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The story of how this event came about is particularly beautiful. Last May, at the end of the awards ceremony at the Council on Foundations Conference, where Made in L.A. received the Henry Hampton Award, we had the opportunity to meet Darryl Lester, head of the Community Investment Network (CIN). He expressed interest in Made in L.A. and we offered to send him a DVD so that he could see the film. A few months later Dionne Lester from CIN sent us the most beautiful e-mail explaining how moved she and Darryl had been by the film and inviting us to come show the film at their national conference!
The Community Investment Network (CIN), which was launched with the help of the Ford Foundation, is cultivating a new cadre of philanthropic leaders from communities of color who recognize their civic responsibilities and their power to influence mainstream philanthropy. With the goal of leveraging its social capital and charitable giving to create the communities it wishes to see, CIN is currently composed of nine giving circles of more than 130 new and seasoned philanthropists.
| Don't we look tired...?|
[Photo courtesy of FIND]
| Robert, Peter, Sandi and me after the panel|
As if a whole week at the market was not enough, on Saturday afternoon, we had arranged to do a case study for Doculinkers in New York, and we spent 4 hours telling the story of how we raised funds to make Made in L.A. and how our funding model worked.And, because Robert and I are not happy if we don't pack our schedule, we also held a beautiful screening of Made in L.A. at the North Star Fund, organized in collaboration with Arts Engine. It was a very very nice, intimate screening where we got to discuss the process of making Made in L.A. and how we're using the film to make an impact.
Acceptance speeches provide a unique opportunity to say "thank you", since this film could not have been made without the care, support and encouragement of literally hundreds of people. And so we took the moment to thank our families, our friends, our amazing crew, the organizations that believed in us (including NALIP and our fiscal sponsor Women Make Movies), and the hundreds of individuals that have supported this film throughout its journey. Special thanks must also go to our Executive Producers Simon Kilmurry, Cara Mertes and Sally Jo Fifer, and to Cynthia Lopez, Annelise Wunderlich and the amazing teams at American Documentary | P.O.V. and ITVS that took such care and devotion in bringing Made in L.A. to a national audience. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to PBS and to our funders ITVS, POV, the Sundance Documentary Fund, Latino Public Broadcasting, CPB, Pacific Pioneer Fund, Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society, Diane Middleton Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Agape Foundation, and nearly 300 individual donors. Finally, we thank our outreach partners for helping us to spread the word and make an impact!
Above all, we owe the deepest, most personal thanks to the people in the film and to the three amazing women in Made in L.A., Lupe, Maria and Maura, who opened their lives to us and allowed us to capture and portray their stories in Made in L.A. As we said in front of more than 1,200 attendees on Monday night, we dedicate this award to them, because it was their fight for their rights and personal dignity that taught us the true meaning of courage and perseverance.
As grassroots filmmakers, we deeply understand the financial constraints of small organizations. We have thus created an innovative screening kit that contains all the materials needed for a great event (full-size movie posters, DVDs, postcards) and that is essentially free. Here's how it works: while organizations do have to pay to order a kit, the kit "pays for itself" because it includes enough extra DVDs to sell at the screening to cover the cost of the kit. All proceeds help us continue our outreach and education efforts, and thus the kits help support both sustainable social-issue filmmaking and sustainable grassroots organizing.
Check our brand-new Host a Screening page!
The nominees were announced by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). The News & Documentary Emmy® Awards will be presented on Monday, September 22 at a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located in the Time Warner Center in New York City. We will of course, be there!
As one might imagine, this was very exciting news for everyone who has been part of making this film. A friend of ours wrote us to say: "A rockin' film about immigrant workers rights gets an Emmy nomination! I've died and gone to heaven." That's kind of how we feel...!
We are also proud that Made in L.A. is a finalist for the Alma Awards in the category of Outstanding Made-for-TV-Documentary. The Alma Awards are given by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. NCLR created the ALMA Awards in 1995 and "the show was named "Alma" (Spanish for "spirit" or "soul") to represent the determined spirit of the Latino people."
|Robert Bahar, Joann Lo, me, Lupe and Maura last year at the World Premiere of Made in L.A. (Photo by Lauren Ruane AFI)|
It was extremely moving...
|With Peter Broderick at Silverdocs Documentary Conference 2008|
|With Sky Sitney (Silverdocs Director of Programming) and Steve James|
I have the feeling that life is giving me second opportunities to make up for what I wasn't able to do before. Last year we were so busy (as we were also having our West Coast premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival a week later!) that we spent far too much time working in the hotel room - day and night. So this year we went to as many screenings and parties as we could - and I am happy to say that we were able to make up for what we missed!
While Robert was doing presentations in California, I was in Madrid presenting Made in L.A. at Casa de America as part of DocumentaMadrid. Originally planned as a single screening, Teresa Toledo (who is in charge of film programming at Casa de America) soon added a special 4-night run for a total of 5 screenings in 1 week! (thank you Teresa!)
|With the wonderful press team of DocumentaMadrid: Marcela, Lucía and Sonia Uría, marvelous Chief of Press.|
The screenings were announced in major newspapers such as El País Semanal (the largest newspaper in Spain), Público and Diagonal, in over 30 on-line publications, and I was also interviewed on 6 national radio programs including "De Película", "Hora America" "Otros acentos", "De Cine", and Radio "La Nuestra". Finally, the news was spread in dozens of e-mail list-serves and what started as a grassroots effort soon spread and became "the screening" to go to during Madrid's annual Fiestas de San Isidro.
The first night the film was scheduled to start at 8:30pm and it was sold out by 7:45! A big crowd gathered at the entrance and I tried to talk to everyone to encourage them to come to the other screenings. People protested: "but we want to hear the Q&A!" Originally we hadn't planned to do Q&As at the other four screenings, but in that very moment I agreed to it! As a result, we had an hour long Q&A everyday. Word of mouth brought more and more people each day, and we ended up with 5 full-house screenings, and with tons of people who (unfortunately) could not make it in! It was exhausting but so moving...
The success of the event was also a great example of effective grassroots work in reaching a wide audience, and our Q&As brought together very diverse people, from immigrants to fashion students, from activists to regular folk who were curious to see the film. The Q&As enabled a discussion among audience members, who linked the themes and the experiences of the characters in the film with what's happening in Spain at this very moment: precariedad laboral (precarious jobs), subcontracting, immigrant bashing, etc. It is interesting to see how Made in L.A. comes to fill a void in the representation of immigrants in Spanish society, which is trying to cope with a process of rapid changes that, over the last 8 years, have made this country much more multi-cultural, diverse and richer...
|People in line waiting to talk to Almudena|
Dozens of organizations have contacted us because they want to be part of a national effort to bring the film everywhere in Spain, and hundreds of people have signed up to receive news about the film. It is certainly a huge effort for Robert and I, who are at this point handling all of the distribution and the growing demand for the film (it's like a snow ball!)... But the response was so moving and amazing, that we feel an urgent sense of responsibility to work towards this goal. Many thanks everyone who was part of supporting and spreading the word about these screenings. Good things are in the works... stay tuned!
|Con las estupendas chicas de prensa de DocumentaMadrid: Marcela, Lucía y Sonia Uría, maravillosa jefa de prensa!|
Las proyecciones salieron en varios periódicos de tirada nacional como El País Semanal, Público y Diagonal, en más de 30 publicaciones on-line, y me entrevistaron en 6 programas radio nacionales, incluyendo "De Película" (RNE1), "Hora America"(REE), "Otros acentos" (RNE), "De Cine" (RNE5) y Radio "La Nuestra". Finalmente la noticia se distribuyó por docenas de listas de correo y lo que empezó como un esfuerzo "de base" pronto se extendió y se convirtió en "la película guay" para ver durante las fiestas de San Isidro.
La primera noche la peli empezaba a las 20h pero para las 19:45h ¡ya se habían vendido todas las entradas! Yo trataba de convencer a la muchedumbre en la entrada de que vinieran otros días, pero la gente se quejó: "es que queremos estar en el coloquio!" Inicialmente no habíamos planeado hacer coloquio todos los días, pero en ese momento dije "por qué no?" y, como resultado, ¡tuvimos una hora de coloquio los 5 días...! El boca a boca funcionó y cada día vino más y más gente, así que acabamos con 5 proyecciones hasta arriba, y con cantidad de gente que (desafortunadamente) no pudo siquiera entrar. Ha sido super super cansado, pero realmente emocionante...
El éxito del evento es también un ejemplo de un trabajo de base efectivo para llegar a cantidad de gente; de hecho los coloquios atrajeron a una audiencia muy diversa, desde inmigrantes a estudiantes de moda, desde activistas a gente corriente que tenían curiosidad por ver la peli. Estos coloquios hicieron posible una conversación (a menudo muy emotiva) entre el público, que relacionó los temas y las experiencias de las protagonistas en la película con lo que está pasando en España en este preciso momento: precariedad laboral, subcontratación, odio al inmigrante, etc. Es super interesante ver como Made in L.A. viene a llenar un vacío en la representación y la imagen de la población inmigrante en la sociedad española, que está tratando de lidiar con un proceso de cambios rápidos que, durante los últimos 8 o 10 años, ha enriquecido a este país y lo ha hecho multi-cultural y diverso.
|La gente hace cola para hablar con Almudena|
Cantidad de organizaciones nos han contactado para ser parte de un esfuerzo para llevar el documental por toda España, y cientos de personas se han apuntado a nuestra lista para recibir noticias sobre futuras proyecciones. Es ciertamente un esfuerzo enorme para Robert y para mi, que en ese momento estamos prácticamente llevando toda la distribución y difusión en medio de un torbellino de peticiones (¡es como una bola de nieve!). Pero la respuesta ha sido tan increíble y emotiva, que sentimos una responsabilidad tremenda de trabajar en este sentido... Mil gracias a todas y todos que han apoyado y difundido estas proyecciones. Estamos manos a la obra... ¡estate atento/a!
|Prof. Eileen Boris walking on stage with a copy of the invitation to the houseparty that she hosted for Made in L.A. 4 years ago.|
While Almudena flew to Spain for DocumentaMadrid, I went to present Made in L.A. at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This event had special significance: almost exactly 4 years ago, Almudena and I held a houseparty at the home of Professors Eileen Boris and Nelson Lichtenstein, to raise funds for the film. This was one of several houseparties that we did during our first four years of production, and these events were not only one of our most important sources of funding in those years, but also served to provide much needed emotional support. When people hug you, crying, to tell you "you must finish this film", you know that you are on to something and that you really MUST finish the film. These were our very first audience members and supporters, and Made in L.A. would not exist without the support of over 300 individuals that came to our houseparties.
Four years later, there I was, back in Santa Barbara with Eileen, and now with the finished film doing educational screenings just as we had promised we would at that houseparty! And it was an amazing evening. What had been planned as a 150-person screening soon overflowed to 200... and then 300. Two more rooms had to be opened at the Multi Cultural Center so that the film could screen simultaneously. And, in addition to my talking about the making of the film at the Q&A, Aidin Castillo, an organizer from Santa Barbara's PUEBLO, was there to talk about the issues that workers are encountering in communities near campus, which really brought the message home.
I called Almudena to let her know -it was 3am in Spain and she was still partying after the second full day of screenings in Madrid. How amazing that, thousands of miles apart, Made in L.A. is able to move and impact people at the same time!
Special thanks to event organizer (and Ph. D Student in Sociology) Veronica Montes, to Rebekah Meredith, Programmer for the Multi-Cultural Center, to Professor Elizabeth Currans, and of course to Professor Eileen Boris for her faith and support for Made in L.A. for so many years!
|Lupe holds one of the clever centerpieces, which she nicknamed an "Oscarito". Out in the hall people looked at us as though it was a real Oscar!|
The first night, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media (GFEM), held a special dinner and screening of Made in L.A., with support from Hispanics in Philanthropy and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. Lupe, one of the stars in the film, had also been invited to attend, and she, Robert and I led a long Q&A (beautifully moderated by Alyce Myatt!), which focused on the outreach efforts and the continued impact that Made in L.A. is having in the US and abroad. There was also an interesting discussion about the funding process for Made in L.A. (which, like many independent documentaries, struggled for years before breaking through), and it was of course beautiful to see one of our funders, Patricia Boero from Latino Public Broadcasting, in attendance lending her support!
While at the conference, we had the opportunity to attend several panels and events, and Monday's plenary luncheon was especially powerful. Titled "Philanthropic Partnership: Improving the Lives of our Fellow-citizens", it explored the state of human rights sixty years after the Universal Declaration. Moderated by Gara LaMarche, this was a passionate two-hour conversation among three extraordinary panelists: Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, Kumi Naidoo of CIVICUS, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. You can view much of the discussion here (the panel actually starts in "Part 2").
The entire experience was a rare opportunity to peek into this world, and we were deeply inspired by what we saw. Just as we, as filmmakers, strive to change the world through filmmaking, and its unique emotional power to make an impact, so very many of the executives and program officers that we met during the conference are striving to change the world through philanthropy. It's inspiring to know that we are all on this quest together.