May 2013 Film Updates
This month: '63 Boycott, American Arab, Almost There, As Goes Janesville, Life Itself, Mormon Movie, Murder The Prepositions, Raising Bertie, The Homestretch, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Unbroken Glass.
Just two months after the official launch of the ’63 Boycott website, 29 people have identified themselves in our footage of the 1963 Boycott. We’re about to head into production in early June, with our first two interviews, one with boycott organizer and former CPS teacher Sylvia and another with a high school student who Gordon interviewed back in 1963, Ralph Davis.
The issues driving ’63 Boycott have come back into the news in a tragic way, with the Chicago Public School Board voting to close 49 schools, many of them in underserved and African American neighborhoods. The Chicago Teachers Union has filed two lawsuits to fight the cutbacks, claiming that the move violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
The ’63 Boycott team took their cameras to the streets during the protests and student boycotts that have been going on all spring, and we found that the 1963 Boycott has served as a touchstone and inspiration for student protestors – watch this video created by organizers of a student school Boycott in April that uses footage from our film.
Our fundraising efforts have received a boost thanks to awards from the Polk Bros. Foundation and the Chicago Filmmakers Digital Media Production Fund. You can help us by spreading the word about our project with anyone who may have participated in the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott.
American Arab is in the very final stages! After showing at the Spring Showcase, Usama and editor Matt Lauterbach have been working long days and nights, but we now have Picture Lock! The final sound mix and color correction are next and then... you will be seeing this film start to roll out in festivals and screenings across late 2013 and 2014. Join our email list to stay updated or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help us screen the film.
In case you missed the big news, Almost There has received significant funding from ITVS! Read all about it!
Editing continues and by early June the team hopes to have their 1st assembly together. Collaborations with our motion graphics team and our composer is getting underway. Stay tuned for exciting details!
Lipscomb University in Nashville will be featuring As Goes Janesville as part of its HumanDocs series. Professor Ted Parks, ITVS and we have organized several discussions of the film as part of the school's three day Christian Scholars Conference, June 5-7.
We are bringing together union leaders, business leaders and advocates for the poor and marginalized to watch and discuss the film before several live audiences. We call this effort to bring business and labor together around the film "BizLab", and we are very grateful that Lipscomb will be hosting us for several days in beautiful Nashville to discover how we can overcome partisanship and find common purpose as we try to repair our economy and create jobs that sustain all of us fairly.
The following are the confirmed panelists for the BizLab in Nashville:
Brad Lichtenstein, director, As Goes Janesville
Larry James, president, CitySquare, Dallas
Kavian McMillon, community development expert, Dallas
Matthew Tapie, ethicist, Catholic University of America
Michael Herron, chairman, UAW local 1853, Spring Hill, Tennessee
As Goes Janesville Director Brad Lichtenstein and Amy Ngai of the Sunlight Foundation will also lead a session at United For a Fair Economy's "Raise the Roots" tax fairness conference on Wednesday, June 5th in Boston. The aim is to teach advocates for tax fairness about the power of data, and to encourage others to create data-driven apps for social change. such the film's own BizVizz.
The Life Itself team has a busy summer ahead. Director/Producer Steve James has begun editing the 19 interviews and 90 hours of footage shot so far, with even more interviews and shooting penciled in for later this summer. Producer Zak Piper has spent many hours combing through the archives of WTTW for forgotten footage and outtakes from the show while still juggling his producing responsibilities. Archival Researcher and Associate Producer Emily Hart has continued her exhaustive search through 6 decades of print and broadcast material, which will take her to Roger's hometown of Champaign / Urbana later this month. While Assistant Editor Ryan Gleeson has anchored the post-production team, supporting Steve's edit and keeping everyone sane as the footage, in particular the archival material, continues to fill up many terabyte after terabyte of hard drive.
It's been an exciting year so far, with several weeks spent shooting for the film. We prepare for months, with best intentions, hoping these shoot trips will yield usable footage. We are so pleased to report this spring's shoots were very fruitful.
Freshly edited scenes screened as part of the recent Kartemquin Films Spring Showcase. In advance of the event we previewed the sneak-preview and were featured in New City and the Chicago Sun-Times. The feedback will help as we spend the summer combing through Mormon Movie's wealth of existing and archival footage, writing grants, and pre-producing several shoots for autumn (including forays to Utah and Mexico.) Thanks for your continued support of the film.
A report from Jerry Blumenthal on his and Adam Singer’s April 14-17 shoot on Murder The Prepositions.
Adam and I recently did a three-day shoot with Les Bridges in his new home in Dobbs Ferry, finally picking up on Murder The Prepositions. where Gordon Quinn and I left off 17 years ago. We of course focused on Les’s persistent frustrations with aphasia, now greatly complicated by his struggles with the pains of aging. Nearly two decades after his stroke, Les is still a poet fighting for the right word, often for just a word. Sometimes it’s just “damnit!” But today Les’s strongest feelings come with a touching gratitude for the unexpected rewards he reaps from these constant battles with words. Unmistakeable and in full view is his close relationship with his daughters and grandchildren, which he enjoys even as he bemoans his loss of “power”.
Leaning back in his chair, eyes shut tight, Les strains to describe how his wild early days in New York were selfish and denied him his current irreplaceable comforts with family. Here I share the frame with Les, appearing as a friend who in many ways identifies with him, slightly shifting the point of view of the footage from the 90’s.
The recent shoot in Dobbs Ferry produced a lot of great new material Adam and I are excited about, not the least of which was some of Les’s halting attempts at writing poetry---now in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. The trip also uncovered rich archival material -family photos, home movies, some of Bridges’ early advertising work, as well as footage of Les reading poetry before his stroke.
It's been a busy and productive month. We've been hard at work setting up our edit and logging footage. We are grateful to Reid Compton for designing our postcards and our new website which you can visit at raisingbertie.com. We're also excited to welcome our new Associate Producer, Ian Kibbe, to team Bertie.
We've been pre-producing, preparing for a 10 day shoot in Bertie in July. The Hive, an alternative school for at-risk boys which we follow in Raising Bertie, closed down three years ago this month. We've since been following the stories of three young men that attended The Hive, stories that address the long term consequences of school closures. This July, Ms. Saunders, previously Executive Director of The Hive, will be hosting the first reunion for The Hive at her new resource center, The Hive House. Although her school was forced to close, she continues to be an important support and mentor in her community, especially for the young men that attended The Hive.
We were excited to show 10 minutes of the film (which is in the middle of editing) to a first ever audience at the Kartemquin Spring Showcase. It was totally terrifying and profound to go from a tiny edit room to a 15 feet tall screen. We give thanks to a supportive and caring audience and to Alex Kotlowitz for being our guest panel leader. We will use the feedback to continue making bit steps forward with the film this summer - hopefully with your support!
The bi-annual Malott Prize is awarded to the best book, article, or film that depicts an individual or small group of people striving to make a significant improvement or prevent a significant harm in their local community. The Langum Charitable Trust determined to award this year's prize to both The Interrupters and author Jay Erskine Leutze for his book Stand Up that Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail.
In awarding the prize, The Langum Charitable Trust praised the film for its close focus on violence interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra and Cobe Williams, writing that "the strength of the film is that the viewer is shown detail about these very personable protagonists. We meet their families, and learn of their own backgrounds and what it was that turned their lives from violence. Then we see their actual work with disaffected youth who seem primed for shooting someone or other anti-social activity. We see many successes and a few failures. But the interrupters themselves stay upbeat and focused on their work. The viewer wants very much for them to succeed."
We are delighted to announce that The Trials of Muhammad Ali is one of just 45 feature-length films selected for the 2013 AFI DOCS festival in Washington D.C. The film was picked from over 2,000 submissions, and is part of a line-up that contains many of the year's best documentaries. See it on June 21st at the National Portrait Gallery and on June 23rd at Newseum.
Before then, The Trials of Muhammad Ali screens at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 25th, June 7th and June 8th. Seattle's The Stranger previewed the screenings by telling viewers to "expect this to be well-put-together, sharply political, smart as hell, and an entirely useful addition to the canon" of films on the champ.
Check out more great reviews of the film following our Tribeca Film Festival premiere in late April.
While playing festivals is fantastic, we still need funding to pay for the mountains of archival footage in the film before it can be commercially released! Please donate if you can.
This past month, the Unbroken Glass team was hard at work grant writing as proposals were created for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund, San Francisco Film Society Documentary Fund as well as Good Pitch, a documentary pitching platform. While we await the results of these grants, editor Matt Lauterbach has continued post-production on Unbroken Glass. A special thanks to John Kostka who has been hard at work with much of the transcription of the footage and also a shout out to all the departing Kartemquin interns who have helped out with transcription and other tasks on UBG. (Thanks Rachel D., Reid, Dain, Andrea, Rachel R. and Nushmia!)
Also coming up on June 13th, the Unbroken Glass team will be attending a special awards ceremony held by our outreach partner, the Asian-Giving Circle. At the ceremony, Unbroken Glass will be announced as one of the organization’s grantees for 2013. Congratulations to AGC on their 10th anniversary and thanks for being such an important part of Unbroken Glass.
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