Current Sponsored Projects
Documentary Educational Resources is committed to helping filmmakers produce movies that communicate ideas about our world's culture. We help independent filmmakers for one reason: story. Stories inform us about who we are, where we're going, and what we have done. Stories help shape the richness of our lives.
Richness in a story is more than an interesting anecdote or historial overview. A story allows us to look through another's eyes. In looking through those eyes, you chance a view of the world informed by another's thoughts.
Unfortunately, many important stories go untold - this is often our experience with commercial media. For this reason we would like you to support independent media. Through your support you allow our filmmakers to tell stories from perspectives that would otherwise go unheard.
Below is a list of documentary projects sponsored by Documentary Educational Resources. Donate to individual projects using credit card by clicking the donate button found at the bottom of each project's description. You may also view a list of our previous fiscal sponsorships.
If you are outside the United States, please contact us to make a donation by check or money order. All checks should be made out to DER.
Please note: All donations made to DER are tax-deductible.
African Makers Media
Tom Osborn's mother's lung disease turned his life around, at 16. He wanted to be a basketball star, at 6'7", but he put his scholarship on hold and works to clean up household cooking smoke. He and stove maker Payan are driven to sell affordable, clean, efficient cookstoves and fuel. To save lives, trees and ecology in Kenya, they must reach thousands of customers across East Africa, so they?ve begun to work together to make an impact.
This is a short documentary about the hows and whys of these entrepreneurs' daily challenges to stay alive and grow, in a place that funds outsiders with pale faces who know little of local culture.
Stories link investors and mentors to makers, to help them reach massive customer bases, to save customers' lives, money, and trees. We invite partners and sponsors to help launch this story series and campaign by September, 2016.
With funding, we will produce six stories of #cleancookstoves and fuel makers and recruit African social media and tech designers for a new story platform and outreach campaign, using local crews and partner's.
Collaborate with us for stories of change that change the story of Africa. Contact us with ideas and leads at African Makers Media or email@example.com.
The Albanian Dream
This film is about the pursuit of the Albanian Dream and one of its most ardent dreamers, Konstantin Kristoforidhi, patriot and scholar, author of the first Albanian-Greek dictionary, father of the modern Albanian literary language and our great-great-grandfather. He dreamed of an independent Albania, a nation free of Ottoman rule that could join the rest of Europe. Independence finally came in 1912, but Albania plunged into extreme isolation during the 20th century, overwhelmed by 47 years of brutal communist dictatorship. Now the dream has reemerged as Albania strives for a place in the European Union.
For Albanians, the desire to join the EU is complicated by needs that go beyond economic necessity. A predominantly Muslim nation, Albania identifies strongly with the West, yet craves its own national identity. At the heart of the Albanian Dream, therefore, is a tension between a strong desire to take its place on the global stage and a centuries-long yearning to assert its independence.
We will explore these issues of identity through the personal stories of prominent individuals — a leading entrepreneur, a psychotherapist, a musician, a politician, a writer — as well as the average citizen.
Meanwhile, a group of Albanian-Americans is trying to get the Albanian government to issue a commemorative coin in honor of Kristoforidhi on the occasion of the centennial. Are Albanians ready to celebrate the dreamer if his dream remains unfulfilled?
The Awra Amba Experience
A rural village in Ethiopia has combated poverty by making men and women equal, educating all its children and eradicating conflict.
Learn about their solutions in an interactive 360° web experience, ask questions directly to the villagers and contribute your own ideas to a global discussion about a more sustainable future.
“This is a fascinating story of self determination, that should be part of any dialogue about international development strategy.” — Brian Newman, former CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute
“I think that The Awra Amba Story is currently one of the very interesting up-coming projects.” — Ilo Von-Seckendorff, Dok Leipzig
Sign up on the official website.
As little as ten years ago the large majority of the hill towns and villages in rural Nepal were accessible primarily by foot. It would commonly take a day of walking, often more, for the average Nepali living in these areas to reach a motorable road. This was life as usual, however difficult the circumstances.
Recently, however, this has begun to change dramatically.
Baato (working title) is a feature film project that explores the effects of road connectivity in eastern Nepal. As a new highway along the Arun River valley in eastern Nepal nears completion, once remote villages will be connected to the rest of Nepal for the first time, and a new trade route between China and Nepal (through Tibet) is closer to becoming a reality. The film follows the stories of individuals who are witness to the changes that this new road is bringing to the Sankhuwasabha District, a mountainous region in northeastern Nepal.
Bisbee is an interactive documentary that explores life in a small border community in southeastern Arizona. Bisbee combines video portraits, photography, soundscapes, community-generated content, and data visualizations in a multi-platform experience that encourages dialogue and provides deeper insights into rural life in the American Southwest.
Bisbee strives to encourage positive change in the community through a multimedia experience and links traditional documentary film techniques with interactive components and community participation.
Bisbee is a former copper mining community nine miles north of the Mexican border in the rugged Mule Mountains of Cochise County, Arizona. Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses Bisbee's population dropped by almost 10 percent to lead the county and the city's workforce was reduced by more than 20 percent. The community continues to lose young people due to a lack of economic opportunity'a problem compounded by the fact that the state's economic decline in 2009 was the second largest in the nation behind Michigan.
There are, however, almost 5,500 people still living in Bisbee. They take great pride in their community and its rich history, and they want to help shape Bisbee's future. This is a story of hope and home, and it strives to both address the issues the community faces and help provide positive options for the future.
Bluebirds Fly, Love and Hope on the Autism Spectrum
According to the CDC, 1 in 68 children are being identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Whether it's a sibling, cousin, neighbor or co-worker, we all know someone living with autism. Yet many of us lack a clear understanding of what autism is.
Does autism impact the brain or the body? Are you born with autism or does an environmental trigger cause it? How are families, schools and communities meeting the challenges of autism?
Bluebirds Fly follows three families, each with a child on the autism spectrum, with the goal of shedding light on these questions and more. In this deeply moving and informative film, the families share their stories — from the shock of the initial diagnosis, to navigating the health care and school systems, to finding appropriate therapies — we witness their dedication, resilience, humor and acceptance.
Bluebirds Fly leaves audiences with a better understanding of autism, along with a newfound awareness of what can be done to help individuals with autism live happier, more productive lives.
Directed by EMMY-award-winning filmmaker, Cherry Arnold
Bön in Dolpo: Ancient Zhang Zhung Kingdom — Then and Now
In 2011, after working four years, we completed our film Bön: Mustang to Menri developed around the story of Tibet's oldest spiritual tradition, Bön, and its unique place in Tibetan history. Our film illuminated how and why the work that monks, lamas and Geshes do is vitally important in our current times. Our new film continues and deepens this work.
Our new film explores the story of ancient Zhang Zhung and Bön traditions that have persisted for centuries in Dolpo where ancient texts and practices have been preserved. Followers of Bön receive oral teachings and transmissions from teachers in a lineage unbroken from ancient times until the present day. While much in modern Bön is similar to Tibetan Buddhism, Bön retains the richness and flavor of its pre-Buddhist roots. With the help of Geshe Nyima Kunchap of Dunai, Dolpo we will investigate the importance of traditional Tibetan medicine, education, and ancient sacred sites in Dolpo and the continued importance of preserving Tibetan culture outside Tibet.
This adventure takes us into Inner Dolpo, whose remoteness holds secrets of the ancient Zhang Zhung kingdom and Bön. It will be interwoven with the story of Bön's head senior teacher, Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the challenges he faced in leaving Tibet to help bring the teachings of Yungdrung Bön to the outside world, and his work in founding and maintaining Triten Norbutse Bön Monastery in Kathmandu.
Canada Lee - MAN OUT FRONT
Canada Lee was one of the greatest African American actors of the 20th Century, but most people have never heard his name. Lee poured his talent into fighting for racial equality. His uncompromising stance prompted the U.S. Government to label him a Communist, destroying his reputation and career. With the support of the Canada Lee Heritage Foundation and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Canada Lee - MAN OUT FRONT is the first film to explore his life and legacy.
Cartoon College (working title) is the definitive story of contemporary comics as seen through the eyes of the students and faculty of the Center for Cartoon Studies, America's premiere institution of higher learning for the study of comics-making. This feature-length documentary chronicles a generation of artists at the dawn of a creative and social epiphany.
Since its inception in 2005, the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont has welcomed aspiring cartoonists from all over the world to study the art of making comics — a medium that after a hundred years of superheroes and Sunday funnies is just now beginning to tackle issues of universal importance. As celebrated cartoonist and CCS faculty Jason Lutes put it, “[Comics] are a means of expression that can encompass virtually any subject. There's this vast untapped potential.” Today CCS is helping to facilitate a new breed of cartoonist, outsider artists who, like the poets and folk singers of the early 1960s or the graffiti artists and punk rockers of the early ‘80s, are threatening to unleash their own brand of creative expression into the mainstream and claim a spot near the top of the cultural hierarchy.
A Chance to Dress
76 year old Professor Emeritus John Southard recently came out to his M.I.T colleagues as a cross-dresser after nearly 40 years of easy collegiality. His exuberant outing is reflected, in part, by his efforts to reach out as an educator and counselor to other closeted students and faculty. His consuming desire is to be finally accepted as a full person in the Geology department as well as in society. So far, his efforts have been met with mixed reactions of grace, curiosity, or avoidance. A Chance To Dress explores the many dimensions of one's identity and the diversity of gender expression. John's journey weaves a story that intersects gender presentation, acceptance, the immutability of established institutions and the ultimate affirmation of the human spirit.
Circus Without Borders
Circus Without Borders is the inspiring story of two unusual circuses from farflung corners of the world — Artcirq in Arctic Canada, and Kalabante in Guinea, West Africa. An unlikely union grows out of a deep friendship between founders Guillaume Saladin and Yamoussa Bangoura, and their common dream: to bring hope to youth in remote communities. In sharing their passion and teaching young people the art and skills of the circus, they work to combat the despair of a generation struggling with the painful legacy of colonialism. Now, through a unique mix of tradition and acrobatics, these talented young artists have stepped onto the world stage to share what they've learned that despair can give way to joy, and that passion and dedication can make dreams come true.
A Civil Remedy
A Civil Remedy is a short documentary film about a vision of justice for children and women who are trafficked for sex in America.
The story of sex trafficking involves vulnerability, systemic and systematic violence, entrenched inequalities, shocking profitability, and the failure of law. The film tells the story of one victim who survived - an American girl who was trafficked into prostitution in Boston at the age of seventeen, escaped to her family, and survived to finish school and become an anti-trafficking advocate.
Against this backdrop, the film weaves the perspectives of three commentators — Gloria Steinem, Cherie Jimenez, and Siddharth Kara — as they explore the importance of survivors' stories, the meaning of justice, and the need to place new legal tools in the hands of victims. A civil remedy — a state civil action for damages against traffickers, pimps, and purchasers — will empower victims to reclaim their equal place in their community, see their violators held accountable, and drain resources from this global sex industry.
The Club is a candid documentary film exploring the lives of several women across the world who lost their mothers in their formative years, and the impact this loss has had on the unconventional lives they've made for themselves and ultimately the women they've become.
Chronicling the stories of four women from a range of different backgrounds, at varying stages of their lives who are all still identifying their own paths and how their mother's absence has and continues to play a role in their lives. The gracious contributions of Rosie O'Donnell, Molly Shannon and NY Times Bestselling author of Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman, also demonstrates the gravitas of this subject matter.
From the heart of Sao Paulo, Brazil to the bustling streets of New York City; the seemingly idyllic Calabasas, California to the hot and sweaty Deep South, all the way across to the alternative hub of Bristol England; this film is an eclectic patchwork of personal stories woven together with rich archival footage to give theirexperiences context and the film a strong sense of intimacy and nostalgia. As women who lost their mothers during childhood, the filmmakers will offer a unique approach and a sense of authenticity that aims to be an honest yet hopeful depiction of the long-term impacts of early mother loss.
Cotton Road is a film and internet-based media project about the people that drive the transnational flow of cotton. Through both a linear documentary film and interactive mapping project, audiences and users journey alongside cotton's global supply chain as raw cotton is transported from South Carolina farms to China, turned into a product, and shipped back to America for consumption. The film's story and its interactive map bring transparency to the human and environmental costs behind the products we consume and challenges us to reconsider our rapacious desire for cheap products.
Councilwoman (working title) is about a Dominican hotel housekeeper who sits on the City Council in Providence, RI. The film follows her first term as she becomes a political leader, but finds herself constrained by corporate power in government. She has a tight race to win her re-election. This is a story about civic participation and power in our democracy.
Crying Earth Rise Up
When Debra White Plume's drinking water tests high for radiation, she sets out to determine the cause. What she finds alarms her. A nearby uranium mine is extracting ore from deep underground, tapping the High Plains/Ogllala Aquifer, the largest aquifer which stretches from Texas to South Dakota and that supplies drinking water to 82% of the people who live within the aquifer boundary.
Elisha Yellow Thunder intimately understands the dangers of contaminated water. A Lakota mother and geology student, she unknowingly drank water with high levels of contaminants while pregnant with her first daughter. Elisha's daughter suffers from severe medical anomalies, including kidney failure, an abnormal heart, spine and organs.
Yellow Thunder scours rock outcroppings near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, gathering and testing ore samples. Her grief over her daughter's illness and her fears that the health of her people are likewise in jeopardy, drives her to search for answers. Yellow Thunder's seminal research is what White Plume needs to prove the connection between the contaminated water and the mining operation and halt the mine's expansion.
Residents living in the Nebraska town nearest to the mine have historically supported it for its positive financial impact, but recent questions about the mine's safety are raising doubt about the wisdom of tolerating its continued operation.
As mines in the region expand and residents call for government scrutiny of the mining industry's practices, Crying Earth Rise Up takes you through all parts of the story: from the hearing rooms of the Atomic Licensing Commission to contentious community meetings, to kitchen table discussions. This timely film documents the battle to protect sacred water.
Crying Earth Rise Up is an intimate portrait of the human cost of uranium mining and its impact on sacred water. It tells a timely story of protecting land, water and a way of life.
Devil May Care
In Devil May Care, Bob Dorough, the 86-year-old musical legend behind Schoolhouse Rock, proves how creativity can keep you young; he rises at dawn to compose new tunes, travels the world for gigs, and drinks his younger band-mates under the table. Ever the enduring hipster, Dorough is the unlikely “leading man” in a film that charts his resilience and celebrates his panache — and just happens to give an offbeat history of American popular culture as he recounts collaborations with Miles Davis, Lenny Bruce, Lawrence Ferlenghetti, Maya Angelou, Sugar Ray Robinson, The Fugs, Charlie Parker, David Johanssen (to name a few). Throughout the film — and precisely because of it — we see contemplation and vulnerability pierce the showman's cloak, even as his indomitable spirit reverberates beyond the film. Provocative and character-driven (with a quirky, charismatic character), this is an “anti-biopic,” a film of wide interest for its story, its visual style and its diverse soundtrack.
Directing Dissent is a film about John Roemer, teacher and social activist, and his decisions to either live within the law, or have a sound basis for civil disobedience. It not only shows his distinctive and unconventional style of teaching, but uses it as a framework within which to explore his past.
Roemer's story involves near-death experiences and adventures, both as director of the Maryland ACLU and while playing a pivotal role in helping to integrate Maryland. In the conversations with Roemer he discusses significant personal and historical issues, including Plessy v. Ferguson (1896, a Supreme Court decision upholding racial segregation in private businesses under the doctrine of "separate but equal"), the Gwynn Oak Park demonstrations, integrating the ocean, and why civil liberties are important. At the same time, it is our hope that Directing Dissent will speak directly to and energize those who continue to advocate for social change — from teachers to activists, social workers to students.
Directing Dissent is seeking tax-deductible contributions for the production and distribution of this film.
The Divide: One City's Story is about the twilight of a once great American middle class and about what Americans in one Pennsylvania steel town are doing to fight against its demise.
The Divide traces the path America has taken from creating an unparalleled middle class boom after World War II to today's hard times for so many families who were once part of the country's success.
The film focuses on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The film tells America's story since the 1970's, with respect to our economic and political landscape. It shows how the conditions for a stratified boom and bust economy came to be created. The film is made for audiences hungry to understand what caused the upheavals we are all living through and how we might consider new courses of action in the future.
There are an estimated 100,000 first generation Korean Americans with immediate family members in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). These families have been left divided for over 50 years and many of them have already passed away, or are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Though American citizens, there are no formal mechanisms for family members to identify or even dream of reunion with their family in the DPRK. Sadly, many of us are not aware of this tragedy.
Divided Families is a documentary retracing story of one divided family member, Mrs. Chahee Lee Stanfield, a retired librarian in Chicago. For over thirty years she has lived the American dream, leaving a home ravaged by wars to forge her own destiny. She remembers the moment when she was separated from her father and her brother. It was the eve of the Pacific War and her family decided to go back home to Taegu, Korea after living in Manchuria. She left with her mother on a train to Taegu and her father and brother were supposed to meet them one week later but in that week, political lines were drawn. She didn't know that her departure from that train station would be the last that she would ever see them and without having the chance to ever say goodbye, over half a century would pass.
Many Korean Americans share her story and are waiting for that day when they would see their families. Because of this collective tragedy, ChaHee has organized a movement to fight for this generation's right to see their family members before it's too late.
This is a journey of separation, immigration, and epic search for a father and a brother in a rush against time.
To make a donation to this film, click the donate button:
Donald Ross: Discovering the Legend
A film by Cob Carlson
Donald Ross is the greatest golf course designer of all time. He is directly responsible for the creation of four hundred of the most splendid and challenging courses in the world. As the patron saint of golf course architecture, he is widely known for his beautiful, deceptively simple designs that harmonize with the surrounding environment. Donald Ross turned golf course architecture into an art form.
The film, Donald Ross: Discovering the Legend, will be about a man who left Scotland for America without enough money to buy his second meal, but who worked so hard he became one of the best paid individuals in all of sports.
In America, he began his career at the Oakley Country Club, near Boston. While there, he met the wealthy Tufts family, who would eventually orchestrate his move south to the famed Pinehurst resort.
He didn't believe in gimmicks, but in a classic simplicity that honored the natural environment while challenging every player. The masterpieces he molded from nature were exceptional: Pinehurst No.2, Seminole, Essex, Inverness, Wannamoisett, and Salem to name just a few. Playing a Donald Ross course is a lesson in enjoying the purity of traditional golf. His courses have stood the test of time and changing technology.
At the heart of this film is the simple idea that golf courses designed by Donald Ross, with their unique characteristics, deserve to be well-known to the general public, golfers, and golf fans. We will tell this from a socio-cultural, historical, and entertaining perspective. This film will be a lasting testimonial to honor the work and genius of Donald Ross.
How long does the impact of deindustrialization last? Exit Zero uses family stories to offer an intimate portrait of the former steel mill community of Southeast Chicago and the lasting effects that the loss of heavy industry has had on the region. Interweaving home movies, found footage, and a first person narrative, the film traces the stories of multiple generations of filmmaker Christine Walley's family in this once-thriving steel mill community. From the turn-of-the-century arrival of immigrants to work in Chicago's mammoth industries to the labor struggles of the 1930s to the seemingly unfathomable closure of the steel mills in the 1980s and 90s, these family stories convey a history that serves as a microcosm of the nation.
Following Walley's father, a former steelworker, as he wanders aimlessly through a transformed Calumet region now made up of industrial brownfields, toxic landfills, and gambling casinos, the film suggests the social and environmental stakes of such transformations. Although the film is personal, it tells a story that resonates across some of the crucial disjunctures of our time: the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, the collapse of the American Dream for working people, and the toxic legacy of a vanished industrial past.
Field Marks is a feature-length documentary that looks at birdwatchers from all walks of life and investigates the culture of avian observation. Determination can be as transparent as the lens of a binocular - but if you look into the wrong end, you'll see something distorted - something distant. Field Marks goes beyond the stereotypical idea of birder as eccentric affluent, and goes behind the binoculars, gazing into the squinted eyes of the birdwatcher.
Our goal in producing Field Marks is to reveal birdwatching to the general public in an innovative light. The film aims to provide an understanding of birdwatching using a multilayered approach including the personal, the social and the environmental. We are structuring the film in such a way that is both entertaining and educational so that it can be relevant to birdwatchers and non-birdwatchers alike. While birdwatching is enjoyed by almost 50 million Americans, it is still a subculture whose motivations are essential to keep the planet functioning. Through filming and research, we've noticed a correlation between a well-rounded understanding of nature and a desire to protect it. Awareness fosters conservation - and media fosters awareness.
A film by iLan Azoulai
Forgotten Place (wt) is a character driven documentary and intimate portrait of family and the sex-trafficking industry in Tel-Aviv.
The character-driven film will intimately explore personal narratives that are emblematic of a nation's battle towards recovery: three sex trafficking victims trying to regain their rights as mothers and legal citizens and to liberate themselves from a cycle of prostitution, drugs, poverty and abuse, and an American whose independently-operated shelter struggles to help them. Forgotten Place will document their stories with authenticity, providing a detailed picture of the landscape from which its victims must recover. At the same time, it will acknowledge Israel's efforts to regulate the industry and rehabilitate the victims. It is a film with global relevance, positioned at a time when nations are fraught with a similar recuperative process.
From the Bottom of Their Soles: Arts, Education and Achievement in an American Public High School
What happens when an entire city says “The Arts matter”? This film unveils a public-school model built on a foundation of civic, cultural and educational values that consider education without the arts incomplete. In Worcester — a typical midsize, multi-ethnic, working-class city in Central Massachusetts — every September more than 100 students show up in the Burncoat High School dance studio. Every May they perform to a sold-out audience at the Hanover Theatre, one of the top theaters in the world. In the nine months between, they learn more than just how to dance.
The dramatic arc of the film follows the 2011-12 school year from opening fall classes through the climactic spring dance concert to graduation in June. Four years of filming telescope back into previous years' classes, rehearsals and performances but also forward into graduates' lives today, where they are using the skills they learned in Room H15 — skills such as perseverance, teamwork, problem solving and “thinking outside the box” required for success in our “innovation economy“ and in life.
From the Bottom of Their Soles highlights the cause-and-effect links between arts education, creativity and achievement that should be possible in any American public high school.
Based on Fully Awake (2007), DER filmmakers Cathryn Davis Zommer and Neeley Dawson are crafting an enhanced documentary film, enriching the viewer's experience by offering a deeper view into the now legendary Black Mountain College (1933-1957). Much has changed since Fully Awake launched: freshly available archival source material including photography, primary audio interviews with key figures at the school, and dynamic new interviews, along with new technologies, compel a re-imagined film. We ask for your support, through tax-deductible donations, to help us create a more contemporary documentary film to premiere in Spring, 2014: FULLY AWAKE...further.
Groundswell response to Fully Awake, the only feature documentary film about Black Mountain College, the influential educational experiment, led to its screening at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Guggenheim Bilbao, North Carolina Museum of Art, and the National Gallery, as well as various film festivals, educational events and exhibitions worldwide. Through the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, we were able to gift copies of Fully Awake to all public libraries in North Carolina. If our current fundraising goal is successful, we will be able to digitize over 100 hours of interviews with students, professors and scholars to donate to the North Carolina State Archives, giving future generations the ability to discover and explore these rich source materials.
With your support, we will have the opportunity to share our deeper study of Black Mountain College with a new, wider audience. Our budget is $30,000 to re-edit the film, create compelling motion graphics, acquire new source photos and interviews, add a fresh, evocative score, professional audio and color correction, as well as digitizing our entire interview videos from both projects for public use at the NC State Archive. We hope you will become a part of funding FULLY AWAKE...further, and help us re-envision a film worthy of Black Mountain College and its legacy.Visit the film's website
The Giant Music Box
Three generations of the van der Linde family have been intimately involved in teaching and playing piano in Vermont for nearly four decades. What began as an informal piano camp, founded by Rein and his wife, Rosamond, for their children and their playmates, grew rapidly to become the unique and inspiring piano camp it is today.
In a grand old house with twenty-six pianos filling every nook and cranny, children of all levels and from all around the world learn from a diverse faculty at Summer Sonatina. The Sonatas - live-in piano camp for adults, some who have returned annually for over twenty years - are offered for ten days each month of the year. The Giant Music Box will capture the passion of the four van der Linde daughters and one son, as well as the energy of their mother, Rosamond, a vibrant, unorthodox, yet brilliant teacher. We will follow Polly van der Linde - program director and piano whisperer - and her staff and students through the four seasons, beginning and ending with the Autumn Sonata.
The Giant Music Box will be a moving and inspiring film - rich in sound, full of drama and heart - as we join those who love piano on their individual and collective journey. From the pratfalls of the practice room through pre-concert jitters, we will share, finally, the transformative and joyous experience of making and sharing music in The Giant Music Box.
The Good Death
Once banned by the Catholic Church and outlawed by governments, Candomble is a belief system whose participants were forced to practice on the fringe of society and in private for centuries. Deemed legal in the 1970's and now practiced openly, most traffic for intimate ceremonies occurs by heavy recruitment of tourist groups for Black American's seeking to reconnect to their African heritage.
The Sisterhood of The Good Death is a group of elderly Afro-Brazilian women who still practice Catholicism publicly and privately maintain their stronghold in the African derived practice of Candomble. During the group's one public festival, The Good Death will show the complicated history and uncertain future of this very popular yet anonymous group of women. The Good Death will not only explore the Sisterhood itself and the practice of Candomble, but it will also bring about the symbolic death of the anonymity of these women that so many flock to see.Visit the film's facebook page
Greyhound: Racing Into The Light
Revered by royalty from the Egyptian pharaohs to the kings and queens of England, greyhounds were a favored pet and hunting partner. Egyptians considered the birth of a litter of greyhounds second in importance only to the birth of a son. A status symbol for medieval England's ruling class, commoners were forbidden to own greyhounds, and killing one was a capital offense. So elegant their appearance, greyhounds are featured in many classic and Renaissance masterpieces.
Sadly, however, if not for a greyhound's likeness on the side of a bus, a great many Americans today wouldn't know a greyhound from a chihuahua. Fewer know their history or how the greyhound racing industry functions.
Greyhound is the first full-length documentary film to trace the 4,000-year history of this amazing breed and to present an evenhanded, in-depth examination of the controversial greyhound racing industry. The film will include the commentary of racing-greyhound breeders and trainers, track owners, animal scientists, humane groups, veterinarians, racing officials, greyhound adoption groups, state racing commissioners, professional gamblers, and others.Visit the film's website
In the heart of Houston, the health department is forging an alliance with vulnerable communities to try to counter both the health and economic insecurities of living in a “food desert,” where fast food is plentiful, but vegetables and fruit are hard to find. Neighborhoods are learning how to grow the produce themselves and the health department is sponsoring the gardens.
Growing Season tells the story of a community garden in one of these neighborhoods: Hiram Clarke. The film follows a single garden and the people who tend it from the moment the ground is broken, until the harvests come in from the first growing season. Will a group of Houstonians, unfamiliar with agriculture, be willing and able to grow and cook their own produce? Growing Season will explore how this new garden shapes the community and the lives of the people who work the soil.
Harry and Snowman
In 1957, Harry de Leyer was looking to buy cheap lessons horses for his local riding school, but arrived late at the local horse auction. The only horses left were already loaded onto a trailer bound for the meat and glue factory. A dirty white plow horse with a quiet disposition caught his attention, so Harry paid $80 or him and named him Snowman.
Harry didn't just rescue an ugly white horse that day. He unknowingly launched his own international riding and training career. Only two years after his rescue and with Harry in the saddle, Snowman won the 1958 horse show jumping Triple Crown — the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year, Professional Horseman's Association Champion and Champion of Madison Square Garden's Diamond Jubilee. Harry, a poor Dutch emigrant and Snowman only hours away from death proved together that sometimes the impossible does become possible.
Today at 85 years old, “The Galloping Grandfather” as Harry is known around the world is one of the most successful show jumping riders and trainers in America. Harry represented the United States at the World Championships in Gothenborg, Sweden in 1983 and was recognized by the United States Equestrian Foundation for his lifetime contribution to the sport.
There have been many triumphs and tragedies along the way for Harry, but one thing has remained a constant; his love for each of the horses that have carried him along the way. In this inspiring documentary, Harry's remarkable story will combine current day verité footage of Harry at 85 years old living and working on the show jumping circuit with significant archival footage of his many famous horses from the 1950s to the 1980s.
The House He Built
93-yrs old Sergio Borelli lives in Rome in The House He Built, a 5-story repository of the thousands of books, images and unique objects he collected over six decades as a journalist on assignments across the globe; as a TV-format visionaries and founder of INPUT — the International Public TV Conference.
The film narrates Sergio's life as he recalls it talking with his daughter and his grand niece and moving between the different rooms of his house. As Sergio did in the past traveling from country to country, he now time-travels in his home, "transported" by the objects he collected.
The House He Built is more than a personal narrative. By portraying the strong relationship between Sergio, the space he lives in, and the objects he kept, it speaks to all of us of our over clattered existence. Furthermore in the conversations between the three different generation - all professionals in the field of information - The House He Built is a multi-layered reflection on memory and aging, on how our ways of getting to know and understanding the world has changed — or has it? — in the last 70 years.
In 1926, painter Caroline Mytinger and her friend Margaret Warner set out from San Francisco on a four-year adventure in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. With little more than $400, a few art supplies, and a trunk of clothing, they made their way through what was then known as the land of headhunters, with the goal of painting Melanesia's inhabitants. Nearly 80 years later, her paintings now inspire two contemporary artists: American photographer Michele Westmorland who leads an expedition retracing Caroline's and Margaret's journey and Papua New Guinean portrait painter Jeffry Feeger, who reinterprets contemporary counterparts of Caroline's paintings in a modern style. Headhunt Revisited is a documentary film for public television broadcast that explores the power of art to traverse cultures and to connect artists across space and time.
Hossein Omoumi: Classical Persian Music from Isfahan to Irvine
You have heard it in American movies, world music festivals, celebrations of Rumi's poetry, and at universities across the country. Classical Persian music has a long history of exchange with musical traditions of the Silk Road, and today it is defining its place in the United States. Hossein Omoumi, master of the Persian reed flute called the ney, is an epicenter of this movement. An internationally recognized musician, Omoumi has introduced innovative technology to Persian instruments with centuries of history. He is also a down-to-earth teacher, welcoming students to the labyrinth of Persian music with humor and patience. Omoumi is an endowed professor at University of California in Irvine, and he teaches students nationwide and worldwide via new technologies like Skype.
Hossein Omoumi has made it his life's mission to provide global access to classical Persian music. This documentary film will introduce the history and beauty of classical Persian music through his innovations in education and musical technology. The film engages a diverse audience, following this compelling musician while also providing insight into Persian music itself.
Hollow: An Interactive Documentary
Hollow: An Interactive Documentary represents a universal struggle shared by rural communities across the United States by focusing on one of the hardest hit areas: Southern West Virginia. Intimate documentary portraits reveal the faces behind the statistics of McDowell County an area plagued with deep-rooted stereotypes, high unemployment, loss of population, youth exodus and poverty as they continue to live, work and enjoy life in a community where the buildings and institutions fall into disrepair around them.
Hollow features 50 documentary portraits mapped on an interactive HTML-5 website that engages viewers through the use of data, personal stories, maps, contemporary footage, user-generated content and archival imagery specifically designed to help address the issue of "rural brain drain" and build a new identity for West Virginians. Members of the community will take part in the filmmaking process by creating 20 of the 50 short documentaries in efforts to build engagement and social trust and empower the community to work together for a better future.
Check out the Hollow Kickstarter campaignVisit the website
Maine and Somalia lie at opposite ends of the world, yet are connected by tenuous threads of memory that span the distance between. Home Country is a feature length documentary about personal geography as one young man treads the balance between place and identity in the 21st century.
In Crystal Skin
In Crystal Skin provides a glimpse into the lives of four individuals living with the same rare disease in Bogotá, Colombia. Largely avoiding the broader context of disease science, the film instead delves into quiet, intimate moments between characters and the families that help care for them. Maria Alejandra, a charismatic 11-year old, struggles to attend school despite her mother's determined prodding. When Maria refuses to wake up for school one morning, the ensuing drama shows the difficult conflicts that arise between parents and children with rare diseases.
The film moves across the city to three other characters: Miguel, a middle-aged man who, despite the fragility of his skin, has made a living as a foot messenger in the bustling and oftentimes dangerous capital city, and Nury and Nixa, two sisters in their early twenties who attempt to pursue dreams of independence while living in an orphanage. By immersing audiences into daily routines, the film reveals the tremendous fortitude in the spirit of those who live with a rare disease.
Into the Light
Into the Light is a feature documentary about a Brendan O'Toole, a Marine returning from Afghanistan with psychological injuries, who meets a therapist, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, who is confronting her own family struggles with mental illness. Barbara works with veterans like Brendan to help them reintegrate into society. In the course of her work, national in scope and recognized by the White House and the Pentagon, Barbara comes to confront her own family story about her mother's schizophrenia. Brendan and Barbara's stories weave together as we understand the larger context that 1 in 4 adult Americans suffer from a diagnosable form of mental illness.
In addition to a PBS broadcast in late 2017, the film will be used by a working group of mental health professionals to jumpstart a national conversation about mental health under the tag line "Hear a story, tells story, change a story." We believe that mental illness today is where cancer was in the 1960s, and AIDS was in the 1990s. People don't want to talk about it, and the country needs nothing short of a culture shift which speaks of hope and aspiration for this critical issue.
The Language of Dreams/A Linguagem Dos Sonos
The Language of Dreams/A Linguagem Dos Sonos is a fairytale educational documentary which will share stories of 15 residents of Fall River, Massachusetts who brought their dreams to fruition. Once the second largest cotton print producer in the world, residents of this former milltown now face skyrocketing unemployment, crime, and opiate use.
We hope this film will provide role models for youth, celebrate the rich cultural history of a city with the largest Portuguese population in the US and contribute to a new perspective on former US industrial cities.
Great stories to be shared include: David Reitzas, 5-time Grammy award winning music engineer/mixer; Joe Raposo, Portuguese American songwriter for Sesame Street; Emeril Lagasse, celebrity chef; Michaela Gagne, Miss Massachusetts in 2006, underwent child cardiac surgery, and is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association; Ms. Evelyn Moniz, 93-years-old, won numerous awards for her organizing work including a Congressional Award and the Silver Needle Award; Dr. Viera first Portuguese woman to receive an American medical degree and first woman medical examiner in Massachusetts and many more.
The Last Hunger Season
The Last Hunger Season is the story of four farm families in Western Kenya who are struggling to improve their livelihoods through agricultural development. Like millions of other smallholder farmers who wrestle with poor soils, tired seeds and fickle rains, Leonida, Francis, Ziborrah, and Rasoa live with a chronic, gnawing emptiness in their bellies. It is at its worst during the hunger season: the months when their previous harvest supplies run out and the new crop is yet to come in. In this part of Kenya 10 percent of children die before their first birthdays, mostly from hunger and malnutrition.
These four farmers have decided to try a likely — but far from guaranteed — solution. An organization called One Acre Fund (www.oneacrefund.org) offers to help them defeat their persistent hunger with improved seeds, fertilizer, training, and market access. It is a leap of faith, putting their trust in new technologies unavailable in the region until recently. As we grieve for their losses and cheer for their successes hope builds for the many like them who, by feeding their families, bring the promise of freedom from future famines to Africa — and the rest of the world.
Directed by Jeff Silva and Vic Rawlings
Lee and Opal Sexton are subsistence farmers living at the head of a hollow, at the end of Dead End Road in Eastern Kentucky. Opal carefully preserves all that their garden produces. Lee, a retired coal miner and legendary banjo player, continues to perform at square dances and teach his distinctive style of playing to a new generation. They hail from a vanishing traditional culture. Lee is a vibrant, living link to the deep past of American music. The raw power of his banjo was featured on the landmark 1960 release Mountain Music of Kentucky (Smithsonian/Folkways); of that group of musicians he is the only one left.
The film follows the couple's daily rhythms over the course of a year: their times together, their struggles, and the looming reality of ever-advancing age and frailty. 215 Dead End Road aims to bring Mr. Sexton to his proper place in the discourse of Appalachian music and, in so doing, to offer an honest portrait of the contemporary life and culture of the region, to highlight its significance to American musical heritage.
Looking for a Ride
Looking for a Ride examines life on a rodeo circuit by trailing bullriders, bullfighters, and the bulls themselves through the ancient seasonal rhythms of working livestock. In between shots of rituals enacted for the rodeo and for the camera, the film also investigates the human-animal relations that are developed in competing, training, and traveling between rodeos, simultaneously a performance of the last best place and a microcosm of present American economic realities.
From its heyday in the mid-19th century, clothing manufacturing defined the work and life of many people throughout the United States. Since 1994, we've lost more than 65% of the industry, affecting communities across the country. This film tells the story of people who are dedicated to bringing it back and to changing our relationship with what we wear.
Over two years since the earthquake in Haiti, almost 500,000 people continue to live in 800 tent camps throughout the capital of Port-au-Prince. Mozayik is one of these camps, housing over 150 people. But the people of Mozayik will soon be moved, because Mozayik is about to be evicted.
Mozayik follows the story of Augustin Mona in his battle to galvanize the camp against their eviction and coordinate their displacement. Organizing protests in coordination with local human rights groups, Mona finds himself stuck in between the will of the Haitian government and the inability of international organizations to act.
A musician and painter living in the camp, he has become the impromptu leader of Mozayik. With a strong social conscience and head of dreadlocks stretching down to his legs, Mona demands that the Haitian government and international community respect the rights of Haiti's internally displaced people.
The New Normal
The tsunami destroyed their homes and futures, but life goes on in Japan's nuclear exclusion zone. Featuring a teenage rocker, a horse breeder, an activist, a nuclear engineer, and a zen priest The New Normal is a unique portrait of a small town's search for normalcy, just 15 miles away from the damaged Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Filmed over three years, as the full impact of the nuclear disaster takes hold of these five characters in surprising and disturbing ways, The New Normal takes viewers into the physical and psychological space of post-Fukushima Japan and creates a cinematic meditation on the future of humankind.
Oil in the Family
Oil in the Family is a feature-length documentary film that is both poetry and policy. It explores our marriage to oil through a uniquely personal journey. New England filmmaker Jon Goldman traces his roots (and good fortune) back to his family's Louisiana oil field. There, he discovers that his grandmother played a vital role in the creation of one of the most celebrated - and derided - documentaries ever made, Robert J. Flaherty's Louisiana Story.
Opus 139: To Hear the Music
Opus 139: To Hear the Music will tell the story of Charles Brenton Fisk, a brilliant Massachusetts nuclear physicist who turned away from the militaristic developments in his field during World War II in order to pursue his passion for music.
Leaving his early involvement in the Manhattan Project and a graduate program at Stanford University, Fisk returned to coastal Gloucester, Massachusetts to pursue organ building. Over the next 50 years, the C.B.Fisk Pipe Organ Company has become a premier American builder of mechanical action pipe organs, combining exacting physics and mechanical engineering with acoustic artistry to produce the largest of musical instruments.
Now, Charles Fisk's legacy of collegial problem solving is continued by dedicated artists and craftspeople, who will undertake the design and construction of a very special instrument: Opus 139 in Harvard University's Memorial Church. To suit the changing needs of the University's worship space, the new organ will require renovation to the Church's second floor gallery and a design that will allow it to sing with the congregation and grace a landmark of Boston history and architecture.
Trained by Charles Fisk and passionately dedicated to his principles and working method, the modern day guild of artisans at C.B.Fisk, Inc. will strive to help future generations of visitors to Harvard hear the music that entranced their founder.
Our Mockingbird, a one-hour documentary, depicts how Harper Lee's classic coming of age story, To Kill A Mockingbird, still resonates in our national discourse about race, class, and justice. Our Mockingbird is also about the power of arts in education to transform lives as illustrated by a high school production of the adapted play, To Kill A Mockingbird, in Birmingham, Alabama. Two Birmingham high schools, one all-black and one all-white, collaborate on a life-changing production of the play and come to grips with the tumultuous civil rights history in their hometown. Along with the story of the high school production, scholars, writers, students, teachers, lawyers, judges, and actors all weigh in on the influence of To Kill A Mockingbird.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Paradigm Shift Project - Documentaries that Inform & Inspire Change
Founded by Rebecca Sweetman in 2008, The Paradigm Shift Project (PSP) is a registered Canadian charity that creates documentaries to change worldviews. With a mission to advance education on important issues relating to poverty, ecology, health and human rights, PSP connects people around the world to grassroots projects in developing countries tackling the world's toughest problems, also providing local organizations with tools to reach out for support. PSP is a facilitator, building important relationships to bridge the divisions in our world. PSP is also an educator, informing us on the issues, and more importantly, how we can be part of the solutions.
To date, PSP has produced six documentary films on a variety of environmental and human rights issues that have been viewed roughly 30 000 times in over 100 countries. With funding from private donors, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, DoJiggy Foundation, and Change for the Children Foundation, PSP has conducted in-class outreach with youth in Canada, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, reaching over 2000 students in the past year alone. Additionally, PSP's films have been used by educators in Canadian and American institutions, including the University of Toronto, York University, New York University, and the Cornell Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development. PSP's first set of Educators' Toolkits is now available online on their website. These guides, available free of charge to educators and non-profits, provide detailed curricula to accompany their films for use in classroom contexts.
PSP is currently working on three new documentary projects, on three timely and important issues: sexual slavery in India, Thailand, and Cambodia, waste management solutions in Bali, Indonesia, and slum settlements in Asia and South America.
For more details about PSP, their projects, and how you can help, visit their website.
The Paduka of the Guru
The aim of this film is to chronicle the enigmatic and controversial life and legacy of the late religious philosopher Dr. Bibhuti Singh Yadav, from his birth into a low-caste cow-herding clan in a remote rural village of North India to his career as an international scholar and Professor of Indian Religions at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.
The film integrates into Yadav's biography an ancient and enduring ritual performed exclusively by members of the Yadav family and rooted in a myth that narrates the Yadav's identity as a low caste clan who rejected Indra, the high caste god of storm, rain and thunder, to devote their worship to Krishna, himself a member of the low caste Yadav clan. This myth is well known to all India but this particular ritual - Karaha - is not and has never been previously documented. The Yadav ritual specialists defy laws of physics by bathing in clay cauldrons of boiling hot milk and immersing their nearly naked limbs and torso in the raging flames of the holy sacrificial fire. The ritual is a sensational, dramatic, mimetic re-enactment of the identity defining moment in the mythical history of the Yadav family.
Peace Through Education
Peace Through Education is a feature length documentary film that examines the role of education in minimizing conflict and creating critical opportunities for children in Afghanistan.
We will examine this theory through the story of Mohammad Khan Kahroti and his determination to create and build a school for Afghani children in his home village of Shin Kalay. The school existed successfully for eight years, starting with only 16 students and growing to 1200.
Sadly, tragedy struck mid October 2008; an unidentified group of people took it upon themselves to loot the institution, bulldoze it, and destroy everything, leaving it in a heap of rubble on the ground. Their reason: they didn't agree with a secular education for the children of his village.
Through the words of former students and Mohammad himself we will be able to see the impact that Green Village School had on the students and the village of Shin Kalay and the devastating aftermath of its loss. We will follow Mohammad on his emotional journey to rebuild his school; from the fundraising efforts in the US to the brick by brick reconstruction of the Green Village School.
Will Mohammad be able to rebuild his school? Will his village survive this tragedy? These questions will be answered through the journey that lies ahead in Peace Through Education.
Pell Grants: A Passion for Education
We are at a crossroads in education.
With the number of financially challenged students struggling to pay for higher education, and Congress threatening to slash the 40-year old Federal Pell Grant program, the time is ripe to investigate the history, the power, and the vitality of these Higher Education grants and their impact on our American values and culture.
Pell Grants: A Passion for Education will dive into the compelling, often suspenseful behind-the-scenes battles privately waged behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. during the 1970's with Senator Claiborne Pell (R.I.) leading the charge while showcasing those leaders who have been positively impacted by the Pell Grant, those who fiercely oppose the program and the current fight for the survival of the Pell Grants by a wave of students actively promoting their views through social networking and media. The war for the future of American education has begun. Who will win?
The Philadelphia Eleven
Time Travel Productions is developing a long-form documentary film about the "irregularly" ordained Episcopal women priests, and the movement they led. Eleven women presented themselves for ordination as priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29th 1974 at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the time, the ordinations themselves were big news. More than 2,000 people showed up for the service, along with all of the major television networks and print media outlets. The women entered through the back door, rather than walking the traditional route through the pews, as a security precaution. "I remember it being a horribly hot and humid day, but people tell me it was just that we were hot," remembers one of the women. During the mostly peaceful service, one man stood up to oppose the "smell, sight and sound of perversion." The hotly contentious issue remained in international headlines for weeks.
The celebratory service was just the beginning of a drawn out struggle for women's rights within the church. It took four years, civil and ecclesiastical lawsuits, and more irregular ordinations. By 1978 the votes shifted in favor of women's ordination, and the Episcopal Church officially changed its policy. This is a story about a group of women who took it upon themselves to stand up for their own freedom, and succeeded in convincing a century old institution to change its policy.
This project will put the story of the Philadelphia Eleven in the context of the other 20th century struggles for equality, and in a long-historic tradition of religious women preaching. It strives to engage public discourse around the role of religious institutions and human rights in civic society.
Pirates in Parliamant
Pirates in Parliament chronicles the rise to political power of a group of upstart German computer hackers through the eyes of Stephan Urbach, one of their leading members. As the film traces Stephan's personal journey from marginalization to power player, it reveals how a visionary outsider can revolutionize democracy with twenty-first century technology.
Power Struggle chronicles a heated political battle being waged in Vermont, where citizen activists and the state government are pitted against one of America's biggest utility corporations, in a fight over the future of an aging nuclear reactor. At stake here is a fundamental question about the essence of democracy: Who should have control over vital issues that impact people's lives so directly: corporations, the federal government, states, or the people?
Power Struggle is a feature-length documentary independently produced by director Robbie Leppzer and Turning Tide Productions, in association with HBO and NHK (Japan's largest broadcaster). Leppzer's previous documentaries and commissioned television news magazine segments have been nationally broadcast on HBO/Cinemax, Sundance Channel, PBS, CNN International, CNN, HDNet, Link TV and Free Speech TV.
In production since January 2010, we have chronicled this unfolding story through the perspectives of people on all sides of the issue. With over 600 hours of high-definition footage already filmed, we are in the post-production editing phase. We are currently seeking finishing funds in order to complete the film by Summer 2015.
The Price of Survival: A Film about Pauli Murray
The Price of Survival is a feature film in development about Pauli Murray, a leading twentieth century intellectual. Murray advocated the only way to root out inequality was to address race and gender discrimination simultaneously. As a lawyer she is the architect of modern feminist legal theory. As a civil rights leader, she is credited with helping to develop direct non-violent action in the 1930s as a strategy for civil rights that would pave the way for the movement of the 50s and 60s. As a writer and theologian, she has left us with groundbreaking material on American democracy and identity.
Murray's contemporaries describe her as a petite woman, who was brilliant, stubborn, and a fearless debater. Privately, she feared that her cross-dressing and choice of women as romantic partners ruined her professional career, and lived with a constant doubt that she could wind up in a mental institution, like her father did. The film weaves Murray's diaries, private notes, poetry, and autobiography into a narrative that takes viewers on a journey through the shifting social boundaries and cultural landscape of twentieth-century America, from the perspective of one of our most important intellectual leaders.
Above image created as part of the Face Up Public Art Initiative, courtesy of the Pauli Murray Project.
The Prison Within
The Prison Within is an upcoming multimedia documentary series that examines the U.S. Justice System through the eyes and voices of those most impacted - prisoners with life sentences, survivors of violent crime, and the communities left behind.
The Prison Within uses intimate documentary footage with informative data to stimulate a dialogue about the effects of mass incarceration. The documentary footage explores the lives of selected prisoners inside San Quentin State Prison in California and the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington State, survivors of violent crimes seeking reconciliation, and the impacts on the families and communities of each.
The Prison Within aims to shatter the illusion of the prison walls, designed not only to keep people in, but to keep society out under the belief that those imprisoned are fundamentally different and therefore justifiably contained, warehoused and forgotten.
The Prison Within aims to show that if our society is a collective externalization of our inner selves, then the prison system is a map to the darkest area of our heart, where we lock away that which is most difficult to confront - the poor, the addicted, the other, anybody or anything that slightly threatens our sense of self or safety.
As these stories unfold, viewers will gain an understanding of the social, racial, economic, and psychological factors shared by men and women inside and outside of America?s jails and prisons.
The Rabbi Goes West
The Rabbi Goes West, directed by Gerald Peary and produced by Amy Geller, tells the story of Chaim Bruk, a 34-year-old Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn who moves to Bozeman, Montana, to bring his Judaism to the American West. To celebrate his love for his adopted state, Rabbi Chaim makes a pledge to put a Mezuzah, an encased prayer offering, on the doorpost of every Montana Jew, all 1,300 of them. As he drives across the state, he meets resistance from other Montana rabbis, Reform and Conservative. They believe that his Mezuzah campaign is a ruse to move their congregants to his synagogue, and they charge that his type of Hasidism is an evangelical cult.
Rabbi Chaim's Orthodox synagogue is a "Chabad House," and the Chabad Hasidic movement has spread around the world to 90 countries and to 50 states in America. Is Rabbi Chaim an enlightened religious figure urging all Jews to embrace their religion in a more committed way? Or is his message a narrow one, that his Orthodox practice is the only true form of Judaism? The Rabbi Goes West shows all sides, and asks viewers to decide for themselves.
Meet Bob. Bob has a rare genetic disorder — he can die if he breaks his bones. His diagnosis is Hardcastle's Syndrome, and he comes from one of only five families in the world known to be affected by this disease. In 2004 Bob was given a life expectancy of five years and told any broken bone would result in cancer, and could be lethal.
Rare Bones, though providing an in-depth look at a family enduring this rare disease, focuses on a life fully lived. Undeterred by his bone risk, Bob engages in activities like hunting, ice fishing, and demolition derby. Bob also started his own tow truck company, called “Hop-to-It Towing” in honor of his amputated leg. Instead of opting for the doctor recommended desk job, Bob chooses to live out his days his way, and on his terms.
Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home
In the late 1930s, a determined group of German Jewish refugees left behind well-established lives and most of their possessions in Hitler's Germany to find safe haven in Chicago. Here, these newcomers set out to create a vibrant and supportive community for themselves and others fleeing Nazi persecution, eventually establishing the Selfhelp Home for elderly refugees. Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home tells the story of this singular place that for generations has brought over 1,000 Holocaust survivors and refugees together under one roof.
Through interviews with Selfhelp's residents and founders, some of the last eyewitnesses to this period in history, Refuge moves back and forth seamlessly between their stories — before, during and after World War II — to show how one small community came together, through prescience and pooled resources, to care for its oldest generation.
Release from Reason: The Life and Work of Arthur Polonsky
“In a world where reason is the goal, I think that art is the release from reason.” — Arthur Polonsky
Arthur Polonsky has been called "one of the most important Boston painters of the 20th century." He went from a tailor's son in Lynn, MA., to a traveling fellowship to Paris, international exhibits, and features in Time and LIFE Magazine. Yet Arthur's journey to renowned artist was a mystery to his son Gabriel. So when Arthur turned 85, Gabriel set out to discover a side of his father that he never knew.
Release from Reason uncovers the triumphs and sacrifices of a life devoted art for 75 years. Filled with Arthur's breathtaking art, revealing interviews, and cinema vérité footage, it digs deep into his fiercely creative mind, artistic process, and and major role in the Boston Expressionist movement.Gabriel talks with Arthur's colleagues, museum curators, and former students that he profoundly influenced. Katherine French, Head of the Danforth Museum calls Arthur, "one of the most practical fantastical people I know, an intellectual without being an academic, who creates his own reality."
The victorian house Gabriel grew up in was a ferment of chaos and creativity, their lives and art were inseparably intertwined. The film includes their respective journeys to become accomplished artists of different types. Dr. Howard Gardner, who wrote a chapter about the Polonskys in his 1978 book, "Artful Scribbles" returns for an interview to shed light on their unique world.
Release from Reason is the epic story of a man who has had international acclaim and success, and at 87, still lives in the now over-grown victorian house, creating new work for major solo exhibitions. The film is a fascinating exploration of art and life — and the mysterious forces that fuel creativity.
Relief Riders International
Relief Riders International is a humanitarian-based, adventure travel company that organizes horseback journeys through remote areas while providing humanitarian aid to local people.
Since 2004 Relief Riders International has helped over 18,700 people, including 12,000 children in Rajasthan, India and adds Cappadocia, Turkey to the Relief Ride itinerary in 2011.
Robert Gardner - Metaphorical Filmmaker
Robert Gardner's cinema spans the second half of the twentieth century, and into the twenty first. Beginning with his travels to film the San people of the Kalahari in southern Africa with John Marshall in the 1950s, Gardner sought out emblematic societies with his camera in some of the most remote places on the planet. The themes he confronts: violent conflict, relations between the sexes, ritual pain, envy, and the passing from life, are portrayed as universal philosophical issues. Although the people in Gardner's films live on the "other" side of the world, they make us ask questions about ourselves.
The genius of Gardner's work is that he has found the cultures around the world that ask the questions that we are too afraid to ask ourselves. Robert Gardner - Metaphorical Filmmaker will tie these threads together with conversations between Gardner and his friends, who are artists, poets, and filmmakers. The documentary will feature extracts from Gardner's work, which are pivotal moments in the original films. The conversations will elucidate these clips, and tie them together with larger conclusions about Gardner's own creativity, and what it has to teach us about our common humanity. The global community has changed a lot since Gardner made his films. As we become more connected technologically, but divided ideologically and spiritually, the need for a re-examination of Gardner's life work becomes more acute.
Born in Boston and raised in Haiti, Antonio's nightmares of the abuse he suffered as a child drove him to work with violent men as an adult. Obsessed about saving men society would rather see incarcerated, Antonio takes an empathic view, going beyond weekly group sessions and into their neighborhoods and homes, blurring the line between counselor and friend. What is revealed over the next eight years, are the ironic parallels between his life and the men whose ideas about women and violence, he is working to change.
In a small town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina wild horses roam the beaches, descendants of shipwrecked Spanish stallions. For over 500 years these horses have made this fragile peninsula their home, surviving off of marsh grasses. Now facing extinction from geographic isolation, a shrinking gene pool and rapid housing development, SEA HORSE examines their struggle for survival.
In the world of cultural anthropology, there are tales of Napoleon Chagnon: a strong, brash, commanding young anthropologist who was the leading authority on the Yanomamö indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest. He asked so many questions the Yanomamö nicknamed him SHAKI: "pesky bee."
SHAKI explores Chagnon's account of time amongst the Yanomamö, his kinship theory that evolved, and his struggle to support sociobiology. We will see how his support of this once-controversial branch of science would influence his standing in cultural anthropology, which echoes the clash between science and politics in the twentieth century.
Shine On chronicles seven girls & young women with various physical and intellectual disabilities and their families as they participate in the 5th annual Miss “You Can Do It” Pageant. The contestants are not judged by the fit of the gown or by how perfect they look, but on how brightly they're hearts and spirit shine through.
The real winners of this pageant may just be the family and friends cheering in the audience. In a world where people are always asking what's wrong with these girls and young women, SHINE ON is celebrating what's right with them.
A Simple Act
Every night at 8 a miracle happens.
A Simple Act is the story of Patty and Rick Parker and an act of kindness that becomes bigger than those involved. When Rick has to undergo emergency heart surgery seventeen-year-old Rudy Favard, captain of the Malden Catholic football team, steps in to save the family.
Skin Bleaching in Tanzania
The after effects of Arab trade, slavery and colonization in East Africa are explored in this riveting documentary on skin bleaching in Tanzania. The film exposes the untold practices of skin lightening and the motivations that lead women into the lifestyle by going behind closed doors to hear contemporary personal accounts from the users themselves. Discover the controversial institutions that laid the foundation for this mind and body altering practice and see firsthand the extent to which power and privilege have altered the face of Africa.
Sky Endeavors: The Story of a Black Balloon Pilot
The rubber met the road in the early 1970s for Bill Costen. After being drafted by the Buffalo Bills and later being sent to a Buffalo farm team in Hartford, CT, a life-threatening tragedy forced him to put the pads down. The result was a lark that led to the birth of the first African American commercial hot-air balloon pilot in the country.
Sky Endeavors is about more than a 6'5 ex-jock showing the world how to navigate through the clouds; who weathered the ordeal of his mom passing when he was only 10 years old; who flunked out the University of Nebraska his freshman year and moved across the country with something to prove; who warmed the bench in high school only to be drafted in the pros five years later; who survived numerous twists and turns in his life to avoid becoming another ignominious statistic. It is about flight in every sense of the word.
Told through the eyes of Bill's award-winning filmmaker daughter, Chantal Costen, Sky Endeavors is a multi-layered film that displays a story untold, that will prompt a call to your nearest hot air balloon pilot right after it makes you contemplate the meaning of a dream deferred. It is a piece of history that serves as another reminder of the rich tapestry of not only the African American stock, but also humanity.
Sky Endeavors crystallizes the art of struggle and redemption, while providing an unofficial blueprint for not becoming a victim of circumstance. It is the manifestation for father and daughter, of a dream simultaneously realized. Three decades, thousands of passengers and countless adventures later Bill is still flying, proving that with a bit of faith the sky is the limit.
The Speed of Orange
The Speed of Orange is the latest documentary by award-winning director, Justin Hunt (Absent, American Meth). It explores the horse racing entity known as GHL, a gritty, hard working family on the Colorado Horse Racing Circuit in the 1970s. No other name dominated horse racing in the southwest as much as the Hunts, in that era. The first horse racing film ever shot in 3D, The Speed of Orange offers a fascinating first person perspective into the everyday life of the sport of kings. It also documents the downfall of one of the greatest teams in quarter horse racing history, as well as their redemption, which is brought about only through the aching burn of personal loss when the matriarch slowly loses her battle with cancer. This truly is a story of an ordinary family living in an extraordinary world.
Sunlight Man: The Life & Times of John Gardner
Novelist John Gardner – bestselling author of Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, Nickel Mountain and other works – died in a motorcycle accident in 1982. Sunlight Man is the story of Gardner’s complex life and turbulent times, as seen from the point of view of his filmmaker son, Joel.
Through interviews, archival film, still photographs and present day location shots, Joel Gardner’s odyssey weaves together several parallel stories in Sunlight Man. Joel examines the myths surrounding his father’s early years, including the death of a younger brother in a farm accident. He traces his father’s swift rise to fame with the publication of Grendel, his subsequent fall from critical favor, and tells of his father’s personal struggles – in art and in life – which led to his death at 49.
Alongside his exploration of John Gardner’s life and work, Joel Gardner tells his own story in intimate terms. Joel compares and contrasts the choices he’s made against those of his father. By the end of the film, Sunlight Man, Joel Gardner is able to come to terms with his father, with himself, and with the tangled legacy John Gardner left in his wake.
Bob Schuler's opus is a gallery at the bottom of the sea, a collection of art sunk into the ooze and muck. It is an undersea necklace encircling the earth, composed of granite cubes and designed to last at least least 50 million years. Tethys (working title) is an experimental documentary essay about Schuler's quixotic "around the world ocean burial."
Tiapapata Art Centre
The Tiapapata Art Centre was established in 1989 with various art courses offered informally to children and adults. Since then the Art Centre has grown to be a dynamic and innovative contributor to the art scene in Samoa and, in June 2006, was registered as a Charitable Trust with the Government of Samoa. Printmaking, ceramics, fabric printing, wood and bone carving, and paper recycling are some of the more popular courses taught. Filmmaking is also a growing field for the Art Centre with particular emphasis on human rights education documentaries (three produced to date with work on a fourth about to start) and ethnographic recordings, mainly of oral traditions associated with archaeological sites in Samoa.
At the end of March 2007, the Tiapapata Art Centre burned to the ground in fire caused by a Raku firing attended by students and teachers from a local high school and university. Luckily no-one was injured but there is now an urgent need for financial support to rebuild the Art Centre.
La Tierra de los Adioses (The Land of Goodbyes)
La Tierra de los Adioses (The Land of Goodbyes) is a documentary about Zapotitlán Palmas, Oaxaca, Mexico, a small rural community where 50 percent of residents (80% of men) have migrated to the United States. The women, children and few men left behind continue their lives while watching their town being slowly abandoned. Engulfed in a culture of migration, where most are dependent on family members working abroad, they have the same universal aspirations of progress, a better life and a day where they stop saying good bye.
To Timbuktu with Vieux Farka Toure
Journey on a musical pilgrimage following the extraordinary life and work of Vieux Farka Toure. Born in Mali, West Africa, on the banks of the Niger River just outside of Timbuktu, in a country rich in cultural and ancestral wealth yet bound by economic poverty, Vieux is son to the late guitarist and multi Grammy Award winner Ali Farka Toure. Ali is legend in Mali and one of the most celebrated musicians out of Africa. Rooted in the traditional music from his father, and moved by popular sounds from around the world, Vieux has just made his musical debut and is now at the cutting edge of the world music scene.
We begin the journey in Bamako, the capital of Mali, where Vieux now lives (when he's not on tour), and we'll travel with him throughout the country by 4x4, camel and boat, into the Sahara desert just outside of Timbuktu, where Vieux will perform at the Festival in the Desert. After experiencing the music, variety of cities, people and landscapes in Mali, we'll move to the United States. Here we'll see Mali's connection to American history - a story that goes back the origin of the American blues in West Africa, and the later influence of American soul music in Mali.
Today the musical connections live on through Vieux. As he travels around the world, moving audiences and critics virtually everywhere he steps foot, his universal spirit is connecting him to popular musicians from all walks of life; from NY based DJ's that created his remix album, to American country folk musicians. Beyond a successful debut album, largely due to his ability to make music that is palatable to any ear, his increasing musical collaborations and inspiration throughout the world suggest that his music is bound for an even larger audience and world sound.
With the most frequent media images of Africa focusing on disease, poverty, violence, or an attention to culture that's so specific that we lose any sense of humanity, Vieux's story will show another side. To follow Vieux, we'll experience how music is lived, we'll see the complexities of Africa's fight for survival in the 21st century, and we'll learn how we as an international community are inextricably linked and celebrated through the music of Vieux Farka Toure.
If you are outside the U.S., please contact us to make a donation by check or money order. All checks should be made out to DER.
Tribes on the Edge
The Vale do Javari indigenous territory is home to 4000 indigenous from 5 tribes, but it also protects the largest number of uncontacted tribes living in complete isolation in the Brazilian Amazon. Collectively these tribes face threats of loss of ancestral land, oil exploitation, illegal fishing, hunting, and logging, drug trafficking, and gold mining while the contacted tribes have also been facing an underlying health crisis hindering their survival. Parallel to the human story, the Javari is considered by IUCN as one of the irreplaceable places of our planet due to its incredible biodiversity.
The issues faced here are not restricted to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon Basin, they are shared across cultures and continents: health crises, economic development at the expense of human life, land demarcation, human rights abuse, and environmental degradation. What we find here happens to indigenous peoples and remote communities worldwide. This isn't the middle of nowhere, but rather the middle of somewhere incredibly relevant to us all.
Created by Céline Cousteau through CauseCentric Productions (CCP), Tribes on the Edge is a campaign to support the indigenous people of the Vale do Javari and aid in the continued protection of this land for the benefit of all peoples. Our goals are to educate an international community about the indigenous people and this incredibly biodiverse ecosystem, bring support to entities on the ground working with and on relevant issues, and empower the tribes to govern their own fate. At the center of this movement is an intimate narrative documentary film that weaves the stories of Céline and Adauto, two people from very different worlds whose intersecting paths are symbolic of a global human story. A second shorter film will be guided primarily by the voices of the Javari with a more journalistic approach to revealing what the tribes want the world to know. An engagement campaign will include film festivals, conferences, and discussions to involve and motivate the audience to take action. Educational materials will be created for digital (printable) distribution, including a schedule of Skype the Classroom lectures by experts.
Using collaborative filmmaking methods and experimental techniques, UNDOCUMENTED PLEASURE explores the multiple realities of three undocumented, immigrant workers living in East Boston: their daily work, the lives they left behind, their social lives, and their fantasies.
A year spent in Israel is a rite of passage for most teenagers brought up in the American Modern Orthodox Jewish community: nearly all high school graduates, both religious and non-religious, embark on this journey of spiritual renewal. Filmmakers Anna Wexler and Nadja Oertelt followed three teenagers — Chaim, Jake, and Tzipi — as they spent a year studying in Israel. Unorthodox is a film that not only documents the unique year in Israel amongst the Orthodox Jewish population, but also represents a more universal narrative: that of anyone who has ever questioned her most deeply-rooted beliefs.
From the State Capitol and the back-alleys of Denver to above ground syringe exchanges throughout the world, U.S.E.D., a one-hour documentary, sheds light on the politicians, drug addicts, social justice activists, people of faith, police, scientists, and medical professionals raising tough questions about why public parks are littered with dirty syringes and drug users are dying from Hepatitis C and HIV. From one group so fed up with policy that they disobey the law to hand out clean syringes, to concerned citizens working to pass a pro-syringe exchange bill at the Colorado State Legislature, U.S.E.D. chronicles people challenging public health practice and political process. Examining multiple sides of the harm reduction debate, U.S.E.D. tells an internationally relevant story about a neglected population in crisis and a public deciding how to respond.
Wander, Wonder, Wilderness
Wander, Wonder, Wilderness is an Interactive Documentary project that explores the urban wilds and parks of Greater Boston. The multi platform approach inspires nature-based experiences an increasingly consumption-driven technological world. The essay film examines a range of ideas around landscape, evolving notions of wilderness, historical layers of human experience with nature and its resources, and personal meditations on the environment — illuminating the potential for restoring a symbiotic ecological balance.
Companion components will include a mobile app that will allow users to generate their own responses to these urban wilds, and an interactive website, that will showcase participant content.
Addiction to pornography may be one of the most damaging issues in today's culture, and one that few people truly understand. In an effort to help people around the world understand and begin to remedy porn addiction, director Justin Hunt takes an innovative approach in his fourth film .xxx. Hunt's goal is to make a film free of the 'triggers' that perpetually pull addicts back into the shame cycle of their addiction, and he partners with some of the most creative visual artists in the industry to do so.
The film features thought provoking content from some of the sharpest minds dealing with this global issue on a daily basis, while following the real life heartbreak of a couple torn apart by porn addiction. Shot in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Australia, France, Finland and Scotland, .xxx balances stories of damage caused by porn addiction with those of hope for a brighter, healthier life.
Young World Inventors
Young World Inventors is a mini-doc video series working to make invention contagious through the stories of innovators in Africa. These are personal, serial, character-driven stories about the triumphs and heartaches of young inventors who solve everyday problems of scarcity &emdash; in water, agriculture, income generation, energy, art and information. YWI began building relationships and documenting creative problem solvers in East Africa in 2011.
In 2014, the YWI team is ramping up to reveal deeper story detail in six new startups we began to shoot last winter. Inventors include Payan ole-MoiYoi, a half-Maasai engineer, educated in the U.S., who came home to combat lung disease with his original cookstove design. Another is Cyrus Kabiru, a self-taught artist who gives trash a second chance and whose family thinks art is no different from witchcraft. Bernard Kiwia, a bike repairman-turned-international inventor, who just trained 135 poor village women be inventors. They devised their own solutions to back breaking domestic work. Jodie Wu, an American social entrepreneur has improved the lot of hundreds of "rafiki" sales reps in villages, who sell affordable energy products to those who need them most and pay the least.
This fall YWI will produce again, with African crews, the alchemy of ambition, business sense and social commitment these inventors show day to day, and the cultural conflicts they face. We seek new female talent to follow and will expand our sustainable media and distribution partnerships.