Our Award-Winning Editor.

Huge congrats to our incredibly talented, unbelievably hardworking and quite lovely editor Maya Hawke, whose most recent released feature, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, just won the New York Critics Circle best non-fiction film of 2011.

Congrats Maya!  We’re so lucky to have you!

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San Francisco Film Society/Herbert Family Documentary Award

We love the San Francisco Film Society.  During Good Pitch in San Francisco, the Director of Filmmaker Services granted us $5,000 on the spot, and here is the press release about the grant.  It’s the San Francisco Film Society/Herbert Family Documentary Award, created…

“…to support the career of an emerging filmmaker who pitched a project at the recently concluded 2011 San Francisco Good Pitch event. The award is part of the Film Society’s suite of filmmaker services designed to foster creativity and further the careers of independent filmmakers. First-time directors Mary Posatko and Emily Topper were selected for their social justice documentary American Village and will receive $5,000 to support their next phase of production.

Michele Turnure-Salleo tapped Posatko and Topper for the award at the Good Pitch on September 27 noting the Film Society’s specific interest in supporting emerging filmmakers and the winners’ courageous approach to their project…”

The $5K is currently paying our editor and moving us forward.  We are so grateful for this honor and real shot in the arm.

Fabulous Fundraiser in Baltimore

Thank you Mary Ann Mears, Bob Embry, Lois Feinblatt, Jed Dietz, and Elizabeth Embry for throwing such a fabulous party for “American Village.” More than a hundred incredible people packed into the Mears-Embry house. We screened an eight minute portion of the film. As the lights came back on Congressman Cummings rose to speak. His words brought our project into razor-sharp focus. It was an evening we will never forget.

Photos by Hank Topper.

Congressman Elijah Cummings

On Monday, Congressman Elijah Cummings sat down with us for an interview in Baltimore. He told us about moving to Edmondson Village in the early 60s. His family was the second black family to buy a house on his block. When they first arrived at their new house, they gathered to pray in the front yard. A policeman drove by and stopped them, thinking that they were protesting. Cummings had witnessed first-hand an encounter that spoke to the suspicions that many of his neighbors held. Within 2 years, he remembers, the white families were gone. For him, it was an incredible time. A larger house, a yard, access to good schools.  The racist city policies that made it impossible for so many black families to make it to the middle class were finally being fought. In ten years he would be in law school.

But I think there is another reason why the Congressman agreed to be in our film and why our 10 minute slot with him turned into almost an hour. About a month ago, Cummings’ nephew was murdered.  A college student, a smart kid, none of it makes any sense. Cummings is devastated, his mind rattles with endless questions.  Did he suffer? Did he have time to say a prayer? Who did it? A giant hole has opened up in his heart and who knows when it will be filled and what it will all mean. It was almost forty years ago that my grandfather was murdered and still, those endless questions rattle through our heads, the hole still feels like a gaping hole.

It breaks my heart thinking about what brought me and the Congressman together. And yet, being with him in his grief, and sharing the story of my grandfather, it’s never been more clear to me that we need to try to understand why these things happen. And to move forward and create life from death.

Good Pitch Was Very Good to Us!

We just finished the most incredible, gratifying and inspiring weekend up in San Francisco. It was The Good Pitch, put on by Channel 4/BRITDOC and Sundance.

We were invited along with five other films, and the community of filmmakers was unbelievable.  Some of the most important, exciting filmmakers and films were there with us – God Loves Uganda, Turkey Creek, How to Avoid a Plague, Reportero, and The Invisible War.  Keep an eye out for these films – you’ll definitely hear about them in the future.

After a very intense weekend workshopping our 7-minute pitch with the most incredible group of folks from Working Films, Sundance and BRITDOC, we went up in front of an audience of 250+ in the Marines Memorial Theater.  The outreach director Sandi DuBowski had populated our table with funders, filmmakers, NGOs and community agencies – the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Brennan Center, for example – and the discussion afterwards was incredible.  We got a combination of feedback, support, and invitations to partner with jails, restorative justice experts, schools and community agencies, and it felt like a fairy tale.

That would have been plenty, but the delicious, incredible icing on the cake was the $20K  pledged to the film from the IDA Pare Lorentz Grant and the San Francisco Film Society!  Yahoo!!

Thanks to so many people…

…we’re on our way!