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. The
celebration of 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
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 topics on everything from
immigration to mental health, and our films have screened everywhere from
college campuses 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.
April is National Poetry month and it’s a fantastic time to watch one of New Day Film’s poetry-related documentaries! New Day features films about poets as well as films that use poetry as an intricate form of cultural and empathetic communication. The following titles represent diverse examples of poetry in cinema and its ability to alter perspectives.
InDeaf Jam, by Judy Lieff, we learn that poetry can be communicated in very different ways. The film tells the story of deaf teen Aneta Brodski’s bold journey into the spoken word slam scene. In a wondrous twist, Aneta, an Israeli immigrant living in the Queens section of New York City, eventually meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet. The two women embark on a collaboration creating a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the Deaf.
Hope is the Thing with Feathers, by Andy Abrams Wilson, layers poetry, music, and images into a powerful elegy that simultaneously laments the passing of a life and celebrates the hope and transcendence that love can bear even in death. Through the beautiful paintings and poetry of San Francisco poet and artist, Beau Riley, the film is a portrait of grief and healing between Beau, a recovering alcoholic, and David, born a paraplegic.
At the height of the Cold War, American poet Lyn Hejinian traveled to the Soviet Union, where she met Russian poet Arkadii Dragomoshcenko. Several years later the two were asked to begin a correspondence—a kind of cultural experiment, where each was given a list of everyday words, such as “home,” “book,” “violence,” and asked to reflect and then write to each other about these subjects. The result became the basis of Jacki Ochs’ cinematic poem,Letters Not About Love. Ochs combines the spoken word with home movies, archival material, and new images from the United States and Russia – creating an insightful examination of the relationship between language and culture.
Filmmaker and theater artist Karina Epperlein goes into a federal women’s prison and through poetry and creative expression helps prisoners find their own voices and share their important stories.Voices from Inside is the culmination of four years of volunteering inside this prison combined with work on the outside with the children of these prisoners. It is a compelling illustration of the inherent value of creative rehabilitation.
Heidi Schmidt Emberling’sSpirit of the Dawn introduces us to sixth graders on a Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, who write poems about their rich Native American culture and history. Juxtaposed with the present-day classroom where students are encouraged to retrieve and honor their strong and distinct heritage is the dark past of boarding schools, where Native American children were beaten for speaking their indigenous language.
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (recognized in March) is a time to elevate the focus and conversation on the mixed-ability world and what it means to be perceived as “different.”
Joanne Hershfield’s personal documentary, The Gillian Film, is a bold examination of how we might transform our understanding of the meaning and worth of people with developmental disabilities.
Another intimate look at the subject is Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy, directed by Academy Award-nominee Alice Elliott. The film is an exploration of an unusual, symbiotic relationship between two people that some would call profoundly disabled.
Explore New Day’s collection of excellent films on disability-related topics here.
I am an independent documentary filmmaker and teacher based in Boston, MA. As a person of mixed heritage, I am interested in the ways cultural traditions from around the globe intersect, hybridize, and are turned to new social purposes far from their original context. My filmCircle Up tells the story of a group of mothers who seek true justice for their murdered sons – justice that involves not revenge and mass incarceration but forgiveness, accountability, and community healing. The film exists as a 69-minute feature and a 14-minute short.
The film Passionate Politics, by Tami Gold, tells the story ofCharlotte Bunch, a civil rights organizer and lesbian activist, who becomes as an internationally-recognized leader of a campaign to put women’s rights on the global human rights agenda.
A local story of the arrest of five African American lesbians who were violently and sexually-threatened by a man in the street is the subject of another important New Day film, blair dorosh-walther’s film Out in the Night.
You can find these titles and other films focused on Women and Women’s Studies here.
Sometimes our attempts to find love miss their mark. We aim for something, and then once we get it, it’s not what we thought it was. The misconceptions of the world keep others from seeing us, we miss our chance. We are pushed into things we’re not ready for, or choose things for survival’s sake. We fight, we beg for space, we struggle to ask for what we want. And sometimes we come into our power just when nobody expects us to. These eight films are for those who want to see representations of the “other side” of love, the side that often makes us more worldly and cynical, but somehow still offers opportunities for profound compassion.
Bachelorette, 34, by Kara Herold, details the filmmaker’s experience of her mother’s obsession with finding her a husband, despite the fact that she has no idea what Kara wants. “Kara, I just remembered, I met the perfect man for you… The only problem is that he’s Catholic and Republican, but that’s nothing that can’t be changed. CALL ME!” Constructed like a 1950’s informational video, assembled from clip art and intimate documentary footage, Bachelorette, 34 examines the pressure society puts on women to find “Mr. Right.”
Seeking Asian Female, by Debbie Lum, takes a close look at the uncomfortable and yet totally human dynamic between a 60-year-old white American man obsessed with Asian women, and Jianhua (“Sandy”), a 30-year-old woman from Anhui, China, who agrees to Steven’s online proposal and moves to California to be his fiancée. Debbie, a Chinese American filmmaker, becomes an unwitting accomplice as she becomes their translator, helping them understand each other better.
In the Name of Love, by Shannon O’Rourke, asks what is motivating the thousands of Russian women who sign up with agencies to meet and marry American men. The film grapples with the tremendous economic challenges and difficult decisions that face Russian women, and the financial and emotional pros and cons of exporting one’s heart.
Tales of the Waria, by Kathy Huang, follows several trans women living in Indonesia, known as “warias.” These women prioritize romantic love as central to their life purpose, but social and religious norms often thwart their efforts. Despite obstacles including family pressure, economic hardship, and aging, they stay true to themselves and seek lasting companionship.
Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women over 65, by Deirdre L Fishel, tears the granny panties off your preconceptions of older women’s sex lives. These nine women, ages 67-87, express themselves with honesty and humor as they explore their feelings about sex, love, and the realities of aging. Aware that many people see them as “nothing but an old woman,” these women defiantly live life on their own terms.
To You Sweetheart, Aloha, by S. Leo Chiang, tells the story of Bill Tapia, a 94-year-old Hawaiian jazz pioneer who gave up on music after his wife and daughter passed away within two years of each other. A new relationship with 26-year-old Alyssa, a Hapa-Hawaiian woman with a special connection to Bill’s past, inspires him to rediscover his musical passion and youthful spirit.
The Year We Thought About Love, by Ellen Brodsky, goes behind the scenes of the oldest queer youth theater in America, as they explore love and write a script based on their lives. They dramatize many of the most painful and triumphant moments in their young lives, and build community that helps carry them through the rough times.
Eager for your Kisses, Love and Sex at 95, by Liz Cane, tells the story of Bill Cane, a 95-year-old singer/songwriter and music teacher who – after mourning the loss of his wife of fifty years – puts an ad in the personals and goes ballroom dancing in search of a new companion. He soon embraces a revitalized life full of romance, sex and music.
I am a Brooklyn based filmmaker who grew up in two radically different cultural zones: Hawai’i and Massachusetts. My film 95 and 6 to Go takes me back to Honolulu where I discover an unlikely creative collaborator in my spry, Japanese-American grandfather. Grandpa Tom is a retired postal worker in his 90s, and recent widower, who keeps his loneliness at bay puttering around his modest home–clipping coupons, rigging an improvised BBQ, and lighting firecrackers at New Year’s. His daily routines are interrupted when he takes an unexpected interest in my stalled romantic screenplay; suddenly, his imagination is unleashed. While slurping noodles or munching on toast, he eagerly comes up with new titles, songs, and a happy ending to the fiction script. Reality and fiction intertwine as Grandpa Tom’s creative ideas converge with memories of his life marked by love, loss, and perseverance.
While growing up in Hawai’i, I never knew Grandpa Tom harbored creative interests. I never saw him read a novel or talk about art. For me, he existed on the fringes; he was a pragmatic, hard-working grandfather who consistently reinforced the importance of family obligation and a steady job. 95 and 6 to Go is about the process of “seeing” my grandfather, and bonding with him, for the first time. The filmexplores the life of an ordinary man, who proves to be exceptional in his creativity, humor, candor, and will to live.
95 and 6 to Go features a distinctive and little known group of Japanese-Americans in Hawai’i who were not interned during World War II and, thus, retained a fascinating fusion of Japanese and American culture. Most of our representations of Japanese-Americans are in the context of suffering during the war; it’s critical to see an alternative portrait. 95 and 6 to Go is an intimate story that has resonated powerfully with audiences of different ages and across cultures, encouraging viewers to reflect on family, memory, and mortality. Folks come away from the film eager to hear the stories of elders and to connect across generations.