All Articles Tagged "documentary"
Most of us remember Brian Banks, the football player who was falsely accused of rape at 16 and spent five years in prison. And even when he was released, he had to register as a sex offender and had trouble finding work.
After his exoneration, at 26, Banks decided to release a documentary describing what his life had been like for the past ten years. And he started a Kickstarter to help raise funds for the project. He ended up earning $47,000.
After two years the film is not complete because it grew far beyond Banks’ own expectations. He shared that initially he thought it would be a small project but as more and more people learned about his story, they wanted to help him. First he was trying out for NFL teams, eventually joining the Atlanta Falcons for training camp. He would go on to play in four games during last year’s NFL season.
And in the meantime, Banks has been touring the country speaking at schools, organizations and events across the country and meeting with politicians and lawmakers bringing awareness to wrongful convictions.
Most recently Banks’ documentary attracted the attention of Michele Farinola, the producer behind the Oscare winning documentary Undefeated.
And then on top of all that good news, Lee Daniels, director of The Butler and Precious has signed on to direct a scripted feature film based on Banks’ story.
The project is currently looking for screenwriters.
It’ll be interesting to see what Daniels does with the feature film but personally I’m more interested in the documentary.
Check out the video Brian used to solicit funds for his Kickstarter.
Most of us know from a very early age that we’re Black. It happens so early that many of us can’t remember a specific conversation or moment where we learned this truth. But that wasn’t the case for 37-year-old Lacey Schwartz.
Schwartz, a Harvard Law School graduate turned filmmaker, didn’t learn she was Black until she was 18 years old. While many of us would look at Schwartz, with her light brown skin and dark, curly hair and suspect immediately that she has at least some Black ancestry, she was told by her Jewish family that she was White and had inherited her dark skin from her Sicilian grandfather.
Her story is so fascinating, so remarkable, that she decided to make it the subject for her documentary Little White Lie which premiered at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival this past weekend. It will eventually make its way to PBS next year.
The documentary, narrated, obviously, by Schwartz herself, shows her at a funeral, discussions with her girlfriends and therapy sessions where she asks over and over again how she was able to “pass for white.”
In the film, Schwartz offers a bit of an explanation: “I come from a long line of New York Jews. My family knew who they were, and they defined who I was.”
Schwartz was an only child who grew up in Woodstock, N.Y. Her parents Peggy and Robert Schwartz never discussed her Black side with her.
But that didn’t stop her from questioning her identity. In a recent interview, Schwartz said that before she entered college, where she would learn the truth, others had plenty of comments about her Black-looking features.
“I was already questioning my whiteness because of what other people said and because I was aware that I looked different from my family.”
In the video below, you can watch as Schwartz describes the time a boy during her childhood asked to see her gums to prove whether or not she was White or Black. And during her Bat Mitzvah a synagogue member told her it was nice to have an Ethiopian Jew in their midst.
Based on a picture she included with her application, the University of Georgetown forwarded her name and information to the Black Student Association who contacted her. Schwartz said the university gave her permission to explore her Black identity.
After her first year of college, she confronted her mother Peggy, who then acknowledged that her biological father was an African American man with whom she’d had an extramarital affair.
Schwartz said her life has allowed her to genuinely experience what it’s like to be both Black and White. But discovering her Black heritage didn’t change her, it just influenced how she saw the world.
“It’s how you’re seeing interactions, how comments come across to you. When you’re in town, are you aware of how many people of color are there? Are you aware when you’re in a work environment?”
And she acknowledged that being White has its perks.
“There are benefits to being white- for me, it’s walking into a space with a potential sense of entitlement.”
Schwartz’s parents separated when she was in high school and later divorced. But the making of her film Little White Lie gave the family a way to speak about an issue they had avoided for far too long. Peggy, her mother, said she was unconcerned about people judging her after they view the documentary. She said, “When I first saw the film, it was so clear to me it was Lacey’s story, and it was her right to tell the story. I did what I did. And they can judge me, but nobody else knows what my life was like.”
Schwartz’s biological father, who was a family friend, died when she was 29 but remained close to Lacey’s mother and to Robert, the man she considers her father.
Lacey Schwartz said learning of her background liberated her and even provided a deeper connection to her surname, which she explains, is “a clearly Jewish name that literally means black.”
As she grew in making the film, she hopes in viewing it, audiences have the same response.
“Can you bring your full self through that door or do you feel you have to leave a piece of yourself behind?”
You can watch the video Lacey used to promote and advertise her film a few years back on Kickstarter and then a video where she describes being questioned about her racial identity when she was a child.
It’s been a number of years since we’ve heard the name “Anita Hill.” But with a new documentary set for release, her name is back in the headlines.
Anita: Speaking Truth To Power looks back at the hearings that made sexual harassment in the workplace a hot-button topic as well as a serious offense, and added an ugly stain to current Justice Clarence Thomas’ legacy. (Supreme Court watchers also take issue with the fact that he has failed to ask one question during oral arguments before the courts in over eight years.)
For those who don’t remember, in 1991, Hill was a University of Oklahoma law professor who testified after being subpeonaed by Congress to discuss allegations that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her while they were both at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (He was head of it.) At the time, Clarence Thomas was being assessed for appointment to the Supreme Court. Hill appeared before an all-male, all-white Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss her allegations.
The Committee asked that Hill repeat humiliating phrases and insults while the country looked on. Overall, the goal was to embarrass her rather than find the truth.
“No question, what the Senate Judiciary hearings unleashed was dreadful for Hill (and certainly it was no picnic for Clarence Thomas, either). But it was also a watershed moment in American politics. American women looked at how the Senate treated Hill and said: This is not right,” write The Los Angeles Times. Because of these hearings, it became unacceptable (legally and otherwise) for men to treat women in loathsome ways in the workplace. This was less than 25 years ago.
Thomas was confirmed to the High Court days after the hearings.
The documentary, made by Oscar winner Frieda Lee Mock, will be released in select cities (New York, LA and Boston among them), and Anita Hill is speaking out again, looking back at that historic time and discussing what happened to her after the hearings were over. (She’s now a professor at Brandeis and says she received threats as a result of her appearance before Congress.) We have the trailer for the film above and below, her recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. After the jump, the extended clip from that interview.
Have we told you lately, how much we love the women of the Netflix series, “Orange Is The New Black?” Of course we have but it never gets tired. And today, we’re adding another reason on the long list. If you’re a fan of the show, you know the character Sophia Burset, the hair stylist who happens to be a trans woman. The character is played by Laverne Cox, who is also a trans woman in real life.
Cox is taking on what we’re sure she’d call a passion project in co-producing a new documentary about CeCe McDonald. You may remember we’ve covered McDonald a couple of times in the past few years. But here’s a refresher of her story.
On June 5, 2011, two white women and a white man began harassing CeCe and four of her trans friends. They were calling them racial and homophobic slurs. Allegedly, one woman hit CeCe in the face with a glass of beer. Afterward the man, Dean Schmitz pursued CeCe and she fatally stabbed with him a pair of fabric scissors in her purse.
When police arrived, CeCe was the only one arrested though she was visibly injured. We reported last year:
The young woman received 11 stitches after her salivary gland was lacerated and the side of her cheek was sliced open by the beer mug, and according to reports she was interrogated without counsel and placed in solitary confinement, pending the outcome of her upcoming case.
Many were already outraged about the injustices surrounding her arrest. And people were even more up in arms when CeCe, who pled guilty to second degree murder, was sentenced to three years and five months in a male prison.
More discrimination and injustice.
There is a bright spot in this story though, not only has the Minnesota Department of Corrections indicated that CeCe may be released from prison on January 13, 2014, now the world will have a chance to hear her story in the new documentary FREE CeCe!
The documentary, which has already begun production, will detail CeCe’s life and highlight the issues that plague trans women and specifically trans women of color. In an interview with Persephone Magazine, Laverne Cox, explained why she felt it was so important to tell CeCe’s story.
CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence. CeCe’s story in so many ways encapsulates the intersectional issues that lead to far too many of us experiencing violence. I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women and also give CeCe a space to tell her story in her words in the context of a piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color.
Cox also explained the intersection between the oppression women, black women and trans women all experience in this country.
I feel that at the heart of the intersections of transphobia and misogyny, transmisogny, is the policing of womanhood. That policing is about the idea that there are just one or two ways to be a woman. Various forms of violence are a key component in that policing. All too often, historically women of color particularly black women have been subject to being told we aren’t really women, this is both for trans and nontrans black women. So our womanhood as well as our humanity are often not valued, our voices silenced. Violence is a part of that silencing, not hiring trans women for jobs is part of that violence, forcing far too many of us into street economies which make us more likely to be victims of violence. Because our lives are not valued, all too often our perpetrators get away with crimes against us. Black bodies are often assumed to be criminal. These systems are in place to see to it that trans folks of color don’t exist by de-legitimizing our existences, economic injustice and through violence. The prison system is part of that violence.
And then she shared how learning of CeCe’s story will help her to play the role of Sophia on “Orange Is The New Black.”
I was struck by CeCe’s sense of hope and faith, her amazing resilience in the face of an injustice that [took] her freedom, because she survived the violence far too many women like her don’t survive, her humanity is deeply intact in the face of a system which wants to deny that humanity. I think that is at the heart of Orange is the New Black, a group of women who maintain their humanity within a context which would constantly like to strip them of that humanity.
The documentary is set to be released sometime in 2014. If you’re interested in supporting CeCe McDonald herself, you can donate here. If you’re interested in supporting the documentary project FREE CeCe!, you can do so here.
I spent this past Christmas at my cousin’s house, with her 1 year old son, husband and 4 month old daughter. On the second or third night we were there, her son had a micro fit and cried, like toddlers have been known to do. And his father was there to help him work through that. He said a few things to get him to calm down. Everything was cool but the one sentence that stood out was “Big boys don’t cry.” Ummm… That’s not my child so I didn’t say anything. But it did immediately rub me the wrong way. And thankfully, my cousin said, “Don’t tell him that boys don’t cry.” And her husband countered, “I said, big boys don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.”
One, not only is that not true. Baby boys, big boys and men do cry. And secondly, it is healthy and cathartic for boys and men to cry. It’s a shame that the expression of emotion, of being human, has been stigmatized as being weak or feminine–which sadly, people still largely interpret as weak.
This is just one of the more recent examples of how I’ve seen the many detrimental ways in which boys have been trained and reared to repress their emotions and express their masculinity. So, I’m happy to see that the folks at the Representation Project, the same people who brought us the MissRepresentation documentary, are producing another documentary exploring the ways in which the socialization of boys not only negatively affects boys and men but how it impacts all of us.
Take a look at the clip from the upcoming 2014 documentary in the video below.
Well, this was the moment all of the Beyoncé fans and stans had been waiting on for months. The moment when another full song would be released. It finally happened on Friday and now the question is, does it live up to the hype?
We gave you a short clip of Beyoncé’s “God Made You Beautiful” last month and from that sneak peek, many of you weren’t too impressed. But with the Life is But A Dream documentary set to be released in days, it seems her team decided it was okay to let the one new song featured on the dvd “leak” to the masses.
In “God Made You Beautiful,” Bey talks not only about the moment Blue was born, but also what life has been like and how she’s changed Beyoncé since being born”
You were bought into my life
I kiss those little feet and watch for your perfect smile
and when it comes the world stops in your eyes
I found love, I found peace of the purest kind
It is alleged that Bey wrote the song herself because, hey, who knows this particular experience better than her? The lyrics are nice and there are some nice harmonies, but overall, it seems like it’s missing that special “something.” Maybe it’s just me.
As a matter of fact, who cares what I think! The bigger question is to you…pass or play?
Despite watching movies like Hotel Rwanda, many of us will never understand what it’s like to live in a country so racked by genocide that nearly a million people were killed in the course of 100 days. That was the case in 1994, when the Hutus went after the Tutsis in the East African country Rwanda. Even though this mass murder ended nearly twenty years ago, the healing need from those atrocities is still taking place.
Enter the stars of the documentary Sweet Dreams, Ingoma Nshya, an all female drumming troupe made up of both Hutus and Tusis. Traditionally, in Rwanda women are not allowed to even touch a drum. It’s an activity reserved for men; but in an effort to usher in a new era, these women have partnered together and formed a drum circle.
Drumming is just the first part in these ladies’ plan to further unite the country. The group partners with American entrepreneurs to open the country’s first ice cream shop. The documentary, Sweet Dreams, follows the women as they embrace independence, peace and hopefulness as the women tell their stories of creating music and mending their country’s wounds.
Ice cream may seem like a vehicle too simple to impact real change; but for a country that has only seen and heard about the treat in movies, bringing it to Rwanda is something special.
Check out the trailer for the film below.
Sweet Dreams will be showing in New York on Friday, November 1 and in Los Angeles on Friday, November 29th.
Jay Z is taking over Showtime–for one night at least.
The premium cable network has acquired Made in America, a star-studded documentary that chronicles Jay Z’s two-day 2012 Philadelphia music festival of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Ron Howard and executive produced by Jay Z himself, the doc will have its television debut Friday, Oct. 11. This will be roughly a month after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.
“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime,” Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said in a statement. “Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent.”
Passion Pit, Pearl Jam, Run D.M.C., Skrillex and Kanye West are just some of the diverse artists who perform and also discuss “making it in America” in the film.
“For Jay Z, the news comes the same week that the rapper made headlines for debuting his music video for ‘Holy Grail,’ a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, on Facebook,” reports THR. It became the first clip by a major music star to premiere on the social network, and it had a 24-hour window of exclusivity.
The Showtime and Facebook deals are just some of Jay Z’ s recent business moves. He also sealed a $30 million partnership with Samsung and has pushed into the sports agency business.
Will you watch the Jay Z documentary?
The 2013 Made In America Festival is going on right now but it’s last year’s show that continues to bring Jay Z money.
Cable network Showtime has acquired Made In America, the documentary chronicling Jay’s road to creating the music festival to actual seeing it happen. The film was directed by former Happy Days star and famed director Ron Howard according to The Hollywood Reporter. Both he and Jay serve as two of the executive producers of the film along with Brian Grazer.
Showtime, over the last two years, has been dedicated in revitalizing their programming and this will certainly help them out with ratings and also bringing in a younger demographic. David Nevins, Showtime’s entertainment released the following statement regarding the new project:
“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime. Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent. We are proud to bring Made in America to Showtime where it joins our impressive roster of provocative and compelling documentaries helmed by award-winning filmmakers.”
That Jay Z…he just keeps the deals coming. There was the deal with Samsung to release his latest album, Magna Carter Holy Grail, early to Samsung cell phone users, then the deal with HBO which premiered the Picasso Baby: A Short Art Film three weeks ago and now he’s added Showtime to the list. Jay also premiered his “Holy Grail” video on Facebook earlier in the week. In the words of Jay, he’s a “business man, not a businessman.”
Made In America will first premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 7th and then released to the world on Showtime on Friday, October 11th.
Check out the trailer!
When it comes to gun violence in Chicago, there’s been a lot of finger pointing and little analysis done to determine the root causes of such behavior and solutions to stop it going forward. Moguldom Films is currently working on a documentary to do just that, and in the midst of filming they came across reporter Natalie Moore. The native Chicagoan is all too familiar with the issues plaguing young people in her city and in the clip below she addresses just a few of those that have seemingly been overlooked.
Check out her comments and tell us what you think about the issues she brought up. Are they legitimate points or excuses in the war on gun violence?