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IS THERE A SOLUTION TO INNERCITY VIOLENCE? Joe Black’s CHICAGO: MY BLOCK, MY RESPONSIBILITY documents the transformation of a Chicago area considered to have the most violence and drug activity in the city. Black and his father helped neighborhood members change the location from deadly to a productive and peaceful community in just six weeks. Have they found a solution to ending the cycle of violence in crime-ridden areas?

Black: “With Chicago violence and the Ferguson, MO protests going on right now, this is what the African American community needs to see.”

CHICAGO: MY BLOCK, MY RESPONSIBILITY is nearly complete.

A SINGULAR DISTINCTION FOR THE UNITED STATES: The United States is the only developed nation that does not guarantee paid leave for mothers. Ky Dickens directs and produces ZERO WEEKS which examines the maternity leave crisis in the US. The film has a social media campaign, #zeroweeks, that asks twitter followers to tweet pictures of themselves declaring how many weeks of paid maternity leave they received.

ZERO WEEKS is currently in production. Dickens hopes to complete it by the end of 2015.

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF HOBO SUBCULTURE: For two months Midwestern filmmaker Tanner Masseth was voluntarily homeless, during which time he traveled through Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California with various homeless youths. TRANSIENTS documents his immersion as he learns the way of life among these young modern-day hobos.

Masseth: “We did everything from freight train hopping, sleeping outside, dumpster diving, and panhandling to get a genuine experience.”

TRANSIENTS is in the early editing phase.

Over the coming weeks I will share more about each of these films. Which one would you like to hear about first? Let me know at loadingdoc.rm@gmail.com

OTHER DOC NEWS

RADICAL GRACE, directed by Rebecca Parrish, screened to a full house at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

ON BEAUTY, produced and directed by Joanna Rudnick with Kartemquin Films, won the Audience Award for short films at the Chicago International Film Festival. The film follows former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti’s campaign to change the way we see the beauty in difference told through the stories of three women with genetic syndromes.

LIFE ITSELF has been nominated for the Gotham Award.

A COUPLE OF DATES:

• January 15, 2015: application deadline for Northwestern’s MFA in Documentary Media program

• December 19, 2014: application deadline for Diverse Voices in Documentary (DVID)

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:

Here’s a little something produced by documentary filmmakers Ian Kibbe and Margaret Byrne.

Do you have anything you would like to share with the Midwest documentary community? Contact me at loadingdoc.rm@gmail.com

Rondell is currently in pre-production on a documentary about the experiences and identity transformation of Iraqi refugee women in the United States. She has completed a documentary short on Bernie's Book Bank, which can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/rondellm.