February 2014 Film Updates
This month: '63 Boycott, Almost There, American Arab, Generation Food, In the Game, Life Itself, Mormon Movie, Murder the Prepositions, Prisoner of Her Past, Raising Bertie, The Homestretch, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Unbroken Glass.
'63 Boycott celebrated Black History Month with community events and a new interview for our film. Students at Young Chicago Authors and DePaul University were able to see the work-in-progress cut of our film at two separate screenings. '63 Boycott associate producers John Fecile and Rachel Dickson took part in another work-in-progress screening and panel discussion at Northeastern University featuring actual Boycott participants, including Jill Willis, a student marcher who is interviewed in our film.
We shot an interview with Civil Rights legend and educator Timuel Black, who helped organize the Freedom Schools, makeshift classrooms with Civil Rights-based curriculum for boycotting students. We have scheduled an interview in March with Rosie Simpson, a parent organizer who coined the term "Willis Wagons" for the trailer classrooms set up on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded African American schools in the early 60s.
As always, you can help us by spreading the word about our project to anyone who may have participated in the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott.
Happy March from the Almost There team! As spring springs in the month ahead, we plan to lock picture and begin our sound mix, with the hope of having a completed version of our film as soon as April.
On March 8th, Co-Director Dan Rybicky will participate in a panel at Chicago Filmmakers discussing different ways to incorporate interactive elements into films and media projects to increase social reach and impact. More information about this and other free workshops being presented at Chicago Filmmakers in March can be found here.
American Arab had its North American Premiere at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. Usama had a wonderful time and felt like he was treated like royalty by the people of Missoula. It was a great launch for the film, which is also scheduled for many more festivals this March and April
Read more about our upcoming festival dates in Geneva (Illinois), San Francisco, Cleveland, Stockholm (Sweden), and our big Chicago premiere at CUFF on April 6th! More dates to be announced soon!
The Generation Food project goes from strength to strength. With generous grants from a private foundation and the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, Steve James and crew have been able to build a story that stretches from Maine to Singapore. In the coming months, they'll be finding out how people want to feed the next generation in India and Malawi, and have a reel ready for their next funding push.
On the heels of a $100,000 McArthur Foundation grant, we will use the funding for post-production editing with a timeline to finish the film for broadcast in 2015.
Initially focused on three stories about the impact of Title IX on girls’ and women's sports, and as often happens in verite filming, one story has emerged as a powerful lens on the ups and downs of an inner city girls’ soccer team. Through the story of Kelly High School’s girls’ soccer team, In the Game reveals the enormous obstacles that low-income students face in their quest for a higher education.
Here is a sneak peek at how the film is shaping up:
Where do we begin?? Well, Life Itself had its world premiere at Sundance on January 19th, and the response from fans and critics exceeded even our wildest of expectations. It was an emotional screening, with love for Ebert flooding in from fans not only in the theater, but also fans worldwide who were streaming the film and Q&A. “I have never had a better screening of film than that one,” Steve James said after the premiere; read the critics reviews of Life Itself.
Following the successful run at Sundance, Steve James and the film’s producers entered into distribution negotiations, and we couldn’t be happier to be partnering with Magnolia Pictures for Life Itself’s theatrical release! Magnolia will be handling the US theatrical, VOD, and home entertainment distribution, with an eye towards release in theaters this summer.
It’s also been a busy month of travel for Steve James, the producers, and Chaz Ebert, as Life Itself has screened across the United States. Life Itself hit the big screen in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in screenings just for backers of the recent Indiegogo campaign. It was a great experience giving Ebert fans the chance to see the film in theaters before anyone else, and we are touched by the positive response Life Itself has received. You can check out photos on our Facebook page from the Chicago screening (fittingly held at the Gene Siskel Film Center), and the Cinefamily Los Angeles screening. Big thanks to the Paley Center, the Gene Siskel Film Center, Cinefamily, Cinema Falls in Sioux Falls, and University of Georgia for hosting screenings and Q&As!!
We are still working on the new website -- www.ebertmovie.com -- and we can’t wait for you to check it out when it goes live! We have a feeling it will be another big month for Life Itself, so follow the film on Twitter at @Ebertmovie and on Facebook to stay up to date on everything Ebert. Thank you again for supporting Life Itself!
The Mormon Movie (working title) team has been busy creating fresh "grant guts" (written materials with which to apply for funding), incorporating storylines and clarified themes added to the film during winter. They have also been actively pursuing archival materials, building infrastructure for the editing process. Additionally, with assistance from former and current KTQ interns, they have nearly completed transcription of over twenty-seven hours of existing footage. All of this activity will make creation of a fresh demo for the film a swift process for the team this spring. Director Xan Aranda and production assistant Katie Prentiss are preparing logistics for upcoming shoots to occur in Utah during late spring and throughout summer.
Sad news from Murder The Prepositions. Les Bridges, the main subject of the work-in-progress, unexpectedly passed away late in January. We here who have been working on the film, of course, mourn for Les and his family, and will have to begin the painful process of figuring out what this means to the project. His passing was not part of the story we set out to tell. Just the latest blow Murder The Prepositions has received, but one we believe we will somehow survive. We will keep you posted.
The stirring documentary film about how childhood trauma unravels one woman’s life – and her family’s journey to uncover the mystery of her past – continues to spur dialogue across the country.
To date, “Prisoner of Her Past” – which documents Chicago Tribune journalist Howard Reich’s journey to discover why his mother is reliving her Holocaust past – has been broadcast more than 510 times in 140 markets across the U.S.
“Prisoner of Her Past” will be rebroadcast on Chicago's WTTW to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 27th at 6pm.
In addition, the film now has a new website chock-full of resources, including an extensive study guide for classroom use and a discussion guide for community screenings. “Prisoner of Her Past” continues to be a useful tool for launching discussions about geriatric psychology, Holocaust history, PTSD/late-onset PTSD, childhood trauma and more.
It's been a pretty awesome month for Raising Bertie. We finished a number of grant applications, launched a new website for Beti Films, and, drum roll please...started editing with the fantastic, Leslie Simmer! To quote Leslie, "It's a great adventure getting to know these young men and the beauty and pain inherent in their stories."
The Homestretch is very close to locking picture with our wonderful editor Leslie Simmer! Later this month we’ll be layering on color correction from KTQ’s own Jim Morrissette. We’re also in the studio in NYC putting together an incredible score by composer Greg Kalember of Sonic Highway, then moving into the mix with Mike Frank at Final Frame in NYC. Whew. All for an exciting film festival deput in April (we can’t let the cat out of the bag of which fest “officially” yet – but if you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter – you’ll be the first to know!)
After months of being holed up in an edit bay, we’ve now had the refreshing experience of showing early rough cuts and some highlight scenes of the film to the kids in the film, and our partners, funders, and advocates. It was an incredibly moving experience to show a cut of the film to the three main kids who are featured. We so admire their courage in sharing their stories and their enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of the film’s impact campaign as it goes out in the world has reinvigorated these last finishing steps! We can’t wait for you all to meet Kasey, Roque and Anthony when you see the film.
We next screened it for representatives from local organizations (Teen Living Program, The Night Ministry, CPS) and got the best bit of feedback possible: “This film deftly, courageously, and respectfully illustrates the complexity of the issues that result in over one million young people experiencing homelessness.” We’ve captured the issue. It’s now time to address it.
The Homestretch team is already beginning our advocacy work. Development meetings with Chicago Public School’s Students in Temporary Living Situations department have already begun to help build a series of support tools for training teachers and administrators for next school year. And starting in March, The Homestretch will have four targeted “Sneak Peek” advocacy screenings in Chicago and Washington DC. Our will get the film in front of thought leaders and proponents of reform so that they can begin using the film to help bring much needed public awareness of youth homelessness, combat negative stereotypes and help build support for national policy efforts.
We really wanted to get our audience involved in this last phase of post-production and early stages of advocacy, so we’re launching a Kickstarter project that will run throughout March! The $26,250 The Homestretch hopes to raise will go towards the last of the finishing costs and fuel the start of our impact campaign. Join us on our crowd funding journey, sharing our project with friends and snatching up some of our great rewards. We’re so grateful for your past and continued support!
As we move into life after it's theatrical run, The Trials of Muhammad Ali is actually gaining more momentum! The film is currently available for rent and purchase via video on demand vendors such as iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu.
Educational screenings are happening all over the U.S. thanks to ITVS Community Cinema. In February we were thrilled to show at the Nation of Islam's 2014 Saviour's Day where the film screened to thousands of NOI members.
This Spring we are looking forward to our U.S. television premiere on Independent Lens on April 14th at 10 PM. Shortly to follow will be the release of our DVD which is chocked full of special features and educational resources!
After screening an early assembly cut, we got some great feedback from executive producers Gordon Quinn, Justine Nagan, and Leslie Simmer. We're looking forward to incorporating feedback as we continue to cut the film in the Spring, while also shooting key final scenes of the documentary.
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