~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
“This wine is for the love of humanity.
There is no better cause than justice.”
— Pam Starr, Crocker & Starr
It all started over a glass of wine. “The Uncondemned” co-director Michele Mitchell was with wine distributor Josie Zeiger at a wine bar in New York City that is famous for its female master sommelier, brainstorming ideas on how to raise funds to make the documentary.
“A wine auction! Of wines made by women!”
Because winemakers in Napa are asked all the time to donate to charity, Zeiger advised Mitchell to fly to California to meet with them in-person. Mitchell made two trips in February and March 2014, driving through the valley with her younger sister, tasting wine and showing the vintners some footage shot in November.
34 Winemakers Donated for the June 1, 2014 Auction in New York City.
And then Stacey Bressler of Bressler Vineyards told Cathy Buck, owner of the historic Cameo Cinema in downtown St. Helena about the film.
“Let’s do a fundraiser at the Cameo!”
On March 5, 2015, co-directors Mitchell and Nick Louvel brought the rough cut of their documentary to workshop with the women winemakers at the Cameo and raise further funds with a VIP special pour and dinner at Cindy Pawlcyn’s famous Napa restaurant.
“I’ve always been grateful that here in Napa we don’t need to try support our schools by selling brownies at a bake sale. You need to sell a LOT of brownies. Wine is even more delicious and can raise serious cash. It is so gratifying to help you shine a bright light into dark corners and make us all pay attention.”
— Cathy Corison, Corison Winery
“We need to make a wine for the film.”
That was the indomitable Pam Starr in April 2015. She quickly gathered Cathy Corison, Helen Keplinger, Schatzi Throckmorton and Jennifer Williams Porembski to the cause. The aim was to make a wine that could not only be sold to benefit the film but also to make it in time to pour at a private screening hosted by the filmmakers–a screening that would be the first time Witnesses JJ, NN and OO saw the film, and saw it before it ever premiered to the public. That screening was slated for Kigali, Rwanda on June 17th, the anniversary of when the indictment against Jean-Paul Akayesu was historically amended to include the first-ever charges of rape as a crime of war.
“The Uncondemned is a truly special project that we are proud to support. The story of these women’s courage in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and the perseverance of the prosecutors and advocates, who propelled their case through the International Tribunal is powerful and singular. It is this kind of brave storytelling that one can only hope will prevent history from repeating.”
–Schatzi Throckmorton, Relic Wines
The winemakers met on April 24 to create the blend. They met again on May 16 to bottle.
Pulling from their own 2013 barrels and also donating bottles, corks, foils, and more, these five women—five of the top US winemakers—made The Uncondemned Special Red (Oakville): 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% cabernet franc, 9% petite verdot and 1% malbec.
Only 24 cases were made, one of which was consumed on June 17, 2015, by Witnesses JJ, NN, OO and their friends and family in celebration of what humanity can accomplish together.
This post was originally published here.
See more of Michele Mitchell’s Featured Creative posts on our Ideablog
~~~Michele Mitchell is the executive editor and co-founder at Film at Eleven, where she has been director/producer of “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” (OPB/PBS) and executive producer of “Reporting for Duty” (PBS). A Murrow award winning broadcast journalist known for her political investigative work, she is a former correspondent for “NOW with Bill Moyers” (PBS) and was the political anchor at CNN Headline News. She has reported extensively from most of the 50 states, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Michele started her career on Capitol Hill. She is the author of three books, including two regional bestselling novels, and currently writes the “Letter from New York” column for GQ Italia. She is on the board of advisors for the Authors Guild, BYKids and Water is Life. On Twitter as @MicheleFilmAt11
~~~ Nick Louvel directed his first independent feature “Domino One” before graduating from Harvard University in 2003. He went on to work as creative assistant to screenwriter Eric Warren Singer on Sony Pictures’ “The International.” His second directorial feature “Never Die”, a literary documentary, is currently in post-production. He has directed short-form content for clients such as Chase Bank, Emotional Branding Alliance, Howcast, and IFC FIlms. He was the editor of “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” and the editor and director of photography of “The Water War”. On Twitter as @NickLouvel