Prominent Jewish scholar Ismar Schorsch fled Germany in 1938. Decades later, residents from his family’s hometown of Esslingen invite him back, restoring relations brutally severed by the Holocaust. In 2019 Germany awards Ismar its highest civilian honor. What made Ismar’s reconciliation possible? 

Through Ismar’s story, Life in Reverse reveals the courageous efforts of non-Jewish Germans to face the violent legacy they inherited. Their difficult memory work has broad implications beyond Germany. The struggle with their brutal past will serve as a model, particularly for America, as we have barely begun to memorialize the victims of our cruel history. 

Ismar’s humane spirit and devotion to historical knowledge as a path to redemption inspires as we consider the role of memory and truth-telling in building a just society.

Life in Reverse is a film about honest confrontation with a painful history and the uncertain journey from destruction to reconciliation.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

In this film we journey along with 26 year old Maria Smirnova as she strives to high dive professionally for Cirque Du Soleil and Red Bull. In doing so we introduce our audience not only to Maria but the sport of high diving as well as the recreational, and often dangerous, counterculture of freestyle cliff diving. This is a story about finding meaning in relationships despite the adversity of societal stigmas, gender inequality, racial tension, body image, and injuries. It’s a story about community, grit, perseverance, and pursuing your dreams at all costs.

Several women put their lives at risk by way of their common freedom of expression: Diving off of an 80 foot perch, soaring through the air at 55 mph, and plunging into a shallow pool of water. Although the mental aptitude it takes to be a high diver is a feat in and of itself, it pales in comparison to the transformative period of their lives ahead of them.  

 

Saving Southern Italy begins in the late stages of covid, when I return to the land of my Italian ancestry looking to find a home to buy and renovate, and along the way I’ll shepherd other ex-pats through the incredibly challenging yet rewarding process of honoring their roots in a tangible way. There are many well publicized schemes for the sale of abandoned properties, so I will engage property managers and lawyers who will help guide us through the options, from the  “case un euro” phenomenon to homes on the private market.

In essence, we are collectively “building gratitude” in a bricks and mortar fashion, which besides the possibility of buying a “heritage” home, we will meet other Italian-Americans who might be establishing a business such as a wedding venue, turning a village into an “Albergo Diffuso,” a diffused hotel, or perhaps populating an artist-in-residence borgo. 

The tone of the documentary will feel authentic and grounded, not “reality tv” but cinematic realism. 

After all, we’re filming Italy here!  So, I want viewers to smell every batch of bread baking, absorb the glow of every sunset, hear the music of feet shuffling on weathered cobblestones and feel the tug of their heartstrings when visiting villages that are literal time warps, many with an eerily melancholy aura of abandonment. 

The storyline will mainly be driven by the narrative of the interviews conducted with the subjects being featured, rather than a voice-over narration. 

We believe that high-quality, thoughtful stories can impact the world.

Unfortunately, too often in our world, those with power are the ones with the loudest voices. Using money and influence, they can control the public discourse while millions of unheard voices are drowned out. Our team has fought against that notion through our documentary work, but there is only so much a single film can do, which is why we needed to create a new way to shine a light on wide-reaching societal issues and amplify those voices who needed it most.

We call it VIDA Voices.

Through crowdfunding efforts, VIDA Voices will craft & amplify stories about often overlooked societal issues by connecting unheard voices with filmmakers & storytellers looking for meaningful, paid work. With expertise from our team and our network of various filmmakers and storytellers, we plan to produce 12 mini-documentaries, ranging in length from 7 to 20 minutes, covering a myriad of often overlooked societal issues like tobacco harm reduction, dyslexia, and much more.

Each production will also include a “focus group” portion where those with a deep understanding of a specific topic will be asked to review a draft of the piece. We will then ask those individuals to provide overall feedback on authenticity and potential impact before releasing the final report to the public.

We believe in a future crafted through storytelling and are thrilled to craft it together.

Special Acknowledgment to donors over $10,000:
Mark Hamdan ($49,990)

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, members of a faith community in New Hampshire feel compelled to take action. With their pastor’s encouragement, they decide to create artistic quilts depicting the last words of Mr. Floyd.

Through interviews, B-roll, and verité footage, we see what motivated our characters to participate, and feel some of the tensions that emerged in the process of creating the quilts. They speak about the creative energy they harnessed to counteract the horror of the event, and the special power they felt in particular words and phrases. Because some of our characters have lighter skin and an outlook that fits the social construct of “White,” and some of our characters have darker skin and an outlook that fits the social construct of “Black,” one pointed tension that the film reveals is the different ways these people experienced George Floyd’s killing.

Finally we get a sense of what the quilts might do out in the world, as they are “blessed” by the nine congregations that took part.

Host and professional dancer Mickela Mallozzi returns for another season of the Emmy® Award-winning travel series, Bare Feet in NYC, where she travels the world within the five boroughs of New York City. In this post-COVID era, Mickela shares the recovery of this resilient city through the arts and the small businesses that make up these diverse community neighborhoods.

Mickela Mallozzi is the four-time Emmy® Award-winning Host and Executive Producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a travel series highlighting the diversity of dance which airs on PBS stations nationwide and on Amazon Prime Video globally. A professional dancer and trained musician, Mickela decided to start a journey around the world, taking her camera with her to follow dance in the lives of everyday people wherever she went. From re-discovering her family’s heritage in Southern Italy to dancing tango on the main stage in Buenos Aires, the series covers Mickela’s adventures as she experiences the world, one dance at a time. She has been featured in The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, AFAR Media, Travel Channel, Dance Magazine, Forbes, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, and more, and she has performed on various television shows including Sesame Street and The Doctor Oz Show.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://travelbarefeet.com

“Space flight is unforgiving. It is inherently dangerous.  If you get careless, it will kill you, more so than most other activities on earth, except underwater cave exploration.”  
Dr. James Oberg, NASA 

Our oceans comprise 4/5th of the planet. 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored. In the 1960s Jacques Yves Cousteau pushed human limits to explore the most extreme and remote underwater environments.  Television audiences around the globe tuned in to catch a glimpse of the wonders of the world undersea.  But since the days of Cousteau, underwater exploration has all but come to a grinding halt.  There is no inner space equivalent to authentic outer space exploration.

 BUT NOW, all of that has changed.  NASA astronaut, aquanaut, environmentalist, mathematician, and fighter pilot Captain Scott Kelly is picking up where Cousteau left off, expanding the very meaning and significance of human exploration in the 21st century.  

EXPEDITION EARTH

With this groundbreaking filmed series Expedition Earth, Captain Kelly will be continuing his life’s quest to push human and technological limits while exploring the most extreme and remote underwater environments on planet Earth. Captain Kelly is bringing outer and inner space together, all in the name of the science of exploration. To explore more we have to become better explorers.  

The uncharted frontiers of planet Earth — its underwater caves, its oceans, its hidden landscapes — all of these places serve as an extreme environmental research habitat.  We need to continue to explore the unexplored, and perfect our process of getting “there,” wherever  there may be.  Whether it’s the remote Chinese caves of Du’An, the deep reaches of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea, or the uncharted depths of Lake Baikal in Russia, our team will set its course and get there.

F-Stop Productions is currently seeking to raise $40,000 by November 5th, 2020 to fund the research, writing, and development of the grant application to the National Science Foundation. In our National Science Foundation grant application, we will be requesting $2.5 million to complete our film.

It’s been 75 years since the end of World War II, and the veterans of that horrific war have many stories to share, but little time to do so. In our film, “The Greatest Generation: Let Us Not Forget” you will hear stories of the brave men and women who valiantly served our country during the most pivotal time in U.S. history. Unlike other WWII documentaries, this film will detail the journey of our heroes, beginning with their entry into the service, followed by their efforts in the war, and equally important, the impact on which the war had in their lives. Here are a few samples.

Tom Houdek was 17 in 1941 and had to wait a year to enlist and serve his country.  Within months of finally entering the army, Tom was captured by the Germans and shares his stories about survival, both physically and mentally as a POW. When captured, Tom weighed 155 pounds. When freed, he weighed only 98 pounds.

Don Folsom describes his activity on the battlefield in the Pacific. “The Battle of Tarawa was brutal”, says Don as he anguishes from the memory of witnessing hundreds of men dying around him. In addition, Don shares what it felt like to kill the enemy along with stories from the front line. Upon returning home, Don struggled for months with nightmares and had to learn to cope with bottling up his feelings from the war for decades.

Gene Overholt was a communication specialist in the army. While he wasn’t involved in combat, Gene was responsible for the transmission of vital information in the war effort. He married just before leaving America and provides intimate stories of the letters which he and his bride wrote to each other. On the lighter side, Gene discusses his recruitment to play football on the base league. You will also hear about Gene’s emotional return home as well as his time as International President of the Kiwanis Club.

These are just a few of the stories we will hear from approximately 20 veterans from this war time. Beyond these men will be stories from Tuskegee Airmen and Rosie the Riveters as well. The emotional, lifelong journey is coming to a close for these soldiers, and we are proud to bring their stories to the silver screen. Let’s show our dedication and thanks to these veterans through the support of our film. Thank you.

At this stage, we have the distribution support of PBS and are working to secure a pair of notable actors to narrate the film. Thus, our final effort is to secure funding for the project. At this time, we are seeking sponsorships from companies and individuals which will allow us to produce this historic film. Thank you in advance for supporting this historic film, as we preserve the stories of the greatest generation this country has ever known. May God bless you.

If you would like to send a check, please make the check payable to Filmmakers Collaborative and send to Filmmakers Collaborative, 6 Eastman Place, Suite 202, Melrose, MA 02176. Please indicate that you are donating in support of The Greatest Generation: Let Us Not Forget.

If you would prefer to charge your tax deductible gift please click on the DONATE TO THIS FILM button above.

Chelsea – An Essential City

A small Latinx immigrant city on the Boston harbor provides fuel, food and an essential workforce for the entire Northeast Region. “Chelsea – An Essential City” (working title) is a window into an essential city and its essential workers on the frontline of a battle against a global pandemic.

Synopsis

The city of Chelsea, Massachusetts is often overlooked. It’s the smallest city in the state of Massachusetts – 1.8 square miles in total – sitting on a tiny peninsula in the Boston Harbor. Yet in the spring of 2020 Chelsea became the city with the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state and one of the highest infection rates in the country. Chelsea was on the frontlines of the first wave of the pandemic, but why?

Eight out of 10 residents of Chelsea are essential workers. The majority are Latinx immigrant workers.

This film is a portrait of Chelsea, a city made of essential Latinx workers whose contributions allow daily life to go on in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Because of its proximity to the airport and its extensive seaport Chelsea’s contributions are essential to the basic functioning of the region. Food, cargo ships, oil, natural gas, gasoline and tons of consumer goods enter New England through Chelsea. Many factories and industrial operations are located there. Rocksalt to de-ice winter roads in 350 cities is stored in Chelsea. Tanks along the Chelsea Creek hold 100% of the fuel for Boston’s Logan airport – one of the busiest international airports in the country. Chelsea is a vital part of the regional supply chain powering the industrial and consumer economy of most of New England. It is also home to the New England Produce Center – one of the largest produce distribution centers in the country selling produce to all of New England, multiple mid-Atlantic states, and southern Canadian regions.

Yet Chelsea bears a disproportionate burden despite the benefits it provides. Pre-existing conditions that made COVID-19 such a deadly disease are precisely the conditions most prevalent in Chelsea: it is among Massachusetts cities with the highest incidences of asthma, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Chelsea and her residents are symbolic of the contributions of Latinx immigrant workers; providing essential labor and bolstering industries for the larger economy, yet bearing the largest burden and going largely unseen. While the benefits of their labor are essential to daily life during a pandemic, the majority of residents in Chelsea live below the poverty line and due to immigration status, do not qualify for assistance.

Roseann Bongiovanni, Green Roots’ executive director, whose organization is on the front-lines of pandemic relief, sees several clear messages emerging from the pandemic that need to be heard across the nation: “First, all essential workers are, in fact, essential. They must be treated with the same respect as nurses and doctors. Second, communities of color cannot continue to serve as environmental sacrifice zones.

“Much like Hurricane Maria’s lasting impact in Puerto Rico, the devastation of the first wave of COVID-19 has laid bare and further exacerbated already existing inequality. Now Chelsea faces a tidal wave of evictions and continues to have the highest COVID infection rate in the state.

Most of the world knows about Pompeii, the ancient roman city on the Gulf of Naples that was famously destroyed and buried for nearly 1,700 years following a catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Far fewer however have heard of the nearby site of Herculaneum, Pompeii’s sister city which suffered the same fate. While lesser known than Pompeii, Herculaneum is no less special. In fact because of its proximity on the western slope of Vesuvius, and the nature of the eruption that buried it, the city is uniquely preserved; in many ways better than Pompeii. Wooden doors, window frames and even furniture survived at Herculaneum but are non-existent at Pompeii. There are also the skeletons of hundreds of victims found frozen in anguish as they attempted to escape the unimaginable heat and gas of the volcano. What really makes Herculaneum special however is its “Villa dei Papiri” discovered just outside the city and containing the largest library from the ancient world ever found. Herculaneum: Reading the Invisible will be a documentary film that explores this most unique archeological treasure, the attempts and failures to open and read its ancient papyrus and now the creative application of super high-tech imaging and artificial intelligence to “virtually unwrap” the scrolls. For the first time in 2,000 years we are about to learn their secrets.