FILM TALKS – Modern America
• 94 Years and 1 Nursing Home Later
Directed by: Laurel Greenberg
TRT: 46 min
94 Years and 1 Nursing Home Later begins when filmmaker Laurel Greenberg watches some home movies that her father shot of his mother in a nursing home in Philadelphia. “Do you like it here?” Marvin asks his mother Belle. Her weak smile and feigned enthusiasm seem to satisfy Marvin, yet are disturbing to Laurel, who sets out to uncover her grandmother’s true feelings. An immigrant from Russia, Belle Greenberg built her life around caring for her family. How did she come to be alone and isolated from this family at the end of her life? Through interviews and scenes with her grandmother and other family members, Laurel explores the relationship between her father and grandmother and the decisions they make at the end of her grandmother’s life.
Other Keywords: Aging, the Elderly, Healthcare, Family
• Act Your Age
Directed by: Peter Rhodes
TRT: 50 min
Act Your Age is a wacky comedy of magic and mayhem that stars children and senior citizens. When a book of powerful magic spell falls into the wrong hands, kids start turning into seniors, and seniors into kids! The film is both entertaining and educational. Through the playful script, as well as documentary interludes, Act Your Age shows how much fun can be had when the generations are brought together to play with and learn from each other in a creative environment. The film is suitable for people between the ages of 8 and 108!
Other Keywords: Children, Seniors, Community Issues, Intergenerational Issues
• Epiphany in Progress
Directed by: Michal Goldman
This film documents the first year in the life of a school committed to crossing the barriers of race, economic status and ethnicity in order to educate low-income, inner-city children to take control of their lives and become engaged members of their communities. The Epiphany School is a private, Episcopal middle school located in Dorchester, whose students and teachers come from a wide variety of backgrounds including African-American, Cape Verdean, Latino, Caucasian, Haitian, and Asian. Communication and community building have emerged as central to the school’s initial success, which has exceeded all expectations. Although there are many videos about classroom teaching, we believe that this is the first video to focus on an inner-city school as an evolving institution within its community. The rare chance to observe a group of educators working to put their principles into practice during a school’s first, most formative, year can provide important insights for all those concerned with urban education.
Other Keywords: Community Issues, Education
• The Gay Marriage Thing
Directed by: Stephanie Higgins
TRT: 47 min
The Gay Marriage Thing is a small cinematic story with big implications. By focusing on one suburban couple and the multitude of events that directly affect that couple’s otherwise average life, The Gay Marriage Thing strives to show a different side of this issue than other documentaries or television newscasts have thus far. With protesters and their colorful signs serving as a Greek chorus, and an array of opinions from church, state, and everyone in between, this is the film that family members can watch together. The Gay Marriage Thing is the documentary that opens the dialogue. For more info, visit www.thegaymarriagething.com
Other Keywords: American Studies, Politics, Equality, Homosexuality
• Green Grass
Directed by: Jeff Craddock
TRT: 25 min
Marcilio Filho, a Brazilian father who started his own landscaping service in the US, works several jobs to take care of his family both here and his native Brazil. Patrick O’Brien is an Irish-American father, whose landscaping business is faltering. Their responsibilities and chosen professions are similar, their status in the US is not. Green Grass not only explores both sides of the immigration issue, but also deals with the stresses of family responsibilities and is aimed at fostering open communication in an effort to create greater understanding by all. For more info, visit www.greengrassfilm.com.
Other Keywords: Immigration, Family, Financial Crisis, Narrative Filmmaking
• Have You Seen Andy?
Directed by: Melanie Perkins
TRT: Feature Length
Have You Seen Andy? is the personal story of a childhood friendship abruptly ended by the tragic abduction of a young boy. On a hot summer day in August 1976, ten year-old Andy Puglisi was playing along with dozens of other children at the Higgins Memorial Pool in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Then suddenly, he disappeared. Twenty-two years later, filmmaker Melanie Perkins, Andy’s childhood friend, begins her search for answers in this feature-length documentary.
The director states: “It is my goal to use this film to motivate and educate a broad audience. I hope it encourages families and friends of missing children to join together, continue their own search and hold law enforcement accountable. I would like to see it inspire policy reform in the legislature so that missing children’s cold cases come under an umbrella agency and are reviewed on an annual basis.”
The film premiered on Cinemax in June 2008 and recently won an Emmy in the Investigative Journalism category
“An absorbing, often tormenting glimpse at the mystery surrounding an unspeakable crime whose reverberations live on.”
Ray Richmond, The Hollywood Reporter
“A distinguished contribution to the true-crime genre; the loving testament of a woman who never allowed herself to forget her ill-fated playmate.”
Tim Page, The Washington Post
Other Keywords: True Crime, Childhood, Law & Justice
• Mixed Blessings: The Challenges of Raising Children in a Jewish- Christian Family
Directed by: Jen Kaplan
TRT: 57 minutes
Mixed Blessings explores the religious struggles and challenges that take place within the more than one million families raising children in Jewish-Christian interfaith homes in the United States. The film shows the intimate and often emotional process four couples encounter as they try to come to terms with their own spiritual beliefs and how those beliefs get shared with their children. Mixed Blessings is unique; no other film addresses the issues related to the children of interfaith families. For more info, visit www.mixedblessingsfilm.com.
Other Keywords: Religion, Jewish Issues, Christian Issues, Family, Marriage
• Nobody Knows Us
Directed by: Max Lewontin
Nobody Knows Us is a short film about the portrayal of the American homeless population in the media, and how these depictions affect how Americans view the homeless. Using clips from popular films, television news, newsreels and other sources, as well as interviews with homeless advocates and formerly homeless people, this documentary attempts to expose both why the many stereotypes about the homeless exist as well as provide a means to change them.
The film examines the prevalence of youth violence against the homeless and includes interviews with homeless advocates in the states most affected by the violence and excerpts from a media campaign to reduce the growing number of incidents.
Other Key Words: American Studies, Community Issues, Economic Issues, Poverty, Media Literacy, Stereotypes, Homeless Families
• Prison Pups
Directed by: Alice Dungan Bouvrie
TRT: 58 min
Prison Pups is a one-hour documentary profiling minimum-security inmates in two Massachusetts correctional facilities who are training puppies to be service dogs for the disabled. The documentary follows four inmates during the 12 month period that they live with the dogs. These inmates learn to take on the responsibility of a puppy and find in themselves not only a sense of confidence but also a capacity for nurturing and affection. This experience is profound as they become empowered by their role as trainers. For more info, visit www.mineralkingproductions.com.
Other Keywords: Rehabilitation, Animals
• Shot in the Hood
Directed by: Bill Willis
TRT: 43 min
Director Bill Willis challenges inner city and at risk teens–who may be exposed to gun violence–to take responsibility for their own actions through goal setting, self-awareness, and exploring history. He uses his documentary film, Shot in The Hood, which is a series of interviews with teens and adults about some of the causes and solutions to youth violence, to create dialog with the audience. Ultimately, his goal is to encourage young people to be accountable for their actions while teaching them how to take control of their lives. For more info, visit www.williamwillis.com.
Other Keywords: Poverty, American Studies, Gun Control, Gang Violence
• Sustainable Homeownership
Directed by: Robin Saunders
TRT: 16 min
A sixteen minute documentary featuring two families who have taken advantage of The Senior Home Repair Program and the Lead Paint Abatement Program offered by The Sustainable Homeownership Center of ESAC, a non-profit organization located in Jamaica Plain, to help maintain their homes.
Other Keywords: Community Issues, Aging