This month at 92Y Tribeca, our STORY LEADS TO ACTION series will celebrate two films in our REEL FOOD initiative: What’s on Your Plate?: two years and running with extraordinary impact and more to come, and Pipe Fire, just starting it’s engagement campaign.
What’s On Your Plate?is a witty and thought-provoking documentary about kids and food politics produced and directed by award-winning Catherine Gund, and co-produced by her daughter Sadie Rain Hope-Gund and her daughter’s friend Safiyah Kai Russell Riddle. Filmed over the course of one year, the film follows these two eleven-year-old city kids as they explore their place in the food chain. Sadie and Safiyah take a close look at food systems in New York City and its surrounding areas. With the camera as their companion, the girl guides talk to each other, food activists, farmers, new friends, storekeepers, their families, and the viewer, in their quest to understand what’s on all of our plates. The girls address questions regarding the origin of the food they eat, how it’s cultivated, how many miles it travels from the harvest to their plate, how it’s prepared, who prepares it, and what is done afterwards with the packaging and leftovers. The process leads the two friends to formulate sophisticated and compassionate opinions on the state of their society, and by doing so inspire hope and active engagement in others.
Filmmaker Catherine Gund and Mary Jeys, the film’s outreach coordinator, will be in attendance to share the film’s trailer and an education module and talk about the campaign’s impact. Invited guests to this celebration on the film’s success will include the educators, nonprofit partners, and individual campaign participants who have put the film and web project to work.
We will also be joined by Jessica Oreck, producer/writer/director of Pipe Fire. We’ll screen the trailer for this feature work-in-progress, which presents one year in the life of traditional reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland and illuminates an unfamiliar bond between man and nature. It tracks the Aatsinkis family through their seasonal routines as they catch and mark the new reindeer calves in the spring, herd newborns and adults in the summer, and slaughter them for food and pelts as well as mass consumption in the fall.
Both of these New York based projects will have just participated in our Reel Food residency. Judith Helfand, co-founder of Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures, will lead a lively and interactive discussion with the directors, invited guests, and YOU, the audience, about the success of What’s on the Plate, the promise of Pipe Fire and the outcomes of the Reel Food residency. Both these films present great case studies on how to balance the needs of a character-driven film with the needs of local, regional and global advocacy campaigns, with a focus on local efforts in New York City.
Story Leads to Action is a monthly series featuring Chicken & Egg and Working Films’ documentary makers coming together with strategic advocates, educators and YOU, the audience, to brainstorm the design of audience engagement strategies for the featured social issue films.
Our new season launches this Thursday, October 27th with the powerful documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful, the story of a retired Marine’s fight for justice on behalf of U.S. soldiers and their families exposed to toxic drinking water while stationed at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, the film won the 2011 Best Documentary award at both the Woodstock Film Festival and the San Diego Film Festival. After the screening, the filmmakers will be joined by organizers from Environmental Working Group, Blue Green Alliance and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
Story Leads to Action
Sheffield Doc/Fest Venue: The Crucible Studio
Friday, June 10, 10:00am
Moderators: Working Films co-founders Robert West & Judith Helfand
Story Leads to Action makes the process of community engagement interactive and transparent. Join Working Films UK and Sheffield Doc/Fest as we craft the first steps in an interactive campaign for Marshall Curry’s new film If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. Award-winning Guardian journalist Paul Lewis, Greenpeace’s Senior Climate Adviser Charlie Kronick, UK Uncut’s Adam Ramsay and John Stewart (credited with stopping the third runway at Heathrow) and workshop audience members will explore innovative distribution and online strategies for this “compelling doc about radical environmentalism”.
While Curry’s film focuses on one activist’s history with the US-based Earth Liberation Front, the narrative raises questions about UK activism unfolding now: How far is too far when it comes to campaigning for real world change? From the ‘siege of Fortnum and Masons’ to the exposure of environmentalist Mark Stone as an undercover police officer, British protests and the subsequent police response have garnered a huge amount of press. With an increasing number of people turning to direct action across a range of causes, the panel and audience will investigate links between these current trends and lessons drawn from the film.
“This year’s must-see documentary” — the New York Times
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.
Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today.
Budrus is the latest production by Just Vision, a nonprofit organization led by a team of Israelis, Palestinians, North and South Americans committed to increasing the power and legitimacy of Palestinians and Israelis pursuing nonviolent solutions to the conflict. The film has won numerous awards at top international festivals, including Berlin, Tribeca and San Francisco, and has been featured in major press outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, Newsweek, Charlie Rose, MSNBC, and others. It is now playing before a variety of Israeli and Palestinian audiences in the region and is showing in theaters, campuses and communities across the US. Watch the trailer below:
After the screening, Director Julia Bacha will be joined by a panel of peace activists, educators and social media practitioners, including Ingrid Kopp of Shooting People, among others. We are planning a lively interactive discussion about the film’s strategic community organizing and engagement campaign in Palestine, Israel and the U.S., with a special focus on the upcoming campus and community organizing tour. The discussion will be moderated by Peabody-winning filmmaker, educator, environmentalist and co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films, Judith Helfand.
Last month, Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures hosted a screening of Nancy Schwartzman’s film The Line, for our Story Leads to Action series at 92YTribeca. After the screening, the audience discussed how the film could be used in high schools, college freshman orientation programs, sexual violence prevention programs and law school and criminal justice education.
On the panel were:
- Nancy Schwartzman (Director)
- Michelle J. Anderson (Dean and Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law)
- Neil Irvin (Executive Director, Men Can Stop Rape)
- Don McPherson (former NFL football player; current sports announcer and activist)
- Meghan O’Conner (NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault)
On her blog, Nancy gives a breakdown of the key points that each panelist spoke on.
Also, check out what Jessica at “The Love That is Strong” had to say about the screening along with their thoughts on the larger discussion of sexual violence awareness and consent.
On Thursday, April 8th at noon, Judith will be teaching a master class where she will share storytelling strategies that lead to effective, resonant and riveting filmmaking and ‘call to action’ activism.
Following that at 2:30pm, Judith will lead a workshop on applying to Chicken & Egg Pictures, the other organizational “hat” she wears – co-founded with our board members Julie Benello and Wendy Ettinger. The workshop will answer many questions critical to their application process.
At 5:00pm, Judith will be hosting a filmmakers’ panel discussing how STORY LEADS TO ACTION! Panelists include Christie Herring (The Campaign), Sally Rubin (Deep Down), Dawn Valadez (Going on 13), Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday (Barber of Birmingham), Gabrielle Mullem (The Music’s Gonna Get You Through) and Lynn Hershmann (Woman Art Revolution).
It doesn’t stop at the San Francisco Women’s Film Festival, though. Judith is headed to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham NC, where they are screening The Uprising of ’34, the film Judith co-directed with George Stoney, on Sunday, April 11 at 1:40pm. Part of a series about labor programmed by filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; Judith will be at the Q & A.
On Monday, April 12th, the United States Green Building Council, New Jersey Chapter (USGBC-NJ) will be presenting a panel discussion about the sustainability of PVC called “Blue Vinyl, Green Vinyl?… Nice Vinyl, Mean Vinyl?” Please visit USGBC-NJ to register for this event.
We know Judith would love to see old and new friends at all these events. I am joining her at Full Frame, if you’re there, say hello.
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.
Set in Kenya, the documentary vividly calls into question the positive impact of international development organizations, from the housing reconstruction efforts of the UN in the slums of Kibera to a private agri-business in the swamp lands of Yala. The film raises issues about dead aid, and the politics of international development which often excludes the involvement of the very people these organizations are trying to help.
The film has had a successful year on the festival circuit along with a notable P.O.V. broadcast, but the aim of the night was to put heads together with NY guest educators to hash out how this film could really make a difference where it is most needed; among students learning international development, aid organizations, the donor community, inter-governmental organizations like the UN/World Bank/IMF that promote foreign investment in developing countries.
From left to right: Landon Van Soest, Jeremy Levine, Eliza Licht, David Gerwin, Dr. Mojúbàobolú Olúfúnké Okome
Dr. Mojúbàobolú Olúfúnké Okome, Professor of Political Science; Eliza Licht, Director, Community Engagement and Education, P.O.V.; and David Gerwin, Associate Professor, Coordinator, Program in Social Studies, all provided varied personal insight on the content of the film and the purpose to which it could be most effectively used.
P.O.V. came away with ideas for compiling an education packet to be distributed with the film to various education institutions and both Professors spoke about how the film could be used in the class room. Beyond the guest speakers contributions to the conversation, filmmakers in the audience shared their views and ideas about ways to take this film beyond the film circuit.
Audience members where encouraged to write their questions and ideas down, whilst the conversation was taking place, for the filmmakers to take home and transform into practical audience engagement strategies.
Here are some of audience members’ suggestions:
• Show the film to large foundations to encourage them to support projects with local involvement.
• Include more statistics for the educational version.
• Give updates on what is happening with the stories now.
• Provide more info on different approaches to development like microlending.
• We also got lots of great suggestions for organizations to highlight for our educational guide and venues to screen the film.