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Take a Stand to Protect Elephants

Our friend Ami Vitale has partnered with musician Dave Matthews on a campaign to protect elephants in East Africa, and we hope you can join them. Watch Ami’s film of Dave and his incredible song “Mother of Africa”, an homage to the first ever community-owned sanctuary, Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. 

Now, Dave is hosting a competition to build support for Reteti. Enter now for a chance to visit the sanctuary yourself at prizeo.com/elephants!

Well done to Ami, for once again, showing us the difference that film and photography can make!

(Photo courtesy of @AmiVitale)

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THREAD at Yale: Applications Now Open

Each year, THREAD at Yale convenes top nonfiction storytellers across print, video, radio, and other mediums on the Yale University campus to learn from one another and from masters in the field.

As the program enters its 4th year (June 10-13), it is looking for the best and brightest to continue building this program on storytelling in modern media. Yale is looking for writers, videographers, podcasters, and others they hope will apply, so please feel free to forward this to journalists and storytellers. Details on the application process are available here.

Apply now

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Sneak Preview of First Kitchen in San Francisco

Tickets now available here for the May 20th private world premiere screening of the documentary short Bloodline by award-winning director James Q. Chan. This is the launch event for the new food documentary series, First Kitchen, and includes a specially curated “street bites” appetizer menu by Chef Tu David Phu (Top Chef 152017 Chronicle Rising Star). Reception and street bites start at 5pm with the screening to follow at 6pm. 

The series, First Kitchen, will explore how “first experiences” with food shape our worldview, essentially tracking the evolution of “food consciousness” through a variety of personal stories. Through these stories, the producers hope to move beyond binary perspectives of surplus (i.e. chefs/eaters) and scarcity (i.e. starvation/hunger), to include a greater diversity of stories and voices in the discussion of how food influences and affects society.

This vision and mission are complementary and fundamentally rooted in food equity, as in order to address the various realities of food—from school lunches and food deserts to agriculture, famine and fine dining—we have to level the field of representation in food media. Food is a universal and unifying human need, we each have our own ideas that make us an expert on how it affects our lives, and everyone needs to be heard.

To watch the trailer for Bloodline, click here.


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The Long Night Survivor Helps Pass Historic Law

Today we celebrate legislation that has been passed to protect young people from sexual exploitation with the passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Sex Online Trafficking Act of 2017We celebrate especially those advocates, featured in our film The Long Night, known to us as Natalie and Nacole, who fought tirelessly to make this happen.

As she stood by the President’s side to sign this legislation into law, Natalie finally reclaimed her name: Jessika.

Jessika, the fifteen-year old girl from suburban Seattle who was forced into prostitution and is featured in The Long Night, has been an advocate in this cause, claiming that her pimp used the website Backpage.com to fuel his business, and her enslavement. She helped to shut down backpage.com last year and now has worked for legislation that “makes it easier for prosecutors and victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep sex trafficking and exploitive materials off their platforms,” as explained by Reuters.

108 days after her disappearance, Jessika’s Backpage ad was targeted as part of a sting by the Seattle Vice Squad. There, she was rescued by officers who understood her situation and have since helped her testify in the case against her pimp. Her pimp, Baruti Hopson, has been sentenced to 26 and a half years in prison for promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor. That was just the start and today, Jessika has made the type of change that will protect young girls for years to come.

The Long Night was a co-production with filmmaker Tim Matsui, who found this story and brought it to us with the help of the Alexia Foundation’s Women’s Initiative. 

Jessika and Nacole, very simply, are our role models. They used their pain and tragic experience to become strong voices against the sexual exploitation of minors. In helping to close the adult ad section of Backpage, they have made the world just a little bit safer for our children. We thank you for all you have done and hope that in documenting your experiences in The Long Night, we made this fight, a little easier too.

Watch their story here.


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Workshop: Investigative Reporting Program @ UC Berkeley

The Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism is now accepting applications for a workshop for independent filmmakers, to be held September 23-25. Details and instructions to apply are here, and more details are below.

Independent filmmaking is flourishing, but stories can be undermined when filmmakers and journalists don’t bulletproof their stories against powerful critics or opponents. The goal of this workshop is to elevate the journalistic standards of independent filmmakers, increase the impact of their stories and help them break new ground. Topics covered will include:

  • Interviewing and storytelling techniques to strengthen creativity
  • Fairness: how to prepare for public information/distortion of your reporting
  • Ethics: recreation of events, point of view scenes, use of hidden microphones and cameras, use of studies and polls, providing recording equipment to third parties, use and limits of releases, privacy and trespassing, payments and licenses, advance screenings
  • Sources: relationship with sources, use of confidential sources, the “reporter’s privilege”
  • Legal: libel, copyright law, plagiarism, how to avoid litigation

The workshop will include one-on-one coaching, as well as ongoing support for participants via phone or Skype with veteran journalists and legal experts for up to a year following the course.

Through the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, financial assistance is available for those who need it. Please do not let cost be a barrier for applying.

INSTRUCTORS: Veteran producers and reporters from the IRP and elsewhere, including IRP Director Lowell Bergman; Gary Bostwick, media attorney; and Dawn Porter, award-winning documentary filmmaker; and Kerry Smith, senior vice president of editorial quality for ABC.

REQUIREMENTS: Interested applicants must submit the online application, their resume, a letter of recommendation from someone who knows their work and a one-page memo explaining their project and what editorial issues it has raised. Applicants might be interviewed by phone.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: All materials must be submitted by June 15.

QUESTIONS? Contact Kristen Go at kristenrgo@gmail.com.

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