THROWNAWAY KIDS: A DOCUMENTARY

How is it that Massachusetts, home to Harvard University, Children’s Hospital and other world-class institutions brimming with expertise in kids wellness and development, and a state where health and education are primary industries, has ended up at the bottom of the barrel nationally for decades when it comes to caring for children in need, protecting them against abuse and neglect, and strengthening families?

How has the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, charged with looking after and protecting the children of the state, including the 8,500 foster kids and other young people in its custody each year, become a nationally-recognized failure at its core missions of caring for and protecting the state’s children in need and strengthening families?
 
What would it take to fix the Massachusetts child welfare system, which has been by all accounts broken for more than a decade, in order to ensure that all children in the state get the care and protection they need and deserve? What can be learned from other states about caring for and protecting kids?  And what can other states learn from the experience of child welfare in Massachusetts?

An unprecedented reporting team comprised of seasoned journalists with decades of experience covering child welfare systems nationally, intrepid journalism students who have been doing enterprise reporting on this story, and leading national experts in child welfare together are working to identify and expose the underlying systemic problems, including the disproportionate impact of the failed system on parents with disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse issues; victims of domestic violence; people of color; and those facing economic hardship.  Finally, the documentary in conjunction with a deep community and educational outreach campaign will engage the public in seeking changes and reforms that can and will help fix the broken Massachusetts child welfare system — and save lives. 

 

I have made a deeply personal film about my family becoming war refugees (WWII) and the six years afterwards in the Allies’ “Displaced Persons” camps, experiencing starvation, sickness, living in rubble, witnessing such things as a woman lay down on the tracks and her body parts flying in the air, an image that haunted me for years into my adulthood. This documentary is told from my point of view as a child, of what I saw and witnessed while growing up. It is also the story of my grandmother who was determined to survive Hitler and then afterward struggle to suvive the refugee camps among 12 million starving people searching for food and living in bombed out buildings. This documentary also parallels my father’s journey, a man who served in the Red Army and who returns from fighting the Japanese in August of 1945 only to be snatched off the street at gunpoint, stuffed into a cattle car with many other men, and sent to Stalin’s forced labor camps, called the Gulag.
Many people dont know about this time in history. The Ukraine crisis has awakened some. Understanding unending wars’ unique destruction to children and families is what I hope to communicate. Most stories about WWII are told about the historical battles but not about the aftermath of women and children.

Kaboom! How Comics Changed America (w.t.) is a new three-part television series that explores the history of American comics, showing how this once lowbrow art form associated with youth rose to the heights of legitimacy and prestige. Comics today are used in every corner of academia and have inspired blockbuster movies seen by millions. They are also bellwethers of the times: Art Spiegelman’s Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, but thirty years later has been banned from schools in Tennessee.   

Comics have always caused trouble, and comics creators have always found ways around restrictive rules and codes. Our series offers a broad look at the many genres that have defined American comics, with an emphasis on the underground and alternative traditions, and on creator-owned comics that continue to be at the heart of comics innovation today. Each film features the stories of larger than life characters, many of them immigrants and outsiders who use this medium to tell their own versions of the American story.

Episode 1 introduces the very earliest American cartoons, including Ben Franklin’s “Join, or Die” panel that became our first meme, and a scathing strip by schoolboys at Kings College (NY) that lampooned their professor. It tells the story of Thomas Nast, who created our images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus and destroyed the career of “Boss” Tweed with his political comics.  We see how William Randolph Hearst outspent Joseph Pulitzer for Hogan’s Alley, which featured “the yellow kid” and gave us the phrase “yellow journalism.” Comic strips helped sell newspapers, and as they became increasingly popular, they were published on their own. In the 1930s Maxwell Gaines (né Ginsberg) helped establish the comic book industry and launched Educational Comics (EC) with the aim of publishing uplifting stories. The world of comic strips exploded. 

Episode 2 begins at a moment when comics had become so culturally powerful, they scared people. The U.S. Senate met in 1954 to discuss the dangers that comics posed to young minds. Under pressure to regulate itself, the industry created a “Comics Code” to enforce conservative values through both words and images. After the death of his father, who had created EC Comics, William Gains transformed the company into a popular label for horror, suspense, sci-fi, and political humor. EC’s Mad, the brainchild of Harvey Kurtzman, became a must-read for adolescents who shared Kurtzman’s subversive brand of humor. These innovations stood in clear violation of the Code, and Mad had to re-label itself as a “magazine” just to stay in print. But the Code inspired new innovations: a network of underground comics, where artists broke taboos, experimented, and rethought the way comics could be distributed. A leader of this movement, Robert Crumb, created the salacious Zap, which came with a warning label: “For adult intellectuals only!” Trina Robbins produced the first all-women comics anthology, Wimmen’s Comix.  Howard Cruse edited Gay Comix, while Justin Green, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Harvey Pekar pioneered the autobiographical tell-all.

By Episode 3, comics are everywhere, with new books and journals appearing each month. Sales of comics and graphic novels top $1.2 billion in 2019, and the medium becomes known for social critique and first person narrative, especially on topics of ethnicity and sexuality. Artists from Jewish, Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQ communities draw from the edgy yet accessible quality of the comics platform to make their voices heard.  Superhero stories make a comeback and inspire a wave of new Hollywood films. Comics Studies explodes in popularity at academic institutions across the country. Most publishing houses now have graphic novel imprints for children and young adults, and Kickstarter has become the largest ever “publisher” of graphic novels and comics. In a moment of American history when so many people are rethinking our identity and place in the world, it is no wonder that comics has become a go-to platform for passionate new creators and fans.  

COMICS USA has been awarded development funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The producer is Kathryn Dietz, an award-winning PBS filmmaker who grew up on Archie comics and still has a stack of her favorite Mad magazines. The director is Asaf Galay, whose The Hebrew Superhero told the story of Israeli comics, and whose other award-winning films highlight the contributions of Jewish artists to American culture. He writes, “This is a story of outcasts and outsiders whose tenacity and artistic commitment enabled them to transform America’s cultural landscape and surprise the world.” 

 

 

 

Can you imagine how painful it must be to look in the mirror and find a stranger staring back?

Johnny Depp, a fierce advocate, unwavering friend and staunch Ally of the LBGTQ+ community, donates his time, energy and considerable talents to narrate and add original music to the feature length documentary, This is Me. 

This is Me explores the challenges, both from within and from society, that face the LBGTQ+ community and most specifically Transgender men and women that on top of having to summon up the incredible courage to transition, must also endure the cold realities of being disowned by family, discarded by friends, face the hatred of strangers, and survive their own internal struggles… all to find the love, acceptance and happiness that the rest of us take for granted.

In This is Me, we meet transgender men and women from all over the country. They are all of different races, ages and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common; they have all looked in that mirror and found a stranger staring back. 

UNLOCKING RNA tells the amazing story of Nobel Laureate Dr. Philip Sharp and the events that led to the birth of the biotech revolution, set in Kendall Square, the most innovative square mile on the planet.

Some say the US has fallen behind, with great scientific discoveries happening abroad and Asia on the cutting edge. But we cannot overlook the incredible innovation and discoveries made possible by the US biotech industry, driving economies worldwide.

In this story, we unearth the humble Kentucky roots of Nobel Laureate Dr. Phillip A. Sharp and his discovery of RNA splicing that led to the biotech revolution as we know it today.

UNLOCKING RNA will take you on an journey through the birth and proliferation of a movement that has saved millions of lives and whose headquarters remain in Kendall Square in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts – known as the most innovative square mile on the planet.

As the world has now been introduced to mRNA technology through the lifesaving vaccines developed to combat COVID-19, the time is ripe to share the full story of the groundbreaking work and key players that paved the way for this revolution.

DIRECTOR Bill Haney

PRODUCER Carina Chavda, Bill Haney

WEBSITE www.uncommonproductions.com/unlocking-rna

 

Our intent is to tell the raw story – the raw story of the “military experience” downrange, the dynamic while deployed, the pivotal moments when they return home, and ultimately how they navigate the CIVILIAN workplace, the community and most significantly, their home with their loved ones. THE RAW Story has many layers AND we intend to delve and dig deep during intense interviews as they share how they navigate the rough terrain of civilian life after multiple deployments, how they maintain emotional healthy relationships within their community of fellow Veterans as well as their “tribe.”
 
Further, we will tell the raw story of Veteran suicide and talk to surviving family members, and how they are coping, and what they’ve done to honor their family members memory.Another element of this documentary will highlight grassroots organizations, Veteran owned non-profit organization, Hidden Wounds (https://hiddenwounds.org/) Project Josiah (https://projectjosiah.org/). Celebrate Freedom Foundation, gocff.org, Project Refit, projectrefit.us, Heroic Gardens, heroicgardens.org The Lazy Lab Hunting Club lazylabhc.org Awareness 22, https://awareness22.com/The Giordano Foundation.giordanofoundation.org
 
We will talk to major players at the Department of Veterans Affairs. We will ask bold questions to these experts. (e.g., How can they better serve Veterans and their families? What can VA providers do better and also discuss the paradigm shift to client centered -and their whole health initiative. 
 
We will delve into the latest research on how to best serve Veterans and their families, University of South Carolina’s Dr. Aubrey Sugeit will present straightforward evidence of combating PTSD. We will interview other Professors at Rutgers University in NJ conducting research involving effective therapies for Veterans to heal from PTSD. 
 
We will ask bold questions to politicians fighting on the frontlines every day for Veterans. (e.g., What are local and state politicians doing right now to take action?) We will interview Joe Wilson in SC and other politicians to explore real political change (Columbia, Philadelphia, New Jersey, etc.) 
 
And finally present a Call to Action – What outcomes do the military and Veteran community want to realize for our nation’s heroes? What the community at large can do to help? We will provide local resources for each state/region in the U.S.
 
We are raising funds for our full feature documentary – All insurance costs, administrative costs, accounting costs, Development, fundraising/marketing efforts, pre-production, production, post-production, film festival activities, outreach, marketing and distribution costs. We have successfully raised 10,000 dollars to fund the trailer and 1,000 dollars to film one shoot at the Army Navy game, featuring the president of the Lazy Lab Hunting Club.
 
The Barbara Giordano Foundation – serves the women veterans exclusively. They provide holistic wellness retreats, programs and unique therapies, professional development and other dynamic resources to empower Veteran women.
 
THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS VERY IMPORTANT FILM!
 
Click here to view the full trailer: https://youtu.be/q7lR3fdx1Qw

A four (4) part Docuseries, an examination of what passes for Black Television and “black” character-driven TV today. An in depth look at the extent to which it’s just another Minstrel Show, “white” imagery in Blackface.

Provides a history, using examples, beginning with the Minstrel Show form and how that basic format/formula continues despite having “black” producers/creatives working in the medium and despite having so-called Black networks.

The entertainment form began as a “white” one and has hewn to that form ever since. Blacks who are working in the medium today haven’t really innovated nor strayed too far from what the industry deems right and proper for “black” folks in both form and content, in front & behind the camera.

During the Black Arts Movement of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s the mantra of Black Mediamakers was “by, for, and about” Black folks. In what ways today do we have the “by” and the “about,” but not the “for?”

All of these “black” shows or shows with “diverse” casts, with so-called “colorblind” casting that make their way to the Broadcast, Cable, VOD networks has the effect of diminishing, devaluing the African Diasporic culture and history, while elevating the centrality of the Eurocentric POV, which ultimately is the point.

“As a white American..I have a white frame of reference and a white worldview, and I move through the world with a white experience. My experience [contrary to the messages projected in the media and educational systems], is not a universal human experience,” Robin DiAngelo writes in White Fragility.

Historically how has American media, particularly television presented what is ultimately this “white” worldview, even when wrapped in Black packaging, to the detriment of audiences Black and White?

The series pulls back to curtain to see just how the strings are connected and provides historic context to the programming that has made its way into our homes. We examine both the familiar and the hidden, the classic and the mediocre the good, the bad and the cringeworthy. The story unfolds through interviews, archival footage, commentary & critique.

The television entertainment form began as a “white” one and has hewn to that form ever since. Blacks who are working in the medium today haven’t really innovated (in the way that Jackie Robinson changed major league baseball or “black” players reinvented professional basketball, playing above-the-rim) nor strayed too far from what the industry deems “commercial.”

The “elephant-in-the-room” question is why? We will examine this question along the lines of the answer posited in a 2016 article in the New Yorker, titled, “The Oscar Whiteness Machine,” by Richard Brody.

“…[T]he presumption that baseline experience is white experience, and that black life is a niche phenomenon, life with an asterisk. The result is that only narrow and fragmentary views of the lives of African-Americans ever make it to the screen—and I think that this is not an accident. If the stories were told—if the daily lives and inner lives, the fears and fantasies, the historical echoes and the anticipations of black Americans were as copiously unfolded in movies as are those of whites—then lots of white folks would be forced to confront their historical and contemporary shame. They’d no longer be able to claim ignorance of what they’d like not to know—which includes their own complicity in a rigged system.” What are the ways that Black folks themselves participate in that “rigged system?”

Waterkeeper explores the astonishing and uplifting life of environmental activist Diane Wilson, Waterkeeper for the San Antonio Bay Estuarine system. The film interweaves several storylines revolving around this visionary, funny, and intrepid warrior, who’s been fighting her entire life for the waters she grew up on.

Our primary story captures Wilson’s newest fight, as it unfolds like an environmental true crime. In December of 2020, Diane discovers that a newly formed oil pipeline company named Max Midstream Texas has filed an application to The Army Corps of Engineers for permits to build a new oil export terminal at the Port of Calhoun. For the largest tanker ships to gain access to the terminal, Max Midstream plans to dredge a massive expansion of the shipping channels in Matagorda Bay, heart of the local fishing industry. However…

…in 1994, after discovering 41 million cubic yards of mercury had been released into the waters by Alcoa Aluminum’s Point Comfort Plant, the EPA declared Matagorda Bay a Superfund site. They determined that the safest way to mitigate the toxic mercury, was to allow contaminated sediment to remain undisturbed on the bay floor. But late last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers reversed the EPA’s decision, and has fast-tracked the approval process for the Max Midstream proposal. To protest the Army Corp’s reversal, 72-year-old Diane began her thirteenth hunger strike on April 7, 2021. After 38 days, and 48 hours in the Galveston County Jail, Diane was released. A week later, she led a protest in front of the Max Midstream headquarters in Houston. The ACOE approval deadline to accept bids from dredging firms by spring 2022.

Into the Max Midstream story, we interweave Diane’s epic 30-year war with multinational petrochemical giant Formosa Plastics. Using archival news coverage, footage from past documentaries, and interviews, we explore the epic Formosa saga, which culminates in October 2019 when Diane’s suit against the company settles in her favor for $50 million, the largest penalty awarded for violations of the Clean Water Act in US history.

Throughout, we entwine Diane’s remarkable life story. The only female shrimper in her community, she has five children, the youngest autistic. She has authored 4 books, and is writing on her fifth. In 2001 Diane, broke into the Union Carbide plant in her hometown, and dropped a banner denouncing the company for the Bhopal India gas leak that killed 8,000 people. She was arrested and spent five months in jail for it. She was so moved by the incarcerated women she met there, she founded the Texas Jail Project, which holds county jails accountable for mistreatment and medical neglect of inmates. She co-founded the international peace organization Code Pink. Diane was arrested for hopping the White House fence to protest the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Despite a high school education, Diane is a sought after public speaker by environmental groups around the world. She has endured thirteen hunger strikes, the longest 57 days.…

Our final storyline explores the catastrophic impact of the all-powerful Texas petrochemical industry on low income/fence line Gulf Coast communities like Seadrift, Texas. Using industry-produced promotional films and PR campaigns, we show how these powerful corporations sell folks on the benefits of bringing their industries to their towns. In direct contrast, archival news footage of chemical spills, explosions, and daily releases of toxic chemicals, alongside testimony from victims of the pollution, reveals the devastation to those communities. 

Diane’s courage and selflessness is the engine that drives our film. Through the lens of her lifelong David vs. Goliath saga, Waterkeeper offers a boots-on-the-ground view of a fight for humankind’s most precious resource – clean water. 

But Waterkeeper paints on a broader canvas. In telling the specifics of Diane’s activism, the film points to the larger environmental justice story playing out in low income, fence line communities across the planet. Of our how industrial polluters skirt regulation, and continue to squander our dwindling water supply.  Waterkeeper shows how we got here, and how to move forward…

We have some amazing gifts for donations of $100 or more, including an exclusive ‘On-Camera’ CHEF’S TABLE event being filmed for this documentary. Details at bottom. We need to raise 90k to cover the cost of production and post-production. Please help us inspire more LOVE and SOCIAL CHANGE in the world by making a TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation today.

Chef’s Sanctuary is a participatory documentary about the journey of an ordinary man who overcame extraordinary circumstances to discover his own inner Sanctuary. An epic Hero’s journey of a human being standing in his truth, while following his heart’s passion, amidst the horrendous struggles he faced growing up and then as an illegal immigrant in the United States.

Chef Tony Castillo’s incredible resilience and willingness to find the blessing in his struggles, has allowed him to go from a baby abandoned at birth in Venezuela, a child constantly bullied in Mexico for his love of cooking, to homeless and an illegal immigrant in the US, to shot and nearly killed, to now a proud restaurant owner and US Citizen, who was recently awarded “International Chef of the Year”.

Ex. Producer and Host, Danny McFarland, is a retired decorated Deputy Sheriff who was nearly killed and permanently disabled in the line of duty. Danny was awarded the Bronze Star for Bravery, and the Purple Heart. Danny suffered from excruciating pain every second of everyday of his life, until a decade later when he began healing his mind and body holistically. His darkest moments in life became his greatest gifts, and now he’s empowering others to do the same by sharing inspirational stories from Hurt to Happiness.

This heartfelt project has been blessed with an amazing team, primarily Latino based. Director/Co-Producer Mario Beauregard, Assoc. Producer Claudia Padilla, Primetime Emmy award winning and nine time nominated Cinematographer, Petr Cikhart, and Mexico’s award winning Cinematographer, Vidblaín Balvás (2nd Unit Camera Man).

DONATION GIFTS:

$1k (usd) or more: You receive one (1) seat to an exclusive Chef’s Table experience with Chef Tony. Various dates available, TBD.

$5k (usd) or more: You receive one (1) seat for exclusive (On-Camera) Chef’s Table special event being filmed for Chef’s Sanctuary documentary (TBD). 

$10k (usd) or more: Includes two (2) seats to same (On-Camera) Chef’s Table special event, plus your name in credits as an Associate Producer. 

$500 (usd) or more: Receive one (1) raffle ticket, chance to win two (2) seats to an exclusive Chef’s Table with Chef Tony (not on-camera). Four (4) winners.

$100 (usd) donation or more, all receive an invite to a special private party to thank our supports @ Longitud315 in Chicago area or @ El Santuario del Chef in Ticuman, Mexico (Your choice). Date TBD. 

*(On-Camera) Chef’s Table special event will be held @ Longitud315. Date TBD. Only eight (8) seats available. Lock in your seat today. 

*All other exclusive Chef’s Table events will be held @ Longitud315 and @ El Santuario del Chef (your choice) Various dates available TBD.

*NOTE on all donations for CHEF’s SANCTUARY film (Accepting checks, credit cards, crypto currency, stocks) Note: CHEF’s SANCTUARY please. 

This is our way of saying THANK YOU to all of our AMAZING donors. We literally can not do this without you heartfelt support.

www.ChefsSanctuary.com for more details and to follow our journey. ChefsSanctuaryInfo@gmail.com for any questions or interest in collaborating with our film. 

When filmmaker Alex Rappoport met then 79-year-old abstract artist Peter Bradley in early 2020, Bradley hadn’t sold many paintings or had a major show in over four decades – yet he still painted every day in his shipping-container studio, heated by a wood stove, no matter what the weather. Over time, Rappoport recorded Bradley’s fascinating life story, which occupies a unique and inexplicably overlooked place in 20th century art history. Bradley was one of the first important Black gallery dealers in the 1970s, likely the first Black abstract artist represented by a major New York City gallery, and curator of one of the first integrated art shows in America (read this New York Times article for more detail). As Bradley tells it, all this unfolds amidst the systemic racism of both society in general and the art world in particular.

Talented, willful and arrogant, Peter Bradley lived life to its fullest – until he fell upon hard times and drug abuse in the 1980s that nearly ended his career.  He now lives in an eclectic 18th century stone house in upstate New York with his wife and on-screen companion Rudolph the housecat. When COVID shut down most of the world, Alex started spending his days filming and deepening his friendship with Peter, a process which spanned more than a year. The result is a revealing 90-minute film about an extraordinary life.

WITH PETER BRADLEY is an intimate, provocative series of conversations with the now 81-year-old abstract painter and sculptor. At turns bitter and humorous, the recounting of Bradley’s rise to success as an artist – and subsequent fall from grace – unfolds against the backdrop of seasonal change at his rural home and studio.