Tag Archives: Robert Richter

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!

Lessons of the Nuclear Age

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.

Obama atomic
President Obama with atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori

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 Age had 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 Beraza similarly 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.