As a lifelong media junkie, I despair at how much junk assaults us in the name of “news.” And ironically, the bigger the production budgets, the more likely it is that the content will skew superficial, the better to be “advertising-friendly.” So, in this cultural context of warped values and eroding commitment to the public’s need-to-know, Film at 11 is a standout source of quality journalism that is “responsibly rogue.” With enormous determination, they have achieved the seemingly impossible: self-financing hard-hitting award-winning documentaries on some of the biggest issues confronting global citizens today. Uncomfortable storylines with uncomfortable visuals that no one wants to talk about that are not remotely “advertising-friendly.” In “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” they dared to question where the millions of disaster relief funds are actually going. Their most recent production, “The Uncondemned,” recounts the first time when rape was successfully prosecuted as a war crime in 1997, a story that unfortunately remains all too timely and I predict will foment a turning point in pubic awareness and international law. It has already inspired grass-roots support from strangers around the world like I’ve never seen before. And we’re now allowed to reveal that the “The Uncondemned” has received the Hamptons International Film Festival 2015 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film on Conflict and Resolution.
I have known Film at 11’s Executive Producer Michele Mitchell since she was on CNN three-times daily as a political correspondent. She read from her first book at one of my downtown storytelling showcases (don’t ask me how she found the time to write!). Even those decades ago, her ambitions were always to delve deeper into meaningful stories. In Nick Louvel, she found a visual talent to complement her verbal talent; they were a co-directing team dynamic duo. They went on many shoots in dangerous places that often lacked infrastructure basics and when they came back to NY, they then endured many sleepless marathon film editing sessions. Given all they survived, it’s the most terrible tragedy that after dropping off their film for their world premiere screening on September 24th, Nick died in a car crash.
So we dedicate this week’s Featured Creative series to Nick Louvel’s extraordinary legacy, which would have been impressive for anyone of any age, but is all the more so given his premature death at 34. Film at 11 will never be the same without him, but losing Louvel has redoubled their commitment to honoring his passion for their idealistic mission: that the world needs more powerful movies to be agents of positive change. Once you see any Film at 11 production–especially “The Uncondemned”–I am confident that you will be processing your discomfort by asking yourself, “How can I personally contribute to making the world a better place?” What better impact could anyone ever hope to have? ~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
Before there was “The Uncondemned,” there was “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?”: “Through interviews with the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, anthropologists, aid experts and more, this fascinating hour uses the situation in Haiti to explore how disaster aid really works, why it often doesn’t, and which organizations are the most effective on the ground. We walked hundreds of camps, twice, and, we let the Haitians tell their own story, especially a 25-year-old mother of two small children, Wilna Vital.” ~Film at 11, found here
Ideasmyth was honored to present a screening of the film on March 11, 2014 at 61 Local in Brooklyn. But more importantly, screenings of the film have taken place for such important audiences as the Haiti task force of the Congressional Black Caucus and the people of Port-au-Prince, Haiti (photos of both are below).
~~~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