Tuesday, December 2, 2014

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month:
State videos battle underage drinking.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. A SAMHSA map links to videos produced by U.S. states and territories that seek to prevent underage drinking. Videos also may be viewed according to themes (such as those geared for a postsecondary audience).

Below: Puerto Rico's "Somos Mas" (We Are More) campaign; in a video from the Northern Mariana Islands, a man from Saipan explains how underage drinking led to his addiction to drugs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Winners from the CSWE 2014 Film Festivals.

Between Worlds: Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence (Regina Austin, Shikha Bhattacharjee, Tsedey Bogale, and Tarun Sridharan, Penn Law) has won the CSWE 2014 Virtual Ovation Award from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival, which featured student-produced films that were rated by the audience. Between Worlds highlights issues that can affect the delivery of domestic violence services to immigrants and refugees; these include cultural and language factors, isolation, and economic and legal concerns. The filmmakers have elected to donate their $500 prize to the nonprofit Nationalities Service Center, which provides social, educational, and legal services to immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia area.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (dir. Edgar Barens, UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work), an Oscar-nominated film on prison hospice, has won the CSWE 2014 Audience Choice Award from the 2014 Film Festival at CSWE's Annual Program Meeting in Tampa. Audience members rated the films.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

American Indian Heritage Month: Film Native Silence.

November is National Adoption Month and American Indian Heritage Month. Jane Wells's film Native Silence looks at the cases of Native American children who were placed outside of their tribal culture and their subsequent traumas.

Monday, November 17, 2014

National Adoption Month: Film I Like Adoption.

November is National Adoption Month. The short film I Like Adoption (2013, dir. Mark Baas) profiles the Dennehy family, which includes children from a wide range of countries and children with disabilities.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day/Family Caregivers Mo:
Films The Next Part; Coming Home.

For Veterans Day and Family Caregivers Month, it is a good opportunity to examine research that has studied the effect of caregiving on individuals, recognize out-of-pocket costs incurred by caregivers, and check out resources that can assist social work professionals who work with situations involving caregiving (e.g., older adults, individuals with disabilities). A recent film that shows the stresses on caregivers is The Next Part, in which Kathleen "Kit" Causey cares for her husband, a veteran who lost both legs to an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.

Another film with wounded veterans and their families that was previously featured in the CSWE Film Festival is Coming Home: Families, Courage, and Resilience After Brain Injury (free from the Brain Injury Association of New York State). An article in the summer 2014 issue of the magazine Brain Injury Journey may be of interest to caregivers and helping professionals: "Are We Asking Too Much of Families?" by Marilyn Lash, MSW.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month:
Living With Alzheimer's Film Project.

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. Spearheaded by executive producer David Shenk, the Living With Alzheimer's Project features four short films that seek to portray the responses of families living with Alzheimer's disease, in the hopes of supporting other families in the same situation:

De'mem'bunce (The Remembrance, dir. Roger Ross Williams;
an approach to Alzheimer's is designed for individuals
from NC's Gullah culture who have a proud tradition of self-reliance)

My Little Friends
(dir. Megan Mylan;
older adults with Alzheimer's interact with children)

Let the Band Play On
(dir. Naomi Boak;
a therapeutic dance program has wide-ranging effects)

A Place Called Pluto
(dir. Steve James; a reporter confronts the disease)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winners, Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.

The San Francisco nonprofit Art With Impact (which awards $1000 each month in a contest featuring short, mental health-related films that assist in reducing mental illness stigma) discusses this year's winners of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. Awardees include the following:
  • Owen Davies, Today Is Monday. Featured are the lives of patients (especially older adults with dementia) and staffers of a UK hospital's mental health unit.
  • Kathy Leichter, Here One Day. A filmmaker examines her mother's mental illness and suicide.
  • Tarek Raffoul, Piros Feher Zold (Red White Green). Who will care for a 37-year-old with Down's syndrome when his mother dies?
Today Is Monday (dir. Owen Davies)
Piros Feher Zold (dir. Tarek Raffoul)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Free webinars, CSWE's Recovery to Practice initiative.

Via the Recovery to Practice initiative (which provides mental health recovery-oriented training materials for social work educators and practitioners), CSWE offers a series of free webinars that may be taken for continuing education credit. They provide an introduction of the recovery model to social workers:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bilingual Child Month: World Stories.

October is Celebrate the Bilingual Child Month. World Stories is an online initiative by UK charity KidsOut, which provides children's stories in more than 20 languages that can be read or heard online; they also can be downloaded for later reading or listening.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kudos for films in the CSWE 2014 Film Festival.

Several films in CSWE's 2014 Film Festival have received recent recognition. Catch all the films at CSWE's Annual Program Meeting in Tampa on October 24-26 (see film festival schedule and preview trailer).
  • American Heart (refugee health care, dir. Chris Newberry):
    Regional Emmy winner,Topical Documentary
  • A Civil Remedy (sex trafficking, dir. Kate Nace Day): EMMA Award nominee, National Women's Political Caucus
  • The Invisible War (military sexual assault, dir. Kirby Dick): Emmy winner, Best Documentary; Outstanding Investigative Journalism, Long-Form
  • The Sunnyboy (schizophrenia, dir. Kaye Harrison): Joint winner of the Mental Health Services Broadcast Media Award, Australia/New Zealand (for excellence in mental health services and media coverage)

Straightlaced: Free streaming until Oct 17.

Image from
For Ally Week (a student effort to identify new allies for LGBT youth), GroundSpark is offering free streaming until Oct 17 of its film Straightlaced: How Gender's Got Us All Tied Up (featured in previous CSWE film festivals).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Disability Month: Film Independence to Inclusion.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. The documentary Independence to Inclusion (produced by Twin Cities Public Television with the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities) looks at barriers to full participation in society by individuals with disabilities and their efforts of self-advocacy. It includes the perspective of Nancy Fitzsimons, professor in the Department of Social Work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The film was nominated for a regional Emmy in 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Behind the Screen: The New Black.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring some of the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. The films will be shown at the CSWE Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, FL, on October 24-26, 2014. For schedule, trailers, and film descriptions, visit the film festival Web page.

Coinciding with October's Gay and Lesbian History Month, director Yoruba Richen explains below the background to The New Black, her film that examines issues of race, spirituality, and LGBT equality.

Director Yoruba Richen
As a filmmaker, I am consistently moved by the ability of film to change hearts, sway minds, inspire action, and drive change. I’ve felt this even more acutely over the last year, as I've led the community outreach and audience engagement campaign for my documentary The New Black. The film is an examination of African Americans’ diverse reactions to the issue of marriage equalityand more broadly, the movement for LGBT rightsthrough the prism of the community’s institutional pillar, the Black church. During the 3 years it took me to make The New Blackas I documented the intimate, personal stories of African American clergy, families, and activists on both sides of the fight for gay marriageI knew the film would help shed light on the complex interplay among faith, racial justice, and LGBT inclusion. But I could not have imagined that illuminating those issues would inspire conversations that would lead to small but substantive progress in churches and communities around the country and beyond.

What I’ve learned from folks I’ve met at screenings and who have reached out to bring The New Black to their campuses and communities is that the film itself serves as both a learning and teaching toolone that many people had been yearning for. The national conversation about marriage equality and LGBT rights has rarely addressed intersectionality or the unique issues facing Black LGBT people. That’s particularly troubling when you consider the media’s insistence in portraying the African American community as monolithically homophobica depiction that not only ignores LGBT allies in the Black community, but is tantamount to the erasure of Black LGBT voices. When tensions among the Black community, communities of faith, and LGBT communities are acknowledged, there’s been little effort to get beyond an us-versus-them narrative in favor of a more nuanced examinationpolitical, historical, and sociologicalof where these conflicts arise from and why they persist. You cannot talk about the ways in which African American Christianity affects attitudes toward LGBT rights without a concurrent discussion about the Black church’s historical role as a place of refuge and resistance against racism and oppression. You cannot indict the Black church as a bastion of homophobia without also recognizing the role the evangelical Christian right wing has actively played in perpetuating that homophobia. Mainstream LGBT activists cannot call on Black people to support gay civil rights while ignoring issues like racism, poverty, incarceration, and police brutalityissues that disproportionately impact the Black community overall and affect Black LGBT folks at even more staggering rates. You cannot celebrate the dismantling of DOMA without decrying the defanging of the Voting Rights Act. These are critical, necessary conversations The New Black facilitates, and there is no more timely moment to be having them than now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Behind the Screen: American Heart.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring some of the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. The films will be shown at the CSWE Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, FL, on October 24-26, 2014. For schedule, trailers, and film descriptions, visit the film festival Web page. 

Director Chris Newberry
Director Chris Newberry explains below the background to American Heart, his film on refugee health care. American Heart received a regional Emmy in the "Topical Documentary" category and the Bronze Jury Prize (Feature) in Seattle's Social Justice Film Festival.

In the closing days of 2005, I was introduced to an extraordinary group of people. It was a serendipitous case of a filmmaker (me) looking for a project and a project looking for a filmmaker. I sat down across the table from Dr. Pat Walker, Dr. Bill Stauffer, and author Biloine Young. Little did I know that these extraordinary people would soon be taking me on a 7-year journey into a whole world populated by extraordinary people.  

The original pitch given to me by Drs. Walker and Stauffer was “every patient that walks through our doors has an amazing story to tell” and “don’t you think there’s a documentary film here?”. As it turns out, there were several documentary films. Together, we embarked on what would become known as the Medicine Box Project, in which we documented the health care ups-and-downs of the patients at HealthPartners Center for International Health. The clinic’s patient population consists entirely of immigrants, with a substantial number being the refugees living in the surrounding Midway neighborhoods of St. Paul, MN. These refugees come to Minneapolis/St. Paul from all over the world, and the metro area boasts one of the most robust and diverse contingents of refugees in North America. 

The clash that arises when an influx of newcomers arrives in a place like Minnesotain the “American heartland”is nothing new, but it comes into clear focus when these newcomers interact with complex American institutions, and no institution is more complex than the American health-care system.   

Over the course of several years, the Medicine Box Project spawned four short documentaries, all of which are widely used in health-care education and outreach, but I knew I wanted to do something more with the material.  I had always wanted to tell a personal story of real individualssomething that the public at large could appreciate and be touched by. I wanted to make a feature-length documentary and thus began the making of what that would become American Heart. So, I turned my attention to “casting”that is, seeking out a handful of patients whose stories could be told in an intimate way.

The stars aligned when, in a matter of a few months in 2007, I met three men that would open up their lives to me: Alex Gliptis, a refugee who fled violence in Ethiopia in the early 1980s; Patrick Junior, a member of an oppressed ethnic minority (the Karen people) in Burma; and Thor Lem, a former political prisoner who suffered under the Khmer Rouge in 1970s Cambodia.   

Each one of them had a backstory filled with harrowing journeys and heart-breaking lossthe kinds of heavy burdens that a person carries with himself or herself for a lifetime. But that is not all that connects these three men. They also face, over the course of the film, a jaw-dropping series of life-threatening health emergencies. This may sound like the makings for an exposé of the health-care system’s failings. And at times, it seemed like I might be documenting the health care fits-and-starts that would inevitably lead to three unhappy endings.   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Preview, CSWE 2014 Film Festival.

Musician Jeremy Oxley, from
The Sunnyboy (dir. Kaye Harrison.
This Australian film on schizophrenia
will have its U.S. premiere at the
CSWE 2014 Film Festival) 
Take a sneak peek below at the films that will be screened at the CSWE 2014 Film Festival in Tampa, FL, on October 24-26. Its subjects range from adoption, alcoholism, and refugee health to military sexual assault, sex trafficking, and older adults tackling technology.

Want to view the schedule, trailers, and film descriptions? Visit our Film Festival Web page.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Behind the Screen: A Civil Remedy

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring some of the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. The films will be shown at the CSWE Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, FL, on October 24-26, 2014. For schedule, trailers, and film descriptions, visit the film festival Web page.

Director and Suffolk University Law School professor Kate Nace Day explains below the background to A Civil Remedy, her film on sex trafficking that has been nominated for an EMMA Award (presented by the National Women's Political Caucus). 

The story of sex trafficking involves vulnerability, violence, entrenched inequalities, a shocking profitability, and the failure of law. Over the past decade, the stories of victims and survivors have emerged in published books and texts, Hollywood feature films, investigative news reports, and video advocacy projects. But it was a sex-trafficking documentary film that came into my law school classroom, charged with empathy and shock, a form of human vision. It was a gift. 

I experienced the power of documentary to bring us back from law’s language to the living world—from the abstract to the real, from the general to the personal and particular, from the shadow of law’s indifference back toin Eudora Welty’s words“each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.” Sex trafficking then became the subject, documentary the form of my challenge to law’s own vision, law’s own way of knowing. 

Read in appellate court opinions, performed in courtrooms, perpetuated in classrooms, law’s stories take the form of dialogue, a highly structured exchange of questions and answers that often translates the messy details of human stories—bodies, emotions, social contexts, and moral doubts—into apparently neutral and universal stories of written texts, precedent, and authority. Law’s stories say simply, “this is what law is.”   

I made A Civil Remedy to render visible what law does. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

See the films in the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival.

September 19 is the deadline to view, rank, and discuss the six films selected for the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival. The festival’s student-produced films focus on areas such as disability, homelessness, sexual assault and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the military, and domestic violence experienced by immigrant women. The winner of the Virtual Ovation Award—the top-ranked film of the festival, as determined by the audience—will receive a $500 prize.

How to Participate
  1. Sign into or register for Google+
  2. Go to "Communities"
  3. Search for "CSWE Film Festivals" and click on the Film Festival logo
  4. Click on "Ask to Join"
Once you are a member of the community, you will be able to view the films and complete the rating sheets online. The festival is expected to run until mid-September.

Questions? E-mail CSWE.

(Below: Clip from Between Worlds: Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence, one of the films in the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Official selection, CSWE 2014 Film Festival.

Take a sneak peek at the 12 films selected for the CSWE 2014 Film Festival that will be held at the Annual Program Meeting in Tampa in October. The annual film festival is part of CSWE’s ongoing efforts to showcase multimedia tools for social work educators that can enhance teaching and learning of social work concepts. The film topics featured in this year’s festival range from mental illness stigma and military sexual assault to LGBT issues in the African American community and older adults tackling technology. Audrey Geyer (director of Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience) earned her MSW from the NYU Silver School of Social Work, and Edgar Barens (filmmaker of the Oscar-nominated Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall) is a visiting media specialist at the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Below: The trailer for Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists, one of the films selected for the CSWE 2014 Film Festival

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Make a Difference to Children Month: The Children's Bureau.

As July is Make a Difference to Children Month, it's fitting to remember the plight of young children that contributed to the establishment of the Children's Bureau in 1912.

1916 Children's Bureau Poster, Library of Congress

As this Children's Bureau poster from 1916 makes clear, a significant portion of deaths of children under age 2 was largely preventable. As Paul H. Stuart discusses in CSWE's Women and Children First: The Contribution of the Children's Bureau to Social Work Education, the bureau placed a high priority on initiatives involving maternal health and the health of the young child.

This concern is reflected in the 1919 film Our Children, commissioned by the bureau to promote children's health and shown in many rural areas in the United States.

Women & Children First,
ed. Alice Lieberman and
the late Kristine Nelson (CSWE Press)
Julia Lathrop,
first chief of
the Children's Bureau
(Library of Congress
In these remarks of April 9, 1962, on the occasion of the bureau's 50th anniversary, President John F. Kennedy noted the improvement in the child mortality rate when he stated that fewer than 3 babies out of 100 died in infancy (as compared to 10 in every 100 in 1912). In 2013, the rate was 6.05 deaths in every 1,000 births.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Behind the Screen: The Camouflage Closet.

Producer Heliana Ramirez
Director Michael Nedelman
Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Contact us to learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience.

In this month celebrating LGBT pride, producer Heliana Ramirez describes below the making of The Camouflage Closet, the film directed by Michael Nedelman that focuses on the resilience of LGBT veterans who have experienced discrimination, PTSD, and trauma. 

The Camouflage Closet is a documentary about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) veterans with PTSD, trauma, and recovery. Directed by Stanford medical student Michael Nedelman and produced by Heliana Ramirez, LISW (a social welfare PhD student at UC Berkeley), this film incorporates the firsthand perspectives of LGBT veterans, who were provided with cameras, tools, and training to create video narratives. It also features an original score by composer and UC Berkeley PhD student Andrew V. Ly.

The production team decided to adapt the Videovoice method to create The Camouflage Closet (Wang and Burris, 1997; Wang & Pies, 2008; Catalani et. al., 2012). By providing participants with necessary equipment and instructive videomaking sessions, this production template is meant to accomplish the goals of (1) encouraging positive social change, especially for marginalized communities; (2) understanding the needs and strengths of these communities; and (3) empowering these communities through art. Videovoice has been used widely for its potential to enable participants to describe their own lived experiences, resulting in uniquely poignant and detailed information—as opposed to being defined by outside parties. This is particularly meaningful for a population rendered virtually invisible by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) and other military policies that are anti-LGBT.

The Film Process
The production process consisted of three concurrent phases. In phase I (individual filming phase), participants learned the basics of how to use the camera and what it meant to film responsibly—from obtaining signed releases, to being aware of their own personal triggers and limits in discussing PTSD and potentially traumatic experiences. During 1-week camera loans, participants chose the content they wanted to film and which clips they wanted to share with the group.

During phase II (group discussion phase), participants met at VA Palo Alto to discuss their colleagues’ clips, offer positive feedback, and engage in creative exercises. These exercises ranged from “Incorporating Archival Material” to “Using Music to Tell a Story,” which allowed the participants time to brainstorm, learn storytelling skills, build confidence, and process emotional responses to filmed content. This enabled the project leaders, Ramirez and Nedelman, to come to understand each participant’s unique voice and vision for his or her contribution to the final product.

In phase III (collaborative phase), each participant had the opportunity to meet with the director and producer for individual filming sessions, meant to expound upon the topics they had previously identified and to tie together the loose ends of the narrative. New edits of the video, as well as Ly’s original musical compositions, were brought back to the group’s weekly meetings, allowing the team to evaluate the look, feel, and overall message of the film in keeping with the veterans’ vision. So that a range of stories and styles of storytelling could be included, the film was edited as a series of vignettes addressing topics such as military sexual trauma (MST), lives before the military, and individual recovery narratives.

Approaches to Dealing With Trauma
The challenge of creating a film that directly addresses PTSD and trauma is that film participants often were accessing traumatic memories they had not dealt with directly for several years. Additionally, many of the veterans had not shared their traumas with anyone else and were at risk of being triggered by their peers’ stories of trauma.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Behind the Screen:
I'm Not Looking for Coins, I'm Looking for Change.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Contact us to learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience.

Filmmaker A-Nam Nguyen (left) explains below the background to I'm Not Looking for Coins, I'm Looking for Change, the film on homelessness that she made with fellow Rutgers student Dominique Turner.

I was taking the class “Race Gender Nation” as part of my capstone requirement for the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) program at Rutgers University. That class helped me to understand the concept of “othering,” where people would remove themselves from people who are different based upon their personal or societal criteria. This act serves as a form of oppression to the people being othered. I also was involved in a campus Christian group that would visit New York City to help the homeless people there. I realized that we did not recognize the needs of the homeless people in New Brunswick, NJ. I started to ask why student organizations always thought of providing services for places outside of their own community, when the local residents also needed a lot of help. That troubled me, and I set out to create a social action project on homelessness in New Brunswick as part of the IWL program.  
An opportunity to study filmmaking via a filmmaking learning community provided me with technical skills such as learning Final Cut Pro and operating a camera. I became acquainted with Dominique Turner when we were moved to another campus after Hurricane Sandy. Dominique told me that, due to our experience of relocation, she could relate to the idea of being homeless and feeling helpless in such situations. Her ability to see that homelessness could affect anyone led her to join me in my project to create a film about homelessness. 

Much groundwork had to be done before we could begin filming. I would go to the local soup kitchen at dinner time, where I would sit with strangers, talk to them about my project, and explain my interest for helping homeless people gain a voice in the community. Most people were more than willing to share their experiences, but nearly all of them did not want to be filmed. They had no objection to having their voices recorded on audio, but being on camera meant that they would be identified as homeless—not something they found acceptable. I often wondered if I would ever find the subject for my film. 

Dominique Turner films Jill Tice feeding cats for
I'm Not Looking for Coins, I'm Looking for Change
I also needed to do research on homelessness as well as connect with local professionals who worked with homeless individuals and experts on homelessness. I spoke with campus faculty and staff, personnel at a county nonprofit devoted to ending homelessness, staff at local shelters, and a pastor who had written a book on the subject. One of these individuals suggested establishing a speakers’ bureau on campus. As part of my social action project, I helped organize a panel in 2012 on homelessness, which was attended by 100 people. Jill Tice was one of two homeless persons on the panel. I asked her if she would consider becoming the subject of my documentary, and she said that she would be more than happy to help me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Military social work: Combat Fatigue Irritability (1945).

May is National Mental Health Month and Military Appreciation Month. In 1945, Gene Kelly directed and starred in Combat Fatigue Irritability, which told the story of a sailor experiencing PTSD. Psychoanalyst Kerry Kelly Novick, the daughter of Gene Kelly, discusses the film on the National Library of Medicine's Circulating Now Web page.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Behind the Screen: The Suicide Disease.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Contact us to learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience. 

Filmmakers Katie Mattie, Vincent Moore, and Will Neal explain below the story behind their film The Suicide Disease, which portrays the effects of Trigeminal Neuralgia on the life of Notre Dame alumnus Frances Shavers.

From left: George Horn, husband of film subject Frances Shavers;
filmmakers Katie Mattie and Vincent Moore;
Shavers (with service dog Hannah); and filmmaker Will Neal
Vincent: As a former graduate and employee of Notre Dame, Frances Shavers has long-time ties with the university and was acquainted with Ted Mandell, a documentary filmmaking professor at Notre Dame. In mid-2013, Frances approached Ted in hopes of assembling a team that would help to document her story as she underwent treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). When Ted asked us to be a part of the project, we jumped at the opportunity. The production process was a learning process in itself; not only was this the first time we had made a true documentary but also it was the first time that we had heard of the disease.

Will: In the beginning, we knew as much about TN as a Wikipedia page could offer.

Vincent: We had to do a good amount of research on the disease. Because of the uniqueness of Frances’s condition, it was difficult to find relevant information through conventional sources, so a lot of our research was in the form of one-on-one interviews with Frances and her doctors. 

Will: First, we wanted to build a friendship with Frances and George to establish trust and let them know that, above all things, we wanted to respect their privacy. Frances helped us through every step of the process, especially in helping us understand the nature of her disease. We knew simply showing Frances’s attacks weren’t enough for the audience to understand TN. We also understood that we didn’t need to explain every medical detail as well, so the challenge was finding a balance in order to keep the facts simple, yet informative. Thanks to Frances’s confessional video (displayed throughout the documentary), we were able to elevate the audience’s comprehension of TN as well as form an emotional connection.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Behind the Screen: Housing First in the Arctic.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Contact us to learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience. 

Filmmaker and MSW student Cory Gordon explains below the background to Housing First in the Arctic, her film highlighting homelessness in Alaska of individuals with mental illness.

Filmmaker Cory Gordon
In fall 2012, I started my master’s of social work program at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). As part of the program, we had to choose practicum placements. I wanted to work in a setting where I could combine my film skills with my passion for serving people who experience severe mental illness. My adviser recommended the Housing and Homeless Program of Anchorage Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS). ACMHS is Alaska’s largest mental health provider. 

I interviewed with Corrine O’Neill, the housing clinical manager and the housing expert in my film. She was open to the idea, and we signed a practicum contract later that week. In the first semester, I learned about all the different aspects of the program. My main role at that time was to do outreach to individuals in shelters and homeless camps in Anchorage who were experiencing a severe mental illness (SMI). I assessed them to see if they could benefit from services. It was a profoundly moving experience to meet people sleeping in the snow and in the overcrowded shelters. 

One of my proudest achievements was building a rapport with a young man who had spent years on the streets and was debilitated by his mental illness. I was able to introduce this man to a case manager who found him permanent housing and connected him with wraparound services. This client’s story is not unusual; I saw many individuals get help through ACMHS and the Housing First (HF) model.

The HF model is an innovative approach to house those who are chronically homeless and have a severe mental illness or co-occurring addictions. The HF model provides people with housing without expectation of psychiatric or substance abuse treatment. Research shows that it is an effective way to serve individuals, which also saves money for communities.

By the end of the first semester, I knew that I wanted to create a film to show the HF model as a solution to homelessness for the SMI population in Anchorage. I also wanted to show how ACMHS helps Anchorage’s most vulnerable people and to give a face and voice to homelessness in the community. This was very important to me because individuals who are homeless and experience an SMI and/or substance abuse disorder are highly stigmatized. It was especially important that I create a film that could educate and influence people’s perceptions of HF, because at that time in the community, there was great deal of resistance to new HF facilities.


Sidebar: Cory Gordon's Advice to Social Work Students New to Filmmaking

Monday, April 21, 2014

Call for entries, CSWE 2014 Film Festival.

Filmmakers can now submit films related to social work for consideration for the CSWE 2014 Film Festival. The festival will be held at the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in Tampa, FL, from October 24-26, 2014. The following links may be useful:

• General information
Official entry form

Not sure if a film is suitable? Review the Official Selection for the CSWE 2013 Film Festival and the Official Selection for the CSWE 2012 Virtual Film Festival. The deadline for entries is June 6, 2014.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New from CSWE: Integrated Arts & Media in Social Work Education.

Now posted on the CSWE website are two lesson plans that feature multimedia elements and oral histories:
  • Lesson Plan: Multimedia Social Justice Project
  • Media Engagement: Diverse Older Adults who Overcame Discrimination

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Official selection, CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival.

View clips from the six films selected for the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival, featuring talented student filmmakers from University of Alaska, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Stanford, and U-Penn who focus on topics ranging from domestic violence and disability to homelessness and experiences of LGBT veterans.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Students: Enter the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival.

Students can now enter their films related to social work in the CSWE 2014 Virtual Film Festival, with a chance for a $500 prize if their film is selected for the festival. Full details and entry form are on the festival Web page. The submission deadline is February 26.

Want to see clips from the films of the talented students in last year's festival and the trailer for the Virtual Ovation Award winner? Visit the Official Selection page from the 2013 Virtual Film Festival.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aging/gerontology: Short films on Ralph Baer, Ernest Nussbaum.

Social work educators and others seeking teaching tools in aging/gerontology may be interested in photographer-filmmaker David Friedman's two short films from his series on inventors: one on gaming pioneer Ralph Baer (age 91) and another on Prakticello inventor Ernest Nussbaum (age 85).