Posted by Elena del Valle on November 1, 2017
A scene from El Mercado de la Inocencia
Photo, video: Discovery en Español
At 10 p.m. E/P this Sunday November 5 Discovery en Español will air for the first time El Mercado de la Inocencia, a one hour Spanish language documentary (44 minutes of documentary) about sex tourism in Medellin, Colombia, as part of the Discovery a Fondo investigative programming block. The program, often featuring dark scenes filmed with what appear to be hidden cameras, focuses on the former drug trafficking and extreme violence destination now an international capital of sex tourism, including the sale of underage sex. Scroll down to watch a video clip in Spanish.
According to promotional materials, many of the illegal networks run by foreigners in the United States and Europe offer Medellin guided tours with underage prostitutes in their packages available for online purchase. Narrated and directed by David Beriain, a journalist and researcher known for his work on Clandestino's, the project was headed by Michela Giorelli, Rafael Rodriguez and Carlos Cediel. The program was produced by 93 metros, an independent Spaniard production company, earlier this year and required six months to produce. A Discovery en Español spokesperson declined to share any information on production costs.
"No, we did another documentary about sex tourism in Cartagena a few years ago," said Michela Giorelli, vice president, Production and Development Discovery Latam/USH, when asked by email via a publicist if this is the first time the network airs a documentary about sex tourism. "We have also explored the subject with ‘’Trata de mujeres: de Tenancingo a Nueva York’’, an Emmy Award winning documentary about sex trafficking that aired as part of Discovery a Fondo, the networks’s investigative programming block." When asked if anyone in the film was compensated financially to participate (be video or audio taped or interviewed), she replied, "No, nobody is ever compensated in our investigative documentaries."
According to the documentary, 24,000 people a day seek sex for sale in Medellin; and more than 90 percent of the sex workers in the city are drug addicted. Government officials and police appear on camera. Street scenes show scantily clad women. In some shots prostitutes with their identities concealed discuss their work and in others sex workers and customers can be seen from a distance. A spokesperson explained that "Most of the cameras were located in such places to protect the identity of interviewees and also to make sure we were getting the "real thing.’’ After November 5, 2017 the documentary should be available on the Go app. Discovery en Español.
Posted by Elena del Valle on July 26, 2017
Photo, video: Fuse, Kudzu Films
In February 2013, Hilary Linder began work on a project that would lead her to the making of her first film, Indivisible, in which she followed the lives of three undocumented immigrants for almost three years. The 78-minute documentary about three undocumented immigrants, screened in 25 film festivals already, will air on Fuse, a cable network, at 10 p.m. ET July 29, 2017. Scroll down to watch a trailer.
Renata, Evelyn and Antonio meet their relatives at the United States-Mexico border
"Renata, Evelyn, and Antonio were young children when their parents brought them to the U.S. in search of a better life; they were teenagers when their families were deported," Linder said by email when asked to describe the film. "Today, they are known as Dreamers. Indivisible takes place at a pivotal moment in their lives, as they fight for a pathway to citizenship and a chance to be reunited with their loved ones."
When asked about the goal of the film, she said: "I selected immigration reform as the focus of my first film because I believe it will shape the identity of the United States for generations to come and because I knew there was an incredible human story to tell. When Congress introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, I grew frustrated that media coverage was focusing on numbers and statistics rather than the actual people at the heart of the debate. Knowing that immigration reform is a highly politicized topic, I set out to make a film that would humanize the issue and that both undocumented and documented audiences could relate to—a film about families."
In the United States she filmed in Massachusetts, New York City, Florida, and Arizona. Overseas, she filmed in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico.
The documentary, funded mainly by the filmmaker with $30,000 of support she fundraised online and in person, premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival in March 2016.
The most common reaction is that they had no idea that families were being separated by deportation or what it is like for families to be separated, and, now that they know, they want to do something to change our immigration system and prevent this from happening," Linder said when asked about people's reaction to the film. "Before the election, many people indicated that the film had changed their mind about who they would vote for. And today, at such a scary time for immigrants in the U.S., audiences overwhelmingly ask what they can do to help. We like to direct people to our Take Action page on our website (indivisiblefilm.com/takeaction), where they can sign petitions, receive information about contacting their Members of Congress, and sign up to host their own screening of Indivisible."
Posted by Elena del Valle on May 25, 2017
The Business of Recovery
Photos, video: The Business of Recovery
It took the filmmakers behind The Business of Recovery (thebusinessofrecovery.com/) four years to complete the 81-minute documentary targeting “The overwhelming number of people who have been affected by addiction…directly or indirectly.” In June of 2016, they released the film to the public via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. It was recently screened at the Palm Beach Film Festival. Scroll down to watch a trailer of the film.
According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015 some 88,000 people in the United States died of alcohol abuse and 47,000 died of a drug overdose. Every day 6,300 people seek addiction treatment at 14,000 treatment centers across the nation; and addiction treatment revenue has increased from $9 billion in 1986 to $34 billion in 2016 while drug overdose rates have tripled, according to The Business of Recovery.
Ninety percent of the centers base their treatments on Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps principles despite abysmal rates of recidivism, according to the documentary. A spokesperson for the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains on camera that there is only anecdotal evidence of limited success for Alcoholics Anonymous treatment. At the same time, there are 60,000 sober living homes across the country with little or no regulation.
“Our goal in making The Business of Recovery was to demand the addiction treatment industry change the way addiction is treated in three primary areas: Better educated and medically licensed professionals in charge of addiction treatment, Regulations to protect the patient and align addiction treatment facilities with medical standards, the use of scientifically proven treatments (empirical, not evidence based),” said Greg Horvath, producer of the film, by email.
He and a close friend financed the documentary, which cost less than one million dollars to make. The producers spoke to hundreds of people, interviewed over 60 families, addiction experts, treatment providers, doctors, and scientists from across the United States.
Greg Horvath, producer, and Adam Finberg, director, The Business of Recovery at the Newport Beach Film Festival
“The toughest challenge was assembling the enormous amount of information we gathered and create a film that would help educate people that for as ‘medical’ as the addiction treatment industry sounds and acts, it lacks most if not all of the rigors of science that are applied to medical treatments,” Horvath said when asked about the greatest challenge and biggest reward of the film project. “And it is all but absent of regulations to protect the patient and align addiction treatment facilities with medical standards. The greatest reward has been the ground swell of public support the film has received, and to see some aspects of the industry slowly starting to change.”
When asked what marketing strategies they had used to promote the film he said, “Our strategy was to create public interest in the film thru film festivals and other screenings. The Business of Recovery premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival to three sold-out audiences and has been screened across the United States (and Canada) to many other sold-out audiences at film festivals, prestigious post-secondary institutions (including Columbia University Medical School in NY, UC Irvine School of Medicine and School of Law in CA, and Spalding University, School of Professional Psychology in KY, to name a few), and many other public and private screenings. As well, it was one of only four films invited to screen at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, DC.”
Click to buy The Business of Recovery
Posted by Elena del Valle on April 3, 2017
James E. Billie
Photo: Peter Gallagher
Video: Wrestling Alligators, Inc.
James E. Billie was born an outcast in the Florida swamps and grew from poverty to become chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the most influential man in his tribe. Some might say he is the most influential Native American leader in the past 100 years. Under his leadership the Seminole Tribe became wealthy from reservation gambling on its Florida land. Wrestling Alligators The New Seminole Wars, a 90-minute documentary completed in 2016, shines a bright light on Billie's life, showcasing via vintage news clips, photos, and interviews how he became an alligator wrestler, war veteran, poet, and important leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The film was shown at the Palm Beach Film last week and should be available in digital format soon. Scroll down to watch a video clip from the documentary.
Billie controlled a giant gaming organization that owns casinos and businesses all over the world including the Hard Rock Cafes and Casinos brand. Thanks in large part to his efforts, according to the documentary, the Seminole people's lives were transformed over a 50 year span from living in small huts to being wealthy today. There are between 4,000 and 5,000 Seminoles in the tribe. As a young man Billie wrestled alligators for tourist tips. Later, he enlisted for Vietnam where he served with distinction. After the war, Billie started a chickee hut-building company and became interested in tribal politics. He was elected chairman in the late 1970s. Along the way Billie was nominated for a Grammy that launched his music career.
"We made the film to share James Billie's and the tribe's incredible story," James Eowan, producer of the film, when asked by email about the purpose of the documentary. "This is a story most people have no idea about. Most people don't know the tribe owns Hard Rock, for instance, and if they do, they have no idea how they got to that point."
In 1972, Billie started a small high stakes bingo hall in Hollywood, Florida. It was an instant hit, leading to further gaming success, court fights with the state and federal government, and to a wealth not seen until then among Native Americans. He remains a controversial figure inside and outside his tribe, even at 72, according to promotional materials for the film. The tribe kicked him out of office as chairman of the Seminole Tribe for a decade, only to reelect him in 2011.
"We were extremely fortunate in that James Billie and the Seminoles of Florida have been covered by different facets of the media quite extensively over the years," said Eowan when asked by email what percent of the documentary was from archival footage. "And the tribe also has quite an extensive archive of footage and stills. I would say a good 50 percent of the film is archival and the rest is footage we shot. But we ended up with close to 200 hours of shot footage once we were done."
The film staff started working on the documentary in December of 2012 and finished it in April of 2016 with a budget of less than one million dollars from independent sources. The producers hope to capture the attention of viewers with a passing interest in Native Americans and that "the film's quintessentially American story of a man and his people pulling themselves up from their bootstraps will appeal across all audiences."
Posted by Elena del Valle on March 27, 2017
Poster for My Hero Brother
Photo, video: My Hero Brother
My Hero Brother, a heart-warming, 78-minute Israeli film in Hebrew with English subtitles completed June 2016, will be part of the 22 Annual Palm Beach Film Festival (visit pbifilmfest.org/event-calendar) taking place beginning March 29, 2017 in Palm Beach County, Florida. Scroll down to watch a trailer.
Happy and sad at the same time, the film is uplifting and inspiring. Filmed in India with a budget of $306,000 the movie shares the story of a group of remarkable young people with Down syndrome and their siblings who trek through the Indian Himalayas together. Along their journey unresolved conflicts and the complexities of growing up with a Down syndrome child in the family surface.
The idea germinated when Enosh Cassel, later a producer in the film, felt that his busy lifestyle was taking a toll because he wasn’t spending enough time with Hannan, his beloved Down syndrome brother. According to a spokesperson, “In 2011, the two embarked on a challenging trek in the Himalayas, in order to spend some much needed quality time together.” On their return, Cassel received requests from people who wanted to set out on a similar trek with their own Down syndrome sibling. On August 2013, after two years of planning and preparation, a group of 11 sibling couples (“neuro-typical” and Down syndrome) set on a journey to the Indian Himalayas, where My Hero Brother was filmed.
“In the course of the film, I hope that the viewer will undergo an experience that will change his way of looking at the main characters: not as ill-fated people who have been given a chance to experience a brief release from suffering, but rather as human beings blessed with qualities many of us yearn to have, struggling with their limitations in an highly admirable and courageous way, with the ability to open the hearts of those around them and turn them into better human beings,” the director states on the film website.
Yonatan Nir (Dolphin Boy) directed and produced by the film, which according to promotional information became an overnight success. In the first three months of distribution the producers booked 150 educational screenings in Israel, the film was accepted to several international film festivals, and won the Best Documentary Film Award and the Audience Choice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The filmmakers received funding from The Shalem Fund, Gesher Multicultural Film Fund, Mifal Hapais, Avi Chai Fund, and The Second Authority. In addition to the Film festival screening future information on where to view the movie may appear at myherobrother.org
Posted by Elena del Valle on March 22, 2017
Es Nuestro Momento poster - click image to enlarge
Photo, video: Buchanan's
Hoping to connect with reggaeton music loving bicultural adult Latinos, 21 and older, who balance two cultures Buchanan's, a Scottish whisky maker, partnered with SoundCloud to offer them the Es Nuestro Momento Feat. J Balvin contest campaign and competition. The contest ran March 6-20, 2017. The prize was a trip to the 2017 Latin Billboards in Miami and a chance to meet J Balvin in person. It included a microsite where participants could watch the Es Nuestro Momento video with Balvin singing a capella vocals of a new and unreleased track by the same name. To enter the contest, they were required to create their own version of the song including Balvin, and upload their version to the website for people to vote for their favorite version by April 7. Balvin will select the winner and announce his or her name via his Facebook page April 19. Scroll down to watch an Es Nuestro Momento campaign ad.
The contest was a segment of Buchanan’s integrated marketing campaign, which was promoted through out-of-home advertising, television spots, digital ads with dedicated responsible drinking creative, social media and experiential, in addition to this consumer contest. According to a spokesperson, the contest was “being amplified through PR, digital, social, and paid integrations including Nylon En Espanol, Telemundo, and Billboard.”
Balvin’s song, inspired by the brand’s recent 360 Es Nuestro Momento marketing campaign, was designed to celebrate the Latino community and its positive influence on American mainstream culture. A campaign spokesperson did not respond to a question about measurement of the contest results. According to a press release, “Through this contest, Buchanan’s aims to inspire people to pursue their passions and celebrate their successes.”
Born in Medellin, Colombia, J Balvin is a Latin-Grammy and Latin Billboard-winning musician. He became the first reggaeton artist to surpass one billion views on YouTube. He has collaborated with artists including Pharrell, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber. SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform where users may upload, record, promote, and share their original sounds.
Posted by Elena del Valle on March 1, 2017
The Defenders of Life poster
Photos by Julio Costantini © 2015 Popcorn & Friends, video clips used with permission © 2015 Popcorn & Friends
In 2015, film director Dana Ziyasheva and her four person team completed Defenders of Life, a 94-minute film in three languages, Ngabere, Spanish, and English, about underage marriage among the Ngäbe people of Costa Rica. Much of the dialogue is in Ngabere or Spanish with English subtitles. It was titled after Defenders of Life, an ancient Ngäbe sacred song celebrating the tribe's respect for and symbiotic relationship with nature, ancestors and fertility. The film is available exclusively at Flix Premiere, an online video on demand service. Scroll down to watch video clips from the movie with subtitles.
Defenders of Life, a fiction film about real life issues, was born out of the real-life friendship between Carmen, a Ngäbe matriarch, and the director while she was a guest at Carmen's house. During that time they discussed Carmen's life and her hopes and fears for her daughters and granddaughters. Much of the film was shot on Ngäbe land and featuring Ngäbe.
“We both wanted to give voice to the voiceless, leaving a proud testimony of her ancient civilization under threat and show the place and challenges of women in this culture,” Ziyasheva said in a press release. “We both wanted it to be aesthetic and allegorical. Carmen's story is my story too. I was afraid to break away from my society in defiance of the decision-makers of my country. I was equally afraid to leave the comfort and security of the United Nations. It doesn't matter how good or bad a life situation is, people fear the unknown. To make audiences around the world relate to a story of an indigenous woman lost in a rainforest was my goal as film director in this project.”
Defenders of Life tells the story of Esmeralda, a Ngäbe indigenous girl who lives on a reservation in Costa Rica. Esmeralda's grandmother Carmen raises her alone because the girl's mother was murdered by her jealous boyfriend. In the movie, as in real life, when a Ngäbe girl reaches puberty, she becomes eligible for marriage, as is the custom of the tribe. When the village elder asks for her hand in marriage, Carmen must decide whether Esmeralda should follow in the footsteps of Ngäbe women or break away from the tradition and long term from the community.
During the filming of Defenders of Life
"We had a script, but since the Ngäbe actors playing their own roles were all non-professionals, most of whom don't know how to read, we relied a lot on rehearsals and improvisation. I wanted the film to go beyond the ethnographic clichés. We show that Ngäbes are multi-layered, with contradictions, and made of good things and bad things like everyone else. But most of all, they are authentic, true to themselves and they don't get intimidated by outside pressure," said Ziyasheva.
In the film, Pamela, an anthropologist from the University of Costa Rica, and her son Feb, an American tween, advocate different approaches to the dilemma of an indigenous people's society. Through his friendship with Esmeralda, Feb becomes part of tribal dynamic, while well-meaning Pamela aims to force her notion of development on the Ngäbe. Most of the filming took place in the indigenous Ngäbe community of La Casona in Southern Costa Rica, near the border with Panama, and a little bit in San Jose, the Costa Rican capital.
The film, produced by Popcorn & Friends, was recognized with award at Mostra Amazonas de Cinema, Brazil; Burbank International Film Festival, California; Viva! Latino Film Festival NYC Int'l, New York City; Madrid International Film Festival 2016; Love International Children Film Festival, California; International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration and Equality, Indonesia; Global Independent Film Awards, online; and Depth of Field International Film Festival, online.
"To make this crazy guerilla-style project possible, I was lucky to assemble a unique international team of passionate film professionals from France, Brazil, Cuba and Costa Rica. They were all 100 percent dedicated to the idea of living and working with the Ngäbe in the rain forest in order to make this film, no matter the hardships, budget constraints or physical risks," said Igor Darbo, producer, by email via the film's publicist. "Snakes were never too far, both in the story and on set! Of course it also took time to gain the Ngabe's trust, especially the men's and after visiting the community multiple times and taking part in their festivals and assemblies, I develop a bond with Don Francisco, the elder leader who then agreed to play the old man marrying the teenage girl in the film. That bond was the mirror of Dana's relationship with Dona Carmen, the protagonist and that's what made the film possible. As a producer, I am extremely proud that Defenders of Life was able to touch the heart of people on all continents, but most of all of the enthusiastic reception it got from the Ngäbe themselves."
Ziyasheva is an award-winning author, scriptwriter and film director from Kazakhstan. She has 25 years of field experience as a journalist. As adviser for Communication and Information of the United Nations she has traveled from Iraq to China and Central America. In 2016, her debut novel Shock was published in France.
Popcorn & Friends is a boutique production company founded in March 2012 by Darbo to produce “highly creative international films that are both entertaining and meaningful.” After winning the Best Co-Production Project award at the Shanghai International Film Festival for its high-concept Chinese treasure hunt The Dragon Angel, Popcorn & Friends produced Defenders of Life.
Between 200,000 and 250,000 Ngäbe people live on both sides of the border between Panama and Costa Rica. The community in the film is about 1,500 people large in Southern Costa Rica. According to the film producers, the Ngäbe (Ngabere is their language) are torn between tradition and assimilation into the modern society. Their youth start to slowly lose command of their native idioms and follow traditions less while education in Spanish and work opportunities in the city draw them further away from their ancient roots.
Posted by Elena del Valle on September 28, 2016
Touching the Light (Tocando La Luz)
Photo, videos: Doc World, World Channel
Hoping to reach a diverse, young audience under 40, on September 18, 2016 Doc World, a new showcase of non-fiction storytelling from around the globe, launched a selection of 11 international documentaries. The series kicked off with the world premier of The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor. The staff at Doc World selected each film to serve as “a vignette of personal stories and the struggles of different cultures and societies.” Doc World is brought to viewers by World Channel, public television's nonfiction, news and documentary programming. Scroll down to watch two video clips about the series.
Produced by award-winning filmmaker Arthur S. Dong, the The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor tells the story of Haing Ngor, one of the most recognized survivors of the Cambodian genocide and a man who became a worldwide ambassador for justice in his homeland, only to be murdered in a Los Angeles Chinatown alley. The film was based on Ngor's autobiography and produced in a mix of animation and live action. All the films in the program will also stream at a later date, and another 10 films are scheduled to become available online later this year. Additional information on the Doc World series may be found at http://worldchannel.org/programs/doc-world/
Chris Hastings, executive producer, World Channel
“The stories we choose are focused primarily outside the United States,” said Chris Hastings, executive producer and creative director, World Channel when asked how the films were selected for inclusion. “That’s the main criteria for Doc World: the films take place outside the U.S. and tell a unique story about person, place, history or event that highlight communities Americans would not normally see. To be selected, the films first have to be great stories that are told in creative way and deal with an array of compelling themes (history, social issues, environment). We find the films for Doc World in few ways, starting with our partners in the U.S. that include ITVS, Center for Asian American Media, National Black Programming Consortia, and others who are actively funding and looking for films.”
Other documentaries in the series include: Tocando La Luz, World Premiere September 25; Five Days to Dance, October 2; Kismet, October 9; Among the Believers, October 16; Waiting for August, October 23; My Atomic Aunt, October 30; A Goat for a Vote, November 6; Tashi's Turbine,November 13; Prize of the Pole, November 20; and Walking Under Water, November 27. All, except Among the Believers and the first two films, will be airing in the U.S. for the first time.
Hasting's team attend international festivals like HotDocs in Canada and Sheffield Doc Festival in England to screen and meet with filmmakers to solicit submissions; are in contact with distributors like First Hand Films in Switzerland and Rise and Shine Media in Germany; and receive suggestions from public television channels, like the BBC and The Why Foundation in Denmark.
“It’s been amazing to see how many films that are out all over the world—and are great stories—which have not broadcast in the United States,” Hastings said by email via a publicist. “We are so grateful for what we found thus far. Our team at World is small but very diverse and with our partners we select the films for Doc World together.” When asked what the Doc World budget is he said, “Both Doc World and World Channel are funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
About Doc World
About Tocando La Luz
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 10, 2016
Photos, video: Candy Factory Films
Soledad, a suspenseful, soulful 95-minute indie drama released in theaters July 26, 2016 features a world-weary ex-con limo driver and a high school couple he's driving to their prom in Los Angeles. The work of first-time writer-directors Eduardo Maytorena and Wayne Mitchell the film received the Grand Jury Prize Runner-Up at the 2015 Dances with Films Festival, and was an Official Selection at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival and the 31 Chicago Latino Film Festival. Soledad, a Candy Factory Films movie, was released via VOD (video on demand) and digital HD on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Scroll down to watch a video clip.
In the film, Victor (Jesse Celedon), a lonely, Latino limousine driver lives a solitary existence: lifting weights in his small apartment, saying silent grace over breakfast, and enduring the disrespect of his clients night after night. One evening, after defending Raquel (Montanna Gillis, The Vatican Tapes, Don Peyote), his well-off passenger, from being assaulted by her prom date, Victor's simple act of compassion sets off a series of events destined to bring back a past he has fought desperately to escape. The film takes viewers on a meandering and sometimes violent road trip with sexual situations (no nudity), through the city of Angels focusing on the unlikely friendship between Victor and Raquel.
A scene from Soledad
Soledad was shot over 17 days between January and April of 2014, mostly in Downtown Los Angeles, Silverlake, Echo Park, Pico Rivera, Glendale, and Mission Hills, with a budget of $120,000. In 2015, it toured U.S. and international film festivals.
“We never shot more than three nights in a row since we could only afford to use the limo on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, (Weekend rates were too steep), ” said Mayortena by email through the film's publicist when asked about the making of the movie. “Post production lasted 10-12 months as we continued to make changes up to our delivery to the distributor.”
When asked about funding for the movie, Mayortena replied, “I work at a Spanish radio station as a creative sales director. I shared my vision of Soledad with one of my clients Douglas Bravo and he was intrigued. After a few more conversations he agreed to give us the money on two conditions. One was that we (myself, writing directing partner Wayne Mitchell and lead actor Jesse Celedon) invest our own money in the film so his investment was protected. The second was to take our vision of a short film and grow it to a feature so there would be an opportunity to see some return on investment. We are very blessed and grateful to Douglas for challenging us to dream bigger.”
Candy Factory Films, founded by Jason Ward, strives to be a “forward-thinking, filmmaker-friendly multimedia company dedicated to producing and distributing high impact, unique and compelling films.”
Click to buy Soledad
Posted by Elena del Valle on April 6, 2016
When Elephants Were Young
Photos, video: canazwest pictures
Canadian filmmaker Patricia Sims cares about endangered Asian elephants, a great deal. She and her collaborators dedicated five years to filming elephants and elephant handlers in Thailand at the end of which they produced When Elephants Were Young, an 86-minute documentary narrated by actor William Shatner. The film, in English and Thai with subtitles, will show at 5:30 p.m. April 8 at the Cinemark Palace, 3200 Airport Road, Boca Raton, and 12 noon April 13 at the Parisian 17, 545 Hibiscus St, West Palm Beach, as part of the Palm Beach International Film Festival in Palm Beach County, Florida.Scroll down to watch a trailer of the film.
Patricia Sims and Michael Clark dedicated five years to the project
The film follows Wok, a young man, and Nong Mai, his young captive elephant, in their struggle to make a living begging on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. When the opportunity arises to release Nong Mai to the forest Wok must decide, torn between his affection for the elephant who is also his only source of income, what is best. Can an elephant who has only known a life of captivity survive in the wild? The film zooms into the daily lives of its protagonists, examining the paradoxes of elephants in captivity.
According to Sims, When Elephants Were Young will appear in theaters across North America on World Elephant Day, August 12, 2016. Theater listings should be available in June. Around that same time it should become available globally on various video on demand platforms such as iTunes and Amazon. In Canada, it is slated for broadcast on the CBC Documentary Channel in fall 2016.
Asian elephants in Thailand from the film When Elephants Were Young
“There were many, many challenges, as is often the case with independent documentary filmmaking!” Sims said by email when asked about the biggest challenge she faced in the making of the film. “For sure, funding was a big challenge, and continues to be so even for this release stage of the film. There are many costs required to release our film, or any film, to the public. Often people are surprised to learn what is involved in the distribution stage for independent film, and what it takes to get a film out to the world.”
Patricia Sims, director, and William Shatner, narrator, When Elephants Were Young
The film's budget was under one million dollars. Sims relied on “a combination of self-funding, crowd-funding, and private funding and a lot of in-kind support from many generous people who wanted to help us tell this story, and support the elephant cause.”
When asked about the rewards and surprises along the filmmaking journey, she replied, "We’ve had many amazing surprises and rewards with this film! Unfortunately, I can’t mention what they are here because it will ruin the ending of the film’s story. People will have to watch the film to see what our biggest surprises and rewards have been!”
Sims was director and producer and she co-wrote the documentary with Michael Clark. She has a passion for large-brained megafauna such as dolphins, primates, and elephants. She and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation launched World Elephant Day on August 12, 2012.
As technology activist, cinematographer, and editor, Clark has employed his talents to portray the interconnectivity of life on this planet. He has won international awards for his work and his credits range from documentaries to episodic television, commercial and feature film productions. He seeks “to use digital and traditional media to inspire awareness, awe, and action for a mirthful, sustainable future.”