28 May 2008

Grand Finale Bosnia

After two successful private screenings of "A Powerful Noise" in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., we finished our tour of the US in Chicago and Atlanta. These last two screenings were even more special because Nada, our main character in Bosnia, was in town for both showings. This was her first trip to the US and it was amazing to see her a year later. Her smile and strong will still remains when it comes to rebuilding her community in Eastern Bosnia and taking care of her family.

In Chicago, our screening took place at the great art house cinema, The Gene Siskel Center. The old, refurbished theater house was an elegant and premier setting to screen the film in the heart of downtown. After a wonderful introduction from actress Sharon Lawrence, the film played flawlessly on the big screen. There was a real buzz in the theater after the screening as a standing ovation greeted Nada as she walked to the front of the theater. The enthusiasm spilled over into a great Q&A and we really had time to engage on the women's empowerment movement as a solution to global poverty. Nada showcased the handcrafted work of her group, and in a small sign of solidarity, her table of goods were bought out by the audience.

The next morning we were all on a plane to our final screening in our hometown of Atlanta. We sold out the 400 seat theater at the Atlanta History Center, and the standing ovation after the film for Nada really was the cherry on top of the enthusiasm sundae. Nada told me afterwards that her knees were shaking all the way to the front of the stage and she had never been recognized before for her hard, selfless work. And this is what this film and movement is all about--recognizing the everyday heroism of women around the world. Nada's daily grind to ensure equality and ethnic unity is a struggle and this simple act of appreciation after the film is a shot of energy to her work and thousands of other women around the world.

It has been very rewarding to feel such warmth and consistent reaction to the film. Audiences are genuinely moved and ready to join this growing movement to empower women. We all have a chance to be an integral part of this movement and I hope everybody joins up. Support individual women's groups. Be a part of an international aid organization. Sign on to pass influential legislation. Build awareness in your communities. There is truth in the tag line to the film - THE IMPACT OF ONE VOICE. THE POWER OF MANY.

Thank you for everyone's support!

22 May 2008

A Powerful Noise to screen at SILVERDOCS

SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival

Friday, June 20 @ 5:15PM

AFI Silver Theatre
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910


SILVERDOCS 2008 will present 108 films representing 63 countries selected from 1,861 submissions with six World, eight North American, six US and seven East Coast Premieres and two retrospective programs. Now in its sixth year, SILVERDOCS and its concurrent International Documentary Conference honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to enhance our understanding of the world.

16 May 2008

Meg Ryan says A POWERFUL NOISE is the "real spirit of the women's empowerment movement"

"This movie is about three women who transformed their personal pain, changed their own lives, and in so doing transformed the lives of everyone around them; their families, their communities, their worlds. What struck me most watching it was just how powerful and contagious one person's transformation can be. The Power of One is personal transformation. The Power of One is contagious. The Power of One is "A Powerful Noise" .

'Better to light one candle than curse the darkness,' Mother Theresa said. I've always thought what she meant by it was instead of complaining about how rotten everything is, just do one good thing. Certainly a profound enough sentiment. But I'm starting to suspect that as usual I sort of missed it and what she really meant was something far deeper. Maybe she was suggesting that if I'm unhappy with the way the world is, the best thing I can do to change it, is change myself. Strike my own match and light my own candle, own my disowned parts, love what I think unlovable about me, transform my own life and stop pointing out what's wrong with everything else.

As one woman in the film says, 'Educate a man, you educate a man. Educate a woman, you educate a village. Educate a village and you educate a nation.' Women are highly contagious and we are the most underused and undervalued natural resources on this Earth. As a woman lights up so does her world. As an individual flowers so does her world. Each one of the women in the film is highly contagious. Each one of us is highly contagious. For me this is the real spirit of the women's empowerment movement. The Power of One is a power each of us has. The Power of One is the Power of Many. The Power of One is "A Powerful Noise" ."

14 May 2008

Reactions from the Road

Since premiering at Tribeca, we’ve taken "A Powerful Noise" on the road. It’s our own mini-tour, so to speak. Our goal is to introduce the film to select audiences and build a base of supporters who can carry forth the message of this film and engage others to see it, embrace it and promote it.

On a rainy Monday night in Washington, DC, we held a small private screening at the Motion Picture Association of America. What better place to kick off our tour than at the headquarters of an organization that serves as the voice and advocate of American films? Among those in attendance at our MPAA screening were Ted Leonsis, producer of NANKING and KICKIN’ IT, Ambassador Diop of Mali, Ambassador Turkovic of Bosnia, Paul Dobrainsky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Advisor for Women’s Empowerment for Secretary Rice, and Congressman Jim Moran. The film was really embraced by the audience and sparked discussion about the importance of screening "A Powerful Noise" at the State Department and for members “on the hill.” I agree, it’s vital that we make a powerful noise to the leaders in our nations capital who direct the funding and policies of U.S. foreign aid. We will certainly work to make that screening happen through the connections we made that evening.

Two nights later, we were in our nation’s entertainment capital, Los Angeles. How would some of Hollywood’s elite react to our film with no stars, no English and no script? I admit to having thought about this on more than one occasion. Creative Artists Agency screened the film in their Ray Kurtzman Theater for about 150 invited guests. The night was warmly kicked off with beautiful remarks from Meg Ryan, one of the co-hosts. We had prepared a welcoming statement for Meg to read, but she said that after watching the DVD, she was inspired to put her own feelings about the film into words. Never have I been happier to hear someone throw out the script and speak from the heart. I was truly touched by Meg’s description of the film and consider it a compliment that she took time to frame it her own way. The LA audience really connected with the film also and most of them stayed afterwards discussing the issues at a wonderful reception sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Next stop on our tour is Chicago. Stay tuned!

05 May 2008

Tribeca Success

It has been a crazy 5 days since the premiere of "A Powerful Noise" and the reception we received at Tribeca was fabulously overwhelming. The premiere was sold out and the film was met with a standing ovation. It was spectacular and a dream come true. Most importantly, when I announced Madame Urbain from Mali was in attendance for the Q&A... well, the place erupted. That was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life as a filmmaker. To see the inspiration people latched onto because of Madame Urbain's power in the film was an amazing tribute to an amazing woman.

Another rewarding moment has been the consistent audience response. Scott and I had a plan going into production that we would differentiate our film by getting strong visuals, allow our characters to tell their stories in their own voice, and use music to link our women heroines together. Everyone seems to be responding to all of those elements in the film, and it is wonderful when a plan comes together. As documentary filmmakers, we cannot plan what happens, but we can give the production a creative vision and focus to keep the narrative cohesive. I am proud of that accomplishment and I share it with our wonderful crew.

Tribeca Film Festival (l-r) Scott Thigpen, Sheila Johnson, Dr. Helene Gayle, Ed Burns, Christy Turlington Burns, Tom Cappello
The final satisfaction came Sunday night as one of the last screenings of Tribeca, "A Powerful Noise" sold out Tribeca's second biggest theater at Village East. We figured most people would have packed it in by then or would go see the award winners, but I was happy to see such an enthusiastic crowd. Most people stayed for the Q&A, and it was the most lively discussion of the festival. People are really engaging with the film and that bodes well as we distribute this film wider. With such an enthusiastic response, I now like to affectionately think of "A Powerful Noise" as Tribeca's Closing Night Film. Thanks for everyone's support. More good news to follow in the coming weeks. Tribeca was a fantastic launching pad!