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.
The demographics of the United States are changing rapidly; research shows that the number of people who are 65 or over will double by 2050. As with any major shift, this will have major implications for our society, our economy, and our personal lives. This May, as we celebrate Older Americans Month, New Day Films is proud to showcase six films that raise awareness about important issues facing older adults and their loved ones. These films transform our culture’s myopic fascination with youth by featuring stories of those on the frontier of the aging boom– older Americans who are breaking taboos by advocating for themselves, their peers, and their communities.
One of the newest additions to New Day’s collection isNine To Ninety, a short film I directed on the difficult choices older Americans are forced to make as they near the end of their lives. At the heart of the film is my producer Juli Vizza’s 89-year-old grandmother Phyllis, a vivacious petite woman who finds herself having to part from her husband of 62 years in order to ease the caretaking burden on their daughter. In a time of crisis magnified by limited finances, Phyllis bravely tackles the taboo of talking about death with her tightly knit family and begins the emotional-spiritual process of saying goodbye to her loved ones. This powerful story inspired Juli and me to develop an engagement campaign with partners like The Conversation Project, Caring Across Generations and AARP. Since launching the film on PBS at the beginning of the year, we have been working to connect classrooms, communities, and families with resources to ensure that we, and those who care for us, can live (and die) well.
Winner of multiple festival audience awards,States of Graceintimately captures the profound transformation of revered physician Dr. Grace Dammann and her family after Grace is involved in a devastating car accident. With dry humor and brave candor, Grace, her partner Nancy “Fu” Schroeder, and their teenage daughter Sabrina recalibrate their lives. FilmmakersHelen Cohen andMark Lipman reflect that, “After screening States of Grace, we’ve had many people comment about the power and honesty of the caregiver/care receiver relationship and thank us for showing the frustrations and challenges that many individuals face as they care for older adults.” Despite her severe disabilities, Grace returns to work as a physician, designing and directing a cutting-edge pain clinic that uses many healing modalities including meditation, acupuncture, music therapy and massage. Her experience managing her own chronic pain leads her to become a strong advocate for non-traditional approaches to pain management and the building of community so patients can support each other in managing their pain.
InTracing Roots: A Weaver’s Journey, 86-year-old Delores Churchill is bolstered by her passion to learn, teach, and literally dig into issues of intellectual property and cultural heritage. A master weaver and elder of the Haida people of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, Delores sets out on a journey to understand the origins of a spruce root hat found with Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, also known as the Long Ago Person Found, in a retreating glacier in Northern Canada. “I’m continually in awe of how she inspires students and audiences of all ages,” says filmmakerEllen Frankenstein about her collaboration with Delores in making the film and screening it in communities, on campuses, and in museums. “Delores is a role model for what it means to age well and with grace, and her story reflects on the power of connecting with culture, art and community as part of that.”
Women in the arts rarely get serious attention in our culture. Older women in the arts are virtually ignored. FilmmakerPam Walton breaks the mold withTRIPTYCH, a documentary featuring ceramic artist Lana Wilson, best-selling children’s writer Jeanne DuPrau, and painter Nan Golub– three dynamic women who continue to be productive into their 70’s. Walton explores each artist’s creative processes and key relationships that have shaped them. She also delves into how the artists have handled both rejection and success over their lives, and how they see the development of their work over time. “As an older woman myself, I’m more and more fascinated by what happens to us as we age,” says Walton. As Lana, Jeanne, and Nan share their experiences, the film inspires audiences with the revelation that growing older can mean growing deeper and wiser in your artistic craft.
The subjects ofBefore You Know It are go-go booted bar-hoppers, love-struck activists, troublemaking baton twirlers, late night Internet cruisers, seasoned renegades and bold adventurers. They are also among the estimated 2.4 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans over the age of 55 in the United States, many of whom face heightened levels of discrimination, neglect and exclusion. According to recent studies, LGBT seniors are twice as likely to live alone as their heterosexual counterparts and four times less likely to access social services such as healthcare. The film highlights generational trailblazers who have surmounted prejudice and defied expectations to form alternative communities of strength, renewal and camaraderie. As filmmakerPJ Raval points out, “This current LGBT senior generation is the first visible and out community, banding together and creating community organizations, living facilities and much needed support structures for one another, taking the initiative to make change rather than wait for change.”
InOld People Driving, filmmakerShaleece Haasaddresses a vital issue facing older adults that is often ignored until there’s a crisis: driving retirement. Milton and Herbert are men in their late 90s both deeply engaged in decision-making about their own lives. When we meet them at the beginning of film, both are still driving. Herbert, a spry 99, decides it’s time to hang up the keys before someone else makes that decision for him. Milton, 96, who is also Haas’ grandfather, is committed to keep driving until he decides the time has come to move into the passenger seat. The film uses intimate personal stories, humor, and solid reporting to explore issues of older adult autonomy, emotional health, and community safety. “Never in human history have we had this many older people and this many older people on the road,” Haas says. “It’s a discussion that needs to happen – in our family, and probably in yours as well.”
These six films are unflinching, beautiful and comical, and they ignite critical conversations about how to age with dignity. To learn more about them and other films on aging and gerontology, please visit our entire collection here.
Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Did you know that 40% of the rebel army in Nepal were women? Woman Rebel follows one woman’s story (codename “Silu”), from the jungles to the halls of Parliament. Breaking Silence: The Story of the Sisters of Desales Heights follows twelve elderly nuns preparing to face the outside world for the first time in their adult lives, raising important questions about the changing role of women in society when their roles are no longer valued. Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America is a comprehensive and timely exploration of the shocking persistence of domestic violence in our society. See New Day’s complete Women’s Studies collection here.
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month calls on us to recognize the mixed-ability world in which we live, and the unique contributions, needs, and desires of every person. What does it mean for us to live in a world where people of all different abilities are supported and recognized? Explore New Day’s collection of excellent films on disability-related topics, including The Collector of Bedford Street, an Academy Award-nominated short documentary about a community activist and fundraiser with an intellectual disability, and the community that came together to support him when he was in crisis. The Key of Gis an award-winning documentary that follows Gannet, a charismatic 22-year-old with physical and developmental disabilities, as he leaves his mother’s home to share an apartment with a close-knit group of artists and musicians who support him as paid caregivers and as friends. See more films about disability here.
National Criminal Justice Month calls attention to the need for an effective criminal justice system. A Sentence Apartfollows three families as they cope with the infinite ripple effects of incarceration in the U.S. AbUSed: The Postville Raidexposes the devastating effects of U.S. immigration enforcement policies on children, families and communities. Every Mother’s Sonhighlights three women who have lost their sons to police brutality, as they unite to fight for change. See the rest of our Law and Criminal Justice collection here.
My short filmThe Land is set in a Welsh junkyard playground where kids can play with fire, hammers and nails. Their play makes us cringe with fear, while simultaneously reminding us of our own favorite childhood memories. Most of what you see in the film are scenes of children immersed in deep, sometimes risky, play.
I was born in 1981 and was fortunate to have a very playful childhood. I roamed the neighborhood with kids of all different ages and headed home only when the streetlights came on. In the subsequent decades since my youth, I have seen children’s culture diminish dramatically. It is a troubling trend. As a new parent (my baby Asa was born last December), I feel even more strongly about advocating for a child’s right to play with fire, climb trees, and swear (just during playtime… not ALL of the time).
One step onto The Land playground left me dizzy with inspiration. It is a beautiful contradiction. Though it looks like the LAST place you’d want to release a crew of kids – with its loose saws, tires, broken bikes, mud and more – The Land is the most child-centric environment I’ve ever experienced. Adult aesthetics, norms and rules simply do not apply. And it is completely liberating!
What I hear from adult viewers is that The Land portrays childhood as they remember it. That is to say The Land portrays childhood with humor and delight but also grit and darkness. Play is not always nice or pleasing to adults. I did my best to have adults speaking as LITTLE as possible which is unusual for media about play and childhood. Usually films about this are packed with developmental experts reinforcing the benefits of play. I wanted the actions of the children in the film to speak for themselves.
The Land is a really effective tool for organizing. It’s short enough to view and have a solid discussion during a lunch break or staff meeting. It has some good buzz among its core audience so when one person gets their hands on it, others will make a point to attend events to see it.One of my favorite screenings so far was at the Providence Children’s Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. The room was packed with parents and teachers who were fed up with the diminishment of free play and children’s culture. The Landreally blew the conversation open because it shows what is possible. It shows that the spectrum of possibility for what we can let children do is much wider than we think. At that screening, parents were able to meet, mingle and commiserate. Even more exciting for me was that teachers met other teachers and swapped strategies about how to support play in their classrooms despite strict curriculum and protocol. I’m really proud of the film’s impact so far, and we’re just getting started!