All posts by Ronit Bezalel

When it Streams, it Pours: New Titles, New Discounts   

by Isabel Hill

This September, New Day is offering a 40% back-to-school discount off all films streamed directly from the New Day website (Promo Code: STRM40). With New Day’s robust film streaming service featuring over 250 titles, you are only a click away from bringing compelling, emotional, and relevant social issues to your classroom or organization.

Customers who purchase a streaming license gain immediate access to the film of their choice and never have to worry about storing, damaging, or losing DVDs. Professors can share a link with their students for easy viewing, inside and outside of the classroom. New Day’s easy interface also allows customers to communicate directly with filmmakers.  You can request a free preview of a title, and even arrange for a virtual Q&A with the director!

New Day Films is a filmmaker-run distribution company that has been providing social-issue documentaries to customers for 47 years. It is the only cooperative of its kind to build and maintain its own personalized streaming platform. When you purchase directly from New Day, you are supporting the work of independent filmmakers and making it possible for them to continue making the films they feel passionately about.

Our growing collection of films are organized into 45 categories that cover everything from Addiction, Anthropology, and the Arts, to Disabilities, Education, Human Rights, and Women’s Studies… and everything in between. Here are some of the most recent, award-winning titles we’ve added:

Life on the Ganges

Life on the Ganges is a short film that captures a different side of the Ganges River and explores why visiting Varanasi and bathing in the river still remains a spiritual pilgrimage. Director Indira S. Somani’s beautiful imagery and vivid portrayal of devotion give the viewer a rare look at why people from all over India and the world, travel to Varanasi to wash away their sins and purify their souls.

Man on Fire

Man on Fire takes place in Grand Saline, Texas– a sleepy, unremarkable town that finds itself the center of a media storm in 2014 when a white preacher Charles Moore lights himself on fire to protest the town’s racism. A deep investigation into the human spirit, the film explores the life and death of Moore while examining the theme of racism in rural America. Catch Joel Fendelman’s award-winning film before it premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens, December 17, 2018!

America I too

America I Too is the portrayal of three arrested and detained, undocumented immigrants that must navigate the legal system to fight impending deportation.  Based on actual testimonies and true experiences, Anike Tourse’s film gives a real sense of what undocumented immigrant families and detainees are struggling with in the United States.

New Day offers a variety of streaming licenses, from our popular 1 and 3 year licenses to licenses that run anywhere from 14 days to 7 years. Colleges and universities can access films through their library website, and professors can simply provide a link to their students. Most films are also available via a digital 3-day license should a customer prefer to stream from their own server. In addition to the 40% discount we’re offering throughout September, there are substantial discounts available throughout the year on multiple-title purchases. Stay tuned for more exciting features as we continue to grow our service!

To read more about our streaming options, please click here.

New Day Filmmaker Mike Mascoll

by Mike Mascoll

Mike Mascoll

I grew up as an inner-city kid, and at the age of eight years old I made an early suburban trek in search of a better education and opportunity. My unique education and exposure to communities outside of my own opened my mind to the many socioeconomic disparities that continue to divide our nation.

On the Line, Where Sacrifice Begins

My film On The Line: Where Sacrifice Begins highlights METCO, one of the longest running voluntary school desegregation programs in the country, its historical impact on the city of Boston and those personally involved in the program itself. The idea for the film was born out of my desire to share my personal story with a broader audience, to inform others about the importance of equity, access and opportunity through education.

The lessons drawn from former & currents participants of the METCO program have a lasting impact. The educational harms of segregation and the academic benefits of desegregated schools have been well documented. Public schools are the first places where migration patterns and cultural differences manifest themselves and are also where the potential to learn from diversity is likely the greatest.

On the Line, Where Sacrifice Begins

On The Line first screened in front of a sold out audience on the Graduate School of Education campus at Harvard University. It was in that moment that I recognized my calling to deliver meaningful stories with a sense of purpose. The heartfelt post-screening panel discussion reminded all in attendance of the importance for every high school and university to continue the conversation about our country’s path to recovering from formalized racial segregation.

New Day Out and About!   

At New Day Films, we’re known for our decades-long reputation of creating compelling social issues films, but as a co-op of member-filmmakers we do so much more than just sell educational media through our catalog. We’re passionately engaged in the educational sphere and the social issue landscape. Here are some exciting ways our members are engaging with the larger world at conferences, and other events in the near future:

Come meet us in person!

Ellen Brodsky representing New Day Films
at the Association for the Studies of African American Life and History in Cincinnati!

On October 2, 2018, New Day filmmaker Jonathan Skurnik will present and screen Becoming Johanna at the Out and Equal Workplace Summit conference in Seattle, Washington. Becoming Johanna profiles a trans teenager struggling to transition despite her mother’s resistance and finding a family of choice to support her quest.

On Oct. 6, New Day filmmaker Robin Lung will deliver the keynote presentation and host a screening of her film Finding Kukan at the American Association of Chinese Studies conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The film is a compelling investigation into the making of Chinese American Li Ling-Ai’s 1942 Academy award-winning documentary Kukan, a film detailing the Chinese experience of World War II neglected in the news media.

On Oct. 6, New Day filmmaker Pam Sporn will screen her film Detroit 48202 at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route examines the rise, demise, and contested resurgence of Detroit through the lens of African-American mail carrier, Wendell Watkins, and the committed community he faithfully served for thirty years.

On Oct. 8, New Day filmmakers Ellen Brodsky and Ellen Frankenstein will be at the National Media Market conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, presenting some of our latest acquisitions. New Day will also host tables throughout the conference.

On Oct. 19, New Day filmmaker Katherine M Acosta will host a screening and discussion about her film Divided We Fall at the North American Labor History conference in Detroit, Michigan. Divided We Fall combines original in-depth interviews with dramatic citizen-produced video and photos to tell the story of the movement that inspired workers around the world yet failed to achieve its most urgent objective – defeating Governor Scott Walker’s signature union-busting and austerity legislation.

Between Oct. 18-21 at the National Latinx Psychological Association conference in San Diego, California, New Day filmmakers Brenda Avila Hanna and Corey Ohama will discuss their respective films about the experiences of “dreamers” – undocumented children who grew up in the United States, but were born in Mexico and thus face a precarious future in the only country they have known. Their respective films are Vida Diferida/Life Deferred and I Was Born in Mexico, But..

Latinx Heritage Month!

Latinx Heritage Month is Sep 15, 2018 – Oct 15! This is a time to reflect on Latinx cultures, traditions, and forms of resistance.

El Cacao

El Cacao:The Challenge of Fair Trade, by Michelle Aguilar, exposes the dark side of chocolate production in Latin America, examining the economics of Fair Trade from the perspective of indigenous farmers.

When the Mountains Tremble

When the Mountains Tremble, by Pamela Yates, offers a remastered version of the 1983 classic documentary about Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, a Maya K’iche indigenous leader who exposed violence and repression during Guatemala’s brutal armed conflict.

Los Trabajadores

Los Trabajadores: The American Paradox of Immigrant Labor, by Heather Courtney, follows two men named Juan and Ramón as they confront misperceptions and contradictions inherent to America’s dependence on, and abuse of, immigrant labor.

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You can find these films and more in New Day’s collection of Latinx Studies films, here.

 

August 2018 Commemorative Month

August 29 marks the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and New Day Films has a number of relevant documentaries that look deeply at the history and future of New Orleans.

Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans

Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, by Dawn Logsdon, explores the birthplace of civil rights, the New Orleans neighborhood that gave birth to jazz, launched America’s first black newspaper, and nurtured generations of Black activists.

Land of Opportunity

Land of Opportunity by Luisa Dantas and Rebecca Snedeker, dives deep into the tumultuous post-Katrina reconstruction of New Orleans through the eyes of urban planners, community organizers, displaced youth, immigrant workers, and public housing residents.

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington

Mr. Cao Goes to Washingtonby Leo Chiangfollows the journey of one of New Orlean’s rising political stars. Rep. Joseph Cao is the first Vietnamese American elected to the US Congress, the only non-white House Republican of the 111th Congress, and the only Republican to vote for President Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill. Can he keep his integrity and idealism intact in the face of political realities?

A Village Called Versailles
A Village Called Versailles, also by Leo Chiang, is the inspiring account of a community of Vietnamese refugees in New Orleans who rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina— only to have them threatened by a toxic landfill planned in their neighborhood. As the community fights back, it turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change.

Young Aspirations/Young Artists, by Shirley Thompson, is about a youth arts program that thrived in New Orleans before the flooding, and regrouped afterward in order to continue to offer life-changing opportunities to young artists in New Orleans.

Toppling Structures of Inequity in Documentary Film

By Nicole Opper

Conversations about power, ownership and representation in the documentary field are as old as the documentary tradition itself. Ours is a history rooted in a patriarchal society defined by cultural, racial, and class-based colonialism. Recently, these conversations have left the confines of the classroom or the backroom of a festival cocktail party and are now taking place under a spotlight at festivals, conferences, and most importantly, they are beginning to have a real impact on who tells what stories and how. New Day Films, a distribution coop created by and for independent documentary filmmakers in 1971, has recently been grappling with what it means to be truly representative of the broad spectrum of filmmakers that exist including filmmakers of color, working class filmmakers, trans and gender non-binary filmmakers and those with disabilities – groups that have historically been underrepresented or poorly portrayed in the industry.

At our Annual Meeting in upstate New York this past June, a panel was convened to discuss the findings of an Equity and Representation task force, and to open up the conversation to all member-owners of the co-op.

New Day’s Panel on Equity and Representation (photo courtesy of Amalie Rothschild)

“Very often in the documentary space, I’m the only person of color,” remarked Michael Premo. Premo is the director of Water Warriors, the story of a community’s successful fight to protect their water from the oil and natural gas industry. “This is also sort of dually equated with poverty which is equally as racist as being the token black guy.”

Water Warriors

Cheryl Green, the director of Who Am I To Stop It – a documentary about individuals with traumatic brain injuries – shared her perspective as a filmmaker with acquired disabilities herself, saying, “There is no one disability community. What is a film about disability? What is a person with a disability? We’re not a monolith. There’s not one way to talk about it; there’s not one way to present it. The main way disability is represented is non-disabled people parachuting in and filming a medical story. Usually it’s one that starts off as ‘That’s gross or scary or painful! Phew! They got better.’”

This formulaic narrative is problematic. One solution Cheryl offers is that non-disabled filmmakers consider co-authorship, “Or, when you can, just put it in the hands of the disability community.”

Who Am I To Stop It

These tropes of tragedy and triumph are not exclusive to representations of those with disabilities – they are embedded in stories about every underrepresented community. Co-authorship is a concept that has been practiced by a number of filmmakers within New Day, though it’s not nearly as widespread as we would like it to be. Not only does it aim to address the inequity of ownership that has plagued our field for so long, but frequently it results in more nuanced filmmaking.

Vida Diferida

Brenda Avila, the director of Vida Diferida (Life deferred), a six-year journey into the life of a young, undocumented woman before and after DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) spoke about being born and raised in Mexico City and coming to the US as an adult. “I didn’t grow up used to being a minority per se.” She described the transition after moving to the U.S. “It was hard to just make myself heard: as a woman, as a woman of color, as someone whose second language is English. I was constantly second-guessed… sometimes it’s hard to navigate circles in [the film industry] where there are so many things taken for granted.”

Avila shared some of the organizations that have supported her journey as a filmmaker and as a woman of color. “I’m really happy about this equity task force,” she said. “I’ve been working a lot with Brown Girls Doc Mafia (BGDM), and with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NAILP).” BGDM is working to ensure that directors and producers have access to collaborators that are also members of the communities being filmed. She added, “There’s no excuse [not to hire us]. Here’s a list of talented POC ready to work.”

Hunting in Wartime

Samantha Farinella, the director of Hunting in Wartime, which profiles Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska, made a light-hearted interjection, “I’m sure you’re all wondering why the white lesbian from the East Coast [is commenting on this topic]. I’m the first person in my family to get my Bachelor’s and I will be the first person in my family to get my Master’s. I remember in my late 20s, finding out that a lot of filmmakers are really rich and privileged.” Becoming increasingly emotional, Samantha added, “Being working class, I think I devalue my work. If we really want to make the New Day experience diverse economically or racially, that’s a big ask.”

Filmmaker and panel moderator Kathy Huang echoed the sentiments of many New Day members in the room who were visibly moved. “That was really powerful,” she said. “It’s so important that you shared that, and it goes back to issue that Michael raised, that people often equate race with class. What we think we know about someone may not be true. If you don’t come into this world with a certain amount of social capital – it can be very hard to access the gates of power.”

She then posed the question, “Are there other ways that we can make the coop more welcoming?”

Michael Premo weighed in. “It’s complicated. There are ways to invite broader conversation related to meeting design. It’s such a delicate balance between equity and tokenism… I’m glad we’re having this conversation around freedom of movement and language access… We could have more group design where people are in smaller groups. We could think about reorganizing all the relationships.”

Tales of the Waria

Kathy Huang, whose film Tales of the Waria features four transgender women searching for love and intimacy in Indonesia, offered some information about the task force’s process, which all of the panelists were a part of. “When we met for the task force, one of the things I did was make cold calls to our members of color, and we asked for ways that the coop might become more welcoming to all types of members.”

She also pointed out the potentially exploitative practice of hiring interns to work for free. “Who does that automatically eliminate from our roster of people who can work for us?”

On the Line

Mike Mascoll, the director of On the Line, which highlights one of the longest running voluntary school desegregation programs in the country, stood up in the audience to share his thoughts: “I grew up in poverty, but through the years gained access to privilege… snippets of it. I think what we’re all looking for at the end of the day is access to the resources to be independently successful.” The room broke into applause.

As a co-op, we’ve unanimously voted to pursue the following goals this year:

  • Promote a culture of Equity and Representation within New Day where diverse stories, storytellers and storytelling practices are represented and uplifted.
  • Provide opportunities for conversations with members from underrepresented groups about their experiences in New Day and the industry in general.
  • Create and support sustainable financial, professional and New Day culture strategies for recruitment and retention of filmmakers from underrepresented groups.

We have a long way to go in this industry when it comes to access, equitable funding, implicit bias and ownership over the stories of underrepresented and marginalized people and communities. There is still much work to be done, but the meeting was a big step in the right direction for the member-owners of New Day Films – resulting in actionable steps that we hope will have real, positive impact.

Meet New Day: Robin Lung

Filmmaker Robin Lung

Finding KUKAN chronicles my search for a long-lost 1941 Oscar-winning documentary called KUKAN – and Li Ling-Ai, the Chinese American woman from Hawaiʻi who was its un-credited producer. Itʻs a fascinating detective story that highlights how easily history can be lost or forgotten – especially the history of women and minorities.

I was a book and movie lover while growing up in Hawaiʻi, but in all the books and movies I devoured, I rarely came across Chinese American heroines I could identify with. When I became a filmmaker, I sought to fill that void and hit the jackpot when I discovered Li Ling-Ai. Even though she had died several years before I started the project, her larger-than-life personality came through in her letters and interviews and the remembrances of her friends and relatives, who referred to her as a “Chinese Aunty Mame.”  She was bold and brash, glamorous and egotistical, but she also had a generous heart and used her charm to break down negative stereotypes associated with China and Chinese people. I wanted to know everything I could about her. Although I did end up finding the “lost” film KUKAN, I still have many unanswered questions about Li Ling-Aiʻs life.

I made a difficult choice to put myself into my own film. And Iʻve been pleasantly surprised by audience reactions to my on-screen search. All across America and Canada viewers of all ethnicities have responded very emotionally to Finding KUKAN. Itʻs been a touchstone that prompts people to contemplate the lost or forgotten stories in their own lives. Several viewers have told me that after seeing the film, they sat down with their mother or grandfather or children to record stories or pass them on. Many young women have also shared that I am now a role model to them. I started looking for one womanʻs life, and it has led to so much more.

Learn more about the work of Robin Lung.