Meet new GBF grantee Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich
 
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We’re thrilled to welcome filmmaker Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich as one of our newest grantees!

Madeleine is a filmmaker and a born and raised New Yorker whose work explores themes of physicality and female subjectivity. Her work has been featured in Essence Magazine, Art Forum, Studio Museum’s Studio Magazine, ARC Magazine, BOMBLOG, and Guernica Magazine, Small Axe journal among others. She is the recipient of a 2015 TFI ESPN Future Filmmaker Award and a 2014 Princess Grace Award. Her work has been recognized by the National Magazine (ELLIE) Awards and has received grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as well as National Black Programming Consortium. Madeleine has a degree in Film and Photography from Hampshire College and has an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. Madeleine is an Assistant Professor of film at CUNY - Queens college in New York.

To find out more about Madeleine’s inspiration and what drives her, check out our 1 on 1 with her below:

Can you give us a summary of your film in 7 words or less:

Mimi Thi Nguyen’s famed feminist zine “Evolution of a Race Riot” lives on.

Great, ok now tell us a little more about your film:

“Change something, I double dare ya.” This was the charge Mimi Thi Nguyen posed when she launched the punk rock zine “Evolution of a Race Riot” in 1997. Brave, uncensored and unprecedented-- the compilation featured charged works from punks of color in small towns and far flung cities. It was a landmark work at the unique intersection of punk rock, diy, feminism and identity politics. Against the backdrop of Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and #Metoo feminism, Mimi Thi Nguyen talks about the failures and hope of the last chapter of feminism as she prepares to print the third edition of the zine a decade later.

What is your main goal with the film?

Punk feminisms and the Riot Grrl movement in the late eighties and nineties is the among latest culture movements to be anthologized, with new documentaries on icon of the movement Kathleen Hanna, recently amassed archives at major institutions across the country. 

Nguyen’s voice represents a corner of punk and feminism that is often left out of its anthologizing, the voices of poc and queer punks who were contributors to the movement, and importantly, their critiques of these cultural spaces.

Today’s political moment calls for a new set of feminist icons and thinkers, and more inclusive histories of women’s resistance and survival. Mimi Thi Nguyen is the voice women need now.

How did you find your story and your main character?

I read Nguyen’s zine “Evolution of a Race Riot” contemporaneously, and the impetus for the film came from spending time in the DC Public Library’s punk archive and thinking about that particular moment in time and how we will remember it moving forward.

Who else is working with you on your team to make this happen?

Producer - Kristy Choi

Kristy Choi is an outdoor enthusiast and producer. She works as an associate producer for PBS Newshour and studied Music and Ethnic Studies at Brown University.

Producer - Krystal Tingle

Is a independent film producer and director, working on productions for the small and big screen.

Camera Operator - Jon - Sesrie Goff

Jon - Sesrie Goff has been a cinematographer and filmmaker for more than a decade working on such films as Evolution of a Criminal and Out in The Night. For his day job he organizes film screenings - formally for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and now as Executive Director of the Flaherty Seminar.

Why did you feel like this was a great project to pitch to us at Glassbreaker Films?

This is a woman centered film that looks to reimagine recent feminist history with a more inclusive lens.

What impact has Glassbreaker Films had on your film and/or on you as a filmmaker?

Glassbreaker Films funding has made possible additional filming, and footage and music licensing in order to complete production.

What was your reaction when you found our you'd been selected to receive a GBF grant?

I appreciated so much the support and confidence Glassbreaker Films has given me, not only because of their support in the project but also their support of my voice as a filmmaker.

Any advice to other filmmakers just starting out?

Focus on the work. Watch films. It’s about the work.

What is your favorite part about being a documentary filmmaker or storyteller?

Story - I love constructing story visually and narratively. Filmmaking is like a puzzle of meaning you are making sense of. It constantly keeps you thinking about what needs to be said about being human, what needs to be said about living in relationship to one another. It’s one of the few artistic mediums that is not all about you, but rather, about your subjects and collaborators and what you all want to make.

Who's a (woman) filmmaker you admire? And why?

Many artists inspire me. Agnes Varda is my she-ro filmmaker, she was so prolific and her films felt so free. She made many different kinds of films, and was never locked in to one genre or style. My artist mentors have not been strictly filmmakers. My artist mothers include mixed media artist and sculptor Simone Leigh and Photographer Jeanne Moutousammy Ashe who I have apprenticed for and who taught me how to work.  My real life mother Erica Hunt is a poet whose approach to experimentation is how I look at pretty much everything.

Why is representation in storytellers and stories told so important, especially right now?

We are trying to learn how to live in a better, less violent, more open society. We have to consider many perspectives to do this. Storytellers are on the frontlines - art is not to be confused with direct action - but story is a part of change making.

What's the best documentary film (digital/short/or feature length) that you've seen this year?

I loved Hale county This Morning This Evening.

Favorite camera to shoot on?

I personally love a smaller camera such as the Sony A7S. We have used the Black Magic Ursa Mini and the C100 MkII on this project.

Favorite part about the filmmaking process?

When you nail a beautiful image or shot - and when you have a breakthrough in the edit.

Random fact no one would know about you?

I first trained as a still photographer and worked as a photo printer before going to film school. Also I have a dog named Godard for Jean-Luc.


Where can people find out more about you and your work?

Website: www.madeleinehuntehrlich.com

Instagram: @madeleine_sees

Twitter: @madeleine_sees

Vimeo: vimeo.com/madeleinehuntehrlich

 
Glassbreaker Films
Heroin(e) wins Emmy for outstanding short documentary

Congratulations to director and GBF grantee, Elaine McMillion Sheldon!!

On Monday, Sheldon’s film, “Heroin(e),” won an Emmy Award for outstanding short documentary at the National News and Documentary Emmy Awards in New York, NY.

The film, directed by Elaine and produced by Kerrin Sheldon, is a story of three women battling the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, specifically in Huntington, a city with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

The Netflix original documentary was co-produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and Requisite Media. It was part of CIR’s Glassbreaker Films initiative, funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, which supported women in documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. The film was nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year.

Heroin(e) was nominated alongside entries from PBS FRONTLINE, NBC and The New York Times, as well as a second Netflix submission, “Long Shot.”

“Heroin(e)” is available globally on Netflix.

Glassbreaker Films
Elizabeth Gray Bayne awarded GBF Women in Docs grant
 

We’re thrilled to welcome filmmaker Elizabeth Gray Bayne as one of our newest Women in Doc grantees!

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Elizabeth is not only a filmmaker, she’s also a public health advocate. She earned her Masters of Public Health from Yale University and MFA in film from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

A member of Women in Film Los Angeles, BADWest, Film Independent and the American Public Health Association, Elizabeth is committed to using film to promote health and social issues in underserved communities. Since graduating, she has successfully bridged both worlds to produce PSAs and digital content for numerous institutions, health agencies and nonprofits, as well as write and direct several narrative short films. 

Segments of her short documentary Safe Agua Chile have appeared on the Smithsonian Channel’s Design with the Other 90%, while her narrative shorts Las Chicas and My Best Asset aired recently on cable network Aspire TV’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Independent Series hosted by David Banner. Her digital video Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day, produced for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, received six awards, over 30K online views and was recognized by Physics Today, Edutopia, Popsugar, and the National Science Foundation. Her web series about breastfeeding disparities in the black community Chocolate Milk has earned over 250K online views, screened at dozens of national health conferences and is currently being expanded into a feature documentary. 

Elizabeth began documenting the black cowboy community in Los Angeles County three years ago and produced “Bulldogging” a short five minute documentary about attendees at the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. The short focused on the hope of black cowboys to continue their legacy through their children and screened at the 2017 Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers - West (BADWest) Day of Black Docs.

Her upcoming Glassbreaker Films’ short doc about London and her family is a continuation of that earlier project.

To find out more about Elizabeth’s inspiration and what drives her, check out our 1 on 1 with her below:


Title of your Film:

Continuing a Legacy

Can you give us a summary of your film in 7 words or less?

One cowgirl’s season in the junior rodeo

Awesome, now tell us a little more about your film:

10-year-old London is the daughter of legendary jockey and exercise rider for California Chrome Dihigi Gladney. As she works to make a mark in the junior rodeo and step out from under her father’s shadow, her parents work to keep the family afloat and fund their daughter’s passion to compete.

What is your main goal with the film?

The main goal of my film is to tell a simple story about a girl competing in a sport she loves, while also shedding light on a lesser known aspect of the black community.

How did you find your story and your main character?

I started following the black cowboy community a few years ago after attending the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and stayed in touch. Through my connections with this group I found London and her family.

Who else is working with you on your team to make this happen?

I’m fortunate to have a great team working with me to make this happen, including cinematographer Victoria Stein, editor Anedra Edwards, and composer JB Bontemps.

Why did you feel like this was a great project to pitch to us at Glassbreaker Films?

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I felt like this project closely aligned with the Glassbreaker Films mission to highlight the stories of women and girls and my own interest in expanding perceptions of black identity by centering the film on the story of a black cowgirl.

What impact has Glassbreaker Films had on your film and/or on you as a filmmaker?

Up until now, I’d largely been focused on content with a social impact and thought this was a story that would only be interesting to me. But with the incredible support and encouragement from Glassbreaker Films, I’ve been inspired to also tell stories that come from my heart.

What was your reaction when you found our you'd been selected to receive a GBF grant?

Complete and utter gratitude.

Any advice to other filmmakers just starting out?

Just make something. Learn where you can improve and repeat.

What is your favorite part about being a documentary filmmaker or storyteller?

I like the independence of telling the story the way you see and feel it and the spontaneous nature of capturing life as it happens on camera. There’s no better way to humanize a subject whose been historically marginalized or stereotyped than by observing her everyday interactions with the people in her life. By highlighting the mundane, I’m able to show the universality of my subjects and help audiences relate.

Who's a (woman) filmmaker you admire? And why?

I really admire Andrea Arnold, the director of American Honey (2016), for her ability to capture narrative in way that feels as organic and poetic as a documentary. She made scripted feel like cinema verite and that’s a style that I admire.

Why is representation in storytellers and stories told so important, especially right now?

The more we tell everyone’s stories, the more we begin to see the world through each other’s eyes and the more empathetic we become. I believe this translates into making more space in the world for us to coexist with all our beautiful differences.

What's the best documentary film (digital/short/or feature length) that you've seen this year?

I don’t like answering questions like this, because there’s inevitably some film I forget, but I’ll say Step, a 2017 film by Amanda Lipitz about a high school step team in Baltimore, MD.

Favorite camera to shoot on?

My current camera, the Canon C300, which I was able to purchase through a generous CEDF grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in 2017.

Favorite part about the filmmaking process?

I’ve heard this said before and I absolutely agree that coming up with the idea is the best part of the filmmaking process. Producing it is hell, then making it though to the other side to see the final product that evolved from your idea is the second best part.

Least favorite part of the filmmaking process?

The hell that is production.

Random fact no one would know about you?

I’m organized only because I’m overcompensating for my incredibly scattered brain.

Where can we find out more about you and your work? (Website)

graybayne.com

Instagram?

@graybayne

Twitter?

@graybayne

Vimeo?

vimeo.com/graybayne

Recent honors/awards or proud moments in your filmmaking career? Or with this film?

I’m currently producing three documentaries and am making a living as a full-time filmmaker, which a year ago just seemed like a dream. When I decided to stop treating my passion like a hobby, I buckled down and was fortunate enough to receive three grants in a 12-month period after years of rejection letters. I’ve been awarded generous grants to complete my documentaries from Glassbreaker Films, the Center for Cultural Innovation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Anything else about your film or working with GBF that we forgot to ask?

Can’t think of anything. Although I just noticed that my production company graybayne film/media shares the same acronym with Glassbreaker Films. That's kind of cool.



 
Glassbreaker Films
Two GBF short films nominated for National Emmy Awards

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences named two collaborative projects from Glassbreaker Films as finalists for the 39th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

Both short films were produced through our 2016-2017 initiative at The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Co-produced with Netflix, “Heroin(e)” earned a nod in the outstanding short documentary category. Directed by Peabody Award-winning grantee, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, the film examines the opioid epidemic’s impact on Huntington, West Virginia, by tracing the paths of three women who are working to break the cycle of drug abuse. Sheldon also received a nomination for the film at the 90th Academy Awards in March.

Before Prison, a short film that was part of part of a larger project called Locked Up (produced through partnership with CIR and The Frontier) was nominated for outstanding new approaches: arts, lifestyle and culture. The project, reported by Ziva Branstetter and Allison Herrera, dug into the toll of high incarceration rates for women in Oklahoma: The state locks up women at more than twice the national average. The short film was directed and produced by grantees, Olivia Loomis Merrion and Emily Harger during their filmmaker in residence program led by senior producer, Aubrey Aden-Buie. 

Congrats to all nominees! The News & Documentary Emmy Awards presentation will be held on Oct. 1 at the Time Warner Center in New York.

 
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Glassbreaker Films
One on one with GBF grantee Leah Galant
 

Death Metal Grandma, a documentary short directed by twenty-five year old filmmaker, Leah Galant, published last week on the NYT Op-Docs! Galant, who is based in NYC is already hard at work on her next documentary, but she made time to answer some questions about her film, working with the GBF team, and advice for other filmmakers. 

Congrats Leah!  

First of all, tell us a little more about your film, Death Metal Grandma

97 year old Holocaust Survivor, Inge Ginsberg, rose to fame as a songwriter for legendary musicians such as Doris Day, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. DEATH METAL GRANDMA follows Inge Ginsberg’s journey to break out as a performer of death metal music and as she prepares for an America’s Got Talent Audition. The short documentary interweaves the rich personal history of Inge’s life as she attempts to merge her personal lyrics with the contemporary genre of Death Metal.

 

 

What was your main goal with the film?

Beyond how incredible Inge is- I wanted to capture the nuances of old age especially for elder women. Inge is compelled to get her music out into the world because she feels that elder women are cast off and forgotten from society. It's such a shame that this culture doesn't honor their elders like other cultures do because they hold so much wisdom and especially Holocaust survivors because pretty soon there will be none left. Inge drew just as must strength from being around young people as we did from being around her immense wisdom and resilience.

How did you find your story and your main character, Inge?

I had just finished filming another film about two holocaust survivors called Kitty and Ellen when my friend texted me that he was on her music video set and that I should check her out. I immediately without hesitation knew I wanted to create a documentary with Inge when I found out that she sang death metal music over her poetry. Once we finally met and I found out she was auditioning for America's Got Talent- we knew that would be the story arc of the film.

What was the biggest challenge of making this film?

The biggest challenge was time. We felt pressed for time since Inge was leaving the country and also because of her age. At times the production felt rushed but ultimately we needed to capture Inge as much as possible before Inge left.

Who was essential to your team and to making this film?

Sean Weiner, my producer and mentor was there with me through thick and thin especially in moments when I was losing confidence in the story and in myself. Kervin Marseille who was an incredible DP and worked with me closely on my vision for the film. Christine Wexler and Elizabeth Pauker, my producers who were there to support every step of the process. Stephanie Khoury who co-edited this film with me and has been a close friend of mine since we met in college. A few other people who made this project possible were Linhan Zhang, Clifford Miu, Caleb Oaks, Justin Drobinski, The Jacob Burns Film Center Creative Culture class of 2018 and many many more!

 

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Where has your film been screened so far? And where can people watch it?

The film premiered at SXSW film festival and has its international premiere at Hot Docs. We have screened at numerous other festivals including Palm Springs Short Fest, San Fransisco Jewish Film Festival, and even festivals overseas! I'm excited to share that you can now watch the film online through the NY Times Op-Docs section!

What was your first thought/reaction when you found out you received a Glassbreaker Films grant?

I was in complete shock. I actually didn't think it was true so I emailed Aubrey and Elisa a few more times and then it sank in. This was the first project I've made that has been fully supported and I can't thank Glassbreaker enough for believing in me and the project. Supporting female filmmakers especially early on in their career is crucial. Often times people see our work as hobbies or side gigs but we want our work to be taken seriously and Glassbreaker films makes that possible.

What impact has Glassbreaker Films had on your film and/or on you as a filmmaker?

The film would not have been completed without this grant and the project is of such a higher production value. Beyond finishing the film- the grant instilled a confidence in myself and in my work that has inspired me to push full steam ahead with my feature length documentary project about the last abortion clinic on the US Mexico border. As I mentioned before- supporting young female directors is crucial in an industry and time in our lives where finances and glass ceilings often hinder us from doing the work we love. I wish that every aspiring young female creator could have the same opportunities offered by Glassbreaker and we would be winning a lot more Oscars!

Any advice to other filmmakers just starting out?

Keep making films and EVERYONE has a story to tell! Film on the weekends, at night, early in the morning- just keep on creating! Also- even if you dont think you have the skills- YOU DO. Say yes to jobs and opportunities and don't be intimidated into thinking you don't have what it takes. Especially in male dominated spaces! More men say yes to jobs they are less qualified for than women simply because of confidence.

What is your favorite part about being a documentary filmmaker?

Social impact and change! I love that the story shifts and changes and you have to be flexible with what reality gives you. There is a sense of vulnerability and uncertainty that actually inspires me in the edit to reflect a similar emotional experience that I have experienced with a character whether that be a shift or change of perspective.

Wildest Dream-- Where are you in your career (or life, career isn't everything) in 10 years?

I hope to be making feature length documentaries without having to pick up 20 extra side gigs and to focus 100 percent of my time and energy into projects that I love.

Who's a (woman) filmmaker you admire?

Eliza Hittman, Alexandria Bombach, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Kristina Goolsby and my incredible female filmmaker friends.

What's the best documentary film (digital/short/or feature length) that you've seen this year?

Minding The Gap, 306 Hollywood and On Her Shoulders

Favorite camera to shoot on?

canon c series

Favorite part about the filmmaking process?

Getting to know your documentary subjects and widening my perspective. Learning something new!

Least favorite part of the filmmaking process?

Holding the boom pole haha!

Random fact no one would know about you?

I've seen the musical spring awakening 18 times

Any recent honors/awards or proud moments in your filmmaking career? With this film, or in general? 

I was awarded the Sundance Ignite fellowship and Jacob Burns Film Center fellowship in 2017 which were instrumental in getting Death Metal Grandma made. At Ithaca College my film team won a Student Emmy for our film The Provider which was a film that has inspired my new feature documentary about abortion.

Anything else about your film or working with GBF that we forgot to ask?

It's been so great to be welcomed into this community of powerful female filmmakers!

 

Thank you Leah!!! And congratulations. 

You can view more about Leah and her work on her website

Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Vimeo

 

 

 
Glassbreaker Films
Death Metal Grandma Premieres on NYT OpDocs

One of our newest Glassbreaker Films' short doc, Death Metal Grandma, premiered today on the Op-Docs from The New York Times. 

Directed by grantee Leah Galant, Death Metal Grandma follows 97 year old Holocaust Survivor, Inge Ginsberg, on her journey to break out as a performer of death metal music. As she prepares for an America’s Got Talent Audition, this short documentary interweaves the rich personal history of Inge’s life as she attempts to merge her personal lyrics with the contemporary genre of Death Metal.

Read more about the film on Op-Docs.

Glassbreaker Films
Olivia Loomis Merrion Talks About Murrow Award

We caught up with filmmaker Olivia Loomis Merrion to hear the inside scoop behind her Glassbreaker Films short doc, Recovering From Rehab, that won an Edward R. Murrow Award this week for Investigative Reporting.

Merrion directed and produced the piece during her time embedded at The Center for Investigative Reporting during her filmmaker in residence program under the guidance of Senior Producer Aubrey Aden-Buie and EP Amanda Pike. It was based on reporting from superstar journalists, Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter.

You can watch the film here.

 
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Olivia! First of all, congrats on the Murrow Award! Can you tell us more about your film, Recovering From Rehab?

Olivia: Thank you! This video was made to accompany an investigation done at Reveal. Reporters Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter began their investigation (now a Pulitzer finalist investigation, I might add...) into the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery rehab facility months before I got involved. Brad, the focus of the video, had a particularly moving story. During one of their final reporting trips, I got involved. 

What stands out about this story and why was it so important to tell?

O: A judge sent Brad, who had never used drugs, to Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery to simply teach him a "work ethic." From injury and issues at the facility, he left with a disabled hand and an addiction to painkillers. That is wrong. The investigation led to class action lawsuits, government investigations and companies to cancel their contracts. 

What obstacles, if any, did you have to navigate while shooting this project? Were there ever any moments when you thought it might not come to fruition?

O: Nothing in documentary works out the way you think it will. When things kept changing in the field, I kept re-doing my story map. I think in 72 hours it changed drastically three times. Constantly rethinking story while shooting is my favorite part of the job. But sometimes, you can definitely think: yeah, no way this'll work. Thankfully, I had Reveal and GB teams at my side the whole time offering suggestions. 

What was it like to work with the team of reporters and producers between CIR and Glassbreaker Films? 

O: Exactly what you said, amazing. I can't emphasize enough the amount of work Sho and Amy put into their investigation to get everything right. I'd leave the office at 8 and they'd be ordering pizza so they could keep working.  Everyone at GB was there to hold my hand through the process. There were multiple calls back to the home front (aka producer Aubrey Aden-Buie) while I was filming to go over thoughts on story. To add Amanda Pike, Rachel de Leon, Aden-Buie, Debora Silva and Emily Harger were the secret sauce, absolutely. Video is 100% collaborative. 

What can people look forward to seeing next from you? 

O: I have one short that is in post that is being graciously funded by GB films. It's not investigative, but rather a fun film and I can't wait until it's out in the world. 

Glassbreaker Films
'Recovering From Rehab' honored with National Murrow Award

We're honored that one of our films, Recovering From Rehab, has been included among this year's National Edward R. Murrow Award Winners!

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Recovering From Rehab is a short film produced by our team while embedded at The Center for Investigative Reporting last year. The film was directed by former filmmaker in residence, and current grantee, Olivia Loomis Merrion, with guidance from Senior Producer, Aubrey Aden-Buie, and EP, Amanda Pike. It was based on reporting from superstar journalists Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter. 

The film follows the story of Brad McGahey, who in 2010, was sentenced to a year in prison for buying a stolen horse trailer. But when he went before a judge, he was told he was going to carry out his sentence by working instead, through a program called CAAIR, or Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery.

McGahey wasn’t addicted to anything at the time of his sentencing. Hundreds of men are sent to CAAIR in lieu of a prison sentence each year. The program promises recovery from addiction for participants, but most of their time is spent working at a chicken processing plant, where they pull guts and feathers from slaughtered chickens and prepare them for distribution to companies such as Walmart, KFC and PetSmart.

The film was part of our Year One initiative funding and supporting women filmmakers and investigative reporters. It was fully funded by The Helen Gurley Brown Foundation. 

The full list of credits includes: 
Director/Producer: Olivia Merrion
Reporters: Amy Julia Harris & Shoshana Walter
Editors: Jennifer LaFleur & Andrew Donohue
Editor in Chief: Amy Pyle
Executive Producer: Amanda Pike
Senior Producer: Aubrey Aden-Buie
Coordinating Producer: Rachel de Leon

You can view the full list of Murrow winners on their website. 

Glassbreaker Films
Grantee Laura Nix invited to join The Academy
 
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We’re proud to announce that Glassbreaker Films grantee, Laura Nix, is now members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!

Nix's latest project, Inventing Tomorrow, premiered at Sundance in 2018 and has been traveling the world since then. 

A director, writer and producer working in non-fiction and fiction, Nix previously directed THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING, (Toronto Film Festival 2014, Berlinale 2015), which was released domestically and in multiple international territories. Her film THE LIGHT IN HER EYES premiered at IDFA; was broadcast on the PBS series POV and Al Jazeera Middle East. Other feature directing credits include the comedic melodrama THE POLITICS OF FUR, which played in over 70 festivals internationally and won multiple awards including the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest; and WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, about the phenomenon of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. She is currently a film expert for the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase, and her nonfiction work has screened at hundreds of film festivals internationally, on The New York Times Op-Docs, and on television via HBO, Arte, ZDF, VPRO, CBC, NHK, Canal+, and IFC

She joins an Academy that announced a record-setting 928 invited members, 49 percent of which are women and 38 percent people of color.  Nine branches, including the Producers, Film Editors, and Documentary branches invited more women than men. 

We're thrilled with the increase in diversity of both women and people of color... but the work is far from over and we still have a long way to go. 

To learn more about the Academy's newest members, visit their website. Here's a glance at some of their numbers: 

 
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Glassbreaker Films
Grantee Laura Nix wins big at SIFF

Go Team Inventing Tomorrow! 

GBF grantee Laura Nix won big at the Seattle International Film Festival with her film Inventing Tomorrow The feature, supported by Glassbreaker Films, received the 2018 SIFF Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary Competition. 

SIFF 2018 Jury Statement: “For it’s compelling cast of young visionaries from around the globe who are engaged and looking for solutions to the world’s environmental problems, Inventing Tomorrow offers us a sense of optimism and the certainty that science matters.”

We're so proud of Nix and the rest of her team of brilliant women and love seeing the impact the film has had on audiences around the world.

 
 
Glassbreaker Films
Glassbreaker Films wins Gracie Award
 
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Glassbreaker Films was honored at the 43rd Annual Gracie Awards held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles on May 22, 2018, for best Original Online Programming - Video Series for The Aftermath. 

The Aftermath,” a four-part documentary series revisiting stories that once dominated the news yet remain relevant today, was produced through our partnership with The Center for Investigative Reporting last year. Episodes in the series look at what happened in the years following national tragedies such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; Erin Brockovich’s crusade against California energy company PG&E; the BART police killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California; and the mass shootings in the Colorado cities of Columbine and Aurora.

The project was led by then senior producer, Aubrey Aden-Buie and the films were directed/produced/shot/edited by Olivia Loomis Merrion and Debora Souza Silva under the guidance of EP Amanda Pike, with assistance from Emily Harger and coordinating producer Rachel de Leon.

The Gracies are administered by the Alliance for Women in Media and recognize excellence in programming by, about and for women in all genres of media.

A full list of winners is available on the Gracie Award website.

Congrats to an amazing team and thank you to the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation for making Glassbreaker Films possible!

 
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Glassbreaker Films
Meet Our Newest Catalyst Grantees

As year two gets into full swing, we're excited to share some of our newest Glassbreaker Films Catalyst grantees, and are thrilled to be working with this incredible cohort of talented emerging filmmakers.

Catalyst Grants are designed for early career filmmakers who are less than five years out of college or graduate school. This grant provides mentorship for emerging filmmakers and funds to produce a nonfiction original film project for digital platforms.

 
 

We can't wait to see what these superstars produce!  Applications for Catalyst Grants are now open. To find out more information, and to apply, click here. 

Glassbreaker Films
Débora Souza Silva awarded Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant

Former filmmaker in residence and current Glassbreaker Films grantee, Débora Souza Silva, was awarded the 2018 Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant from Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina. 

 
Debora Souza Silva Black Mothers

Souza Silva was one of two recipients of the award for her work on Black Mothers. Lucas Habte received the honor with her for Shadow of His Wings. The recipients presented excerpts from their works-in-progress prior to the screening of Minding the Gap, directed by 2017 grant recipient Bing Liu on Saturday, April 7th, 2018 at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. 

 

From Full Frame: 

The Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant was founded in 2007 to support singular new voices in documentary film. Its emphasis is on first-time filmmakers with unconventional training, those making formally challenging work, and those grappling with difficult subjects. Welcoming any background, training or subject, the overriding mission is to support unique filmmaking talents at this crucial moment in their careers.

The grant strives to connect new filmmakers to the larger documentary community. Grantees are invited to the annual festival as special guests, and given the opportunity to take part in one-on-one meetings, work-in-progress screenings, and a range of related activities. Working closely with Full Frame, grant committee members Ian Olds, Rachael Rakes, Thom Powers, and Esther Robinson have built an ongoing support pipeline that helps first-time filmmakers cultivate creative and professional relationships, build their understanding of the industry, and forge lasting networks of industry support as they move toward completion of their first feature film.

 
Glassbreaker Films
Introducing Glassbreakers—Our New Film Series now on Glamour
 
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For International Women's Day, we partnered with Glamour and The Center for Investigative Reporting to release a series of short films that feature portraits of a diverse, powerful group of women making their mark.

This series was led by current Program Director, Aubrey Aden-Buie, through our partnership at CIR. The stories cover a range of incredible women—from a police officer fighting racism within her own department, to a politician touted as the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States, to a 65-year old kitesurfer, and a woman fighting for your online security. They were directed, shot and edited by Aden-Buie, Olivia Loomis Merrion, Emily Harger and Debora Souza Silva, under Executive Producer Amanda Pike, with the help of coordinating producer, Rachel de Leon and intern, Julia Katter. 

Check out the series on Glamour now!

 
Glassbreaker Films
Heroin(e) Nominated for Oscar

“Heroin(e),” the story of three women battling the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, has been nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary short subject. Directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon, the film follows efforts to break the devastating cycle of drug abuse in Huntington, West Virginia, a city with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

The Netflix original documentary was co-produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and Requisite Media. It was part of The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Glassbreaker Films initiative, funded by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, which supported women in documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism.

This is the first Academy Award nomination for Sheldon.

“Being part of the Glassbreaker initiative was an invaluable opportunity to not only get my work funded – a huge barrier to making documentaries – but also an invitation into a supportive, creative and talented collective of women filmmakers and journalists,” Sheldon said. “As an independent documentarian, having the support of my Glassbreaker colleagues, and the editorial and journalistic chops of The Center for Investigative Reporting, had a huge impact on the success of ‘Heroin(e).’ ”

“With Glassbreaker Films, we set out to produce films by powerful women about powerful women,” said Christa Scharfenberg, Reveal’s acting CEO. “As a West Virginia native herself, Elaine brought sensitivity, insight and respect to her story about a community easily ignored by the rest of the country. We are honored that 'Heroin(e)' is being recognized with an Academy Award nomination and grateful for the partnership with Netflix to bring this inspiring film to a worldwide audience.”

 
 

Oscar recipients will be announced during the March 4 broadcast.

“Heroin(e)” is available globally on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80192445

See the full list of Oscar nominations here.

Click here to learn more about Heroin(e)

Glassbreaker Films
Calling women filmmakers
 
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As part of our continued dedication to promote gender parity in documentary filmmaking, Glassbreaker Films is launching its second year, and inviting proposals from female filmmakers, directors and producers for WIP funding. Work-in-Progress (WIP) funding gives filmmakers the ability to produce a piece that provides a look at the story, characters and style of a proposed feature length nonfiction film.

Glassbreaker Films WIP grants provide up to $10,000 to women documentary filmmakers who have a unique story to tell, and are ready to create a WIP that will showcase their storytelling ability to secure financial support for full production.

We accept applications on a rolling basis, with the first deadline for applications Jan. 31, 2018. As part of the grant, Glassbreaker Films supports our grantees with professional development opportunities.

You can apply if you own the copyright of your production and maintain editorial control of your story and you are a citizen or legal resident of the U.S. or its external territories age 18 or older.

WHO WE FUND: We support and encourage women filmmakers to produce stories about issues that impact women in the United States.

WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR: 

  • Broadcast or impactful digital potential through suitability of subject matter and compelling storytelling
  • Powerful narratives around issues that affect women
  • Relevance to a broad audience
  • The capacity to finish the project through realistic attention to the schedule and budget.
  • Previous film or television production experience in a principal production role as director, co-director, producer or co-producer.
  • Filmmakers that have a clear commitment to engage with organizations to access funding

A little more about us: Glassbreaker Films is a female filmmaker initiative launched by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation. We are dedicated to supporting women to be leaders in non-fiction filmmaking by funding films that tell great stories and inspire audiences. To learn more, and to view previous work, check out our website: glassbreakerfilms.org and follow us on Instagram: @glassbreakerfilms.

In addition to the WIP funding described here, the initiative also includes funding for early-career filmmakers through our Catalyst Grants; and funding for the production of feature length documentaries through our WID (Women in Docs) program.

To apply, please fill out this form by Jan. 31.

Questions? Please contact WID Director, Elisa Gambino, at elisa@glassbreakerfilms.org.

Glassbreaker Films
Calling early-career women filmmakers
 
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As part of our continued dedication to promote gender parity in documentary filmmaking, Glassbreaker Films is launching its second year of funding, and inviting proposals from early career female filmmakers, directors and producers for a new initiative called Catalyst Grants.

The Glassbreaker Films Catalyst Grants identify standout early career filmmakers, less than 5 years post college or graduate school with degrees in film and/or journalism. Catalyst Grants allow a diverse group of young filmmakers to conceive of a short, innovative and original digital project to receive funding and mentorship to bring it to life and kick start their career.

All stories must be produced within the US, and funding is capped at $7,000 per grant. Each project must be completed within 2-3 months of funding.

There is not one standard form for these projects (could be anything from a series of 3 character vignettes exploring a topic from different angles, to an interactive website that explores an issue, to a short documentary that also rolls out on Snapchat) but they must be artful and innovative, and there must be proof that they can be produced within the timeline and budget. We’re looking for highly cinematic, character driven storytelling covering topics of social significance to be published on a digital platform. 

You can apply if you own the copyright of your production and maintain editorial control of your story and you are a citizen or legal resident of the U.S. or its external territories age 18 or older.

WHO WE FUND: We support and encourage early career women filmmakers (less than five years post-graduation) to produce stories about issues that impact women in the United States.

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR:

  • Impactful digital potential through suitability of subject matter and compelling storytelling
  • Powerful narratives around issues that affect women
  • Relevance to a broad audience
  • The capacity to finish the project through realistic attention to the schedule and budget.

Filmmakers will be chosen three times throughout the year. The first round of applications is due January 31, 2018. Early applications are encouraged.

A little more about us: Glassbreaker Films is a female filmmaker initiative launched by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation. We are dedicated to supporting women to be leaders in non-fiction filmmaking by funding films that tell great stories and inspire audiences. To learn more, and to view previous work, check out our website: glassbreakerfilms.org and follow us on Instagram: @glassbreakerfilms.

In addition to the catalyst grant funding described here, the initiative also includes development funding for feature length films through our WIP (works-in-progress) funding; and funding for the production of feature length documentaries through our WID (Women in Docs) program.

To apply, please fill out this form by Jan. 31.

Questions? Please contact Catalyst Grant Director, Aubrey Aden-Buie, at aubrey@glassbreakerfilms.org.

Glassbreaker Films
Grieving in a Fishbowl featured by The Atlantic Selects

The Atlantic Selects featured another one of our short films, Grieving in a Fishbowl, by Olivia Merrion. 

From The Atlantic Selects: 

How Survivors of Mass Shootings 'Grieve in a Fishbowl'

Nov 13, 2017

“It’s this horrible curiosity, like a car accident, where everybody has to slow down and look at it.” In Olivia Merrion’s short documentary Grieving in a Fishbowl, produced by the Glassbreaker Films initiative from The Center for Investigative Reporting, survivors of gun massacres recount how the media descended upon them in the wake of the tragedy. They were asked time and again what they saw, how they felt having survived, and why they think it happened. But, as one survivor says in the film, “when the first anniversary [of the shooting] comes around, everyone forgets, and that’s when we need the most help.”

Heather Martin was a senior at Columbine High School in 1999 when two shooters gunned down dozens of her classmates and teachers. To create a space for survivors to talk about their grief and traumatic new realities, she co-founded The Rebels Project, a nationwide support network that connects survivors of mass tragedy to help them process their experiences. Although Martin says she desperately wants the group to stop growing, every year, more members come together under similar tragic circumstances.

 

This Glassbreaker Films short film was produced by Merrion during her residency with The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Glassbreaker Films
Splinter featured The Divided Series

Splinter featured our new series The Divided! 

“The Divided” was part of the Glassbreaker Films collaboration with The Center for Investigative Reporting. It was created by Senior Producer, Aubrey Aden-Buie, and filmmakers in residence Olivia Merrion, Emily Harger and Debora Souza Silva during their year working at CIR, under the guidance of executive producer, Amanda Pike, and with support from coordinating producer, Rachel de Leon.

The series explores hopes, fears and actions that followed the 2016 presidential election. During the past year, our filmmakers traveled the country to meet people affected by issues that divide America. 

You can view the full series at: revealnews.org/article/the-divided/

 
 
Glassbreaker Films