“Lost, Found, Embraced”, is a documentary that captures the emotional saga of Mangok Bol, a South Sudanese Lost Boy turned Bostonian, as he bridges continents to reunite with his niece and nephews. With the help of the team at refugee resettlement non-profit RefugePoint, and a group neighbors and friends from various walks of life, Mangok is preparing for his niece and nephews to arrive in Boston. They are being reunited with Mangok in the United States after years of indentured servitude and separation. We’ll witness their emotional reunion and capture how a community is built around the welcoming of refugee family members separated by war and violence for decades. Through dynamic interplay of contemporary footage and historical archives, the short film delves into themes of loss, resilience, and the universal quest for family, community and belonging revealed in refugee resettlement and family reunification, set against the ongoing, divisive debates about immigration in The United States.

“Lost, Found, Embraced” employs a documentary style that is both intimate and observational, combining the immediacy of verité footage with the reflective depth of expository interviews and archival materials. The film’s tone navigates between the somber realities of refugee experiences and the hopeful resilience that defines Mangok and his community. Visually, the documentary juxtaposes the stark landscapes of Sudanese refugee camps with the urban environment of Boston, using close-ups to capture emotion and wide shots to contextualize the individual stories within the global refugee narrative. Visually, the past will intercut with the present in ways that help the audience feel the trauma that is carried by refugees, and underscore the importance of support systems for their well-being.  We’ll see the moment South Sudan became a country in 2011, and the moment of hope that was undermined by renewed violence. The decades of conflict in Sudan and South Sudan make it clear that children like Mangok’s nieces and nephews have no home there, and would be in peril if they returned. The verite driven, unfolding story of Mangok’s reunion with his family will also be contextualized in the larger issue of Refugee resettlement and family reunification through interviews with leading experts like Samantha Power, Sasha Chanoff and others.

“Lost, Found, Embraced is more than a story of family reunion; it’s an exploration of the broader refugee experience, underscoring the importance of community support, the challenges of assimilation, and the enduring strength of the human spirit. It’s also a powerful reminder that welcoming Refugees can bring a community together and reveal the best parts of our nature. In a moment where Americans are increasingly divided on immigration, and loneliness and mental health challenges are at crisis levels, the acts of coming together to help refugees- especially children who have endured years or loss and suffering, is a powerful demonstration of how community is built when we open our hearts

After almost drowning in the river as a child in Florida, lifelong educator Pearl White has taught thousands of children and adults how to swim at “The Y” for nearly 50 summers.

Pearl: My World is a one-hour documentary that not only honors a woman who has dedicated her life to instilling life skills to generations of children in her community, but also expands on–and even upends–the singular narrative of Black Americans’ fraught relationship to swimming and water.

Once a threat to her own life as it had barely begun, water became Miss Pearl’s friend, her muse, her classroom, her meditation, her world. One sweltering summer afternoon in 1939 or 1940—one struggles to remember the exact year—Little Pearl, not older than two, fell into the dark waters of the Saint Johns River at Jacksonville, Florida, almost drowning while her father swam to the rescue and her mother looked on in horror. Over the next eight decades, Miss Pearl learned to love the water, emulating the glamorous Hollywood swimming star Esther Williams as much as the Black swim champions she trained with at the Jefferson Street Pool during her youth, frolicking in the surf of segregated American Beach in the 1950s, coaching high school swimming and diving teams for much of her teaching career, and teaching thousands of children—and many of their parents—how to swim for nearly 50 summers at the James Weldon Johnson Branch YMCA, in the heart of Jacksonville’s Black community.

● Presidio Pictures: https://presidiopictures.com

“A walk with Richard” is an intimate portrait of a first- generation Japanese immigrant and restauranteur who firmly believes in “protecting” the customer, his business and his legacy. Richard landed in Vestal, NY in 1975 and opened Kampai, a Hibachi restaurant that same year.

Richard has always instilled the values of putting the customer first for over five decades and that legacy continues with his three children who now run the restaurant. Richard is retired but still pops in and out of Kampai to perform his rituals like cleaning the parking lot by-hand every morning before opening and closing out the last nights books. Our short film shares intimate moments with Richard and his family, illustrating what all of us in Vestal, NY have known about him for a long time. It is time to share his story with a larger audience and celebrate his legacy.

The Hudson Valley of upstate New York has been synonymous with America’s art scene since the 19th century, as artists such as Frederic Church and Thomas Cole pioneered the Hudson River School, launching American art onto the world stage. Once again this area is a thriving artist haven as 21st century artists find inspiration in the rolling hills of upstate New York.

Artiste is a documentary series that showcases the artists of today who live and create in this area, exploring what led them to move to the Hudson Valley, why they stayed, and how their lives and work have thrived in their new artistic home.As we experience the work of six untraditional artists, each working in unique mediums, we are invited into their creative processes and understand how the place itself deeply informs their art. In this challenging environmental moment, artists are leading the way back to an engagement with nature, finding profound community both with each other and with the Hudson River Valley.

As we near the 200th birthday of Frederic Church, Artiste will serve as a celebration of art in America, exploring one of the major schools of American art. While the landscape has stayed the same, the inspiration that artists receive from this area has changed as each artist works to further their understanding of modern art.

Look up to our source of life on Earth during this rare and transformative celestial event.

The Moon eclipses the Sun – taking a bite as ancient Mayans believed – and a crescent Sun begins to form. The first contact between the Moon and Sun. As the Moon transverses the sky, it covers the Sun until only a crescent sliver remains. Spectacular phenomena display just before the Moon fully blocks the Sun at second contact. Serpentine shadows from the atmosphere’s turbulence undulate across the ground – shadow snakes. Then a huge flash of light, shimmering like a diamond, bursts from one edge of the Sun – the Diamond Effect. It disappears to reveal a ring of light beads on the Sun’s rim from the remnants of sunlight poking through the Moon’s valleys – Baily’s beads. In the full shadow of the Moon, Earth enters complete darkness.

Totality is both frightening and awe-inspiring. Believing it is nighttime, the crickets chirp and the birds nest in trees. The temperature drops, the winds change, and cumulus and stratus clouds disappear. Time stands still. Humans witnessing the mysteries of the cosmos cry out, weep, or are unmovable. All are transformed by this unworldly event. Then, moments or minutes later, the process reverses. The Moon emerges from the other side of the Sun and eclipse phenomena display again at third contact. The Sun’s crescent grows larger as the Moon recedes until full sunlight is restored at fourth contact.

On Monday, April 8th, 2024, a total solar eclipse will fill the sky over a huge swath of North America. In the Hill Country of Texas, totality will occur at 1:34:52 CT, bestowing 4 minutes and 24 seconds of total darkness – the longest totality near a major metropolitan area in North America. This rare celestial event will not happen again here until August 12, 2044 – 20 years from now. 

Moon Shadow: Celebrating Eclipse Totality will capture this spectacular event along with 40,000 eclipse chasers. 

Moon Shadow is a multi-platform educational PBS project (PBS distribution confirmed) about the science and symbolism of eclipses helmed by a woman-owned duo of award-winning documentary filmmakers and journalists. The project aims to use the universal awe and wonder of solar eclipses to engage more audiences in an understanding and appreciation of science and nature. It also recognizes that such a transformative cosmic event creates a moment of reset, inspiring introspection about our place within the universe and humanity at a critical time when Earth’s and humanity’s health are threatened.

The project is anchored by a documentary film:

A total solar eclipse – the perfect alignment of Earth, moon, and sun – has sparked contemplation, pursuit of knowledge, innovation, and transformation for as long as humans have revered this cosmic gem. Moon Shadow is a feature-length documentary that explores the science and symbolism of eclipses. It captures the visually stunning April 2024 total eclipse along ground zero in the Texas Hill Country, cradled within a one-of-a-kind festival celebrating next-generation art, science, music, space, technology, and wellness. It also introduces viewers to some of the world’s most ardent eclipse chasers and experts. 

To delve into the science, we meet NASA astrophysicists shedding light on solar geometry, the corona, and eclipse phenomena; environmentalists exploring the effects of eclipses on weather, animals, and plants; solar eclipse researchers studying the elusive corona during the precious moments of totality; psychologists documenting the psychological effects of eclipses on humans; and conservationists entreating us to steward our planet. 

To explore the cultural symbolism, we meet anthropologists placing eclipses in lore and ritual across time and cultures; indigenous leaders sharing the spiritual meaning of eclipses; historians tracing eclipses’ effects on society; educators explaining the recent boom of public engagement in eclipses and citizen science; artists creating in the moon’s shadow in search of human enlightenment; and futurists transporting us into new worlds shaped by the nexus of art and science. 

Moon Shadow celebrates the power and wonder of alignment – of three celestial bodies during the total eclipse of 2024 and of a harmonious Earth and humanity awakened by that transformative cosmic event.

Documentary highlights include:

 Moon Shadow is also designed to reach various audiences with other media elements:  

Moon Shadow is a unique project that deeply connects today’s audiences to the science and symbolism of total eclipses. It recognizes that eclipses have provoked contemplation about and celebration of what it means to be human. It explores the multi-layered science of eclipses. It examines the cultural and historical context of the symbolism of eclipses. It uncovers the universality of the quest for knowledge and human expression. It delves into the convergence of art and science. It provokes questions about our responsibility to the planet and humanity. It creates a sense of shared community. It affirms the power of alignment.

Trailer Credit: 2024 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA (Official Trailer)

Waya is a short documentary about a Cuban “outsider” artist, Julian Espinosa Rebollido, that is in production. The project presents the artist, his work, views of peer artists and collectors to understand how this outsider has become part of the canon of 20th and 21st century Cuban art.

Julian Espinosa Rebollido is a Cuban “primitive/outsider” artist and local legend commonly known as Wayacón. While he has traveled all over Cuba and even served in the army during the Bay of Pigs, he has spent most of his life in the town of Remedios, Santa Clara where he lives in the home of his grandparents under the care of one of his sons. Surrounded by his dog, cat, chickens and his goat, his home is a living gallery of his art.

Over his life, Wayacón has made friends around the world who have helped his art be seen and appreciated despite the challenges of being an artist in a country stricken by widespread scarcity. His art has been sold in galleries and auctions internationally. He has received prizes and his work is part of national collections. He is not entirely aware just how far his art has traveled. He simply creates to live. 

The team enters the home and mind of the artist who director, Charles Abelmann, first met in 2013. The intent of the project is to leave a legacy of Wayacón’s thought through his work and his words with added narration of artists that can help a general audience appreciate his unique position as an outsider within the renowned Cuban art sphere. In order to set a context for the work, the team follows the fascinating cuban studies veteran, Sandra Levinson as she leads a tour centering Cuban art and culture. She has known Wayacón for over thirty years and helped him and many other artists get their work outside of Cuba as the Director for The Center for Cuban Studies. Through this lens, the viewer is exposed to Cuban art and culture deepening an understanding of the context of contemporary Cuban life. Wayacón greets new guests and his old friend, Sandra, exchanges that reveal how his sense of reality is sometimes as blended as the colors and mythical beings portrayed in his art. Interviews with people Wayacón has touched and depended upon reveal the pivotal life experiences that have influenced his work and his noteworthy role in the landscape of contemporary outsider art. While a film about an artist and his craft in a struggling Cuba, it is a story about the drive to create and connect revealing the complexity of the mind and heart. 

Projects like these depend on donations and grants to support our team, participants, and to complete the film. We are greatly appreciative of your tax deductible contributions.

 

Arthur Abelmann, born in 1888 in Latvia, had a passion for finding solutions to help people feel better. He went from being a chemist apothecary in a prisoner of war camp at the end of WWI to starting his own factory in Frankfurt to make medicinal tablets, known as Chemiwerk. By 1932, the company had over 200 employees. Its best-known products were Kamillosan and various other chamomile and naturally based preparations – Spirobismol, Transpulmin, and Treupel’sche Tabletten.

His dream of creating something for his son to take over went astray with the rise of Nazism and the banning of all Jewish Products and boycott of Jewish businesses. Arthur Abelmann resigned from his position and moved his family to Switzerland on the night before what is known as Boycott Saturday, April 1 1933. The company was purchased by Degussa and IG Farben, who dominated the chemical industry in Germany at the time. Abelmann passed away in 1934, and his wife and two children immigrated to the US in 1939. Degussa was tried at the Nuremberg Trials for the manufacturing of the poison gas Zyklon B and use of slave labor.

The film documents the early rise of Nazism in Frankfurt from 1932-1934 while Arthur Abelmann was working to keep his company intact. The film presents a multi-generational family history using first person original narrative, family photographs, writings, and artifacts combined with historic archival still and video images. The use of family archival materials along with the historical material shows the contrast of a thriving cultural Jewish life in Frankfurt and the arrival of the anti-Semitic Nazi regime. The film follows the development of Arthur from a young boy born in Riga, Latvia, to serving in WWI, building his company, getting married, and starting a family. The film shows his two loves, work and family, and how he worked to keep both safe and secure their future.

The film also uses the reflections of his son Walter who as a young boy watched his father do everything he could to survive and care for the family. We see the life of Arthur’s widow making the choice to leave Europe with her son, daughter, and elderly mother to start a new life in New York in 1939, and their early years of being in New York starting fresh while seeing the horrific headlines from their old home and the plight of those less fortunate. Throughout the years, the products of Arthur’s company survived, and between marketing and demand we see how one product, the healing ointment Kamillosan, endures over 100 years later.

Projects like these depend on donations and grants to support our team, participants, and to complete the film. We are greatly appreciative of your tax deductible contributions.

“The Monk” is a documentary film which follows the journey of a transgender man charting an unprecedented path in the Catholic Church.

Because of the sensitive nature of the story, further information is only being distributed on an individual basis. Please email publicshorefilms@gmail.com if you would like to learn more.

With a trove of lost-and-found archival footage and a cast of characters endowed with the gift of gab, “The Catskills” journeys into the storied mountain getaway north of New York City that served as refuge for Jewish immigrants fleeing poverty as well as a lavish playground for affluent Jewish families. As bungalow colony proprietors, guests, waiters, comedians, hoteliers, and beauticians share colorful tales of Catskill farms, boarding houses, and luxury resorts, they paint a picture of vibrant American Jewish life and culture in the 20th century.

Nearly 50 years ago, Maronite monk Kamil Kayrouz refused to join a Christian militia in Lebanon because he didn’t want to fight his fellow countrymen. Today he’s engaged in a different kind of battle: an interfaith collaboration to save Lebanon’s sacred cedar trees from rising temperatures caused by climate change.

Through meditative vérité cinema, Cedars of God shows how record temperatures and wildfires have put Lebanon’s historic cedar trees at risk of extinction — and how this has led to an unlikely alliance of Maronite monks and the environmental non-profit, Friends of the Cedar Forest Committee. Together, they’re on a mission to save the trees.

Because this documentary is observational, there will inherently be many elements of the film that will remain unknown until we capture them. What will guide our film will be the actual process involved in working to save the cedar trees and the obstacles that inevitably arise along the way, including the potential for an all out regional war.

We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation