April 2013 Film Updates
This month: '63 Boycott, American Arab, As Goes Janesville, In the Game, Life Itself, Mormon Movie, Prisoner of Her Past, Raising Bertie, The Homestretch, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Typeface,, Unbroken Glass.
This has been a busy month for the ’63 Boycott! Our site launched on April 1st and we’ve had about 700 visitors. 21 people have been tagged in our photos thus far, and we’ve made connections with most of them. People have been finding us through email and Facebook as well. Altogether, we are in contact with 35 boycotters, including the 21 ID’d in our footage, some of whom are still living in Chicago and others across the country, including Boston and Houston.
The high point came at a performance of the Civil Rights Opera project at Christ Lutheran Church on Chicago’s South Side. The group’s performance honored activists of the Civil Rights movement in Chicago and we were invited to set up a booth for our project. Sylvia Fischer, who had been a third grade teacher for CPS and helped organized the 1963 Boycott, came to our booth and was able to pick herself out of one of the few stills that we had printed out and hung up as part of our presentation. We penciled her name in right then and there.
Last night, director Gordon Quinn and production associate John Fecile presented the project as part of Columbia College’s Doc Your World event. This morning, we received 7 new tags on our site, and one new contact through email. Please follow this exciting project on Facebook, Twitter and spread the word about our website to anyone who may have participated in the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott. Learn more here.
American Arab is almost finished! Usama will be traveling to Chicago at the end of May and working with editor Matt Lauterback to finalize the film and get it ready for film festival distribution!
One of the great pleasures of making films is the communion that happens with a live audience. Communion derives from the latin for "common." What was so beautiful about sharing As Goes Janesville in Key West at the Tropic Cinema was discovering a diverse group of people who practice communion, especially in the wake of the tragedy in Boston. A unique "one world" principle defines Key West, and the Tropic Cinema's "family" is an artful expression of the sentiment. Our audience were artists from many generations, retired teachers and public workers, philanthropists, gay and transvestite men and women, and people from all different races and heritages. It was America at its best. The little world of the Tropic Cinema also lives its values, as was revealed to me during the Q&A. In contrast to Janesville's chamber of commerce chief's "pay them less" approach to economic development, Matt (executive director of the Tropic Cinema) proudly told us that they pay good wages and this year offered health care to their 10 employees. We all know how hard it is to make ends meet as a not-for-profit. Yet, if they can do it, so can companies. We take care of each other. That's what communion is all about. I left my too-short stay in Key West feeling inspired by wonderful people who live their values proudly.
Another note from Key West. I got to meet one of my heroes, Judy Blume, whose books taught me about adolescence and girls. She and her erudite husband joined us for the screening and dinner afterwards. I tried hard not to gush.
Next up is a BizLab screening in Nashville with the Christian Scholars Conference at Lipscomb University. And watch for a "street action" with BizVizz and our partner, RootStrikers on May 19th.
Maria and Mary are very exciting about the direction In the Game is taking. Production is continuing on In the Game after a great Brain Trust with Hispanic leaders who viewed 40 minutes woth of footage and gave us feedback on the important issues the film addresses. ShuLing is continuing to develop the outreach and social media campaign for the film as well.
The Life Itself team is mourning the loss of Roger Ebert. In the wake of his death, we are further humbled and proud to be telling his story and celebrating the impact of his life. Production has continued during this difficult time.
Inspired by Mormon educational films starring her mother during the 1960s, Xan Aranda explores the stories that shaped generations of her ancestors - the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As the tales and tenets of their controversially clean-cut community are brought to light, Xan tests the seemingly unshakeable cornerstones of her family's beliefs, and re-examines her own story of leaving the faith sixteen years ago.
Director/Producer Xan Aranda recently returned from two impactful shoot trips in California - including a moment spent in Sonoma County, where, as she puts it "I started the summer of 1996 Mormon, and finished the summer not Mormon."
Be among the first to view freshly shot scenes from those trips, as part of the Kartemquin Films Spring Showcase on May 19 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Xan will be joined at the event by her friend, esteemed Chicago Tribune journalist Howard Reich, where he'll serve as moderator for the Mormon Movie portion of the night. Xan Aranda has worked with Howard Reich since early 2010, having handled broadcast and outreach of Prisoner of Her Past, Howard's film with Gordon Quinn.
She is currently pre-producing this Spring's third Mormon Movie shoot trip for the end of May. That trip will take her on an expedition to the Mormon colonies in Mexico, where her father grew up. These colonies are also featured in a 1966 LDS-made dramatic film called "And Should We Die", starring Xan's mother.
After returning from Mexico at the beginning of June, the team will spend summer writing grants and treatments, synthesizing footage, and prepping autumn shoots for Utah and beyond. The release-date goal for Mormon Movie is late 2014.
Listen to a WBEZ Chicago interview aboutMormon Movie and Andrew Bird: Fever Year with Xan Aranda here: https://soundcloud.com/wbez/exploring-mormonism-film-and
Find and "Like" the film on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/MormonMovie
Follow on Twitter @MormonMovie (director @XanAranda)
In February, Howard Reich participated in presented by Jewish Family & Children's Service Aleinu and the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor's Association. There, he shared the stage with Dr. Marc Agronin, author of How We Age: A Doctor's Journey Into the Heart of Growing Old "Of all the medical experts I've appeared with on panels in conjunction with Prisoner of Her Past, Agronin's life's work comes closest to what Prisoner of Her Past is all about - he studies aging in Holocaust survivors and other PTSD patients," Howard reports. Dr. Agronin and Howard Reich hope to make additional appearances together at conferences and events examining aging and trauma survival. Meantime, Howard Reich will appear at the following events:
We are putting the film to work! The Outreach Team for Prisoner of Her Past is reaching out to organizations, schools, social workers, veteran support groups and professionals in the health fields to use the film as a tool to help survivors of trauma. Our goal is to put the film in the hands of people working with children and adult survivors of trauma and their families. We're collaborating with advisors from hospitals and care centers; drafting curriculum for use in schools; screening POHP at conferences, and continuing to send Howard Reich on the road to share Sonia's story in any corner where it might be of use to those working on issues related to trauma survival, PTSD, retirement, and mental health.
It is an enormous honor and we are extremely grateful to receive a $120,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation for Raising Bertie which will be used for post-production. Director, Margaret Byrne, and Director of Photography, Jon Stuyvesant, are currently preparing for two more shoots this summer and fall in Bertie County, North Carolina before we wrap production. In the coming months we will begin post-production with Kartemquin’s wonderful and talented Senior Editor Leslie Simmer. We are so excited to finally begin post-production!
The Homestretch is thrilled to welcome The Polk Bros. Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust to our growing list of supporters. Directors Anne and Kirsten and the film will be featured at The Chicago Community Trust's 98th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, April 30th. The edit process with Leslie Simmer continues to go very well as we work to finish up principal photography with our young subjects in June. Our first Chicago-based "Home Dinner" fundraising event in support of the project will take place on April 27th thanks to the generosity of Debbie & Sid Frisch. The Home Dinner Project is a series of Dinners in the Home given by colleagues, friends and supporters of the film in order to raise awareness of youth homelessness and the film project, as well as being the grassroots community-building effort to help raise funds to help support the finishing of the film. To get more information about the "Home Dinner Project" please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We're also thrilled to be part of Kartemquin's upcoming Spring Showcase at the Gene Siskel Film Center on May 19th! The filmmakers have officially begun fundraising for and development of the film's advocacy campaign, presenting segments of the film-in-progress at a meeting of the National Network for Youth in Washington DC earlier this month.
This month The Interrupters co-producer Zak Piper and interrupter Cobe Williams traveled to Amherst College in Massachusetts for a screening of the film. Zak Piper sat down with the Amherst Student newspaper to talk about his experiences producing The Interrupters and the impact Kartemquin has had on him over the past decade.
On Saturday, April 20th from 3-6 pm The Interrupters Engagement Specialist Anton Seals will be part of a panel conversation at Chicago’s Experimental Station titled, “Can Digital Media Save Young People’s Lives?” The event coordinated by the Illinois Humanities Council will feature a sneak peek of InterruptViolence.com, The Interrupters transmedia web project. Seals said the message behind the event is, “To let people know that stories have power and people who have been marginalized and oppressed must share their own stories of triumph and agency.”
You can RSVP for the event here. And if you’d like to contribute to Interrupt Violence by sharing a blog or building a "digital shrine" to a loved one lost to violence, please email email@example.com.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali has a sold-out World Premiere on April 26th at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC! Director Bill Siegel, Khalilah Ali and other production team members will participate in a special Q & A after the screening. Trials also has a second sold-out screening on April 27th as part of Tribeca’s ESPN-presented “Sports Day.”
With the exciting news that Trials will be broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens series in Spring 2014 and the Tribeca premiere, the film has generated enormous interest worldwide. To date Trials has been accepted at the Montclair Film Festival and the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
Director Bill Siegel will join Oscar-winning Director Michael Moore at the Montclair Film Festival on a panel called “Dangerous Docs.” Moore will interview a group of distinguished documentary filmmakers “from across the country: Los Angeles-based Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel), Chicago-based Bill Siegel (The Trials of Muhammad Ali) and Montclair-based Dawn Porter (Gideon's Army).”
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Well, we just came back from Two Rivers and are happy to report that Hamilton Wood Type Museum is getting close to finish moving from the Hamilton building into their new home in the Formrite factory, just a few minutes walk away. We've been following their progress, helping support fundraisers with Typeface screenings and last week we sent a small crew there to film Museum Director, Jim Moran and Assistant Director, Stephanie Carpenter loading and unloading all the many semis required to cart all of that precious type and equipment. We'll be cutting the footage together soon so you can see the new space and a little bit of what Jim, Stephanie and a handful of volunteers have been doing the past few months. We'd also encourage you to donate to the museum's moving fund, which you can do here: http://woodtype.org/home/support
While editor Matt Lauterbach continues to put together material from the footage, we’ve been staying busy looking forward on Unbroken Glass.
After a lot of outreach brainstorming, we met with Deborah Jackson, Program Director for mental health at Asian Human Services. She will draw upon her experience working with immigrant communities to provide insight for outreach in the film. Asian Human Services provides a whole host of social services to Chicago’s immigrant community, including mental health services, language classes, and adult literacy among others. We had a series of incredible meetings with AHS staff brainstorming ways that Unbroken Glass can be used for a wide variety of purposes, as its core is the story of one immigrant family.
We’re also pleased to announce that Rochona Majumdar, a post-colonial South Asian scholar at the University of Chicago has joined the advisory board as well. Her expertise has already proven invaluable. In a brief introductory meeting Majumdar was able to provide insight on a number of cultural and historical challenges Unbroken Glass faces.
Rochona and Deborah join Rooshey Hasnain, educator and mental health researcher at University of Illinois at Chicago, and Jay Luthra, director of the Indo-American Center.
Sometimes it seems circumstance conspires to reward us. Director Dinesh Sabu received a phone call from an old college friend of his father’s. They went to school together in Jaipur in the 1950s, but had lost touch since 1965. Dinesh had a long chat with him about Dwarka’s life, and he’s agreed to be interviewed for the documentary. We’re still struck by the good fortune and coincidence, and hope that time spent with Dwarka’s friend will make more full the story of the immigrant American experience for his generation.
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