Tag Archives: Paco de Onis

Recognizing New Day’s Honored Academy Members

By J. Christian Jensen

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 include TRINIDAD 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.”

Wo Ani Ni Mommy (I Love You, Mommy)

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.

Almost Sunrise

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. 

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington

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 Assasins about 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.

Tell the Truth and Run

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!

12/18 Commemorative Month

In December, we observe Universal Human Rights Month in honor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international document adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The Universal Declaration states basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, including freedom from discrimination, the right to equality, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, originally made by Stuart Schulberg for the US Department of War in 1948 and remastered by his daughter Sandra Schulberg in recent years, shows the trial that established the “Nuremberg Principles,” providing the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The Reckoning

In The Reckoning, by Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in his struggle to bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice. The Sandman, by Lauren Knapp, is a documentary short about Dr. Carlo Musso, a physician who has overseen Georgia’s lethal injection team since 2003, and his own moral equivocation providing “end of life care” to prisoners while personally opposing capital punishment. See these and other films about Human Rights here.

Active Voice Profiles Two New Day Films as Changemakers

Active Voice is a San Francisco based organization that helps filmmakers devise and implement engagement strategies for social issue films. They recently launched a new website to help filmmakers, funders, and social change agents measure the impact of their strategies. The site, howdoweknow.net, presents a set of horticultural metaphors to help categorize the various ways films contribute to change. Two New Day films — Granito and Ask Not — are profiled on the site as “Trellis Films.” According to Active Voice founder Ellen Schneider,

Whether the story of an unlikely hero, an extraordinary leader, or a group of people working together to solve social problems, Trellises provide a hopeful structure whereby challenges can be overcome and solutions — big and small — can be celebrated. Trellises are distinct because they support an ongoing, already established solution to a social or policy problem.

FYmaUhNpGJohnny Symons, the director of Ask Not, an exploration of the history and effects of the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, says the production was designed with outreach goals in mind. “The impact I was striving for was very specific,” he says. “We wanted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and that infused the creative process. The choice of subjects and their narrative storylines, as well as the use of statistics throughout the film, all underscored the need for repeal.”

Symons partnered early on with the Palm Center, a university think tank focusing on military issues, and they collaborated throughout production. “I think the PBS broadcast, and our community screenings at more than 50 venues, definitely contributed to the lifting of DADT,” Symons says. “The evidence for that is that I was invited to the White House ceremony where the act was repealed.”

itunes_granitoThe other film profiled on howdoweknow.net as a “Trellis” is New Day’s Granito: How to Nail a Dictator. This film is about another kind of war crime: the massacre of Mayan peoples in Guatemala during the 1980s. In a stunning milestone for justice in Central America, a Guatemalan court recently charged former dictator Efraín Rios Montt with genocide. Pamela Yates’ 1983 documentary, When the Mountains Tremble, provided key evidence for bringing the indictment. Granito tells the extraordinary story of how a film, aiding a new generation of human rights activists, became a “granito” — a tiny grain of sand — that helped tip the scales of justice. “I’m not sure why Ellen classified us as a Trellis rather than a Trowel or something else,” Producer Paco de Onis says. “It’s fine with us, though, and seems like a good fit – we do work in the long term after all!”

Granito is used across the world to inspire and convince people, including the children of those massacred, that it is possible to seek justice – even after 30 years. The filmmaking team also followed the trial and appeal of General Montt and have created learning modules available online at their website.

These examples are just two of many New Day Films that work – whether as rakes, trowels, wheelbarrows, trellises, or shovels (to use the metaphors offered by howdoweknow.net) – to raise awareness, inspire and create social change. Visit our website and click on a film page’s “Study Resources” section to find out what is available for a particular film. New study guides and additional resources are available for:

  • Sins Invalid, about a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists
  • Rebels With a Cause, which documents how a ragtag group of disparate citizens banded together to protect and preserve open spaces near urban areas from rampant development
  • TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives, which follows an 18 year-old Hondureña who, with the help of a troupe of immigrant teenage actors, courageously leaves behind the sexual and cultural violence of her past and creates a bright future for herself
  • The Marion Lake Story: Defeating the Mighty Phragmite, which follows one woman who rallies her skeptical community to undertake the largest citizen led invasive species eradication and habitat restoration project in New York State
  • Choosing Children, the 1984 film that helped start the lesbian baby boom, has just released The Back Story, a 20-minute piece that tells the story of the making of the film, invaluable for anyone interested in the history of LGBT filmmaking and the lesbian parenting movement
  • My Brooklyn, which follows director Kelly Anderson’s journey, as a Brooklyn gentrifier, to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood

Many other New Day Films have free engagement materials and bonus features available. Explore our website to discover the rich collection of resources available there.

Granito wins 2014 BritDoc Impact Award

itunes_granitoNew Day is proud to announce that Granito, by Pamela Yates, Paco de Onis and Peter Kinoy, has received a 2014 BRITDOC Impact Award. Granito tells the extraordinary story of how the filmmakers’ 1982 film When The Mountains Tremble aided a new generation of human rights activists and helped tip the scales of justice in Guatemala. Ultimately, dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt was pronounced guilty of committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Maya Ixil people, and sentenced to 80 years in prison.

“Granito serves as a vital reminder that courageous documentary filmmakers can profoundly impact the cause of justice in the world,” said Jury Member Amy Goodman, who is also the Host & Executive Producer of Democracy Now!. “This film helped the Maya people of Guatemala hold the perpetrators of their genocide accountable. It poignantly portrays their suffering, their resistance and their hope for the future.”

The BRITDOC Impact Award celebrates “the documentary films that have made the greatest impact on society.” Granito shares the award with American Promise, Blackfish, The House I Live In and No Fire Zone. Each film receives $15,000 to reward their commitment, passion and achievements in using storytelling to provoke change.

Since 2005, BRITDOC has been developing expertise around impact and evaluation in documentary film. The organization’s Impact Field Guide & Toolkit is a new free online curriculum designed to help those who are working with film improve their impact.  For more information about BRITDOC’s impact reports and educational tools visit britdoc.org.