Past Sponsored Projects
Below is a list of story projects previously sponsored by Documentary Educational Resources. For a current list of fiscally sponsored projects, please visit here.
Into The Great Solitude – This film journal of a 72 day solo canoe journey through the Canadian Artic explores solitude and a father-son relationship.
Talking To Angels – Parallel journeys and journals describe how the filmmaker and his wife confront her breast cancer.
Yankee In Kamchatka – As the first Westerner to travel to this part of Siberia in 75 years, the filmmaker brings to life a previously un-filmed world.
Accidental Addict is a one-hour television special intended to raise public awareness about the enormous yet silent epidemic of prescription drug addiction. This production will face head-on a vital and compelling issue affecting millions of individuals and their families worldwide – devastating addiction to prescription drugs.
The Alphabet Book
"The defense of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity." —UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
The Alphabet Book is a story of one man who has taken this imperative into his own hands, working to protect and preserve his own endangered culture while also helping his people transition into the modern world.
Along the notorious border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the non-Muslim Kalash people are struggling to maintain their pagan beliefs and ancient way of life in a part of the world dominated by fundamentalist Islam and known in the West only as the likely hiding place of Osama bin Laden. In an effort to protect his heritage, our main character Taj Khan has helped create an alphabet for the Kalash people's oral-only language. While Taj uses this new script to compile the legends of his elders in the first Kalash book, our film shows how defending cultural diversity is more than just a noble idea for the United Nations. In The Alphabet Book, Taj turns the idea into action.
In today's world, it's hard to imagine that a tribal society could still live in complete and total isolation. But deep in Ecuador's Amazon, a reclusive group of hunter-gatherers known as THE TAROMENANI continue to resist all contact with civilization, even as illegal loggers, oil companies and neighboring tribes push further into their ancestral homeland.
The Ambassador follows internationally-known indigenous leader MOI ENOMENGA as he struggles to protect the Taromenani from the forces of civilization rapidly closing in around them. Moi is the charismatic leader of a neighboring tribe called THE HUAORANI, who only a generation before were themselves feared as violent savages. The Ambassador tracks Moi over a period of five years as he navigates between the Amazon frontier and the civilized world with the survival of the Taromenani hanging in the balance. As he searches for a solution to the mounting crisis, Moi must overcome corruption, greed, and violence in one of the world's last truly wild places.
At Highest Risk
Note: At Highest Risk is now distributed by DER.
A documentary story about the Quechua people of Cusco. Sheltered between the Amazon jungle and the Andes Mountains, the Quechua people face the second highest maternal mortality rate in Latin American and devestating government-sponsored fertility sterilization programs. Centering on the loss of Quechua culture, specifically its sacred traditions regarding child birth, the documentary project will stretch for one year and focus on two families in the Cusco region, while also including the rituals and customs of the indigenous people in the Amazon and Andes. As the mothers visit with shamans and hold blessing ceremonies, the filmmakers will capture the families personal spiritual journeys and how they push past atrocious health care and oppressive government policies.
Aziza! is a new documentary profiling the history of belly dance in the Boston area as it has evolved and thrived in the social scene of the Lebanese, Armenian and Greek communities that have settled here since the early 1900s.
The first Middle Eastern restaurant in the United States - Club Zahra - opened in Boston in 1952. Because of the similarities in culture, cuisine and social life, the Lebanese, Armenian, and Greeks began mingling at each other's restaurants. From the 1950s through the 1980s you could see belly dancing and hear live ethnic music seven nights a week at a number of venues throughout the Greater Boston area - a phenomenon unique in the U.S.
In the same band you might see both the Middle Eastern oud and the Greek bouzouki, while the guests danced the Lebanese dabke, Armenian line dances, and the Greek zembekiko, a male bonding/drinking dance. They threw money like rain on the entertainment. The musicians and dancers carried off their tips in dish buckets.
Aziza! offers a unique perspective on how three ethnic groups intermingled socially, and how nightlife played a vivid role in the immigrant experiences of these communities.
Barbecue Is A Noun
A documentary film about barbecue culture in the Carolinas. The film investigates the unique notion of pork barbecue as it is prepared and served throughout North and South Carolina. Not to be confused with a typical backyard weenie roast, Carolina barbecue is a regional culinary and cultural phenomenon dating back to settlement of the southeastern United States. Carolina barbecue, traditionally understood to be either whole hogs or hog shoulders cooked slowly over wood coals and served with a sauce of varying parts vinegar, tomato and mustard, has been prepared in much the same way for the past three centuries.
Bassac follows a struggling theatre troupe through a performance in the Cambodian countryside. Lingering signs of war are etched into the performers and the villagers for whom they perform. The troupe's director, Len Chouen barely survived the Khmer Rouge's eradication of artists and intellectuals. After hiding in the jungle, he emerged to do the only thing he knows how to do: perform Bassac.
The film follows Len Chouen and his troupe as they perform and build themselves a permanent home. Bassac opera is unique in combining ancient mythology with indigenous Cambodian experience. These stories echo the memories of recent genocide and soothe the audience with the beauty of their history. The efforts of the performers to build their home brings an economic boost to a region carpeted with land mines. Members from every echelon of Cambodian culture, from His Royal Highness King Norodom to impoverished villagers watching the show, are included in expressing what this art form means to them, and to the healing of their nation.
The Battle for Durham Point and America's Energy Future
The Battle for Durham Point and America’s Energy Future is a documentary on the historic confrontation between one of the world’s richest men who sought to expand his empire by building the world’s largest oil refinery in Durham, New Hampshire and three housewives fighting to preserve their community. But this 1973/74 clash also represents a seminal event in our society’s modern energy debate, when we first realized that our country was no longer self-sufficient for oil and we had become dependent on foreign energy sources. Events during this era parallel many contemporary issues we face in our current energy debate and provides disturbing lessons for the development of our energy future.
Birds of Passage
Note: Birds of Passage is now distributed by DER.
Birds of Passage (Aves de Paso) explores the emotional connections people have with the places they are from through the stories of three young, emerging songwriters in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Ernesto Díaz, who moved to the capital from the Brazilian border, finds the most complete expression of his hybrid cultural identity through music, but he is struggling to finance his first album and conquer his fear of the stage itself. After living for five years in the United States, Montevidean Victoria Gutierrez is reintegrating herself into her native city, but finds that this process leaves her feeling foreign. Yisela Sosa, originally from a town on the border of Argentina, has received a grant to make her first record; but when she falls in love with an Argentine man, she begins to consider emigrating to live with him and seek better economic opportunities.
This one-hour documentary combines original music with observational footage and interviews shot over the course of 16 months in Uruguay to show how the protagonists' experiences of migration affect both the creative process and the musical product. The three interwoven stories transcend place and time to resonate with the struggles common to many artists, while reflecting the particular challenges of dedicating oneself to music in a small country in the Global South in the 21st century.
Bodies at War: A Colombian Landmine Story
Bodies at War offers a window into Colombian people's lives as they strive to rehabilitate after landmine injury. Although unknown to most people who reside elsewhere, Colombia, a country at civil war for over fifty years, has one of the highest rates of landmine injuries in the world.
Bots High is a documentary following multiple high school robotics teams as they design, build, and compete combat robots in the annual BattleBots competition. In a field dominated by boys, all-girls teams hold their ground as the future generation of scientists and engineers battle it out!
Buddy, An American Story
A feature documentary about the rise and fall of Buddy Cianci, one of America's most notorious mayors, directed and produced by Rhode Island filmmaker Cherry Arnold. Set in Rhode Island, a state well known for its mob influence and corrupt political machine, the film will chronicle Buddy's 22-year career as mayor, a rich and fascinating era in Rhode Island history, and follow his 2002 federal trial and conviction. With Ms. Arnold's exclusive access to Buddy Cianci for over a year – before, during and after his trial – the film will offer a unique, dramatic, and at times comical window into Buddy's public and private world, capturing privileged and poignant moments with him while he struggled to save his political career and preserve his legacy. In addition, the film has exclusive access to Buddy's own archives and material from over 50 interviews with local politicians, journalists, Providence residents, historians, and former Buddy staffers. Funding to date includes generous support from The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island PBS and many private individuals.
Calabria to California
Calabria to California introduces small-scale food producers who continue their highly skilled livelihoods, despite financial, logistical, environmental, and cultural challenges.
Calabria, Italy and California, USA share similar climates, crops, and a passionate food culture. However, the regions are distinguished by different types of agricultural and food cycle knowledge and practices. What is "tradition" and what is "new" - why are each interested in the other? When stories from each region are shared side by side, what will gardeners, farmers, food artisans and consumers learn from each other? How does small-scale food production create a better quality of existence for people and our environment when compared to large-scale corporate productions? How can we encourage these livelihoods?
Vincenzo Candido and Jennifer Kendzior work closely with people from the small village of Castelsilano, Calabria and educators and food producers in California. Vincenzo is from Castelsilano, Calabria, and he and his family are small-scale olive oil producers. Jennifer grew up in East Africa, UK, and North America due to family involvement with international food production and trade.
Camden International Film Festival
The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) is committed to supporting and generating interest in independent documentary films. Considered the "premiere US fall festival stop for docs," the annual festival presents a snapshot of the cultural landscape through the year¹s best non-fiction storytelling, connecting filmmakers with eager audiences and industry representatives to discuss documentary film as an art form, a catalyst for change and as an outlet for the independent voice.
The 7th Annual Camden International Film Festival will take place Fall 2011, screening the best international documentary film to audiences in venues throughout Midcoast Maine.
Contributions to the Camden International Film Festival are now being accepted online. Gifts of any size are tax-deductible, and are greatly appreciated. Donations will go towards creating more year round programming and bringing the finest nonficiton films and filmmakers to Midcoast, Maine this Fall for the annual Camden International Film Festival.
A Century of Birth
A Century of Birth takes viewers into the fascinating and little-known history of childbirth in the United States from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present. Childbirth practices have been altered more in the last 100 years than in all preceding centuries. As a result, what viewers accept today as normal bears little resemblance to the natural biological process that has evolved over millions of years.
The Tigers are all-smiles until they begin their journey to the national cheerleading championships and the young girls realize that more is at stake than their spankies. This 24-minute documentary explores the quest to be a champion, the experience of being female, and the ins and outs of an All-American pastime. The film also traces the history of the sport, with viewpoints from former cheerleaders, parents, a sociologist and a little boy who thinks cheerleaders are “hot.”
Courage and Conviction
A documentary about an acclaimed pioneer in the feminist movement, Dr. Mary Daly, former Boston College professor, as she fights increasingly conservative forces by defending the core principles of feminism and intellectual freedom. Produced by Boston based Kirsten Martin, award winning filmmaker and feminist activist . Grants have been received from the Open Meadows Foundation and many private funders.
The Crocodile River
Is one of four films by Rob Perkins that will form the mini-series One Man's Journey slated to air on PBS in the Spring of 2004. The other films in the series include:
Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge is a richly photographed, character-driven documentary film that follows the stories of several people in Kosovo during this most crucial time for them and for the region: the aftermath of Kosovo's independence and formation as a new state.
Best known for its appearance on the world stage when NATO troops stepped in to halt the mass slaughter of Albanian Kosovars by Slobodan Milosevic's Serb nationalists in 1999, Kosovo has a long way to go to rebuild. It is the poorest country in the poorest part of Europe, and with Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians living in an uneasy co-existence after a brutal history together, it still has a heavy UN presence.
The film will reveal the personal struggles, the political tension, and the hidden magic of people trying to overcome seemingly unbridgeable differences in this era of inter-ethnic turmoil - drawing a vivid portrait of life in this ethnically split country and looking beyond the political headlines to see what it really takes to build a democracy from scratch.
The Defiant One
A documentary about the legendary producer and director Stanley Kramer. Kat Kramer, Stanley Kramer’s daughter and Roberta Pacino, Al Pacino’s sister will direct the film. The producers are Mark Richman, Roberta Pacino’s husband, and Karen Sharpe Kramer, who was married to Stanley Kramer for 35 years until his death in 2001. The documentary will revolve around Stanley Kramer and how he overcame the stigma of growing up in Hell’s Kitchen to become our nation’s first independent filmmaker. Maintaining a true revolutionary spirit, Stanley Kramer defied powerful conservative forces to make important films, which tackled difficult social issues including racism, nuclear holocaust, interracial marriage, war crimes and science vs. religion. The documentary will delve into the influence Kramer has had on filmmakers not only of his time, but on today’s young filmmakers as well. Steven Spielberg once said of the remarkable producer-director, “Stanley Kramer is one of our great filmmakers, not just for the art and passion he put on screen, but for the impact he has made on the conscience of the world.”
Dinosaurs in Eden
What would the world look like if Darwin was sent packing, and the Bible brought back as a history book? It might look something like the 100,000-square-foot Creation Museum, where life-like dinosaurs graze while children play nearby, and Adam and Eve are extremely attractive individuals swimming in a stream. It might look like a 7-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon where evidence of Noah's flood is taught as you float through some of the world's most breath-taking scenery. It might look like the inside of any number of mega-churches, where music, dance and art workshops teach children that God created the world and humans in 7 literal days. And it might sound like an impassioned sermon condemning mainstream culture - where Darwin's theory of evolution is alive and well.
Dinosaurs in Eden is a one-hour documentary film about a national community of creationists and their quest to shape the world around them in religious, social, and political terms. By examining both the message and its method of delivery, this film presents an in-depth look into a widespread, modern-day religious movement.
Discovering our Organic Planet - USA
Most people know a product labeled Organic is good for them and the environment. Many, though, don't know why.
The central theme of Discovering our Organic Planet - USA is to promote an exchange of local and international ideas and experiences, to help build a global community consciousness of the nutritional benefits of organic and naturally grown food, and the positive environmental impact of ecological farming practices.
Each segment of this 13 x 30 minute documentary series will focus on a specific group of small organic farms and ranches and their products in different regions of the USA. Viewers will gain insight through the experiences of a variety of volunteers as they work with and learn from the farmers and ranchers about organic processes and products. Volunteers will share their stories and learning experiences, as they pull carrots in Minnesota, pick grapes in California, feed chickens in Washington, till soil in Iowa, cure cheese in Wisconsin, herd cattle in Texas and sort potatoes in Idaho. All these aspects (mini stories) will be intertwined creating a unique introduction and better understanding to organic and naturally grown products, regional and local organic farming techniques, and the many wonderful people involved.
Every day Philadelphia Dogs set out to sniff, play, dominate and fight with one another, dragging their human companions at the ends of long leashes. DOG takes us to the Orianna Hill Dog Run in Northern Liberties where neighbors navigate the isolation of the city by forming social networks on a perceived border between the poverty of the past and the encroaching affluence of the future. Though the human and non-human characters in DOG are quirky and unique, they represent Americans searching for networks of their own. Based on over a year of anthropological research, DOG is a story of community, connection and urban gentrification, as people gently reach out to one another through the performance and love of their furry companions.
Down the Fort
Down The Fort is a multimedia public history documentary and archive project for "the Fort," a traditional Sicilian fishing enclave adjacent to the historic Gloucester harbor. It is a collection of oral histories, visual artifacts and local expressive culture gathered from individuals, businesses and families tied to the Fort. It offers a permanent record and preserves valuable memories for families and a city whose roots emanate from this historic neighborhood. It also creates a channel of expression for members of the community looking to celebrate and honor the generations of families who have lived, worked, loved and died "down the Fort.'
Driving the Magic in Augusta
It is a relationship built on loyalty, teamwork and trust for over 30 years at one of the most admired and exclusive sports events, The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Ben Crenshaw, the player and Carl Jackson, the caddy are two men from different worlds, who forged one of the most enduring relationships on or off the golf course. This story will show how they overcame adversity; competition and illness to become among the most respected men in their fields today.
The Emerging Lens
Note: The completed film entitled Shooting for Democracy is now distributed by DER.
Inspired by the coincidence of Bhutan's first democratic elections with a US presidential election year, The Emerging Lens Initiative (TELI) provides adolescents in Bhutan and the United States with the opportunity to explore democracy and each others culture through self-produced videos. In both countries, video production workshops partner with classroom teachers to empower adolescents with the ability to produce short videos, which they will then use as the medium of exchange in this cross-cultural learning initiative. In addition to the self produced student videos the process of educational exchange is being recorded within the greater socio political context in each country and is the basis of a feature length documentary film with the shooting title The Emerging Lens.
The Farthest North
The story of little known explorer Adolhus Greely and the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-1884, targeted for television broadcast with broad implications for educational use. Greely founded The Explorers Club and The National Geographic Society. Dr. Geoffrey Clark is the New Hampshire based producer on this project which is in the research/pre production phase.
A one hour broadcast quality program and web site for general audiences, teachers and students. The project covers the Civil War Years 1861 to 1865 in the Nation's capital. The story tracks the transformation of Washington D.C. From a sleepy southern town to a vital, powerful center of the Nation, an unintended consequence of the Civil War.
From The Inside Out
Feature-length documentary depicting artist Rich Harlow's journeys into the Amazon over the course of 17 years that ultimately transforms himself and his artistic work. Harlow's paintings mix impressions of mysticism, realism, and abstraction. They illustrate the myths of the Amazonian people, showing not only how the rainforest looks, but also how it feels. The documentary tracks Harlow's construction of a painting and also his journey into the Colombian jungle where he has helped develop a sustainable and profitable paper-making project for native Colombians. Furthermore, the documentary will account for Harlow's inspiration through the observation of common and sacred tribal life among native Colombians.
This is the story of Dawa, a divinely inspired bard of the "King Gesar" epic in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in East Tibet's Jiegu town. With unique access to the famous bard as well as the disaster zone that has been off-limits to western media, Dawa's story takes us into the fault lines between old Tibet and modern development, which is rapidly transforming the region. With the old Tibetan town reduced to rubble, a brave new Jiegu emerges from the ashes, as Chinese redevelopment of the region takes a giant leap forward. In the midst of such seismic shifts, Dawa turns to King Gesar and other divine protectors of the land.
A cross-country forum on socioeconomic factors negatively affecting American teens across cultural and racial lines. The goal, through web site and documentary, is to examine the causes of these problems, challenge conventional notions about the people experiencing them and to look for solutions that won't necessarily come from lawmakers or university professors but from the very people living with these problems or those working to resolve them.
God's Water takes an intimate journey with Tom Logan social radical, entrepreneur, and African missionary across the east African country of Malawi to witness the challenges and rewards of a life committed to helping his fellow human beings. It is a story of hope and inspiration...the viewer will gain hope in the human spirit through inspiring, collaborative efforts of people of different countries and cultures working together in a way that empowers communities by creating their own safe water supply. It will show Americans accomplishing good deeds, working hand-in-hand with Africans who are willing and capable of improving their lives through hard work and the spirit of cooperation.
Tom Logan, through his organization Marion Medical Mission (MMM), is changing lives, saving lives, and building hope across Africa by bringing a sustainable supply of safe drinking water and important medical services to areas with no paved roads or electric power. Village residents supply the primary labor to build shallow wells that greatly improve the quality of their lives as villagers dig wells, crush stone, and mold bricks, MMM provides the cement, pipe, and pump. Groups of villages select two or three individuals who are trained in the maintenance of each well, so villages are self-sufficient.
The onehour program combines location video, interviews with Logan, his associates and his Malawian friends, with archival images and an original indigenous musical soundtrack. As our camera captures Logan while he works with African villagers committed to improving their lives, God's Water will inspire viewers with the story of a man motivated by a dedication to social justice strong enough to make a positive difference in the world.
This insightful and thoughtful documentary explores one man's journey from his birth hometown, well-to-do Princeton, New Jersey, to the dusty West African town that was his hometown during his years serving in the Peace Corps. He returns to find the woman who he called his mother in Mali, a year after the death of his birth mother. In the process he examines the lives of these two remarkable women from such different backgrounds, and yet who share so much, how his Peace Corps experience has changed his views of life, America and what's important, and what the concept of a motherland truly means.
What happens when a culture faces unprecedented crisis? What do we do when so much of what we've taken for granted seems in danger of being lost? What if we have only a very short time to respond to the challenge of global warming before runaway systems cause irreversible change? How do we, as Joanna Macy puts it, "look straight into the face of our time, which is the biggest gift we can give: to be present to it?" This is a film about how we can, individually and collectively, respond to the perfect storm of peak oil, economic chaos, and climate change - and to the fear and despair that threaten to overwhelm us at the very moment when we most need access to our creativity and power.
The film will describe what Paul Hawken calls "the largest social movement in human history" through interviews with Buddhist scholar and activist Joanna Macy and others, and through the stories of ordinary people who are creating extraordinary change. We will show that the great turning from destruction to sustainability is not only possible, but is already well underway. We will show that the future is not only about loss, but about what we will gain as we reconnect to our purpose, our communities, and our interconnectedness with all life on earth.
The Great Turning will tell this story of hope through the words of Native elders, young activists, and leaders of the corporate sustainability movement. Viewers will see not only the vast scope of this global revolution, but also the diverse and distinctive roles we all can play in it. These are extraordinary times. It's time to tell a new story, one about letting go of what has been so we can make room for something better.
After 40 years in the US and combat duty in Vietnam, Bobby O'Dwyer returns to his boyhood town of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. Harbour Grace is a son's documentary-in-progress exploring his father's search for redemption from the lasting effects of war.
Heirloom Meals with Carole Murko
Heirloom Meals is a cooking series that will explore the rich breadth of American dining traditions and family recipes. Taped in a warm and stylishly rustic country home, the feel is an ideal blend of sophistication and familiarity, and thus the perfect setting for exploring dishes and customs passed down through generations.
Producer and host Carole Murko feels that in the go-go world of our fast food nation, the old ways of learning how to cook are being lost. The goal of Heirloom Meals is to create a TV series that provides a culinary journey into the kitchens, farms, and gardens of anyone who has a treasured family recipe - to salvage a part of family history that is passed down through recipes. Along the way, viewers will explore American culinary history and dining traditions.
Using local and in-season ingredients, Carole will prepare honest food that's grandmother-tested and family-approved while exploring the connection between food, farming, the earth, nutrition and family life.
Icaros: Songs of the Amazon
Traditional Amazonian healers or curanderos, claim the spirits of the plants communicate with them through lullabies, called Icaros. Every being in the rainforest has an Icaro and its melody alone is believed to possess curative powers. A curandero will sing a plant's song while preparing and administering it as a medicine to invoke the spirit of the plant as an ally in healing. These songs have been described as the "quintessence of shamanic power."
The lullabies are melodic transmissions from earth to man and they display an intimate relationship to nature that is in jeopardy. As we are losing species of plants to deforestation we are also losing Icaros to the buzz of the modern world. The trend of indigenous youth migrating to cities and away from traditional cultural practices leaves elder shaman as the sole keepers of these sacred songs.
We will create an audio-visual archive to preserve the Icaros and a feature documentary to explore their power and history. We will investigate how the songs are used to promote healing, how one learns an Icaro, and how/if speficic songs vary throughout the Amazon.
A lyrical examination of the farming practices of campesinos in the rural highlands of Peru and follows the work of The Cusichaca Trust. The project hopes both to capture and validate the fragile balance currently in existence, and to support the use of sustainable agriculture worldwide by showing a balance between the two.
“I love Clint Eastwood; Jon Wayne!” Prisco says. He sports a leather jacket with fringes along the arms and shoulders. Prisco is an agronomist working for The Cusichaca Trust, an NGO that is working to rehabilitate ancient terraces and fortify a way of life which many in Peru see as backwards. “My cousin sent me this coat from the U.S.” He’s sitting in a general store in the middle of Pampachiri, Peru, drinking a beer, surrounded by canned milk, oranges and clothing for sale. Outside people ride by on horses and shopkeepers keep the dust down by splashing buckets of water on the dirt road. Sitting next to him is Andrea Dunlap, organic farmgirl turned documentary filmmaker, who is waiting to be joined by partner and filmmaker Hannah Heinrich. They are here In Search of Soil.
Indigenous knowledge has very little value in contemporary Peru, which like many developing nations faces extreme poverty as it tries to use technology as a quick fix. Though many of the older generation are illiterate and some speak only Quechua, they still follow the same sustainable agricultural processes that their ancestors and the Incas perfected before the time of the conquistadors. While malnutrition and poverty are rampant, thousands of hectares of terraces, called andenes lie abandoned and unused. What began as a mass exodus from the country to the cities in the age of Sendero Luminoso is now reversing itself, as people move back to the land of their birth. Without the andenes, which modify vast tracts of steep cactus-covered slopes into arable land and prevent erosion, the scarce resources that exist in the sierra would be even scarcer.
In the Beginning Was the Word
An hour long documentary about the board game Scrabble and the journey the game has taken around the world, bringing a most diverse group of people together from America to Zimbabwe: Blacks, Whites, Arabs, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, men. women, rich, poor, senior citizens, schoolchildren, prisoners. the blind, even the Queen of England, Martha Stewart and Sting have been seduced by this competitive game of words, probability, bluffing and luck. Alfred Butts, a down and out architect was the games inventor. Cambridge Massachusetts filmmaker Deborah Fryer has produced, written or directed many programs for The History Channel, MSNBC, Frontline/WGBH, NOVA/WGBH but this is her first independent documentary.
The United States imprisons roughly 25% of the world's inmates. Half of those imprisoned are African-American. A man of color born today in New York City has a 1 in 2 chance of spending time in jail, most likely on Rikers Island.
Island to Island, a feature-length documentary, follows two young men, Steven (age 17) and Eugene (age 21), as they struggle against the overwhelming challenge and uncertainty of life after prison. Each day they make choices that carry them either forward towards the opportunity of an education, or backward towards the punitive consequences of the streets. While hope for a brighter future remains, the odds are against them; 75% of Rikers detainees return to the jail within a year.
After the Kosovo war devastates a young couple's homeland and their dreams for a normal life, they set out unexpectedly from the Balkans, along a wild journey to rebuild their lives anew in America. Arriving in California amidst the peak of a housing boom that would soon burst, the film reveals their trials and tribulations over five years of turbulent economic, political and personal tides to reveal an unorthodox depiction of the American immigrant experience.
Journey to the City of Dawn - Auroville, India
Can the blueprint for the future of mankind be found in a tiny community in a developing country? This film tells a timely and inspirational story of human unity and critical issues of environmental sustainability. The story is a journey, both literally and metaphysically, that begins in the US and culminates in the small community of Auroville, India. Ann and Ali, two young post graduate students from the US, will embark on a tremendous adventure from their home in Massachusetts half way around the world to Auroville. Their goal is to learn from a place they believe is undeniably important to human existence. Embracing the opportunity to live a more eco-friendly life-style, Ann and Ali decide to sail from the US to the UK, and then continue on by any means necessary to Auroville. After 40 years of development it's time for the world to hear their stories of progress, setbacks, and their role as an evolving example to the world. Many of the initiatives long undertaken by Auroville are the same issues prominent in the US and many western societies today.
The Joy of Sox
Who would have thought that Western science, Eastern metaphysics, and prayer would converge in Fenway Park?
For most Red Sox fans, being crowned as World Champions, was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. For two fans, however, it was the beginning of a quest to uncover the deeper truth behind that magical season and behind the player-fan interaction, in general. The Joy of Sox documentary film explores the world of subtle energy science through the lens of baseball fandom. Do fans affect players through the power of their attention? Is it better to pray for your team or against the opposition? Is Fenway Park a sacred space?
Join Eric Leskowitz, MD, a board certified psychiatrist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, as he journeys from ballpark to laboratory interviewing fans, players, baseball commentators, and pioneering scientists including: Larry Dossey, MD, author of Reinventing Medicine and Prayer is Good Medicine; Dr. William Tiller, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, and featured scientist on What the Bleep?; Rollin McCraty, Ph.D the founder of the Institute of HeartMath; and Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., author of The Sense of Being Stared At.
This provocative film will be the What the Bleep? for sports and spirituality, quirky and informative enough for everyone to enjoy and learn from.
Justice Louis D. Brandeis – A Biographical Film
This compelling one-hour documentary will tell the story of Justice Louis D. Brandeis—a life of struggle, conflict, and ultimate triumph. On the occasion of his death, Justice Louis D. Brandeis was universally regarded as one of the great champions of liberty, progress, and justice. This posthumous consensus belied a life of controversy and conflict, spent on the edge of the great social and political struggles of his day. This sweeping biographical film will chronicle Brandeis’s rise from small-time Boston lawyer to one of the nation’s most controversial figures, and in the process put a fresh lens to some of the most critical junctures in American history, including the development of modern American law, the causes of the progressive politics, and the growth of the Zionist movement. Emmy and Dupont Award winning Stuart Television Productions will tell this story, and renowned Oregon Public Broadcasting will present this landmark biographical film on PBS in late 2006.
Land Sea Sky
A video about sovereignty in the Alaska Native community. While targeted for a television broadcast audience, we feel the program has broad implications for educational use in a classroom setting. Arlington Massachusetts filmmaker, Alice Bouvrie explores the issue of sovereignty in her second documentary situated in Alaska. Most of us are unaware of the internal politics and cultural life inside Native American communities. Very few of us know anything about the history of Alaskan Natives beyond cliches perhaps transposed from seeing Nanook of the North, or thinking that all northern Natives, Canadian and Alaskan, live in igloos and hunt for seals. This film will introduce us to strong individuals who represent diverse points of view on this important issue. The filmmaker learned digital editing at a DER workshop.
Last Season: The Trawler Isabel S.
Note: The completed film entitled Last Season - Portrait of a Trawler is now distributed by DER.
This is the story of the men on the Isabel S., a fishing trawler based in New Bedford Massachusetts. These hardworking individuals in one of America's oldest industries are eking out a living in an economy under siege. This portrait focuses on the microcosm of this particular boat and crew with the dynamics of the boats hierarchy from the Skipper to its Vietnamese crew member fully explored.
A Lighter Footprint
Today, the national debate is not about climate change, but what we need to do about it. A Lighter Footprint, our 60-minute documentary, answers the question 'how can I make a difference?' by highlighting a growing movement of environmental activists of all ages who are catalysts for change in neighborhoods, businesses, city halls and colleges. Students motivate families and their universities, local and regional coalitions prompt "green collar" jobs, business people change the way they handle waste, and mayors help "green" their cities. Individual eco-activism and citizen-inspired initiatives are leading our nation toward a sustainable future and challenging each of us to do our part.
Like River, A Girl
The Lost Girls' story has never been told, explored or even documented. The story of the Lost Boys and their life in the United States has gained lots of media attention, while the heroic story of these young women has been harder to uncover. Like River, A Girl is a character driven documentary feature that explores the life of Aduei Riak, one of the Lost Girls who came to America through a resettlement program in 2000. Through Aduei, we will learn about the Lost Girls and chronicle her journey and her ongoing struggle to help the people in her home village of Malek in Southern Sudan through the building of a school for girls. The film will focus on her passion to empower young Sudanese women through education, and the parallel story will be a history of the Lost Girls through Aduei's personal account.
A one-hour documentary film examining the origins and development of the culture of the Madeiran Feast. This longer film will be produced concurrently with a series of short films to be used as installation pieces in The Museum of Madieran Heritage of New Bedford, MA. Allston Street Films overall goal will be to highlight the unique beauty of Madeira Island and to showcase the rich cultural traditions of the city of New Bedford. Versions of Living Architecture will be produced in both English and Portuguese. In this way, Allston Street Films will help to increase awareness of the relationship between Portugal and her immigrant communities throughout the world.
The public views autism as a terrible, epidemic disease that can destroy children's lives. Sometimes described as a disorder that steals children's souls, autism has been the subject of fear-inspiring stories on the front page of the New York Times, on Oprah and in People Magazine.
Loving Lampposts takes a different view of autism. Inspired by the filmmaker's own experience with a son on the autism spectrum, the film looks at the "neurodiversity" movement, a growing group of people who view autism not only as a disorder that must be treated, but as a different way of life that must be accepted and supported.
Told through the stories of autistic children and adults, the film examines the politics surrounding autism and the neurodiversity movement. Ultimately, it shows that it's possible to lead a happy, successful life and be autistic.
Lucas Lost and Found
A documentary exploring the nature of family and cross-cultural identity by award winning Watertown Massachusetts filmmaker Alexandra Anthony. Has received partial funding from The Pinewood Foundation, The LEF Foundation and The WellSpring Foundation.
Lunch Line reframes the school lunch debate through an examination of the program's surprising past, present, and possible future.
Senators, Secretaries of Agriculture, entrepreneurs, and activists from all sides of the hunger and school lunch reform debates add top-down perspective to a bottom-up film about the American political process, its future health and welfare, and the realities of feeding more than 31 million children a day.
Mathare Project, The
From award winning filmmakers Randy Bell and Pacho Velez comes a documentary series about intensely disenfranchised orphans making their way in the poverty-ridden slums of Kenya. Through the stories of the orphaned children, the documentary provides insight into the problems Kenya faces. Focusing on the filmmakers previous subjects, Boss and Chalo, the story will follow their struggles in coming of age and also tell the story of several other orphaned children.
Mi Chacra (My Land)
Note: Mi Chacra is now distributed by DER.
Raised in a small farming village in the mountains above the Sacred Valley of the Incas in southern Peru, Feliciano takes time from his fields to work as a porter on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in hopes of some day taking his son to live in the city.
Framed by the seasons, Mi Chacra chronicles one year in Feliciano's life, from the planting season to the harvest, and through a season of work on the Inca Trail. We see the processes, passed from father to son for generations, of planting crops, tending to them, and harvesting. We witness the transformation of the spectacular landscape from the browns and yellows of the dry season to the deep greens of the rainy season and the harvest. And we witness the back-breaking work of the porters as they make their way through the mountains on the trail to Machu Picchu.
Interwoven with Feliciano's story is the complex history of his people. In his often poetic native language of Quechua, Feliciano recounts the history of the Incas, the conquest by the Spanish, and the years of the haciendas.
The film paints a vivid picture of this man's world, of the conflict between his love of the land and the work he has learned from his father, and the desire to see his son living what he sees as a better life in the city.
Mustang to Menri
Note: The completed film entitled Bön: Mustang to Menri is now distributed by DER.
This film is about the challenges of Asonam's journey walking overland as a young boy with an old lama from Mustang to Menri Monastery, center of Tibet's oldest spiritual tradition Bon. The monastery, Tashi Menri Ling Monastery, first built in Tibet in 1405, was re-established in Dolanji, India in 1969 by Bon monks who had escaped from Chinese dominated Tibet with their centuries old teachings. As an educated Geshe determined to help his people by supporting the preservation of their cultural heritage, he later returns to Mustang to help his villagers start a cultural center teaching Tibetan language, woodcarving, weaving and Bon traditions. His story is interwoven with the story of Bon and the story of Menri Monastery. In the current age of wars and turmoil, this is a relevant and uplifting story of lasting traditions that are meaningful in the modern world with values that potentially can inspire us and help the modern world transcend global challenges.
With the blessings of His Holiness, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, the 33rd Abbot of Menri, we are making this film in order to communicate Bon's unique place and story in history and to illuminate how and why the work that monks do is important in this modern world.
Filmed on location in Mustang, Nepal and Menri Monastery, Northern India, the story illuminates the interconnectedness of education, spiritual dedication and persistence.
In this excursion through the cradle of civilization, ancient recipes prepared in vibrant neighborhoods restore faith that Iraqi culture endures in those most universal of human activities - cooking and eating.
We are guided through this world by Nawal Nasrallah, an Iraqi scholar and food writer. The film is based on one of her books, Delights from the Garden of Eden.
The film's dramatic structure moves between demonstrations given in a starkly white studio kitchen outside of Iraq, and those same recipes coming to life in the homey confines of Iraqi kitchens.
At the conclusion, a dozen Iraqi scholars share a feast of the dishes Nawal has cooked at a long table set on a darkened stage with only the food and guests lit.
We seek to melt hardened hearts with warm food from Iraq.
The New Woman
Until 1894 there were no female sports stars, no product endorsement deals, and no young mothers with the chutzpah to circle the globe on a bicycle. Annie Kopchovksy changed all of that. A spicy blend of adventure story, social history, and portrait of an athletic pioneer, The New Woman: Annie "Londonderry" Kopchovksy is a documentary film about an improbable journey by bicycle and the eccentric, fiery woman who dared to undertake it.
Described as "the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman," the odyssey was reportedly set in motion by a wager made by two wealthy clubmen in Boston. Annie's challenge was to circle the globe by bicycle in 15 months, earning $5,000 en route. This was not only a test of a woman's physical endurance and mental fortitude, but also of her ability to fend for herself in a man's world. Annie Kopchovksy embarked on her journey in June 1894 as a 23-year-old Jewish immigrant and working mother of three. She returned, 15 months later, as Annie "Londonderry," who fashioned herself as a bloomer-clad, PR-savvy, international celebrity and bachelorette. Traveling with only a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver, Miss Londonderry had earned her way, in part, by turning her bicycle and her body into a mobile billboard, carrying advertising banners around the world.
A reflection of the powerful social forces of the 1890s — the bicycle craze, the women's rights movement, and yellow journalism — The New Woman will engage and educate public audiences. But it will also inspire. It is the story of a woman who transformed herself into the woman that she wanted to be and needed to be in order to achieve her version of the American dream.
A documentary chronicle the profession of the nurse practitioner from it's inception in 1965, through the present day and examines the role these clinicians play in the health care system, the social climate that spawned the profession, and the political forces that currently threaten it's survival. The film establishes a new paradigm for the nurse practitioner and dispels the belief that nurses are simply "doctors helpers". Viewers will come away from this program with a clear definition of the role of nurse practitioner and the the vital role that they play in the health care system now and why our need for their services will be even greater in the future.
The Peace Patriots
Note: The Peace Patriots is now distributed by DER.
The Peace Patriots is a new, one hour documentary by Robbie Leppzer. It is an intimate portrait of a group of peace activists and their response to war. It examines the deep sense of community and citizen responsibility felt by people in Western Massachusetts where there is a long history and tradition of dissent. With over 40 hours filmed, we are currently seeking funding to complete he principle photography and editing.
Leppzer's last feature length documentary, An Act Of Conscience, premiered at The Sundance Film Festival, received completion funds from HBO and was nationally broadcast on Cinemax's REEL LIFE documentary series. The Sundance Channel is currently airing the program through 2003.
In the Dominican Republic baseball is experiencing a golden age. From the streets to the stadiums, the youth of the Dominican Republic dream of one day emerging from the dugout onto a Big League field. From the time they can walk, kids practice with rolled up sock balls and broomsticks, waiting for the day they are old enough to sign. That day comes at the age 16 when players are given the chance to try out for professional teams. The best will sign, changing their lives forever as they try to advance through the system.
Pelotero is a feature length documentary that follows five teenage players intimately as they train and try-out for MLB teams, all while trying to balance life as a teenager in the run up to July 2nd, the day they become eligible to sign. While their stories delve into the dark side of Dominican baseball - age falsification, steroid usage, and corruption - at the heart is a story of young players battling incredible odds to play the game they love.
Two Americans, one Hindu and one Muslim, sneak into the warzone of Kashmir to uncover the truth of what is happening in what is deemed as one of the most dangerous places in the world. As news headlines boast peace in Kashmir, these two Americans learn that dead bodies are found on a daily basis. They hear gunshots at night. Will the people of Kashmir speak, in spite of a virtual gag-order? Project Kashmir is a documentary thriller about the struggle of two young immigrants on a mission to understand war and its lingering effects on their community.
The Promise of New York
In the midst of Michael Bloomberg's controversial third bid for mayor of New York City, The Promise of New York, proves to be a very timely call for citizen involvement in politics.
A blogger turned stand-up comic, an obsessive political gadfly and a high-school math teacher compete against each other and arch rival incumbent Michael Bloomberg for the post of New York City mayor. As these ordinary citizens take politics into their own hands, The Promise of New York explores the meaning of democracy and the identity of a city with hilarious irreverence and thought-provoking sensitivity.
Rain Falls from Earth
Rain Falls from Earth is a story of courage, survival and eventual triumph over the Communist regime that was responsible for the deaths of over 2 million people. The voices of many Cambodians are heard as they convey their thoughts, ideas and emotions - the very things they were forced to abandon in the "killing fields" of Cambodia.
Now, with an international tribunal underway to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, survivors of this murderous regime come face to face with their past as they finally await closure.
Narrated by Academy Award nominated actor Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, Law & Order), this film gives a voice to those whose lives were senselessly lost.
Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army
Note: Returned is now distributed by DER.
Imagine being forced to leave your family and fight in a war you don't understand - and you are only eleven years old. Sadly, for many of these child soldiers in Nepal this is a reality and the peace process has not solved their problems. These children quickly discovered that the return home is even more painful than the experience of war.
Returned is a feature length documentary that follows several Nepali child soldiers including Asha, a young Nepali girl, who was sent home from the Maoist's People's Liberation Army after the cease fire. Asha joined the Maoist army when she was 14-years-old. For this young low caste girl, joining the Maoist was a pathway to a future with education and employment. Despite two years of being on the frontlines, her biggest concern was what would await her when she returned home. Would she turn to commercial sex work, become a domestic slave, or would she be banished from her home and forced into marriage?
Returned weaves the voices of Nepal's child soldiers, organizations working to help them, and military leader's from Nepal's opposing forces, who answer the challenging questions about their use of child soldiers.
Scenes from a Parish
Note: Scenes from a Parish is now distributed by DER.
Life in Lawrence, Massachusetts is hard. The former mill city north of Boston is the poorest in the state. Unemployment rates hover at twice the national average; three out of four children are at risk for hunger. After five decades of Latio, and more recently Asian immigration, Anglo citizens are now a minority in a city rife with language barriers and ethnic tension.
Four years ago, Paul O’Brien, a young Catholic priest, arrived at Saint Patrick’s Parish on the city’s south side. His new church had always been an Irish-American enclave, but that had begun to change. The Harvard-educated priest announced his intention to “embrace multiculturalism in all its forms” and pledged to build a safe place for all parishioners.
Father O’Brien had inherited a divided congregation. The church had added Spanish and Vietnamese Masses, which some parishioners viewed as an affront to the American ideal of assimilation. Feeling they had lost their city and now their church, they fled to parishes in other cities and towns.
Scenes from a Parish is a documentary film about those who stayed. Latino, Asian and Anglo-Americans all. They are the faithful who aspire to a communal “body of Christ”, but who have known the human conditions of loneliness and alienation. Scenes from a Parish, an independent film for PBS currently in production, will tell the stories of a committed priest and a fragmented group of believers – strangers in search of community.
The School Don Agustin Built
Born in 1933, in a small town along the Amazon River, Don Agustin Rivas spent his young adulthood as an accomplished sculptor exhibiting his works in his native country as well as Germany and Austria. After recovering from a severe injury to his hands that ended his career as an artist, he devoted himself to medicine and the shamanic path of the Ayahuasquero. In 1990, he returned to his birthplace in Tamshiyacu to find a town overwhelmed with problems: no jobs, rampant alcoholism and a community living well below the poverty line.
So in 2000, Don Agustin founded a school, with thirty or so students, built on the land of his grandfather's farm. A few years later, he established a co-op plantation for its graduates where they learn how to manage a company and practice sustainable agriculture. Today, over eight hundred students are enrolled. Although sanctioned by the Peruvian government, Don Agustin must provide for the building and maintenance of facilities and acquire textbooks and supplies for all the students. To do this, he relies almost entirely on donations.
The School Don Agustin Built will be an hour-long documentary film that explores the value that education and sustainable development has for impoverished children and their extended community in a rural Third World nation; raises awareness about the problem of a chronically undereducated rural class, which contributes to and maintains a cycle of poverty; and examine ways to create a sustainable agricultural system from the inside out that empowers future generations to thrive in rural environments.
Most importantly, this film will reveal the power of an individual to improve the lives of hundreds of children in his community, children whose only barrier to a more promising future is their ability to pay for it.
Science Out There
Documentary Educational Resources in partnership with Rich Blundell and Omniscopic Productions is producing the Science Out There Profiles - a series of personal profiles of early-career scientists. Each 8-10 minute digital video profile will follow one of five natural scientists through a week of their fieldwork. Expedition footage will be edited into a news story for web streaming and made available to broadcast news bureaus, the Annenberg/CPB Channel. Edited together, the each stand-alone story may also serve as a segment of a 1-hour documentary. Using biological field stations as base camps, these stories from the field will deliver credible science content, cast science as an attractive career path for young people, and promote educational field-trip opportunities for all ages. Footage from these expeditions will also be used by the scientists, their universities, and field stations for development, outreach, education and promotional purposes.
The Scissors Dancers
A one-hour HD documentary film by Gaby Yepes and Mitchell Teplitsky for international television, about an ancient ritual/dance and community originating in the southern Peruvian Andes. The film follows, over one year, the stories of a new generation of aspiring teenage dancers - most now living in the coastal slums of Lima, where their families migrated to escape poverty and terrorism. Through their stories, the film explores a larger global issue - how will indigenous cultures adapt in a 21st century globalized world?
Silence Opens Doors
“Lock yourself in your bathroom for the next ten years and tell me how it will affect your mind,” remarked Charles, an inmate of the Tamms CMAX prison in Southern Illinois, where inmates spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.
Silence Opens Doors goes inside one of the harshest living situations in our country, but only to make a point about the environment in which we all live. It follows acticists with the Tamms Year 10 Coalition, as they work with legislators to create a voice for prisoners and perforate the cells. It goes into the labs of scientists who are developing a new generation of weapons that use sound to kill. It goes into conservative Quaker communities in Ohio that practice a form of worship rooted in silence. Silence Opens Doors weaves a story about invisibility, transcendence, the struggle to be heard, and our efforts to imprint our identities on personal and political soundscapes.
Ski Week Legacy
As the world around us moves faster and faster, the Hotel St. Bernard with its old world charm through the vision of hotelier and legendary French ski school director Jean Mayer and his staff offers their guests a rare traditional European opportunity to enter a deep mountain experience and authentic connection with nature through skiing, excellent cuisine and camaraderie. The St. Bernard will celebrate fifty years in December 2009 and this film will document the history, charm and elegance of a unique and magical place, its guests, stories, staff and the man who created it.
Son of Ghana
A documentary film intimately recording a young Ghanaian man’s return to his native land to travel on a bus with his father for eleven days before his thirtieth birthday. His father Reverend Blackson is head of over 300 churches in Africa. Their family fled from Ghana to London when Kute was three, when the Reverends good friend the President, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong (Kute’s namesake), was killed under a coup. Kute won a greencard and left home at seventeen to go to California. Now thirteen years later he is going back to Ghana.
The documentary captures their unfolding relationship while engaging with the rich culture, exposing beautiful imagery of Ghanaian dance, Shamans, ecstatic drumming, the shocking historic slave trade castles, and meetings with caretakers at AIDS hospitals, school children; the King and President John Kufuor.
The story is about the history of their relationship, their reconciliation, and who they are for each other and in the world now.
Two Peruvian dancers raised in different worlds - an immigrant folk dancer from the Andes, a modern dancer from Queens, NY - return to Peru to reconnect with roots and an astonishing world of traditional dance and culture.
After fifteen years in New York, Nélida Silva returns to her Andean birthplace to host the fiesta patronal - a week of dance, music, and ritual honoring the town's patron saint. But Neli's changed, and so has the village...
Meanwhile, Cynthia Paniagua, a dancer raised in Queens by a Peruvian mom, embarks on her own Peruvian journey after meeting Neli - determined to "quench a burning desire to know the real Peru, to unearth the mystery of the dances."
Soy Andina is an exuberant cross-cultural road trip, propelled by traditional music and dance rarely seen outside the country. But the core story is intimate and universal: a yearning for roots and connection in a globalized world.
Spirit And The Bride
A docudrama about Ann Lee, the woman who founded the Shaker movement in America. She first came to the USA in 1774 from England, a Christian female profit with a blueprint for creating a utopian society. This program promises to be the documentary of record of Shakerism in America. Produced by Jeannine Lauber, on-air reporter/journalist for Maine public television will be guiding this all New England production crew. Maine PBS will be the presenting station if funding is secured. Jeannine has been awarded 2 Regional Emmy awards and nominations for 5 others. She received the Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, an Associated Press award and numerous other honors. This is her first independently produced program.
Founded by Robert Gardner in 2003 as a cooperative workshop in which member filmmakers, photographers, writers and designers could find space, facilities and encouragement for their work. Members in 2006 include: Kevin Bubriski, Robert Fenz, Robert Gardner, Sharon Lockhardt, Eric Masunaga, Susan Meiselas and Alex Webb. Donations to individual projects or to the larger collaborative effort are warmly welcomed.
Take a Bow
Take a Bow is about a school in Bartlett, Illinois for mentally disabled children between the ages of 5 and 21. Every spring, the school puts on a musical play, and students with disabilities ranging from Autism and Down Syndrome to Cerebral Palsy and Tourette's Syndrome perform memorized dances and dialogue in front of standing-room-only audiences. One of the unique elements of Take a Bow is that the filmmakers encouraged the students to speak for themselves. The film is mostly told from the students' point of view, and their worries about the future, experiences in public schools, and downtime on the playground is all captured here. Interviews with parents and teachers round out the film, touching on the lack of affordable resources available for special needs people in the United States, as well as the bleak futures that many of the children will face once they leave the school system. These negative aspects are pushed aside when the students are onstage in the spotlight, able to be perfect performers and receive the applause they so rightly deserve.
Taking on the Dharma: American Buddhist Women on Practice and Commitment
is a documentary that explores how contemporary women have created meaning within the context of American Buddhism. Sylvia Sensiper, a successful media producer is currently teaching "Documenting Culture" in the MIT Anthropology Program. Her new film project is in the research phase. The filmmakers first film was an experimental piece of visual anthropology.
A documentary from the perspective of men and women of excessive stature will explore the physical and emotional ramifications of immoderate height in a world that is built for the norm by New York based filmmaker, Adam Blank.
Tea on the Axis of Evil
When Syria was admitted to the "Axis of Evil," filmmaker Jean Marie Offenbacher decided to move there, alone, to record ordinary life and create a document to stimulate healthy curiosity about this Arab community to counter the negative image that dominates the media. Discussions about dating, marriage, education, art, politics, and religion with a range of sensual and amusing characters reveal Syria's intricate dance between tradition and modernity. Myriad different religions and sects coexist harmoniously. People are kind and educated. However, while the country is left in a diplomatic vacuum, the government becomes less progressive and the fear of radical Islam grows. A writer blames the government for using this fear to control society. A government minister identifies the rise of Islam as a response to external pressures against Arabs. Offenbacher concludes that the current political climate encourages Islamic extremists and undermines moderate voices.Tea gives voice and face to this moderate majority as it lyrically spins a tale of contemporary Syrian life.
Teach Me To Sea
Every year the graduating class from the Perkins School For The Blind go on a senior class trip. In 2012, they class was determined to go on one of their most daring adventures yet. Teach Me To Sea follows the twenty graduating students with various visual, cognitive and physical disabilities on a five-day cruise to Mexico. Because of the close relationship between the film's director and the Perkins' family, the film is able to tell an intimate and touching story of these uniquely talented students and their families as together, they face life challenges head on with willful determination, loving grace and plenty of humor. The beauty in this story lies in the hopes, expectations and realities that the students must address as they leave the safety and acceptance of Perkins and embark on a largely "visual" journey across the ocean.
Teach Me To Sea follows them from the beginning as they experience the pre-night jitters, boarding of the plane, sweating in the hot humid Florida air, waiting to board the ship, forgetting a bathing suit, and accidently washing their hair with sunscreen instead of shampoo. The film also captures for some, their first formal dinner, first standing ovation at the piano bar, first good night kiss and first steps into the ocean water. Intermixed with the excitement, the camera also captures the quiet conversations with friends by the pool, awkwardly bumping into people and getting bumped into, falling down and saying, "thank you very much but I can get up on my own" to the passer by who offers out a helping hand.
Beyond entertaining, this film will be used as vehicle to start a dialogue about the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities in the greater community as it shatters the pre-conceived notions that individuals with such sensory deficits somehow experience the pleasures of life any less. By following the stories of the students through the end of their time in high school, including important senior "rites of passage" such as prom and graduation, Teach Me To Sea captures their hopes, fears and dreams for the future as they head out into the world beyond Perkins and into the beginning of their adult lives.
Thy Will Be Done: A Transsexual Woman's Journey Through Family and Faith
Thy Will Be Done follows Sara Herwig, a Male-to-Female transsexual and her dream of becoming an ordained Minister in the Presbyterian Church. In Sept. 2002 Sara was accepted as a candidate for ordination. She is now on the path to becoming a Minister with a church of her own, but her openness about her personal history has made the road to completion difficult. Sara's sexual transition goes against many members' understanding of biblical guidance and has become a divisive issue in the Church.
Sara's chances for ordination have come up against yet another stumbling block with her recent marriage to Jenn, a biological female. Presbyterian Book of Order states that anyone who is in a same-sex relationship is not eligible to be ordained. The Church's conservative groups do not recognize Sara as female, but rather see her as a gay man. And yet, they are unable to acknowledge her eligibility as a candidate for ordination because she is in a same-sex relationship... as a woman.
The complex and contradictory nature of this issue is evident as we see a major religious institution caught between established policy and social conservative groups on the one hand, and the need for progressive social changes in the church on the other. The acceptance and ordination of LGBT clergy as a basic justice issue, is fiercely played out in the Christian battleground for LGBT equality. Thy Will Be Done explores these complex issues present in this and other organized Christian Churches, and promises to empower those affected and motivate those who may be in positions of power to make changes. And as for Sara, she actively seeks not only to participate in the Ministry as an openly transgendered person, but as an activist, she seeks to transform a world - spiritual and otherwise - that operates by conventional notions of sex and gender.
Tracks to Somewhere is an intimate look at Hobos and their rail riding life set against the historical background of rail travel in America. On a cross country odyssey the filmmakers seek to shed light on a dying way of life and will reveal the symbiotic relationship of opposing cultural values, the struggle for freedom and yet the recognition that we are all dependent upon a well functioning society, even if we wish to escape.
A documentary by Sanford Lewis and Jody Shapiro. This broadcast documentary will explain the link between lawn-care treatments and serious illnesses in our companion animals. The truth: lawn chemicals are toxic; they stick to paws and fur when dogs and cats walk on grass, sidewalks, parks, and streets, and are ingested and absorbed through the skin. The film will use humor, reality-TV documentation, and expert interviews to show pet owners how to have beautiful, chemical-free lawns that are safe for animals.
The pre-production trailer was generously funded by a grant from the Mitchell Kapor Foundation.
Tugging Through Time is the first documentary film on the history of tugboats in New York Harbor, written, and produced by historic maritime filmmaker, Tom Garber. The history of tugboats, their owners and operators, is vastly significant, and yet amazingly, has not been produced on film. The growth and evolution of the tugging industry, is a mirror to the social, political, and technological history of New York City. It is a prime example of how technology, politics, and business interacted over time to achieve positive results. The story culminates in one of the largest and most successful maritime evacuations in history, the 9/11 rescues from Manhattan. This film illustrates the strength of spirit, and ideals, that has made New York City, what it is today.
A comedic and poignant documentary about the life stories of people who attend balloon twisting conventions. When balloon twisters arrive at these conventions, they become more than the shy kid, the serious stockbroker, or the woman in the wheelchair. Just as a lifeless piece of latex can be magically transformed into a dog or a hat, so too can these people become someone new. Balloon twisting breathes change into them. It becomes a career, a passion, an escape. This film follows the lives of several members of this community, uncovering their origins as twisters, their goals, accomplishments, and aspirations.
Uprooted: Memoirs of Jewish Iran
Uprooted: Memoirs of Jewish Iran is a character driven documentary about the exodus of the Jews of Iran as a result of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This story is remarkable in many ways: it is the story of the evolution of the Islamic Republic; it is the story of uprootedness and acclimation--an example of the American immigrant experience; and a story of danger and adventure as many immigrants left Iran clandestinely, at night, with the aid of smugglers--on camels and trucks, and through mountains and deserts. The film will explore the experiences of three women while simultaneously depicting the history of the period through scholarly commentary, stock footage and images. It will examine the fluctuating environment of the time and its effects on Iranian Jewish identity and culture both in Iran and in the United States. Dating back 2500 years, the Jewish community of Iran has a wide girth, deep roots, broad boughs, and a high crest.
The dawning of the 21st century has found our scientific world accelerating like never before toward curing the horrible diseases that once devastated whole societies. Urgent Issue, a feature length documentary directed by Mark Richman and Roberta Pacino and produced in association with Filmmakers Supporting Science, addresses stem cell research and why some oppose it. Although major medical advances are on the horizon, and our generation stands to reap the rewards of our scientists’ hard work, there still exists an ethical dilemma that must be confronted. At the core of the documentary is the passionate conflict involving those people who believe that stem cell therapy could cure devastating ailments such as spinal cord injuries, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and those on the other side who are so adamantly against tampering with embryonic life that they say no cure can justify such action. For many people today and perhaps for all of us someday, this roadblock to stem cell research is a matter of life and death. It is indeed an “Urgent Issue,” and in the words of Nancy Reagan, “We have lost so much time already.”
A Visit To Asmara: architecture, memory and the making of a nation
Note: Asmara, Eritrea is now distributed by DER.
A documentary focusing on the preservation and development of Eritrea's capital city of Asmara to reflect upon the much larger process of national self-determination by award winning New York based filmmaker and scholar Caterina Borelli. Several grant proposals being considered for funding. DER distributes "Architecture of Mud" the filmmakers last project on indigenous architecture of Yemen.
Elizabeth Rose and Alexander Berman are making a documentary film about people living in the shadow of the world's most dangerous volcano. Koryaksky – a UN “Decade Volcano” that looms over the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky – has a history of destructive eruptions. Despite this menacing classification, the aboriginal Eveny herd reindeer at the volcano's base and consider it an important cultural landmark. These reindeer herders have not been seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union when the subsidies for their indigenous way of life disappeared and their herds were culled by the thousands.
Today, a self-made Eveny shipping entrepreneur, Aleksandr Adukanov, has bought up a herd of 500 reindeer to reestablish his culture's ancestral pastoral practice. He sees volcanic eruption as a metaphor for his own situation: disaster happens, but opportunity often lies in its wake. Now, his son Maxim is studying the same volcano as a scientist at the region's state-funded University, fulfilling a passion that sprang from the legends of his youth.
This documentary is about the terrible beauty of disaster and the human ability to rise above it.
Water Documentary – Hart Productions
A documentary project on the global water crisis that takes the loves of 6,000 children every day. Kalani is a 12-year old girl in Malawi, Africa who spends 5 hours each day hauling water from a mud hole in the ground. Jabou is young activist in South Africa protesting against the installation of pre-paid water meters. Mariam is a mother of 4 in Tanzania who is forced to buy water of questionable quality in anti-freeze containers from a street vendor. These are just a few of the 1.4 billion people around the world who do not have clean water. With all the resources and technology available to us we can stick a space probe into the backside of mars to see if there’s water there or not – but we can’t get a bucket of clean water to a village in Africa? Why not? That is the question that propelled filmmaker Amy Hart to initiate this project in order to see if we could find clearer answers to the questions, learn more about the obstacles and illuminate the solutions.
Waterbuster (working title) will be a one-hour documentary chronicling the dislocation of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara) of North Dakota due to a hydroelectric dam project that inundated their homeland along the banks of the upper Missouri River. It is also the personal story of the directors family (Hidatsa-Mandan) and community, whose life choices were directly and indirectly influenced by this powerful re-shaping of the landscape. The film will examine the events that led up to the building of the Garrison Dam, the subsequent flooding of over 150,000 acres of prime, agricultural bottomland on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, and the resulting responses of a people who have survived centuries of hardship through adaptation and cultural resiliency. The audience will see members of the Three Affiliated Tribes reflecting upon, interpreting, and telling stories about this cataclysmic event, and how they continue to negotiate its legacy. This will be an opportunity for a group of contemporary Native Americans to tell a very personal version of their history to a national audience.
The Way We Get By
The Way We Get By is a story about three elderly people battling their greatest fears and finding a reason to live. The film examines the lives of three Maine Troop Greeters as they put their politics aside to keep a promise to support the American troops. The story's three characters must overcome tremendous obstacles - health issues, emotional losses and financial difficulties - to live a life on-call, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, traveling to the airport to greet complete strangers. To date, the Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 600,000 troops, as 75% of all soldiers and marines heading to and returning home from Iraq, fly through Bangor's tiny airport.
Who We Are in the Classroom: A Matter of Identity
Karen Schwartz of the Harvard Graduate School of Education is using film in a quest to replace existing cliches and stereotypes of teacher identity with authentic portraits of teachers as human beings. It will explore how teachers personal histories, values and imaginations shape their motivations in the classroom.