Discovering New Films While on the Road for Working Films

Earlier this month I attended the Community Strategic Training Initiative (CSTI) hosted by the Western States Center in Portland, OR. This three-day seminar featured day-long workshops on everything from dismantling racism to introductions to community organizing. During my time there I met lots of great folks doing amazing work, one of which was Lauren Raheja who works with the Center for Intercultural Organizing in Portland. Lauren clued me in to a documentary that it seems like I should have already known about but had somehow missed: Divided We Fall.The film…

(Film)Making Participatory Culture

Helen De Michiel, co-director of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) recently wrote an interesting piece discussing the changing landscape of independent documentaries and the use of media as a tool for participation, transformation, and social action. She writes about the relationship that filmmakers have with the making of their film and the development of social outreach – especially how increasingly the approach is shifting toward alternative avenues for distribution: Public engagement and outreach planning are the farthest from a filmmaker’s thinking when beginning the process, but…

Climate Matters Video Contest

What’s better than the opportunity to make a video that sends an inspiring message about climate change to our next president? How about the chance to win a cash prize and your video broadcast on internet and TV channels?1Sky and Brighter Planet are inviting Americans to create powerful video messages that deliver a clear message to Washington: We’re ready for strong leadership on climate change. Upload your 30- or 60- second video to the contest page on Vimeo.com before September 22, 2008 to compete for $4,500 in cash prizes: www.vimeo.com/climatematters.…

Banished at the Center for Constitutional Rights

The Banished post-broadcast outreach campaign is in full swing! DVDs and event resources are available for community groups, civil rights institutions, and activists. Since its broadcast in February 2008, there has been overwhelming interest in intersecting Banished with on-going activism around reparations, displacement and gentrification. In June a New York-based youth program, Cultural Connections used Banished as part of its leadership development series for high school students from all over the City. On Sunday June 29, 2008 the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement hosted a screening of Banished at the Center…

A 'Good Pitch' Across the Pond

On July 21, Judith Helfand and I, representing Working Films, headed to the BritDoc Film Fest at Keble College, Oxford, to continue our partnership with the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation, hosts and masterminds of this hippest fest. (In early June, Judith and I ran the Films for Change workshop in London, also hosted by BritDoc.) The BritDoc fest has become widely celebrated, as IndieWire tells it: In three years, BritDoc has transformed from noble experiment (inclusive documentary conference based at a legendary university) to unquestionable success. Set over…

Films that Cross the Aisle @ the DNC and RNC

This year’s Republican and Democratic National Conventions will include the Impact Film Festival which will be screening socially themed films over a four day span. Following each film will be panel discussions consisting of filmmakers, lawmakers and other civic leaders. The films involved with the festival were selected based on their powerful and thought provoking stories on hot topic issues. Among the films to be screened is Trouble the Water, which won the 2008 Working Films Full Frame Award. Trouble the Water tells the story of an aspiring rap artist…

YouTube: More Than Just Sneezing Pandas

Activists and Nonprofits are turning to YouTube to spread their message As a media and technology activist, I’ve been researching, testing and tweaking ideas on how to incorporate social networking into Working Films’ online presence. Since we work with documentaries, we needed a visible place to host trailers and video clips and to also spark discussions about films in an interactive way. It was only a matter of time before we would turn to YouTube, the 3rd most visited website on the Internet according to Alexa, to fulfill that need.…

The Truth Will Set You Free

“But first it will make you miserable.” Typically, people know the first part of that quote, but rarely do they understand the meaning of the second. Recently, Working Films organized a summit that brought together grassroots activists, organizers, peace-builders and others who have been involved in truth and reconciliation efforts and racial justice around the film, Greensboro: Closer to the Truth. The summit, which was also attended by Greensboro filmmaker Adam Zucker, proved to be a ground-breaking discussion for people to talk about the many meanings behind the nature of…

How Much Longer Will We Be Left with Skewed Climate Science?

The extent to which politics plays a role in scientific reports on the environment is incredibly disappointing for those of us that care about climate change. Government whistleblower Rick Piltz and journalist Ross Gelbspan featured in Everything’s Cool demonstrated that many government and news reports have been skewed to misrepresent the threat that global warming presents – thus widening the gap between what scientists know and what the public understands. Recently on Dot Earth of the New York Times, Andrew Revkin weighed in on an investigation of NASA’s possible suppression…

How Do Our Genes Affect Our Health? A new film in our portfolio explores this question just as a bill protecting our genetic information is signed into law.

I have long been intrigued by the question of to what degree our personalities and our health are affected by our genes versus our environment. Through reading and film I’ve learned more and more about how pollutants in our environment put as at risk for health problems, and simultaneously I have marveled at scientists’ capacity to unlock the human genome. Among other advances brought about through these new scientific understandings, we now have the tools to help us learn whether a certain gene might increase our risk of cancer or…