I am a director, producer, and cinematographer, from Northern California but now living in Southern Vermont. My film Break the Silence: Reproductive & Sexual Health Stories is an intersectional and inclusive portrait of eighteen cis and trans women’s lived experiences in regards to our sexual and reproductive health. This encompasses everything from menstruation, birth control, hormone therapy, relationships, childbirth, gender confirmation surgery, sex, abortions, rape, medical/gyno experiences, STI’s, pregnancy, and more. It’s a very straightforward but powerful format: one woman at a time, framed head-and-shoulders against a white backdrop, speaking with refreshingly frank, direct and sometimes hilarious poignancy about taboo subjects.
I made the film because these were stories I wanted to hear! I think the shroud of taboo that exists around our sexual and reproductive lives needs to be ripped away in order to create the kind of vibrant, safe, fun and whole sexual/reproductive lives that we all deserve to have.
All of the 18 women in the film are from my community, though I didn’t know all of them personally at the time of filming. There were a lot of revelations for me in this process. For example, one of my “ice-breaker” questions, “Tell me about your first sexual experiences,” revealed that fully HALF of the women I interviewed were raped or molested in their first sexual experiences as children or teens. That was emotionally devastating.
On a lighter note, one of my other icebreaker questions, “do you remember your first period?”, revealed a funny through-line – many women got their very first period at their grandmother’s house! I am tempted to imagine that it’s a matrilineal kind of thing…
Adapting to the needs and desires of the women I interviewed was an important part of the process and it lead me to assure that everyone was given the option of having someone they felt particularly safe with interview them. For example, one woman of color asked that she be interviewed by another woman of color. The transgender women in the film all had transgender interviewers, and that was really important in building trust and openness.
I’m often asked, “How did the women in your film feel so safe and how did you get such honest and vulnerable stories from them!?” I think the incredible intimacy is because the interviews were more like three-way conversations, gab-fests about all the stuff we don’t normally get to talk about with each other. Just get a group of women talking openly about their sexual and reproductive lives, and it gets real REAL fast.
November is Native American/Alaska Native Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories of indigenous peoples. Badger Creek, by Jonathan Skurnik and Randy Vasquez, is a portrait of Native resilience as seen through a year in the life of three generations of a Blackfeet (Pikuni) family living on the rez in Montana. A Matter of Respect, by Ellen Frankenstein and Sharon Gmelch, is about the meaning of tradition and change, as explored by a group of people who honor their ancestors’ way of life by teaching language, harvesting and preparing traditional foods, restoring community cemeteries, dancing, carving and weaving. Hunting in Wartime, by Samantha Farinella, profiles Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska, who saw combat during the Vietnam war; they talk about surviving trauma, relating to Vietnamese civilians, readjusting to civilian life, and serving a government that systematically oppresses native people. Find these films and others that honor Native American/Alaska Native Heritage Month here.
TRANS DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Trans Day of Remembrance, sometimes reframed as Trans Day of Resilience, is a time to honor the memories of trans people we have lost, and to uplift those who are surviving and thriving. Mezzo, by Nicole Opper, celebrates the life and artistic endeavors of Breanna Sinclaire, a Black trans opera singer. Prodigal Sons, by Kimberly Reed, is a complex personal story about the filmmaker’s return to the Montana town where she grew up, and her relationship with her disabled adopted brother, and the life-changing revelation of his birth family. Trinidad, by PJ Raval, introduces viewers to three trans women whose paths cross in the unassuming small town of Trinidad, Colorado, the so-called “sex change capitol of the world.” Find these and more movies about trans people’s lives and stories in the LGBTQ sectionof New Day films.
As the Justice Department prepares to resume federal executions after a 16-year moratorium, the death penalty debate intensifies. Despite popular opinion with approximately 50% of Americans against capital punishment and two more states (Washington and New Hampshire) abolishing it, five executions are scheduled for December and January.
New Day’s catalogue of criminal justice titles includes films that inspire viewers to reimagine justice, films that give historical context to the system in place, and many intimate stories of the lives impacted by a per-capita incarceration rate that far exceeds other developed nations. These can serve as powerful pedagogical tools for any organization trying to grapple with the issues of the criminal justice system.
In the Executioner’s Shadowintertwines three powerful stories depicting capital punishment’s destructive nature. Two narratives represent opposing positions on the death penalty. The third is the rarely revealed insights of a former executioner. The work of Maggie Stogner and Richard Stack is not a polemic. The storytelling takes viewers on personal journeys inspiring forgiveness and social healing.
Circle Upis the powerful story of Boston mothers seeking justice for their sons’ murders, searching for healing, accountability, and community peace. The film examines reconciliation between a murderer and the survivors of his victim. Inspired by Native-American peacemaking circles, director Julie Mallozzi reframes crime and punishment through restorative justice, accountability, forgiveness.
Concrete, Steel & Paintexplores interaction between offenders and victims, through partnership that broke barriers between them. Inmates and victims collaborate on a mural about healing, highlighting differences on punishment, remorse and forgiveness. Mistrust dissolves into personal connection. Collaboration challenges both sides to respect the other’s humanity. Cindy Burstein and Tony Heriza raise questions about reconciliation and illustrate art’s power to spark restorative justice.
A Hard Straight depicts doing time on the outside. The film follows three inmates’ reentry into society. Departing incarceration is ecstatic. Then what? The joys, frustrations and risks of recidivism come into focus. Annually, 500,000 inmates are released, and ask: What resources are required to survive? Goro Toshima spotlights challenges of serving a sentence and staying straight.
Girl Trouble is an intimate documentary in which Lexi Leban and Lidia Szajko, chronicle four years in the lives of three teenage girls struggling to break from San Francisco’s complex, flawed juvenile justice system, one that creates “throw-away children.”
Every Mother’s Son profiles three women from different backgrounds who unite to seek justice after their sons are killed by police. Three ordinary mothers become extraordinary activists. Their stories are tragic, their courage heroic. Their sons’ narratives humanize consequences of police brutality. Kelly Anderson and Tami Gold transform victims into real people making it difficult to be indifferent to authorities’ excessive use of force.
In Justice for My Sister, Kimberly Bautista examines violence against women in Guatemala, documenting one woman’s three-year struggle to hold her sister’s killer accountable. The film was the centerpiece of a transnational campaign promoting healthy relationships and denouncing gender-based violence.
As we approach Veteran’s Day, we highlight a handful of films in the New Day collection exploring the psychic wounds of war while also honoring the individuals who serve.
Winner of an Emmy and the Independent Spirit Award, Where Soldiers Come From is an intimate look at the young men who fight our wars and the families and town they come from. Returning to her hometown, director Heather Courtney gains extraordinary access following these young men as they grow and change from teenagers stuck in their town, to National Guard soldiers looking for roadside bombs in Afghanistan, to 23-year-old veterans dealing with the silent war wounds of Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.
The award-winning film Almost Sunrise, directed by Michael Collins and produced by Marty Syjuco, follows two friends, who in an attempt to put their haunting combat experiences behind them, embark on an epic 2,700-mile trek by foot across America seeking redemption and healing. A popular companion piece for the classroom is Voices of Resilience, which is a deeper conversation about “moral injury” and society’s role in war.
Award winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, When I Came Home, directed by Dan Lohaus, follows the struggles of Herold Noel, an Iraq war veteran who becomes homeless in New York City after returning from combat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A refreshing and poetic insight into the experience of post-traumatic stress disorder, Michael and His Dragon, directed by Briar March, is told from the perspective of a young Iraq war veteran.
Hunting in Wartime, directed bySamantha Farinella, profiles Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska, who saw combat during the Vietnam War. The veterans talk about surviving trauma, relating to Vietnamese civilians, readjusting to civilian life, and serving a government that systematically oppresses native people. Their stories give an important human face to the combat soldier and show the lasting effects of war on individuals, families and communities.
For more information on these films and others dealing with Peace and Conflict, please visit: https://www.newday.com.
We are both filmmakers from different parts of the world who periodically come together to collaborate. Kurt Orderson is the founder of Azania Rizing Productions, a company that was formed as a direct response to the exclusion of marginalized voices from mainstream film and television. Najma Nuriddin is a filmmaker who directs and produces. She has traveled and worked in Africa, Europe, and South East Asia as a freelance filmmaker. Currently, we are both filmmakers in residence at Johns Hopkins University, developing an online archive of our film, Not in My Neighbourhood.
Not in My Neighbourhood tells the intergenerational stories of spatial violence in three self-professed world-class cities: Cape Town, New York, and São Paulo. The film aims to build solidarity among active urban citizens by illuminating the tools and approaches used by urban activists to shape and navigate their cities, which have been affected by colonization, architectural apartheid, and gentrification. Not in My Neigbourhood explores the effects of various forms of spatial violence on the spirit and social-psyche of city dwellers. We follow the daily struggles, trials and triumphant moments of active citizens who are fighting for the right to their cities.
Kurt grew up on the Cape Flats of Cape Town, a strip of townships built by the architects of Apartheid in the 1960’s. Both his parents and extended family were victims of racially motivated forced removals from areas like District Six and Woodstock. The experience of spatial violence and architectural Apartheid has affected Kurt’s life in deep and profound ways, which inspired this film. Najma came on board this project as a co-producer because of her passion for telling stories of people around the world that connect us to one another. This film, in particular, connects grassroots activists who can inspire, build and unite one another and also everyday people around the world who are coming together in the name of community-based activism for housing, equity, and empowerment.
Despite this new focus on gentrification, general discourse on the topic has failed to make the link between new and old forms of spatial violence, geographical exclusion and the legacies of architectural Apartheid. The ways in which spaces are used are always changing. We must ask ourselves; what kind of spaces are we moving towards with our current plans? Changing, controlling, privatizing these spatial assets can have incredibly adverse effects on the people who use it.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, with the 2019 theme of “The Right Talent, Right now.” This is a great time to highlight films made by disabled filmmakers! New Day’s collection features the work of several disabled filmmakers including:
Concerning Barriers: Three Films on Disability and Society, by Reid Davenport, consists of three short films about disability from the perspective of people with disabilities. The films implicitly and explicitly explores issues such as accessibility, the medical model versus social model, marginalization, societal response to disability and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
These films range from first-person narratives, to investigations of science and ethics, to profiles of artists and movement-builders. They amplify the excellence of disabled culture, and exemplify the disability rights motto that proclaims “Nothing About Us Without Us.”
Latinx Heritage Month (also called Hispanic Heritage Month) is from September 15-October 15. This is an opportunity to learn and reflect on Latinx & Hispanic cultures, languages, traditions, and forms of resistance.
The U Turn, the third documentary of Luis Arugueta’s immigration trilogy, tells the story of a group of Guatemalan immigrant women who broke the silence about abuses committed against them at the Agriprocessors, Inc. plant in Postville, Iowa. These women are precursors of the #MeToo movement, and were supported by the U Visa, part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA 2000) created to protect unauthorized immigrant victims of crimes of violence.
Vida Diferida (Life, Deferred) by Brenda Avila-Hanna, tells the story of Vanessa, a teenager born in Mexico who has lived in the US since she was six years old. This film highlights the uncertainties haunting undocumented youth and their families in the United States, including the promise that DACA has offered to students like Vanessa, and the fears that come with increasingly harsh immigration policies.
Our Disappeared / Nuestros Desaparacidos begins its story when filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum learns that a long-lost girlfriend from Argentina is among the thousands who were kidnapped, tortured and “disappeared” during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. Juan documented his journey to find out what happened to Patricia and others he knew who disappeared, including the stories of parents, siblings, friends and children, and his own reflections on the losses endured by generations of Argentinos.
You can find these and more in New Day’s collection of Latinx Studies films, here.
We are the filmmaking team who created In the Executioner’s Shadow. Maggie has been making documentary films on environmental and social issues for over 30 years. In 2018, she became the director for the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University in Washington, D.C. Rick has been researching and writing about the death penalty and criminal justice reform for several decades. He is a professor emeritus at American University’s School of Communication.
In the Executioner’s Shadow takes a deep dive into the criminal justice system through three narratives depicting personal stories of how the death penalty affects people in different and destructive ways. One is the heart-wrenching story of Vicki and Syl Sylvester who fight to spare the life of their daughter’s killer. Another is that of Karen Brassard, who struggles to define what justice means in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing where she, her husband, daughter and best friend were all seriously injured. She wants the bomber to pay for what he did, yet she has a 19-year-old son the same age. The fulcrum of the film is the rarely heard story of an executioner, Jerry Givens. He was Virginia’s former chief executioner for 17 years and executed 62 inmates. Jerry discovers that he came within days of executing death row prisoner Earl Washington, when Earl was exonerated. Jerry remains haunted by having nearly taken the life of an innocent man. Interviews with experts such as Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, and key information about the death penalty are woven in throughout the film.
In the Executioner’s Shadow is not a polemic. By showing multiple facets of the issue, we hope to encourage constructive dialogue and engage people who might not otherwise be open to discussion. Our approach is a model for bringing people who have vastly different perspectives together to discuss and resolve society’s most polarizing issues. It’s a catalyst for meaningful discussion about criminal justice reform that ultimately can move society toward a more compassionate place. Though few people have experienced the extremes of our criminal justice system, its consequences affect us all and define us as a society. Audiences are deeply moved by the film’s personal stories, and thought-provoking discussions follow every screening. The film has also played a key role in grassroots campaigns for criminal justice reform.
In the competitive world of film distribution, it can be easy to forget that there is a more personal and direct way of operating. National Co-op Month in October is a good time to celebrate our rare and unique status as a distribution co-op. We have banded together as engaged filmmakers and activists to collectively market and sell our films. By purchasing or licensing titles from our collection you not only gain access to thought-provoking educational materials, but you also support a unique model that empowers New Day filmmakers to maintain ownership of our films and to use our earnings in sustaining careers devoted to education, activism, and change-making.
New Day was initially formed in 1971 because the women’s movement had arrived and a group of independent filmmakers couldn’t find distribution for their feminist films. “The whole idea of distribution,” explains co-founder Julia Reichert, “was to help the women’s movement grow. Films could do that; they could get the ideas out. We could watch the women’s movement spread across the country just by who was ordering our films. First it was Cambridge and Berkeley. I remember the first showing in the deep South.”
Central to our co-op’s identity is the democratic way that we self-govern. Each voice is valued and decisions about how to grow and improve our service is done collectively. Major efforts are guided by a volunteer Steering Committee drawn from the pool of members-owners in the co-op. A biennial transfer of governance to other members assures that leadership is broadly shared and frequently infused with new ideas and perspectives.
Being a part of New Day Films is such a breath of fresh air which makes me feel inspired and energized. New Day is filled with experienced and powerful storytellers, there to help and support you, making you not only a better filmmaker, but also thrive as an individual and as a collective. —Najma Nuriddin, Not in My Neighbourhood
As a Latina filmmaker, I have been welcomed into the New Day community with open arms. It’s been amazing to be a part of such a supportive and engaged group of storytellers whose powerful films are having a real impact in the world. —Luisa Dantas,Land of Opportunity
Our collection includes award-winning films that investigate global concerns like criminal justice, environmental issues, gender & sexuality, and immigration. New Day films have challenged and inspired audiences everywhere, from high school classrooms to Capitol Hill. We continue to be sustained by the ideas that inspired our formation: collaboration, hope and social change.
Thank you for your continued support of the
longest-running distribution cooperative for independent filmmakers in the
New Day Films is excited to announce that we now offer two new streaming options through the New Day Digital streaming platform. Customers can now purchase a film stream for the “Life Of File” through New Day and can also buy the New Day Collection as a whole. It couldn’t be easier. No special equipment or software is needed, other than a high-speed internet connection.
With a “Life of File” stream, your New Day title is available to stream in perpetuity – the license will never expire. New Day provides a link based on your IP address or IP address range. After your purchase, simply add this data to your account profile. Your New Day film will be available on demand to anyone at your institution.
The “New Day Collection” stream gives you access to over 200 social issue documentary films curated for their quality and usefulness in the educational sphere. With a Collection Stream, professors and students have unlimited access to award-winning and discussion-starting teaching tools on-demand without the friction of coordinating individual purchases. New Day offers the Collection Stream for a flat fee in 1 year and 3 year licenses. As our collection grows, so does yours. With a Collection Stream you have instant, on-demand access to our complete collection as it grows so institutions are up-to-date and constantly expanding their educational video repertoire.
For more information about these great new offers, contact Karen Knox at New Day Films (email@example.com).
I was born in Wellington, India, and raised in 17 cities across India and the U.S, as my father was in the Army. I have a Masters in Strategy and an MBA from Indian School of Business. I have been fascinated with the art of storytelling since the beginning of my career at The History Channel and National Geographic Channel, and my intention is to create thought-provoking films that inspire viewers to look beyond their limitations and achieve their goals.
My film Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes traces the fascinating journey of three comic creators who challenge notions of race, appearance, and gender stereotypes through cartoons, comics, and cosplay. The documentary encourages viewers to unlearn stereotyping, look beyond the obvious, and confront media prejudices—all through an inherently engaging, accessible source. The film has screened at 47 international film festivals and won 7 prestigious awards.
I have three very distinct lead protagonists in the film: Eileen is a white American woman, Vishavjit is a Sikh American man and Keith Knights is an African American man. On the face of it they are distinct in their upbringing, looks and also skin color. However, when you look closer you realize that they have a lot in common – they have all faced similar challenges during their childhoods, their teenage years, and even now on a day-to-day basis. They have also used comics as a medium to challenge those biases.
As a woman, a brown woman, and a brown mother I have been “stereotyped” at various levels. Some blatant, others hidden. I always wanted to make a film on the subject of stereotyping, but instead of just showcasing a problem, I wanted to showcase solutions. Since people from all age groups, income levels, nationalities, etc., could connect with the issue of bias, I wanted to create a film that was universal in its appeal. Comics offered the perfect medium to deliver the story in a manner that makes you think and smile at the same time. Comics span generations, religions, and cultures. They are entertaining, and have the capacity to evolve with a changing society that keeps them fresh, fun, and socially relevant.
Like Eileen says in the film, “You can focus on the commonalities or you can focus on the differences,” and when we focus on what draws us together as human beings, the world becomes a lot more peaceful and loving.
Since its inception, New Day Films has been known for thought-provoking and critically acclaimed films dealing with social issues. Many members of our distribution co-op are also looked to as leaders in the film and television industry. In the past several years, a slew of New Day filmmakers have been inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). “The Academy” is recognized as one of the most respected and longest-standing institutions for preserving the history of cinema, and most famously for its role in selecting the annual Oscar winners. Induction into The Academy is an honor that lasts for life and is extended to filmmakers with a history of successful, influential, or critically acclaimed films.
We proudly recognize our recently-inducted AMPAS members, many of whose abilities we’ve valued here at New Day since long before their Academy membership. Here is a little about them and some of their films within New Day starting with the most recent inductees:
Carrie Lozano – Carrie Lozano is journalist and documentary filmmaker who, through her association with the International Documentary Association, also helps mid-career filmmakers tell journalistic stories. She has produced several acclaimed films as well as directing the award-winning Reporter Zero about the first openly gay journalist in mainstream media and his contributions to covering the early AIDS crisis.
PJ Raval – Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100” and Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” PJ Raval is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer whose credits includeTRINIDAD and BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, which follows the lives of three gay senior men and has been described as “a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon.”
Stephanie Wang-Breal – Stephanie Wang-Breal is an award-winning independent filmmaker living in Brooklyn, New York. Stephanie’s debut film, Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You, Mommy) was nominated for an Emmy® and has garnered numerous festival awards as well as being broadcast nationally on PBS.
Kimberly Reed – Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” OUT Magazine’s “Out 100,” and Towleroad’s “LGBT Film Character Of The Year,” Kimberly Reed uses her position as the first commercially-released transgender filmmaker to tell compelling stories such as in her film Prodigal Sons, which reveals a surprisingly universal story about identity, gender, adoption, & mental illness.
Marty Syjuco – Marty Syjuco is an Emmy® Award-nominated documentary filmmaker. Originally from the Philippines, he moved to NYC to pursue his passion in documentary filmmaking. He has since co-directed several award-winning documentaries with Michael Collins that are part of the New Day catalogue including Almost Sunrise, which tells the true story of two friends, ex-soldiers, who embark on an epic journey to heal from their time at war.
Paco de Onís – Paco de Onís grew up in several Latin American countries and is multilingual. A long-standing member of New Day, Paco has 10 titles in our collection – each one dealing with a different facet of Latin American history, culture, and change. His latest is 500 YEARS, which tells the sweeping story of mounting resistance in Guatemala’s recent history through the eyes of the majority indigenous Mayan population.
S. Leo Chiang – S. Leo Chiang is an Emmy® Award-nominated documentary filmmaker whose film contributions to the New Day catalogue are numerous and include Mr. Cao Goes to Washington and Out Run, about a historic grass-roots quest to elect a trans woman to the Philippine Congress.
Mirra Bank – Mirra Bank has a long career of directing films, television, and theatre. Her films have garnered numerous festival awards and broad screenings via outlets like PBS and Netflix. Her film Yudie is hosted by New Day and concerns independence, aging, and the immigration experience.
Janet Cole – Janet Cole’s producing or executive producing credits garnered her two Emmy awards, a Peabody Award and an Oscar nomination. Her film Freedom Machines is hosted by New Day and dramatically explores the concept of “disability” through the intimate stories of adults and children who are using modern technologies to change their lives.
Julia Reichert– Julia Reichert has received three Academy Award nominations for her documentary work and is a winner of the Primetime Emmy Award. She has directed both documentary and fiction features. She is a founder of New Day and her film Growing Up Female – the very first film of the modern women’s movement — is among her three titles in the collection.
Robert Richter– Robert Richter’s documentaries have been honored with many major awards, ranging from three Academy Award nominations for best documentary short to three Dupont Columbia Broadcast Journalism awards, National Emmys, Peabodys and many U.S. and overseas film festival prizes. He has four films in the New Day catalog including Father Roy: Inside the School of Assasinsabout the daring actions and personal sacrifices of a Vietnam war hero turned priest, who struggles to find and reveal the truth about a CIA/Pentagon secret torture training school.
Rick Goldsmith– Rick Goldsmith is a two-time Oscar nominee whose mission as a filmmaker is to tell stories that encourage social engagement and active participation in community life and democratic process, and to stimulate young minds to question the world around them. His four films in the New Day catalogue include the Oscar-nominated Tell the Truth and Run– the dramatic story of muckraking journalist George Seldes, and a piercing look at censorship and suppression in America’s news media.
We are proud of the leadership role that many of our members play in the art and industry of cinema!
I’m a documentary filmmaker and video journalist interested in shedding light on touchstone issues through intimate storytelling. The Sandman is a short documentary that profiles the doctor leading Georgia’s lethal injection team. The film unpacks why a doctor would defy medical ethics to participate in executions, highlighting the significance a white coat lends to executions, and how the public perception of lethal injection might perpetuate the practice of capital punishment.
Over the past decade, a series of botched executions have revealed the violence inherent in the lethal injection process – a method of execution that many consider to be the most humane form of capital punishment. In 2015, a group of Oklahoma death-row inmates challenged their planned executions arguing that one of the drugs in the state’s three-drug protocol would lead to an unconstitutional amount of suffering. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the execution method stating that the inmates needed to offer a viable alternative form of execution. For me, this case highlighted the contradictory nature of using medicine for executions. As I looked into it, I discovered that while lethal injections use the tools of medicine, the procedures vary from state to state and the methods are fairly unscientific. I wanted to understand how medicine came to be used in this way, and why a medical professional would assist in state executions.
Dr. Musso is one of the only medical professionals willing to publicly discuss his participation. For him, the death sentence is akin to a terminal illness. He sees his role as simply ensuring that the execution is done properly to avoid the unbearable pain of a lethal injection gone wrong. However, in our conversations, he also conceded that the mere practice of lethal injection gives the public a sense of humaneness that other forms of execution do not. By bringing doctors and nurses into the execution chamber, executions become sanitized in a way.
While I did not set out to make an advocacy film, I do hope that The Sandman encourages viewers to think critically about lethal injections and state-sanctioned executions. More than anything, I want to lay bare a criminal punishment that is too often shrouded in secrecy.
While there are several films that focus on the death sentence and questions surrounding guilt and innocence, there are few that deal directly with the protocol itself. In fact, I have not yet seen a film that explores the use of medicine as an executioner’s tool.
This was an extremely difficult film for me to make. The subject matter was clearly dark and it was a real challenge to engage with it in such a deep way for a year. As a filmmaker, I had to juggle my obligation to the person I was filming, to the audience, and to the truth as best as I could see it. As filmmakers, we wield a great deal of power in the edit room. I cut 5 or 6 different versions of this film before I felt that I had the right balance — allowing Dr. Musso’s point of view to clearly come through, but also creating a space where viewers can question the larger system.
My name is Joel Fendelman, and I’m an independent filmmaker who strives to embrace socially conscious stories that deal with religion, social class, and race. My goal as a filmmaker is to communicate the underlying connections between us all.
Grand Saline, Texas, a town east of Dallas, has a history of racism that the community doesn’t talk about. This shroud of secrecy ended when Charles Moore, an elderly white minister, self-immolated to protest the town’s racism in 2014, shining a spotlight on the town’s dark past. Man on Fire untangles the pieces of this protest and questions the racism in Grand Saline today.
When I first heard about this story, I was struck by the extremity of the act but also humbled by Charles’ courage. At the time, I was questioning what I was doing to help bring about social justice in the world and yet here is this remarkable man who attempted to self-immolate for the greater good. It was a real gut punch, but it also motivated me to want to learn more about Charles and this town. It made me question if his act changed anything.
As with all my films, Man on Fire was a personal journey of discovery and healing. I realized how ignorant I was about racism in today’s society and racist thoughts in my personal life. I had this idea of racism being explicit like beatings and segregation from the 1960s, but I came to realize that, while racist violence still happens, there is another dimension of racism today that is more implicit. I was fortunate to have an expert on this subject–my producing partner Dr. James Chase Sanchez–to help guide me and the film. We interviewed over 50 people, mostly from the rural south who, let’s say, still have some more growth to do. But I would also say that they have given all of us who watch the film a gift. Yes, we can watch them and easily point our fingers, or we can use it as an opportunity to point the finger back at us and ask, “What part of Grand Saline is still in me?”
I also have a narrative feature film within the New Day Films called David, about a 10 yr old Muslim boy living in Brooklyn and his unexpected friendship with orthodox Jewish boys who mistake him for being Jewish. It is a a coming of age film that explores questions of identity and what really separates us as humans.
I’m Anike Tourse, a multimedia maker with experience working both in front of and behind the camera. I’ve written for television series including One Life to Live and Girlfriends and I’m the writer and director of a short film called America; I Too, which stars Academy Award nominee Barkhad Abdi, with music from Grammy winner Quetzal. I’m currently in pre-production for a feature film called America’s Family, which tells five stories of one family separated by one border, and their journey to reunite.
My hope in making America; I Too was to give audiences a sense of what undocumented immigrant families and detainees are struggling with in terms of arrest and deportation, as well as to remind Americans of what is at the core of the American Dream: justice, fairness, opportunity, and fighting like hell for our constitutional rights. The film features a predominantly immigrant cast and crew including over 250 Extras, most of whom are undocumented immigrants living in greater Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and Lancaster, California.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) commissioned the short film, not knowing that production would start on the same day President Trump signed an Executive Order to deny U.S. entrance to anyone from the seven countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. Academy award nominee Barkhad Abdi signed up for the project unaware that two of the places he had lived in, Somalia and Yemen, would be included in the ban. The cast and crew, activists and community members worked together to shoot the short in just three days. The result was an accessible and empowering tool that immigrant communities could use to help protect themselves.
May is the 70th Annual Mental Health Month, an opportunity to look at mental health in our lives, our communities, and our cultures.
Who Am I To Stop It, by Cheryl Green, is a documentary about a group of artists with traumatic brain injuries, and explores the ways visual art, music, and personal narrative help these individuals cope with institutional and internalized ableism.
Abrazos, by Luis Argueta, shows the importance of reunification of transnational families, and the negative consequences of separation across borders, especially on the youngest family members.
You can find these and other films about aging and elders here.
Asian American Pacific Heritage Month
May is Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, and New Day has an extensive collection of films about Asian and Pacific Islander stories and perspectives.
95 and 6 to Go, by Kimi Takesue, shows the filmmaker’s relationship with her spry elderly grandfather, who takes an interest in her stalled romantic screenplay and uses it as a lens through which to share his own memories.
Kites and Other Tales, made by Alan Ohashi in 1975, is a beautiful educational film that focuses on kite maker Tom Joe, who seeks to preserve the craft of kite making and the traditional Asian folklore behind it.
Visual Communications, one of the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts organization, has forged an alliance with New Day Films. This means select titles from their award-winning filmography are now available for streaming license to schools, universities, and individuals. The release of ten classic Visual Communications titles on New Day’s websiterepresent an exciting new chapter in New Day’s ongoing mission to develop and support cinematic voices of multiple ethnicities and generations.
This exciting alliance is underscored by both organizations’ unwavering commitment to social change. The films in the Visual Communications collection are works of art, of great historical importance, and are now under the extraordinary care of New Day Films. The members of New Day are honored to include them in our catalogue.
Founded in 1970 as a film production collective seeking to build a greater consciousness of Asian Pacific history in America, today VC is a full-service media arts center and home to film festivals, workshops, and an array of artists services. Their long history runs parallel with New Day Films, and many MOs have deep ties to this groundbreaking organization
The ten groundbreaking Visual Communications films newly in the New Day Films collection are:
YUKI SHIMODA: ASIAN AMERICAN ACTOR by John Esaki A film celebrating the thirty-year acting career of the late Yuki Shimoda – reflecting his achievements as well as career disappointments typical of being a minority actor.
WATARIDORI: BIRDS OF PASSAGE by Robert A. Nakamura This important tribute to the Issei (first generation Japanese Americans) integrates the stories of three people who describe a collective history through their personal memories.
TO BE ME: TONY QUON by Pat Lau and Don Miller Tony, an active ten-year-old Chinese immigrant, describes adjusting to an American school. Tony describes his first impressions of “strange new classrooms” as the film journeys with him through Los Angeles.
…I TOLD YOU SO by Alan Kondo A film that weaves scenes of Japanese American poet and professor Lawson Inada’s life with his writings.
CRUISIN’ J-TOWN by Duane Kubo A film celebrating the music and influences of contemporary Asian American culture on Dan Kuramoto, June Okida Kuramoto, and Johnny Mori — three musicians who make up the core of the jazz fusion band Hiroshima.
CITY, CITY by Duane Kubo This experimental narrative piece offers an abstract view of a contemporary city and the people who inhabit it.
WONG SINSAANG by Eddie Wong A lyrical portrait of the filmmaker’s father, a proprietor of a dry-cleaning business in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood.
CHINATOWN 2-STEP by Eddie Wong Capturing the all-American fervor of parade competition, the film profiles the Los Angeles Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps, an important fixture of the Chinese American community.
Earth Day, celebrated every year on April 22, urges us to solve climate change, end plastic pollution, protect endangered species, and grapple with the questions of survival on this distressed planet. New Day has a collection of films that address the nuances of these serious issues. Uranium Drive-in by Suzan Berazafollows a proposed uranium mill in Colorado, and the emotional debate between those desperate for jobs and those concerned about the environmental impacts. Water Warriorsby Michael Premo tells the story of a community’s successful fight to protect their water from the oil and natural gas industry.There Once Was an Island: Te Henua e Nnoho by Briar March shows the real effects of rising sea levels on an island called Takuu in Papua New Guinea where the people are being forced to either relocate, or face increasing floods and other impacts of climate change. See these and other films related to Earth Day here.
A spot to recognize achievements of particular merit by filmmakers within the New Day Films collective.
Luis Argueta wins Global Citizen Award from Peace Corps!
New Day filmmaker Luis Argueta, of Guatemala, will be awarded the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award in June. The award honors an outstanding global leader who grew up in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, whose life was influenced by Peace Corps, and whose career contributed significantly to their nation and the world in ways that reflect shared values in human dignity and economic, social, and political development. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a global leader by NPCA.
Robin Lung’s Finding Kukan recognized by the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) has just released its 2019 List of Notable Videos for Adults, and we’re delighted to announce that New Day filmmaker Robin Lung‘s Finding Kukan has been selected! The ALA’s list of 15 films was carefully curated from videos released over the past two years, and is meant for use by librarians and the general public. Its purpose is to call attention to recent releases that make a significant contribution to the world of video. Finding Kukan takes a look at the life of Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited female film producer who co-produced Kukan, the 1942 Academy Award-winning documentary film on China that was lost for years.
You can learn more and purchase your own copy HERE.
I am a documentary filmmaker committed to social equality and fair representation of marginalized populations. I make my films with the intention of connecting people, alleviating ethnocentrism, and providing visual and narrative evidence to help people learn about the world in which we live. I find a lot of joy and creative inspiration in nature, and I am lucky enough to live in the Sierras and call South Lake Tahoe, CA home.
El Cacao exposes the dark side of chocolate production in Latin America by examining the economics of Fair Trade from the point of view of the indigenous farmers, as they attempt to sustain their community through the growth, harvest, and trade of cacao beans in the global market. This 20-minute documentary film highlights the life of an indigenous Ngäbe farmer in Panama and his unconditional devotion to this so-called “superfood.” The film threads together the themes of neoliberal ideology, human rights, and the economics of the chocolate industry. While the demand for chocolate in developed nations continues to rise, the farmers in developing countries, like Panama, are rarely awarded the economic incentive promised to them. The film utilizes cinema vérité techniques with candid interviews. Most of the film hinges on intimate shots in personal working and living space within a small Ngäbe community in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama.
I had the opportunity to live and work alongside cacao farmers for over two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. I wanted to make a film that went beyond the mainstream story of chocolate and delved into the intimate life of the most important person in the chocolate supply chain, the cacao farmer. My goal with El Cacao was to personalize the farmers that are disenfranchised in their country and in the global economy. By harnessing the power of narrative visuals and technology, I hoped to create an accessible and entertaining avenue for people to learn, grow, connect, and act.
This was my first documentary, so there were tons of lessons to learn, especially considering the challenges of the production setting. The community I filmed within Panama was located deep in the jungle; there was no electricity to charge batteries and the weather presented us with multiple torrential downpours every single day. The editing process also proved to be incredibly challenging. I had various interviews with US based chocolatiers that I initially edited together with Samuel’s story in an attempt to complete the bean to bar trade story. Fortunately, I had incredible mentors and colleagues through the SOCDOC program at UCSC that encouraged me to question how many voices needed to be included and how they may take away from Samuel’s story, which is the one I cared most about.