2011 NYC Producers Institute Projects

Past Producers Institutes: 2012 | 2011: Summer | 2011: NYC | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | THE STREAM

Jump to project: AXS Map | Brooklyn the Game | I Live Here | Outspoken | Promise Tracker | Standing Our Ground



When I Walk

By Jason DaSilva with Leigh Dasilva, Alice Cook and Anselm Hook

NGO Partner: When I Walk, Inc, and MIUSA

When I Walk is a point-of-view feature-length documentary about how Jason’s world changed after he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005. The film paints a picture of what it is like to live with MS – from the symptoms, day-to-day challenges and available support systems -- to the challenging, complicated personal experiences faced by the filmmaker living with a disabling chronic illness while pursuing a creative career and a busy, full life as a working artist. At the Institute, the team designed and built a web platform and browser extension for the Yelp API, a video-enabled mobile and augmented reality mapping tool of all accessible businesses in New York City, This team intends to seriously change the face of accessibility, and create a story-activated tool for next gen mobility.

Brooklyn the Game

Lasting Scars

By Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean with Fivel Rothberg, Laurie Sumiye and Alyssa Katz

NGO Partner: Pratt Center for Community Development

Lasting Scars is about the largely invisible way that private economic elites are reshaping cities along lines of race and class in the 21st century. The story is told through the eyes of Director Kelly Anderson who, despite her white “gentrifier” status, finds herself increasingly unable to afford the Brooklyn neighborhoods she has long called home. When conflict ensues over a plan to remake the historically black Fulton Mall, a profitable shopping district and beloved social and cultural hub, local tensions mount and Anderson is prompted to investigate neighborhood change more deeply. Only when she begins to unravel connections between her changing backyard and deeper historical patterns of urban investment and disinvestment do the ultimate forces driving the transformation of today’s cities emerge. The film’s ultimate question becomes how to restore democracy to a planning process that has been hijacked by the interests of a privileged few. At the Producers' Institute, the team developed Brooklyn: The Game, which will invite participants to tour Brooklyn neighborhoods using their smart phones to explore the rich and diverse history of Brooklyn, understand how it's being threatened by top-down megadevelopment projects, and what they can do to get involved.

I Live Here


By Judith Helfand with David Cohen, Orrin Williams with Yuko Uchikawa

NGO Partner: Center for Urban Transformation

Cooked, a feature documentary film and engagement campaign, uses the 1995 Chicago heat wave to explore the politics of disaster. Peabody award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand takes the story from Chicago, 1995, when 739 people died in a single week, most of them poor, elderly and/or African American -- to the present and into the new world of disaster preparedness, a new growth industry. The film asks big questions and imagines best-case scenarios, the kind every U.S. city should be asking and striving for. What if poverty were treated as an emergency? At the Institute, Judith and her team utilized the Ushahidi API to design and build I LIVE HERE, a new kind of crisis map for neighborhoods in transition. I LIVE HERE is designed to track and share on-the-ground community development projects, providing a platform that integrates locally and nationally crowd-sourced and geolocated images and interactive video stories and step-by-step toolkits for neighborhood renewal projects. With I LIVE HERE, crisis mapping turns into solutions mapping. Based in the South Side Chicago community of Englewood that lost a disproportionate number of residents during the heat wave, the map’s hyper-local interface will be customizable for any neighborhood in any city across the country.


The Truth Will Set You Free

By Macky Alston with Sandy Itkoff, Jeannine Caunt, and Susan Reed

NGO Partner: Auburn Theological Seminary, Human Rights Commission

The Truth Will Set You Free focuses on Bishop Gene Robinson and a host of others whose lives hang in the balance of the church/state battles for LGBT equality. Gene is the first openly gay partnered person to be consecrated a bishop in the three largest high church traditions of Christendom (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican). His historic elevation by the Episcopal Church in America in June 2003 has caused controversy within the worldwide Anglican Communion and a constant stream of death threats to Bishop Robinson and his family. It has also changed the global landscape of religion and public life and the change continues daily. At the Institute, the team will created OutSpoken, a tool for LGBT peopledesigning a mobile web video “help desk” for coming out in communities of faith. The platform will offer tools and stories to help young people and others speak to their families and congregations about being LGBT. Integrating the YouTube Direct API and instant messaging, any one looking for support or strategies to start conversations about being LGBT will be able to access services and real-time support.

Promise Tracker

An American Promise

By Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster with Ivory Toldson and Takaaki Okada

NGO Partner: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

In 1999, filmmakers and parents Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson decided to turn the camera on themselves and their family to document the twelve year journey they take as their effort to provide the best education possible for their African American son, Idris. He along with his friend, Seun, start kindergarten together at a prestigious independent prep school in New York City. Their parents had high hopes for what this school would mean for Idris and Seun's future, but also a keen sense of what they might be missing in a predominantly white environment. As the years unfold, we catch a rare glimpse into the complex universal issues that challenge African American boys from their earliest experiences in school, set against the backdrop of the nationwide racial achievement gap in education, when more than 50% of African American males do not graduate high school. At the Institute, in partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the American Promise team developed their Promise Campaign, including a networked mobile web tool called the Promise Tracker, designed to support and empower parents via text messaging, online diaries, and geo-social networking.

Standing Our Ground

Dear Mandela

By Christopher Nizza and Dara Kell with Chris Caruso and Tony Walsh

NGO Partner: The Poverty Initiative

When the South African government tries to ‘eradicate the slums’ by evicting thousands of shack dwellers from their homes, three young friends who live in Durban’s vast shantytowns refuse to be moved. Dear Mandela follows them from their shacks to the highest court in the land as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in an inspiring social movement. In a world where over 1 billion largely forgotten people live in slums, Dear Mandela is a window into the untold stories of shack dwellers and provides new perspectives on resisting eviction and reclaiming dignity. At the Producers Institute, the team partnered with the Poverty Initiative to build Standing Our Ground, a tool for providing direct aid and information to victims of forced evictions around the world, The team created a web, mobile and SMS platform (using the opensource Frontline SMS code) to provide urgent legal and logistical information to communities on-the-ground. This “Resistance Toolkit” represents the first interactive media solution for the global housing rights movement.