the reunion of a Congolese girl and her mother, separated by war in Congo, Rose & Nangabire (working title) is almost complete. The work-in-progress screening last Thursday was an exciting opportunity to share our work outside the edit room. With a focus on audience engagement, it was also invigorating to finally explore in a public forum how the film can be used to create change.
While many social-justice issues are covered in the film, our audience engagement strategy focuses on refugee rights and resettlement; peace-building and reconciliation; and women in post-conflict situations. The evening was moderated by Robert West of Working Films, with panelists Matthew Edmundson, Operations Officer, Mapendo International and Desiree Younge, Senior Manager, Global Philanthropists Circle, Synergos. Audience members included representatives from the International Rescue Committee, STEPS to End Family Violence, Witness, Human Rights Watch and The Safe Harbor Project, as well as filmmakers and film fans.
Ideas and thoughts generated by the post-screening discussion included the following uses for the film or modules created from the footage:
• Reaching policymakers and practitioners who are often, due to politicization, desensitized to the issues Rose and her family confront and challenge.
• Targeting schools, because the presence of a teenage refugee going to high school in the film will make the issues accessible to a youth audience.
• Partnering with the Department of Education to train teachers who work with refugees and other ESL populations.
• Bringing together diaspora communities, for example by creating a women’s-only discussion group, and/or a group for teens, where survivors of war can have a safe space to share their experiences.
• Working with women- and girls- leadership programs to provide a portrait of a strong, resourceful role model.
It was also pointed out that while embarking on our project we need to assess who is already doing this work and can program the film into their existing frameworks, and who can use the film to take their work to new places. This thought brings us to our next phase, solidifying relationships with organizations that address our three issue areas, and finessing the ways in which Rose & Nangabire can be used to help them in their work. As we finish up the film and begin to screen at film festivals, we’re also looking forward to using this momentum to inspire thinking and follow up action on the part of general audiences as well.
Stay tuned for announcements about our festival premiere and the launch of our audience engagement plan. In the meantime, if you are in any way involved with our issue areas — refugee rights and resettlement; peace-building and reconciliation; and women in post-conflict situations — please be in touch, we’d love to hear from you. We can be reached at elizabeth at artsengine.net or beth at artsengine.net.
I just came across this great article about the Transition movement. This movement isn’t about sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves because of climate change and peak oil. It’s about doing something, or as the article says, “Transition wants people to envision and create models for that future — and find much to be cheerful about.”
I was excited to see the Transition movement getting the attention it deserves, especially because Working Films just recently worked with Transition USto put together a special offer for their supporters who want to host a screening of Garbage Dreams. We hope those in the Transition US network will be inspired by the pro-active recycling work of the Zaballeen and use community screenings of the film to support their own community- based solutions to environmental and economic changes!
The Campaign follows the daily efforts and emotional rollercoaster of the community of people working to stop Prop 8, the 2008 Constitutional Amendment to end gay marriage in California. The film offers extraordinary behind-the-scene access and compelling evidence that what unfolded in this California campaign was a focused and cynical push to eliminate the fundamental rights of a “despised” minority.
As the trial heads into its third week in a U.S. District Court, Christie’s film and the story she is telling takes on new significance. The daily proceedings in the courtroom are astonishing; the plaintiffs case is that there is and was no bias against gays in this effort, a viewpoint which Christie’s film clearly undoes. As the defense began its case this week I asked Christie for her perceptions about this case, an update for her film and how folks can get involved and support her documentary. Here’s her response:
Hey Robert, I also have been following the case by tweet and blog. It touches on so many issues that affect me and people I love – airing out the ugliness of homophobia (last week’s testimony included a “Yes on Prop 8” leader claiming that homosexuality has been linked to pedophilia), the trauma that the ex-gay movement inflicts on us and our loved ones, the long term effects of internalized homophobia, and the reality of our lukewarm political support. It’s upsetting and infuriating.
The court fight is focused on a national / federal approach to LGBT rights and specifically marriage equality. This is a departure from the state-by-state strategy that’s been the focus of much of the movement thus far. The Campaign explores these strategies through Proposition 8, which has spanned both. In California, Proposition 8 stripped same gender couples of the right to marry, a fundamental right recognized and protected by the California Supreme Court just months before the 2004 election. By documenting the dedication and struggle inside the No On 8 campaign, my film makes clear how precious marriage equality is to LGBT families and how hard so many people fought to protect the equality and dignity that was ours for a just a moment. The Perry case will take this issue to the Federal Courts and eventually challenge the US Supreme Court to rule on the quality and validity of the families we form. The stakes are high, and there has been some disagreement among LGBT leaders about whether the Perry case is the right strategy and at the right time. But this is a disagreement about strategy, not values or direction. The common denominator is that marriage equality is precious and worth fighting for.