A fleet of boats, three dozen formerly incarcerated individuals, a handful of mentors – and three days of whitewater rapids. AMERICAN RIVER is a documentary film about what happens when, after years behind bars, you get the chance to do something unexpected, wild and free. 
 
This documentary short focuses on three people who have served long prison sentences and now find themselves way outside the confines of bars and barbed wire, navigating the Middle Fork of the American River. Some participants have been home 2 years, some 2 days. They are all members of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) where diverse reentry programs include an annual weekend rafting trip. Many participants have never stepped foot in the wilderness when they opt in to three days of rapids. By throwing them far outside their comfort zones, the trip provides an exhilarating moment of freedom in nature that challenges participants in all ways while cultivating confidence, inspiring a new sense of what is possible, and potentially changing the course of a life. 

Former cellmates who haven’t seen each other in 20 years reconnect around the campfire. A young person whose record has been expunged meets a criminal justice advocate who lobbied to make it happen. Everyone is navigating the overwhelming challenges of returning home. Laced with the inherent tension and conflict of complicated pasts, the film documents the apprehension, fear, adrenaline, camaraderie, adventure, joy, and impact of this unique experience.
 
Almost half of all Americans will have a family member incarcerated at some point in their lives, with communities of color impacted disproportionately. Nearly 2 million people are behind bars at any given moment in the United States and when those sentences are completed and time is served, these individuals are released with little more than the clothes they entered in. Without crucial skills and resources to establish themselves, the cycle of recidivism continues. By engaging audiences in emotional stories of real people, American River opens the door for discussion about the American justice system and sparks engagement through empathy over politics.

“I’m afraid I am an incorrigible life-lover & life-wonderer & adventurer.” – Edith Wharton

EDITH WHARTON (w.t.) takes a journey into the world of a literary genius and prolific cosmopolitan writer. Venturing beyond traditional, limited and mostly black-and-white portraits of the Gilded Age novelist, this feature-length documentary will explore the writer’s complexity as an astute critic, adventurous spirit, and trailblazer in literature and life.

In a life that spanned a transformative period in American history, Edith Wharton (1862-1937) penned over 40 books over four decades, leaving an indelible mark. Today she is best known for classics like The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920), which depict the circumscribed Gilded Age New York society she knew so well. But in other works and her own life, she defied convention, becoming one of her era’s most celebrated writers, and extending her legacy far beyond these portrayals.

Using the writer’s own words — in a voice that is engaging, relatable and wry — this documentary will reveal these different Whartons. Not merely a chronicler of a bygone era, a complex figure emerges in diverse fictions, influential writings on architecture and design, World War I dispatches, and intimate autobiographical accounts and letters. From her early days as a curious child to her bold travels, Wharton develops into a dynamic, independent, and contradictory woman.

The documentary traces Wharton’s history through her travels from turn-of-the-century New York and the rugged landscapes of New England to the gardens of Italy, wartime Paris, and even the deserts of Morocco. Filming in original locations and using historical materials (some colorized) as well as creative animation of archival imagery will bring Wharton’s world to life.

Period artworks, illustrations and styles will highlight the radical changes in society and representations of women from the late nineteenth century to the start of World War II while also emphasizing the subjective nature of Wharton’s experiences. Insights from contemporary novelists, scholars, and journalists will also tie the past to the present, showing how Wharton’s narratives resonate with the complexities of our current moment.

 

Research support for this project provided by

Summary

The Emmy Award winning Noube Productions documentary will examine the high school education
system in the inner cities. This documentary will interview students, teachers, parents and administrators , challenge the inequities in our local education system, expose the perspectives of those affected, and highlight possible solutions. The 60-minute feature film will be organized into four sections: Current State of Education, Race and Identity, Family Engagement, and Successful Teaching Pedagogy. The goal is to find solutions to help inner city students reach their fullest potential and prepare students for success in their lives beyond school. We will focus on high school students in hopes to increase their investment and sense of urgency regarding their education. This film will strive to provide unbiased perspective, reflection and action steps on how to model and sustain best practices for students to achieve success.

Public Benefit

Gateway communities like Brockton, Lynn, New Bedford, Lawrence, and Lowell have historically been
underserved and underfunded which has disproportionately impacted inner city students. This
documentary will highlight the need for options and opportunities, and offer solutions and strategies for
success. Specifically, this documentary will address the impact of:

• Career & Technical Education
• School Choice
• Representative & well trained professional staff
• Family Engagement
• Laws & Policies affecting student success

The film will be used as professional development for staff and administrators on ways they could improve and better serve their respective communities given the different models that will be showcased. It will be shown to school boards and local officials to develop policies and laws that will increase funds and therefore opportunities for students and staff. Additionally, as a licensed certified vocational TV production teacher, Noube Productions is committed to hire former students as staff to continue their development and learning about the process of creating a documentary.

 

 

Track Record of Success

In 2009, Noube Productions was founded. Since its inception, Noube Productions has produced 6 consecutive award winning films, two regional Emmy Nominations and 1 regional Emmy Award for Best documentary. Previous documentaries have covered social issues such as, fatherhood, drug addiction, gun control, inner city sports, policing and immigration. Each topic providing an unbiased perspective challenging each viewer to think outside of their own views. We screen the documentaries with interactive panel discussions at cinemas, high schools, colleges, conferences engaging students and adults guiding them on appropriate action steps.

 

 

Viewer Quotes

Sharon Wolder
“I Am You is one of the most powerful thought provoking documentaries I’ve seen.Everyone should have this learning experience. It challenges your thinking, allows the viewer to grapple with the complexities of immigration in America – the pain, loss, determination, hope… Incredible, timeless and so much more. Thank you Noube, Will and all who bravely told their stories and shared points of view. This work is unforgettable!”

Dr Susan Szachowicz
“AWESOME, AMAZING, POWERFUL- Noube you will move people with this. This is the conversation the country should have rather than screaming at each other. THANK YOU for doing this – you did give a voice to the voiceless. And your voice educates others. And thank you for sharing this night – I was honored to be there”

Laura Marcelle Luna
“ Protect, Serve and Care was so much more than an indictment, it was an invitation. An invitation to talk about how minority communities are impacted by their relationships with law enforcement, to grieve by proxy and remember those who have died. To hear how other factors in our Black and Latino communities further perpetuate violence and poverty. This was moving in all the right places, thought provoking”

Christina Bermingham
“My students loved the film. We met again yesterday and it was the most engaged I’ve seen students when discussing the complex issues around race and policing”

 

 

A journey into the life and subversive art of anti-war activist Tom Lewis, Draft Cards are for Burning: The Subversive Art of Tom Lewis brings the viewer a harrowing exposé of the relentless struggle to change Americans’ hearts and minds towards a just and peaceful society.

***

Draft Cards are for Burning is an upcoming documentary that chronicles the life of internationally known artist and peace activist Tom Lewis. Using exclusive interviews with those who knew him, as well as newly restored historic archival footage, we hope to paint a picture of a greatly under-appreciated figure of history. From his childhood spent nomadically traveling across the east coast, to his career as an lL0artist later in life, the film manages to capture each chapter of his monumental story in impeccable detail due to the willingness of his friends and family to give their voices to the project through extensive interviews, creating a well rounded exploration of the life of this historic figure.

Structurally, the film weaves together an in-depth look at Lewis’s painstaking artistic process with a deeply intimate portrait of the artist, revealing a life of tragedy and triumph. The impending premature passing of the film’s protagonist remains an underlying theme throughout the documentary and drives the trajectory of the narrative, as we follow Lewis on a journey to create extraordinary social change that shadows the themes of his 9.9art through highly visible and complicated acts of political protest. Shooting in a partial cinema vérité style, we provide a fascinating window into Lewis’s process and the intensity of his character, capturing the difficulties that come with his departure from canvas to real world actions that are as much a piece of art as they are an act of political protest. Throughout the laborious years-long trial to create this film, archival footage capturing the artist himself is used in conjunction with professionally shot supplementary interviews conveying the labor intensive creative process that went into both his art work and his life in general.

Simultaneously, insights from other artists and activists who knew him manage to explore his inspirations, his process and his inner challenges, juxtaposed with intimate conversations from not only his critics and collaborators but his friends and loved ones. All of this lyrically woven together with mesmerizing visuals from his huge body of work, creating a spectacular and wildly detailed film that manages to be as much a work of art as some of the famed pieces created by Lewis himself which are depicted in the film. Musical compositions by renowned and award winning composers Roger and Ellen Bruno poignantly punctuate the journey by allowing the viewers to experience Lewis’s life firsthand rather than simply learn about it as other more traditionally made documentaries would attempt.

From our fly-on-the-wall perspective, we watch Lewis struggle during this highly charged process of creation. Trading his artist’s studio for a prison cell, conquering a massive judicial battle against him and still managing to stay true to his values while keeping an unbroken artistic spirit that makes his process a work of art itself.

Our Team

Executive Producer Paul Edward Gingras has been an avid photographer his entire life. Growing up in one of the post industrial communities that dot central Massachusetts allowed him to capture images and experiences that are traditionally missed in the field of photography by a professional culture that tends to undervalue the lived experiences of people who occupy a world opposite to the savage and unforgiving world of ordinary life, working class life. His hobby of photography led to him eventually meet the artist Tom Lewis in 2006, at the time Tom Lewis was an esteemed legend of the arts community whose reputation in the field of sketching and printmaking was only rivaled by his reputation as a champion for social justice dating back over 50 years. After striking up a friendship with Tom, Paul was given the opportunity to take his photography to a professional level by photographing and documenting Tom’s art and activism. By the time of Tom’s death in 2008, Paul had amassed a large collection of over a thousand photographs showcasing every aspect of Tom’s life. Working tirelessly as the executive producer on this film, Paul is spending his time making sure that this documentary comes to fruition and is made into the best film it can be, using a variety of creative and sometimes unorthodox filmmaking techniques.

Director Steve Marx was an honors student and a varsity athlete at Harvard, where he also ran two student film series. He began work in Community Television at Urban Planning Aid in Boston, and then in a succession of cable television studios, culminating as the Regional Director of Original Programming for Comcast in New England. Most recently, he has been Producer of ‘Around Town,’ a TV magazine series in Boston which has been awarded best Community Television Program in the US in at least one category for each of the past six years.

Draft Producer Michael Singh grew up in Punjab and the Himalaya mountains. He studied Indian history at The University of Chicago and filmmaking at USC’s film school in Los Angeles. As an actor on stage, he played Mr. Patel in the hit production of Trevor Griffith’s “Comedians” at the Wisdom Bridge Theatre, Chicago. His first Hollywood job was writing billboard copy for 20th Century Fox’s big-budget movies. He is now a Princeton, MA-based documentary filmmaker. Michael’s latest film, the award-winning documentary “Valentino’s Ghost: Why We Hate Arabs and Muslims,” has played in over 100 countries. It made its world premiere at La Biennale, (The Venice Film Festival), where it received a standing ovation. It is designated a New York Times CRITICS’ PICK and was called “the decade’s most important film” by The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Mar/Apr 2016). He has written, produced and directed several award-winning Sikh-centric documentary shorts: “Prisoner’s Song,” “Rebel Queen,” “The Visionary,” and “Uncommon Ground.” Michael was Senior Producer/Writer for Discovery’s Health channel’s reality TV series “Chicago’s Lifeline,” where his episodes won two national (network competition) media awards for Best Science Series. Michael is co-writer of a romantic comedy feature film, “Good Sharma,” starring Joan Allen and Billy Connolly. He is currently completing “Riding the Tiger,” his personal eye-witness account of one of the massacres of Sikhs in 1984, which he audio-recorded.

How you can help

The film is almost completely shot other than a few key interviews that require our team to travel for them, and any additional footage that we may need once the rough cut is assembled. We have certain parts of the film edited for showcasing purposes and plan to move forward, using any funds you can provide to finish all shooting and get the film to a rough cut stage with the intention of using grant money and further donations to provide the film a high quality finish after test screenings and final cut.

So far our team has for the most part been tirelessly working for free on the project for over three years. We need your help to compensate them for their painstaking work and to have enough funding to complete the film through donations at any amount you can afford. Every dollar donated goes directly to the project and earns you a spot on the film’s credits once we’ve completed it. We greatly appreciate any amount of funding that the public can provide and thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts.

(For other ways to donate click here.)

For more information, please visit www.tomlewisartistactivist.org/
or for questions, please email us at: tomlewisdocumentary@gmail.com
Check out the Draft Cards for Burning Facebook page!

 
Mix Matched Socks” is a film about the turbulent, yet powerful relationship between a single mother and her only daughter.

Martha is saying goodbye to her daughter for what feels like forever. She is officially going to have an empty nest as Olivia is moving to the city for college. As a sendoff and to spend some much-needed quality time with her daughter, Martha packs their bags and books a stay at an apartment she found online (for a steal).

The two begin to clash when it comes to their romantic lives, Martha talks on the phone with her boyfriend and Olivia is flirting with Mark, the neighbor.

Martha begins to uncover some of Olivia’s secrets and must come to terms with the idea that her daughter is growing up in more ways than one.I am the first in my family to leave home for college. As a first-generation student and being the only child to a single mother, leaving was hard to put it simply. As I grew up, I came to the realization of just how scary and strange this big move was for my mom as well. She was going to be living alone for the first time in 18 years and her daughter was living in a completely different state. There are countless stories told from the perspective of a young adult flying the nest and the challenges they face as they learn to be on their on their for the first. I wanted to ask the question of how our parents deal with it. How do they change from this experience as they are equally transforming their lives along with ours? In this story, I wish to explore the complexities of a mother-and-daughter relationship through the lens of a mother. When you have a primary parent, they become more like a friend than a guardian at times. The film will tackle how those boundaries are pushed and how that affects the balance of the relationship.

 

Monster Slayer is a short documentary that tells the story of Stephanie “Monty” Montgomery’s journey in the aftermath of trauma, assault and stigma, through her gripping words and the animation of her visceral artwork and journal entries. 

In June 2018, Monty, the subject of our film, was raped at a strip club in Los Angeles where she worked. She told the management and the police, and neither party did anything. With no justice on the horizon, Monty the Monster Slayer, Monty’s ass-kicking artistic persona, took matters into her own hands and harnessed her art as a weapon against her assailant and the stigma she faced. Monty rented a billboard overlooking the scene of her assault to showcase a mural that casts her as a hero, slaying the “Monster” who raped her, and calling out the system for failing her. 

Through sharing her experience of assault along with the aftermath of injustice in both words and animation, we are able to innovatively expose abuses of power in a way that gives us access to what Monty saw, heard, and felt. There have been many animated documentaries before, but few animations were created by the main subject themselves.

In addition to all of this, the stakes addressed in Monster Slayer are high as the film questions preconceived notions about sex work, seeking to humanize and empower a community often ignored or vilified. Despite the recent #MeToo movement, the sex work community remains marginalized in discussions about sexual assault. Monty’s personal encounter with assault and the subsequent stigma she faced directly addresses the experiences of sex workers in the context of sexual assault, putting this crucial conversation at the forefront of the broader movement.

Summer of Sell: A tale of passion and protest in the historic movement that changed baseball.

Embark on a captivating journey with us through “Summer of Sell,” a compelling documentary that delves into an extraordinary clash between the devoted fan base of the Oakland Athletics and the team’s owner. This film will be capturing the ongoing feud that erupted when the owner’s intentions to relocate the team to Las Vegas clashed head-on with the unwavering passion of the fans in Oakland.

In an unprecedented display of grassroots solidarity, the Oakland fans have orchestrated a resounding protest against the ownership’s decision. The Summer of Sell, as this historic movement has come to be known, reverberated across the league, standing as a remarkable testament to the power of collective action. This documentary not only chronicles the evolution of this movement but aims to become an integral part of it, amplifying the voices of these dedicated fans.

Our approach involves an array of dynamic mediums to extend the reach of this movement. Through compelling social media campaigns and amplifying our message across podcasts, sports articles and TV newscasts, we intend to further elevate the fervor of this fan base. By shining a spotlight on their passion, we look to inspire change within ownership and Major League Baseball itself, urging them to reconsider the prospect of keeping the beloved Oakland team right where it belongs.

However, “Summer of Sell” isn’t just a tale of sports fans; it’s a story created by sports fans. As a lifelong Oakland A’s fan, I intimately understand that the game is so much more than just entertainment – it’s an emotion, a connection, a way of life. Through this documentary, we aim to peel back the layers of what it means to be a devoted fan, revealing how victories and defeats hold the power to shape our days. The bonds formed over this shared love for the game run deep, bringing friends and families together with a common purpose.

The game isn’t just a sport; it’s a vital thread in the fabric of our lives, and for the A’s, an integral part of the city’s identity. We aim to show how Oakland has always been a hotbed of rebellion and social uprisings, including the Black Panthers, the Anti War movement and the BLM protests. And now that same fighting mentality is being applied to Oakland’s last remaining sports franchise.

As well as being a life long A’s fan, I have over ten years of experience telling documentary stories, most recently working on the documentary, “Reggie” as well as the documentary series “They Call Me Magic”. Collaborating with me is a seasoned team with an extensive portfolio of over two dozen documentary films and TV shows. Notably, John Henion, who executive produced “Welcome to Wrexham,” is our Executive Producer.

From the project’s inception, our aim was to secure financing from a sports film company. However, we’ve encountered a stumbling block, as companies have been hesitant to back a documentary that could potentially infringe upon the interests of MLB and its owners. But time is of the essence. The critical point now is to capture footage while there is still momentum in this movement, especially since the baseball season concludes within this month, culminating with the final Oakland home game on September 24th.

Consequently, we are turning to crowdfunding to enable us to document the fan base during the ongoing season. Our plan is to conduct our initial shoot between September 20th and 24th, during which we will follow some die hard Oakland A’s fans, who have made it their goal to start one of the most historic movements in sports, with the Summer of Sell. We will see how the game is more than just a hobby, it’s a major part of their lives, intertwined in their friendships, their families and their communities.

We then plan to shoot in Anaheim for the last series of the season, where a lot of those fans will be coming down to continue to spread the Summer of Sell movement as they have been for the last few months. We will most likely still need a couple more shoots over the next couple months and then will head into post production to piece the story together.

Our initial objective is to secure the necessary funds for our inaugural shoot, so our first goal is $33k for a five day shoot. However, the greater the funds we accumulate, the more we can sustainably support this project in the upcoming months. For another $17k we could shoot the entire final series against Anaheim. And for $100k we could shoot the rest of the project over the coming months. Post production, which can be the most expensive part of a documentary, will most likely cost another $400k, making the total around $550k.

The more we bring in from this campaign, the less our dependence on companies that might attempt to steer the project’s direction in an alternate way. We want this film to be an uncensored look at this passionate fanbase and the movement they have created, so please help us in reaching those goals. And even if we fail to get our $33k, your contributions will still be invaluable as we will use the money to shoot during that week, but with a scaled back production.

You can also contribute by helping us spread the message. This movement originated from the dedicated efforts of passionate fans who shared their ideas and organized events solely through word of mouth on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. We too, kindly ask you to share our campaign to raise awareness of our important project (You can use the Indiegogo tools to easily share the campaign on any social media platform)

In our pursuit to involve the audience actively in this movement, our aim is twofold: not only do we intend to maintain the engagement of our existing fan base with developments related to the film and the movement, but we also seek to create an online platform. This platform will serve as a hub for individuals to share their captured videos, photographs, and personal anecdotes, allowing us to harness the authentic enthusiasm that people have been documenting over the past year.

Additionally, we are committed to keeping our funding team well-informed. To achieve this, we will establish a communication channel through a blog page on our website. Through this, all members of our funding team will have the opportunity to participate and stay updated on the progress made and the various narrative directions being explored.

Join us on this compelling journey as we delve into the heart of this team, its devoted fan base, and the city that fuels its spirit. “Summer of Sell” is more than a documentary – it’s a tribute to the unbreakable bonds that connect us through the love of a game, and a call to action to preserve what truly matters. Let’s come together as a team to not just make a documentary that tells your story, but to play a part in keeping the A’s Rooted in Oakland.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Gabriel Cullen

The system that protects our children is broken. As a nation we are failing. We have lost empathy, and the result is fatal. Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States. This film has a simple mission: to increase our collective empathy. It is a starting point for a much larger conversation. Rather than focusing on the topics that divide us, we seek to unite our audience around common ground: our central need to love and protect our children.

In this documentary, we follow a reporter and a photographer as they set out to memorialize the empty rooms of America’s forgotten children. They visit the homes of families who have lost a child, and photograph these sacred spaces frozen in time, exactly as they were when the child went to school for the last day..Rooted in emotion and shared humanity, the film will bypass traditional political divides, and work to bring us together on an issue that has been at a standstill.

Brought to you by the filmmakers from the 2023 Oscar-nominated Stranger at the Gate, Executive Produced by Malala:

 

Joshua Seftel, Director, Academy Award®–Nominated

Joshua Seftel is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. His most recent film, Stranger at the Gate, Executive Produced by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai and nominated for a 2023 Academy Award®, is part of Seftel’s Emmy- and Peabody-nominated Secret Life of Muslims project (SXSW), which combats Islamophobia with filmmaking. Seftel, who experienced antisemitism as a child, has been committed to working on this subject matter for the past seven years.

Seftel received his first Emmy nomination at age 22 with his documentary Lost and Found, about Romania’s orphaned children. The film led to the American adoption of thousands of Romanian orphans. Some of his other award-winning films include the political campaign documentary Taking on the Kennedys (POV), the underdog sports film The Home Team(SXSW), the story of a young refugee Zain’s Summer (National Geographic), the behind-the-scenes film about Annie’s Broadway revival It’s the Hard Knock Life (PBS), and the artist portrait The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano (Tribeca Film Festival) which won the IDA Documentary Award and became the most viewed New York Times Op-Doc of the year. He is also known for directing the Emmy®-winning landmark series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the feature film War, Inc. starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley, and his regular appearances on CBS Sunday Morning where he interviews his 86-year-old mother. He is a contributor to the Peabody Award-winning podcast This American Life and to The New York Times.

 

Rev. Dr. Conrad Fischer, MD, Executive Producer

Reverend Dr. Conrad Fischer, MD is Professor of Medicine at Touro College of Medicine in New York. Dr. Fischer is Vice-Chairman of Medicine, Residency Program Director in Internal Medicine at Brookdale University Medical Center in Brooklyn.

He is ordained as Reader and Sub-Deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church and is the President of the Institute for the Studies of Eastern Christianity. Dr. Fischer is Executive Producer of the Oscar-Nominated film “Stranger at the Gate. He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary. His area of interest is religious violence. He is the author of several textbooks of medicine.

 

I Love You So Much is a silent film/TV POC reminiscent of “Wonderstruck” and “Coffee Shop.” The story revolves around a musician still adjusting to recently losing her hearing. At her new job at a deaf café (a real restaurant in Texas called Crepe Crazy), she rediscovers hope thanks to a repeat customer: Having left her singing career behind, she finds a unique way to make a positive impact in the stranger’s life, ultimately saving it.

This short is intended to be a breakout project representing my stand for the disabled entertainment community. And I don’t mean in a “feeling sorry” kind of way-the intention is to create awareness in a way that features people of disability doing such brave and impactful things, that the audience relates to them like they’re not disabled at all. 

I was inspired to write this when I first met actress Michelle Mary Schaefer. I learned that most of the people around her when she was younger didn’t speak sign language or understand how she communicated. She often would sit in silence during family and social gatherings feeling alone and unexpressed. As she got older and got heavily involved in her community, some of that shifted, but what didn’t so much was trying to integrate into the working world. Can you imagine a day to day life where outside of typing on a computer, you cannot communicate with most of the general population? How isolated that must feel? Carly Wilkes, who is the film’s main character, lives this struggle to a huge degree having recently been able to hear and then her whole world going silent. And although she works at a cafe that only employs deaf people, still the outside world, now void of music that she loves and the sound of voices we all take for granted, is a lonely, silent void.

I have always had a special in my heart for the disabled community in film. Years ago I produced “The Hollywood Quad,” a TV pilot starring Bryan Cranston and the late Jim Troesh about a quadriplegic actor trying to make it in Hollywood. I’ve also written another pilot “Tornados,” a true to life dramedy set in the 1980’s, about the most unpopular kid in a Midwest high school, Tori Carty, trying to manage her dysfunctional home life, a physical disability and all of the work it takes to be a martial arts wannabe darksider. My last film, “Curiosity” had a main character who was on the spectrum. 

Birds of Massachusetts is a narrative feature film based on the novella of the same name. Produced by Emmy-nominated People People Media and VAGRANTS. Slated for production fall of 2023.

SYNOPSIS:

Told across three seasons, Birds of Massachusetts is a dual portrait of unlikely companions. Mark is paid to keep Donna company, though given her deteriorating memory, he must re-establish and re-introduce himself daily. Mark is new to the North Shore, having moved from the West Coast after college. Despite his best attempts, he’s aimless and unable to find connection with anyone in this unfamiliar, beautiful place. So he spends his time watching after Donna, whose dementia seems to worsen with each passing season. Though the two seem to be different in almost every way, together they find beauty in the moments of quiet stillness, shared laughter, and fragmented memories of a long life in the same place.

ABOUT:

This story was heavily inspired by the real-life experience of author Steven Kennedy, who worked as a care partner with an older woman affected by dementia. Our proximity to this issue has only expanded our compassion for it. This disease not only impacts the person whose mind is deteriorating, it impacts their care partner. And the number of those diagnosed is projected to triple by 2050. Many films made about dementia get it wrong — when Hollywood attempts to portray affected folks, it’s either offensive given the disease is played for horror, or it misses the mark because the film glosses over / glamorizes the issue. Writers not familiar with the disease tend to reduce it to a device in service of their preconceived plot. We as filmmakers exist to fight against reductive filmmaking. Thus far, we’ve partnered with organizations like Alzheimer’s San Diego and Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers who have graciously agreed to be a resource and advisory presence throughout the process. Upon the film’s release, we’ll be organizing community screening / Q&A discussion events with Alzheimer’s nonprofits across the country to generate awareness.

Our greatest hope is to make a heartwarming, life-affirming film — one that authentically represents the day-to-day realities of not only living with dementia, but living with a loved one affected by it. Humanizing the disease through quality storytelling is a good place to start.

We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation
City of Boston Arts and Culture