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.
Following the festival and broadcast premiere of Visitor’s Day, Nicole Opper’s film about an innovative group home for formerly homeless boys in Mexico, there was a private screening held for executives at Volkswagen in Mexico, which subsequently raised one million dollars toward the construction of a home for formerly homeless girls two miles away – the first of its kind in the country. Just like the original IPODERAC (Instituto Poblano de Readaptación) home for boys featured in the film, this new home will provide housing, food, education and counseling for 72 vulnerable youth from all over Mexico. It will open its doors in February 2019 – fifty years after the institute was founded.
The University of North Carolina, Charlotte invited Ellen Brodsky’s film, The Year We Thought About Love, and three of the film’s LGBTQ youth to their annual OUTSPOKEN event in October. There was a moving Q&A afterwards. The discussion covered the importance of safe places and one of the film’s youth said, “Our theater troupe ’True Colors’, was the place we shed the faces we wore throughout the day.” Some people applauded, others shifted in their seats, and some may have even shifted their perceptions. One student chose to publicly thank them on the film’s Facebook page for bringing this “incredible documentary” to their campus. Brodsky and her team are working to make spaces safer, one screening at a time.
From L to R: Former chief executioner Jerry Givens with filmmakers Maggie Burnette Stogner and Rick Stack at the International Social Change “ChangeFest” Festival in Los Angeles, Nov. 10, 2018.
In the Executioner’s Shadow by Maggie Burnette Stogner and Rick Stack is a catalyst for conversation and action, stirring debate about criminal justice reform at festivals and grassroots screenings across the country. The filmmakers recently brokered a partnership with The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in order to promote a strategic roll-out of community screenings, discussion and call-to-action. Audiences are asked to organize additional screenings in their homes and communities, creating a word-of-mouth momentum to overturn capital punishment. In addition, anti-death penalty coalitions in Pennsylvania and Oregon are launching statewide efforts at town hall meetings. In the Executioner’s Shadow will be the centerpiece of their legislative campaigns to help rally citizen support to sway state legislators.
4. New Day’s Earliest Films
In 2018, some of some of New Day’s earliest films – by New Day founders Amalie R. Rothschild, Liane Brandon, Julia Reichert, Jim Klein – were featured as “groundbreaking feminist films” by separate screening series at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Barbican Theatre in London, and UnionDocs in New York. Each respective series focused on the artistry, advocacy, and innovation of the early feminist films and filmmakers that gave birth to New Day Films as the thriving co-op it is today.
To mark the 10th year since the passage of Proposition 8 in California – the 2008 law passed by California voters banning same-sex marriage – filmmaker Christie Herring held a special screening of The Campaign in San Francisco. The film follows the people behind California’s historic No-on-8 campaign to defend same-sex marriage through exclusive behind the scenes footage, interwoven with the national history of same-sex relationship recognition since the 1950s. After the screening, veteran activists and organizers had a powerful conversation about current risks for the LGBT community, ways to cultivate a sustainable movement, and the impact of Prop 8 on the LGBT movement and the country.
Pam Sporn screened her film Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route in Professor David Goldberg’s “The Black Worker in US History” course at Wayne State University. A mixture of black and white, as well as older and younger students engaged in a powerful discussion about historical memory and perspective. Some students shared memories of once vibrant neighborhoods decimated by urban renewal while others said they gained a new understanding of the structural racism that impacted Detroit once they moved from the suburbs to study in the city.
Director, Joel Fendelman and Producer, James Chase Sanchez screened their film Man on Fire in Salt Lake City for Clearlink Media, a marketing company, and hosted a one hour workshop at the company’s headquarters on “Implicit Bias.” They used clips from the film to teach attendees about the various forms of bias that might appear in the workplace.
Joan Mandell screened excerpts from Gaza Ghetto: Portrait of a Palestinian Family in October at the Oral History Association conference at Concordia University in Montreal. Now 35 years old, Gaza Ghetto, was the first documentary to record scenes of Palestinian daily life impacted by the rule of Israeli-occupation in Gaza. Shown within the context of the 70th anniversary of Palestinian displacement and exile, the film was a revelation for a new generation of students. Audience members said that the first-hand discussion about the risks and rewards of filmmaking in difficult circumstances was an inspiration for their own documentary and oral history work.
Lauren Knapp recently participated in a live webinar with The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. She screened selected clips from The Sandman and moderated a conversation with Dr. Jonathan Groner, a nationally recognized voice opposing lethal injection. The Sandman continues to contribute to a much-needed conversation about the use of medicine in executions.
Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes, directed by Harleen Singh screened at dozens of festivals around the world during which the filmmaker had a chance to see and hear the audience shift their opinions about diversity and stereotypes. The note below – received by Harleen at a screening – summarizes the kinds of audience experiences her film continues to foster.
This September, New Day is offering a 40% back-to-school discount off all films streamed directly from the New Day website (Promo Code: STRM40).With New Day’s robust film streaming service featuring over 250 titles, you are only a click away from bringing compelling, emotional, and relevant social issues to your classroom or organization.
Customers who purchase a streaming license gain immediate access to the film of their choice and never have to worry about storing, damaging, or losing DVDs. Professors can share a link with their students for easy viewing, inside and outside of the classroom. New Day’s easy interface also allows customers to communicate directly with filmmakers. You can request a free preview of a title, and even arrange for a virtual Q&A with the director!
New Day Films is a filmmaker-run distribution company that has been providing social-issue documentaries to customers for 47 years. It is the only cooperative of its kind to build and maintain its own personalized streaming platform. When you purchase directly from New Day, you are supporting the work of independent filmmakers and making it possible for them to continue making the films they feel passionately about.
Our growing collection of films are organized into 45 categories that cover everything from Addiction, Anthropology, and the Arts, to Disabilities, Education, Human Rights, and Women’s Studies… and everything in between. Here are some of the most recent, award-winning titles we’ve added:
Life on the Ganges is a short film that captures a different side of the Ganges River and explores why visiting Varanasi and bathing in the river still remains a spiritual pilgrimage. Director Indira S. Somani’s beautiful imagery and vivid portrayal of devotion give the viewer a rare look at why people from all over India and the world, travel to Varanasi to wash away their sins and purify their souls.
Man on Fire takes place in Grand Saline, Texas– a sleepy, unremarkable town that finds itself the center of a media storm in 2014 when a white preacher Charles Moore lights himself on fire to protest the town’s racism. A deep investigation into the human spirit, the film explores the life and death of Moore while examining the theme of racism in rural America. Catch Joel Fendelman’s award-winning film before it premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens, December 17, 2018!
America I Too is the portrayal of three arrested and detained, undocumented immigrants that must navigate the legal system to fight impending deportation. Based on actual testimonies and true experiences, Anike Tourse’s film gives a real sense of what undocumented immigrant families and detainees are struggling with in the United States.
New Day offers a variety of streaming licenses, from our popular 1 and 3 year licenses to licenses that run anywhere from 14 days to 7 years. Colleges and universities can access films through their library website, and professors can simply provide a link to their students. Most films are also available via a digital 3-day license should a customer prefer to stream from their own server. In addition to the 40% discount we’re offering throughout September, there are substantial discounts available throughout the year on multiple-title purchases. Stay tuned for more exciting features as we continue to grow our service!
To read more about our streaming options, please click here.