We are all getting swept up in a tidal wave of change called ‘progress.’ But somewhere among all this upgrading, updating, and modernizing, it might be a good idea to take a deep breath and check in on what’s being lost.
Life is moving forward so fast, both technologically and culturally, how do we stay attached to the roots that made us? That’s what Reconnecting Roots is all about— taking a moment to reflect on the heritage that’s still all around us. And use it to spark conversation across generations.
So we are committed to sharing the stories that can illuminate the past and guide us forward.
Reconnecting Roots is a half hour docu-series about American history and progress. We liken it to a Ken Burns meets Bill Nye the Science Guy take on history, but Reconnecting Roots has a flavor all it’s own. In each episode we explore history, culture, & music and encourage the viewer to ask questions and desire to learn more.
A Massachusetts teen finds himself stuck on an island off Cape Cod in a program for wayward youths with a handful of idealistic do-gooders. Designed as a Huck Finn world to help “castaway boys build better lives”, the Penikese Island School serves as a last resort purgatory between freedom and jail for teen delinquents, like him, who must decide to struggle for peace or repeat the habits they know.
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.
“Think of the most fascinating conversation happening at the table next to you.–that goes somewhere. We’re taking on an issue every year that no one wants to talk about, and this year, it’s The Value Gap. Because it’s not about the glass ceiling–it’s about the foundation.” —Michele Mitchell
The Cocktail Conversations is a chat-genre podcast that will take on a new topic every year about something nobody wants to discuss. After all, the world is filled with tough issues that don’t simply disappear because we’re ignoring them. And for our inaugural season, we’re taking on something no one really wants to talk about: the value gap.
Women are not valued as much as men in the United States, across the board, by any measure. It’s time to take this on—but not just the symptoms—the sources…and the solutions. This last one is what sets us apart from the 850,000 podcasts out there. A conversation—even the most authentic, insightful and entertaining—needs to go somewhere in order to be satisfying. By the end of the season, we will have academic, cultural and policy goals and plans to execute a strategy to reframe the parity issue: it’s not about equality—it’s about equity.
A considered audience of up to 12 participants around the U.S. will come together to speak with an expert featured speaker, moderated by award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist Michele Mitchell in up to 20 episodes. Held virtually (the 9 to 12-episode “Aperitifs,” which tackles the symptoms) and, COVID-requirements possible, in person (the 4-episode “Big Pour,” delving deep into sources, and the 4-episode “Last Call” which finds solutions) in key locations, recorded, edited and highly produced.
Confirmed participants include Patricia Sellers (International Criminal Court), Nancy Hogshead-Maker (US Olympic gold medalist/Champion Women), David G. Smith (Naval War College), Dr. Caroline Heldman (Representation Project), Trish Costello (Portfolia), Yasmeen Hassan (Equality Now), Lauren C. Anderson (FBI, ret.), Jason Amerine (US Special Forces, ret) and more. Episodes include “What the F*** is the Value Gap?”, “What’s at Stake,” “The Good Guys: There’s a Value Gap?”, “Crazy/Difficult,” Title IX and the billion-dollar intentional gap, access to growth capital, women’s health (wait until you hear the title of that one!), the Placebo Effect and more. And, we’re back many of the crew that brought us awards in television and film in order to create 20-minute and 40-minute episodes, plus “extra” content, exciting beverage pours, and, most importantly, something else.
Our brand is hope: We are not part of the anger industrial complex that has divided us for decades. We’re here to bring honest conversation–not screaming talking heads–into our lives. Real information, transparent intent and a hell of a good time along the way– it’s time for something new and constructive.
“The Value Gap” is an evergreen topic—so why now? We are in an unprecedented crisis, a half-century removed from the social revolution of the women’s movement. As the economy tightens and the pandemic pushes on, there is an urgency to find a better way forward together. And as old systems flail, this is an unprecedented moment in time to actually change the operating procedure. And true, informative conversation just might do it.
This collaborative video project is a local response to the unprecedented and overwhelming societal effects of the Coronavirus on nearly every aspect of our lives. We will create a documentary that is filmed virtually within our new reality of social distancing guidelines. The video will be an edited compilation of interviews conducted remotely with phones and computers, focusing on the impacts of the Coronavirus here in Western Massachusetts. The goal is to hear firsthand from young people, adults, and families about how this pandemic is shaping and impacting people’s lives. This project is currently in the planning stages, and is a collaboration between filmmaker and filmmaking teacher Ali Pinschmidt, and two youth filmmakers Mayrangelique Rojas-De Leon, and JanCarlos Rivera-Torres. Due to the personal networks of the filmmakers, this film will focus primarily on the lives of people living in Holyoke and Springfield, though interviewees may come from other Western MA cities and towns.
All disasters and calamities take the largest toll on those who have the least resources and fewest safety nets. With 29% of the population off both Holyoke and Springfield living below the poverty level, it is clear that these communities will have immense financial setbacks, which are typically also tied to setbacks in physical and mental health outcomes. This project will provide a platform for youth, adults, and families – many from lower income neighborhoods – to talk about how their lives are impacted, what their requests are to their neighbors and community leaders, and what their advice is for others. We anticipate that this could be cathartic and empowering for those interviewed, and supportive and informative for those who watch the video. With permission of those interviewed, we may share shorter clips of video through social media during the interviewing and editing stages of the film, so that people can begin to hear these stories sooner rather than later.
Interview topics for youth include the impacts of being sequestered at home with family; being away from school, friends, and activities; worries around Coronavirus; and how their school or community should be responding. Interviews with adults will cover how COVID-19 has impacted work and finances; coping physical and mentally; the impact of the media; and thoughts they want to share with community leaders. Interviews with families will include what it’s been like being home together, and what suggestions they have for other families.
We anticipate our final video will reach thousands of local viewers through online distribution. The video will also be aired on Holyoke Media, Focus Springfield, Northampton Open Media, and Amherst Media – reaching thousands more.
Alexandra Pinschmidt is a filmmaker and educator, and works to amplify the perspectives of others through video training and outreach. In addition to her work at 1° Shift Productions, Ali founded and directs Don’t Take That Receipt!, a youth-adult collaboration in Holyoke that educates local businesses and institutions about toxic chemicals on thermal paper products and provides tools for reducing exposure. DTTR uses their award-winning educational film to spread awareness. Previously, Ali served as the Western MA Program Director for Transformative Culture Project, launching a Holyoke branch to the Boston-based youth media organization. TCP in Holyoke provided media education to over 200 youth and part-time employment for over 40 youth producers in training from low-income neighborhoods.
Mayrangelique Rojas-De Leon is a 20-year-old filmmaker and aspiring journalist. She came to Holyoke from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria left her high school closed. She now studies media production at Springfield Technical Community College and has produced or co-produced several short student films. She participated in a summer Youth Producer program at WGBY in Springfield, and studied filmmaking with Transformative Culture Project during her senior year in high school. She is also the proud mother of her 9-month old daughter.
JanCarlos Rivera-Torres is also a 20-year-old filmmaker who graduated from Holyoke High School. He was a youth participant in the Sustainable Holyoke Youth Leadership program for two years, as well as a participant and Youth Mentor with the Transformative Culture Project video program. JanCarlos has made several short films, was on the filmmaking team with Don’t Take That Receipt!, and has a passion for editing. He is also an avid BMX biker.
America’s current interest in Socialism is not a new phenomenon. Socialism’s original rise in popularity came from boiling over worker’s grievances during the Industrial Revolution. Haverhill, Massachusetts is one of the first American cities to embrace Socialist reforms in resistance of pursing greater corporate profits.
“The Socialists of Shoe City: America’s First Socialist Municipal Government Haverhill, MA 1898-1912” recounts Socialist efforts in turn-of-the-century America . Viewers will have a new perspective on the current political environment after watching this film. It may be hard to believe, but Socialism is as American as apple pie!
In the early 1900s, Max, Dave, Lou, Joe, and Charlie Fleischer were tinkering with gadgets and experimenting with techniques that laid the foundation for the modern animation industry. Their strength came from their diversity – each brother brought a unique talent to the team – and their ambition to succeed as a family of immigrants. They built the first rotoscope, which made cartoons actions fluid and believable. Their Out of the Inkwell series seamlessly blended animation with live action. Their subtly Jewish Betty Boop both excited and surprised viewers with her assertive sexuality. Popeye and Olive Oyl acted out the irreverent and rude humor of a Brooklyn immigrant neighborhood, and made it appealing to audiences across the country. America in the mid 1930s embraced the Fleischer ethos, and voted Popeye as their favorite cartoon character, surpassing even Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
Today the Fleischers are nearly forgotten, while Disney is everywhere, the largest media company in the world. The Disney ethos of muscular men, innocent-looking maidens and happy endings has dominated American culture for over half a century. But what if history had taken a different turn? What kind of beauty norms, what kinds of ideas about immigrants, ethnicity and sexuality, would have become acceptable in American entertainment if the Fleischers had prevailed over Disney? And what have we lost, by erasing the grittier, funnier, and more fulsome characters and stories of the Fleischers?
We tell our story through interviews, archival film, cartoons, and original animations created in collaboration with the makers of the video game Cuphead. It covers the Fleischer brothers’ pathbreaking work in New York, and their move to Miami in the late 1930s after a prolonged labor strike. They transplanted employees, built a huge new studio, and created a sleek new Superman series and two feature films, Gulliver and Mr. Bug Goes to Town, while continuing to make Popeye and other new cartoons. Their distributor, Paramount, underwrote all of this. But expenses mounted, and a long simmering feud between Max and Dave became so bad that they stopped speaking. Mr. Bug was released just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and did poorly in its limited release. Finally, Paramount pulled the plug, closing down Fleischer Studios and taking over their assets. It was a swift and painful end to one of the most creative, eclectic, and entertaining family businesses in 20th century America.
We’re a team of filmmakers united by our love for and admiration of Milo Imrie, the central subject of this feature-length film, and by our commitment to increasing awareness of the problems facing 18.2 million veterans in the US and so many more worldwide.
We believe Milo’s astonishing story is important not only because it has so much in common with the experiences of others, but also because of the vast archive he left us: hours of video and hundreds of written pages chronicling Milo’s struggles, delivered with his customary intelligence, honesty, humor and eloquence. Our director/editor Edmund grew up with Milo, placing him in an ideal position to tell this story through fil
Our film aspires to:
Where Will The Money Go?
1944: A young Frances Fabri has managed to survive the daily selections at Auschwitz while other prisoners in her barracks are put to death. Overwhelmed by the horror of her situation, she has escaped into the delusion that in time she will be free again. Johann, a Nazi commandant responsible for the selection and extermination of the prisoners, begins to crack under the horror of daily camp life and the pressure to perpetuate it.
Word of the impending Allies’ victory spreads; orders are sent from Berlin to expedite the disposal of prisoners and wrap up operations. Frances’ fantasy that she will survive the camp unravels one friend at a time. She must face the crushing truth of her circumstances and impending fate. Johann also feels the ironic powerlessness of his life, obeying orders that destroy his soul. Prisoner and oppressor are on a collision course. They must both come to accept their fates, acknowledge their truths and understand the paradoxical nature of freedom. In her absolute surrender, Frances witnesses the innate and pure quality of the human spirit, that which transcends mankind in its worst moments.
Genocide cannot occur without the active participation or the passive enabling of the general population. This conclusion is troubling because if ordinary people are capable of the evil that led to the Holocaust, then other genocides can happen today. This film explores the lessons of personal choice and empathy.
We approach this important project mindful of the prophetic words of famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal: “We must be ever wary of those who do not take responsibility for their actions. And we ourselves must be extra vigilant that we do not delegate our thinking to others, particularly in this day of accelerated technological power, heightened state surveillance, fear of “the other” and global corporate reach.”
“Crickets Would Sing” offers an unprecedented opportunity for prospective donors to participate in a unique educational initiative that holds the potential to transform how young people the world over learn about the Holocaust and contemporary genocide.