Captured over two years, my film Daddy Don’t Go tells the story of four disadvantaged dads in New York City as they struggle to defy the odds against them. I wanted to pay homage to every disadvantaged father who negates the “deadbeat dad” stereotype with a deep love for his children. These men, much like my own father, are often trying to be the dads they themselves never had. I made the film to bring new and positive images of fatherhood to a national audience.
I remember when we were filming one of our subjects in criminal court and the judge asked him if he was willing to let us continue to film him there, assuring him that it was completely up to him if our cameras stayed or left. I held my breath. I knew that if he said yes it would be a huge act of trust on his part. He turned around, looked at me and then nodded to the judge. I knew in that moment that so much of my hard work had paid off.
Daddy Don’t Go seems to be very moving to dads and parents who struggle. One of our screenings was held in the Bronx for the homeless men of the “Ready, Willing and Able” program– 70% of whom are fathers. I saw misty eyes and heard a few sniffles during the screening. No one moved to get up after it ended. I got dozens of handshakes, hugs and thank you’s as the men left the room. Screenings like that make you feel like all your efforts are worthwhile.
New Day Films is excited to announce the launch of its fully
integrated streaming platform. Customers can now stream films and order DVDs directly from the New Day website — with streaming licenses that range from two weeks to seven years.
Our distribution co-op has remained committed to maintaining an independent streaming platform for almost a decade. Back in 2007, when Netflix moved into streaming, New Day Films also decided to stay ahead of the curve by launching its own streaming initiative. With the help of Seattle Community College TV (SCCTV), it developed New Day Digital: a website that allowed higher education institutions to stream our independent social issue documentaries.
In 2014, when we received the news that SCCTV was pulling out of the streaming game, we saw this transition moment as an opportunity to offer our customers an even more enhanced streaming experience. With the help of new streaming partner CMI, we decided to merge New Day Digital with New Day Film’s freshly revamped website. Filmmaker Paco de Onís headed up the small team of New Day filmmakers tasked with overseeing this integration. As he notes, New Day Films has always seen an independent streaming platform as vital to its future as a digital distributor. He writes, “As independent filmmakers, having our own platform empowers us in a way that makes it possible for us to continue making fiercely independent social issue documentaries. This has been New Day’s primary mission since 1971.”
New Day’s new and improved streaming platform is the product of two years of careful research and development. Customers with older licenses purchased through New Day Digital should continue to experience uninterrupted service. As with New Day Digital, the new integrated platform emphasizes our capacity to deliver customized solutions on a customer-by-customer basis, backed up by our easy to reach and responsive customer service team. Streams are delivered via IP authentication or from a user panel on our site — making it easy for students and professors to watch our films from school or home. And New Day customers will have more to look forward to in the future! In Phase 2 of the streaming upgrade, currently in development, customers will be able to access new tools to enhance their viewing experience, including searchable video and the ability to “quote” parts of the film by clipping. They will also have the option to stream a thematic collection of films within New Day, or to stream the entirety of New Day’s rich archive.
If you need assistance with the new purchasing process, or have any other questions about the upgrade, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
I am a New York City-based filmmaker from a blue-collar background interested in illuminating stories and histories that are seldom taught. My film Hunting in Wartime profiles Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska, who saw combat during the Vietnam War. They talk about surviving trauma, relating to Vietnamese people, 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.
The main impetus behind this project was to support, document and preserve Tlingit history. There isn’t a great deal of documentation regarding Tlingit history because the Tlingit community uses verbal storytelling. The film is only a piece in what we hope is a lasting historical media presence for Hoonah’s Vietnam veterans and a broader transmedia project that explores racism, history and war from a uniquely Native American perspective.
I was also drawn to the story partly because the Vietnam War has always intrigued me—as a student, activist, and filmmaker. I was born while the war was still taking place and my family watched the carnage nightly on television. Those images must have left an indelible effect on me.
The process of making the film was an emotional one. The most significant moment in the production process was when fellow producer Christie George and I interviewed Tlingit Veteran Kenny Austin in Hilo, Hawaii. He gave us a very long and intense interview. We took him out to dinner afterwards and when we gave him a ride home, we realized he had walked over two miles to meet us for the interview. At the time Ken was close to 80 years of age and not in the best of health. The experience confirmed how important it is for the veterans to have their stories heard. We knew we had to tell this story as best as we could.
November is also Transgender Awareness Month, a time to raise visibility of and expose challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people. New Day’s catalogue includes a number of films about trans people. In Prodigal Sons, a trans woman returns home to Helena, Montana, and confronts her complicated relationship with her brother, opening the doorway to a journey of revelations. Trinidad acquaints viewers with three trans women whose paths cross in Trinidad, Colorado, the “sex-change capital of the world.” The Year We Thought About Love is a story about a queer youth theater project, and includes the coming out process of a young black trans woman.
I am a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. My film Mimi And Dona is a personal documentary about my grandmother Mimi and my aunt Dona, who was diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a child and lived with my grandmother her entire life. When Mimi was 92, she finally admitted that she could no longer care for Dona, then age 64. This set in motion the events chronicled in Mimi And Dona.
When I first went to Dallas to film Mimi and Dona, I wasn’t sure if I was making a home movie, or a larger film. I mainly wanted to capture their life together. They were sweet and quirky Texas characters. My brothers and I often wondered if Dona could have lived a more independent and potentially “bigger” life away from home; on the other hand, she and Mimi were happy. They had a lot of fun together and were close companions for decades. We wondered if a move away from Mimi was the right thing for Dona. Would Mimi fall apart without her?
Back in Los Angeles, whenever I told people about Mimi and Dona’s situation, they would chime in that they knew someone in the same predicament—a cousin, a neighbor or a friend’s sibling, some with developmental disabilities, others with mental illnesses, all struggling to find appropriate care and housing for a loved one. This was an untold story happening all around us, with aging caregivers like my grandmother facing agonizing decisions, often with little support or guidance.
The response to Mimi And Dona has been amazing. After a national broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens, it was named “One of the Best TV Shows of 2015” by Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times, who called it a “beautiful portrait of parental commitment.” Viewers identify with the characters and say that the film stays with them long after they watch it. Equally gratifying has been the response from professionals who work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They appreciate the film’s intimate and honest look at the dynamics within a family, something they don’t normally see if they interact with individuals outside the home. They are also grateful for the film shining a spotlight on an issue they come across frequently in their work – finding appropriate care and housing for a vulnerable population that is aging, right along with their caregivers.
October is Disability Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to make sure that Disability Studies, Art, Culture and Politics are
integrated into any topic you are teaching. Whether you’re teaching Social Work, Medicine, Gender Studies, Black History, Performance Studies, or Early Childhood Development, examining and learning from a disabled experience will provide a fuller and deeper understanding of the course materials for your students. Below are some guidelines to help integrate the perspectives of people with disabilities into your classroom.
DON’T perpetuate the myth of the “tragic cripple.” You know, the story where someone is disabled and miserable, and everything they do is so hard, and everyone around them is brought down by their struggle, and then maybe they almost achieve happiness but then… they die. Learn to identify this trope so you can call it out when you see it. DO offer stories and examples of people with
disabilities who are living complex, full lives, who are in reciprocal relationships, who make choices and have life journeys.Mimi and Dona, one of New Day’s recent acquisitions, documents the symbiotic relationship between an aging mother and her disabled daughter, offering a useful jumping off point for analyzing dynamics of inter/dependence. The Key of Gis another film that shows a disabled person growing and changing in the context of a community who loves them.
DON’T teach our stories solely through the lens of the medical establishment, or assume that all people with disabilities want a cure. DO examine complexities of access to health care,
allocation of resources, and how these privileges break down along race/class/age/gender lines. Fixed is a useful documentary for examining the politics of “human enhancement” and the impetus toward “fixing” people’s bodies rather than taking care of people’s basic needs.
DON’T succumb to the false-positive messaging of ‘inspiration porn’ – you know, the story about the amazing disabled person who, despite all their hardship
s is still able to rise above and overcome their circumstances, inspiring able-bodied people to say, “If they can do it, what’s my excuse?” This narrative centers the able-bodied experience and perpetuates competitive, ableist constructions of “success” and “failure.” DO share materials created by people with disabilities where we frame our own experiences.Who Am I to StopItis a compelling documentary about three artists with traumatic brain injuries, made by a filmmaker with disabilities from brain injury.
DON’T hold up one type of disability as the “true” disability. Disability is an intentionally broad category that includes people with mobility impairments, people who belong to sensory minorities, people with psychiatric disabilities, chronic illnesses, learning disabilities, cognitive challenges, chronic pain, and more. DO
encourage awareness of the ways our society disables us by stigmatizing the ways we show up in the world. Michael and His Dragonand When I Came Homeboth follow soldiers who return from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Twitch and Shoutis about people with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological condition that is often misunderstood.
DON’T perpetuate unconscious use of ableist language that frames disability as bad. This includes words like “crazy” when you mean abusive, “lame” when you mean uncool, or “blind” when you mean ignorant, or even words like “weak” or “stupid” that imply ableist hierarchies. DO examine the use of identity labels, including “disability” itself – how are these words used by people who identify with them? Identify nuances of language that differentiate between what we want others to call us, and what we call ourselves. In
DON’T feed into stereotypes of disabled people as sexless and childlike. People with disabilities have desires, are desired by other people, enjoy sex (solo, partnered, in groups…), have relationships, and experience all the ups and downs and ins and outs that come with being an embodied being. People with disabilities are also at high risk of sexual assault, so sex education is crucial to understanding what is happening and knowing that we have a choice. DO promote work by disabled people that explores sexuality. Sins Invalidfollows the eponymous Disability Justice performance project and movement-building organization that creates work around disability and sexuality, centralizing artists of col
or and queer and gender-variant artists with disabilities.
DON’T isolate disability from other identities, or play ableism against other forms of oppression. There are disabled people in every demographic, so any struggle for justice and liberation also affects people with disabilities. DO share examples of people navigating simultaneous experiences of racism, ableism, sexism, and more. Making Noise in Silence looks at intersections of deafness, youth, immigration, and race in the lives of two young deaf Korean students. E Haku Inoa: To Weave a Name
looks at the impact of colonization on a mother’s mental health.
DON’T assume that people with disabilities are always in the position of receiving but not giving. Many of us who are disabled are also caregivers, therapists, parents, medical professionals, teachers, and healers. DO look at the ways our lives change over time and how the amount and type of care we receive and offer fluctuates at different moments. States of Gracefollows the story
of Dr. Grace Dammann, a pioneering AIDS specialist whose near-fatal car accident changes her perception of self and relationship to her body and family.
DON’T assume that nobody in the classroom has the disability you’re discussing. Disabled people are not a separate group – “they” are part of the “we” that you’re speaking to. DO model accessibility in the classroom by providing opportunities for access needs to be identified, including bio breaks, seating options, lighting changes, large print, captions, audio description, scent-free space, or whatever the individuals in your class might need in order to participate. Most New Day Films are closed captioned, and a number of them including Fixed, Sins Invalid, The Key of G,and Who Am I to Stop It are audio described fo
r blind audiences. For more thoughts about classroom accessibility issues, Read Me Differentlyis a powerful New Day film about a young woman’s learning differences.
DON’T imagine that you will always be able-bodied! Everybody experiences some type of disability in their life, whether it’s a temporary injury or surgery, a chronic illness, an accident, or just getting old and losing abilities over time. DO co-create a world that recognizes and respects the many ways we live in our minds and bodies.
Explore New Day’s rich collection of films on Disability here.
August 6 and 9 mark the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. New Day filmmaker Bob Richter shares his thoughts on the continuing legacy of these attacks.
This past May, I was deeply moved to see President Barack Obama embrace a 91-year-old survivor of the nuclear attack in Hiroshima. The scene of the survivor with the President brought back powerful memories about the city’s attack—the first time an atomic bomb was used to destroy people.
It was only a few years ago that my co-producer Kathleen Sullivan and I had joined survivors in Nagasaki, where the second and last atomic bomb was dropped. Thousands of residents, government officials, and religious leaders gathered collectively to remember what happened in that city at 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945. At an exhibit at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, where a Japanese-language version of our documentary The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Agehad premiered a few days earlier, we viewed mangled clocks frozen at that precise moment.
The temperature during the commemoration was so fiercely hot that we draped our necks with ice-cold cloths that had been passed around the large outdoor tent where we were sitting. Hardly worth complaining about, as the temperature from the detonated bomb was several thousand degrees, instantly incinerating an estimated 70,000 men, women, and children. A bell tolled at 11:02 a.m. at the Peace Park—Nagasaki’s Ground Zero—and we stood silently to pay tribute to the moment that forever changed history.
I met many atomic bomb survivors while Kathleen and I were producing The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age. Our film finally came to settle on the remarkable testimony and life of Sakue Shimohira, who at the age of ten was left to hide in a Nagasaki shelter when the bomb dropped. In one of the film’s most powerful moments, Sakue describes her sister’s suicide ten years after the end of World War II. While her sister found “the courage to die,” Shimohira-san found “the courage to live” and has since dedicated her life to abolishing nuclear weapons. We follow her in the company of two Japanese students as they talk with students in London, New York and Nagasaki. We also see her in a gripping encounter with a Holocaust survivor.
Our film strives to cast new light on events that are too easily relegated to a tragic segment of history. We show how there were US military leaders that challenged the belief that Nagasaki was essential for military victory—a prevailing belief that even I had bought into before the making of the film. Through a highly regarded Japanese journalist, we learn about the Press Code imposed by the U.S. occupation government, that for years prohibited him and other members of Japan’s media from reporting on the bomb or its health effects. And we also touch upon the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, a U.S. agency that gathered data from thousands of survivors and sent that data to the U.S.—not Japan—and did not attempt to ameliorate the health problems of the survivors.
Other films in the New Day collection also touch upon the costs of living in a nuclear age. In the Academy Award-winning documentary Deadly Deception, filmmaker Deborah Chasnoff juxtaposes GE’s rosy “We Bring Good Things To Life” commercials with true stories of workers and neighbors whose lives have been devastated by GE’s involvement in building nuclear bombs. It tells a powerful story of how consumer activists can challenge corporations causing harm.
In How To Prevent A Nuclear War, Liane Brandon takes a refreshingly upbeat and compelling look at the kinds of activities that Americans engage in to lessen the threat of nuclear war, whether it be visiting their local representative or starting a Concert for Peace. It is a film about grassroots democracy in action, featuring unforgettable vignettes of people working for peace in their communities.
In our film The Ultimate Wish, a nuclear expert explains that there is a strong, but rarely mentioned, link between nuclear weaponry and nuclear power, and we briefly document the burgeoning movements to end both. One of our characters Takako Shishido, who was living in Fukushima at the time of the March 2011 nuclear power plants’ triple meltdowns, tells us what happened and what she would like to see happen now. Filmmaker Suzan Berazasimilarly takes a look at the impact of using nuclear energy in America in her critically acclaimed documentary Uranium Drive-In. The film follows a proposed uranium mill in Colorado—the first to be built in the U.S. in 30 years—and the debate pitting a population desperate for jobs and financial stability against an environmental group based in a nearby resort town. Without judgment, both sides of the issue are brought to life in heart-wrenching detail as the film follows conflicting visions for the future. The film offers no easy answers but aims instead to capture personal stories and paint a portrait of the lives behind this nuanced and complex issue.
I have made several different films covering nuclear issues since the 1970s and the threats are still very much with us. Today, nine countries in the world possess at least a total of 15,375 nuclear weapons, each many times more destructive than the two used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States seeks to monitor and decrease nuclear arms in other countries, as it simultaneously works to modernize its own stockpile. While new vital concerns justifiably dominate our media headlines, learning and remembering nuclear history is fundamental to our existence. We cannot ignore the voices demanding the ultimate wish: ending the nuclear age.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. New Day has a strong collection of films on LGBTQ topics, including award-winning new releases Out in the Night, about the justice struggle of four young black queer women known as the New Jersey Five, and The Year We Thought About Love, about a Boston-based queer youth theater company.
I have been working for 25 years in the film industry and am proud to now have two titles in the New Day collection. My newest work is A Chance To Dress, a documentary that explores the complexity of gender expression through the story of MIT Professor Emeritus and open cross-dresser Dr. John “Tephra” Southard. The film follows the difficulties in coming out to his friends, neighbors and colleagues, but also his sense of liberation after a lifetime of secrecy.
My curiosity motivated me to make this film: I had so many questions about the nature of cross-dressing. When I discovered that many others had the same questions, I set out to find some answers. Few people understand that cross-dressing is not the same as being transgender, so my goal was to explore the phenomenon of cross dressing and bring it into conversation. Cross-dressing is very much a part of the fabric of our society and it should be understood as yet another way of expressing one’s gender identity.
The community of cross-dressers is still hidden – trying to locate cross-dressers isn’t as easy as, for example, finding the gay and lesbian community, or even now the transgender community. They tend to want to remain “stealth” as much as possible. So the fact that we were able to film inside the Tiffany Club (a private club for cross-dressers and transgender people) was a big deal, and I think we were able to do so on the strength of my previous film, Thy Will Be Done: a transsexual woman’s journey through family and faith. It was the first time the Club allowed filming inside – ever – so that was a great opportunity that really enriched the film.
The film has made an impact by validating the desire of men who occasionally enjoy dressing in women’s clothing. But to my great delight, it has also had an unexpected impact on the wives of cross-dressers. The film profiles John Southard’s wife Jean, an “A+ wife,” who is caring, understanding, and a “willing accomplice.” She is a role model and inspiration to those who may be having a hard time embracing the lifestyles of their partners or aren’t sure how best to support them.
In a recent interview in the New York Times, President Obama, quoting an unnamed source, stated, “Every man is either trying to live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes.” As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, we call attention to award-winning New Day Films that pay homage to the strong influence fathers have played in our lives. They are guardians of memory, carriers of our culture, inventors and innovators, and front line players in redefining gender roles. And they are also deeply complicated individuals struggling to balance personal issues with the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Eva Ilona Brzesk’s haunting and lyrical film This Unfamiliar Place chronicles the story of her father, a child survivor of the Holocaust who kept his memories hidden for fifty years. As Eva asks her father to speak of his experiences, we witness the terrible inadequacy of words. Reflecting upon the film years later, Eva says, “I set out to understand something about my father’s history and this film taught me that there were things I could not understand.” The film celebrates the commitment to life and family as a father unlocks his pain to connect to his daughter.
FilmmakerIndira Somaniandco-producer Leena Jayaswal confront loss in their film, Crossing Lines. After the death of her father, Indira travels to India where she comes to terms with her bi-cultural identity as an Indian-American. She writes, “My father had a big impact on me in understanding Indian culture, Hinduism, and maintaining our immigrant culture while living in the U.S.” By traveling back to his motherland, she finds a way to honor her father’s memory, family, and traditions.
Grief, memory, and identity form the foundation of Mark Lipman’s intimate film Fatherʻs Day. Through home movies and interviews with relatives, Mark tries to make sense of what caused his fatherʻs apparent suicide when he was only 17 years old. Mark reflects, “Father’s Day was over 20 years in the making, part of a very long effort to come to terms with the sudden death of my father when I was a teenager. Filmmaking gave me a tool to explore hidden areas of my life and an excuse to ask questions that might never have found the light of day.”
Filmmaker Susan Stern also explores the issue of suicide from a different perspective. Her film The Self-Made Man examines the death of her father through the right-to-die, “rational” suicide movement and the concept of manhood. “My father was a real tough guy,” Susan writes. “He chose to take his own life rather than be dependent in old age and disease. It is, arguably, the curse of maleness.”
Gender roles, interracial adoption, and the redefinition of the family are at the heart of Johnny Symons’s candid, first-person film Daddy and Papa, an exploration of, in Johnny’s words, “why and how gay men are choosing to parent.” As Johnny and his partner navigate the joys and struggles of raising two adopted African-American sons, he shows us gay fatherhood in three other families, shedding light on foster care, surrogacy, and the complexities of gay divorce. “Ultimately,” says Johnny, “it’s a film about the universal desire to raise children, which completely transcends sexual orientation.”
As Father’s Day approaches, these five films not only pay tribute to fathers but also invite us to think about the complex role they play in our lives, and how our understanding of that role often changes over time. For more on these films and others that challenge and enrich our notions of family, please visit New Day’s collection here.