SotU May Begin Inroads, but U.S. Is Still at ZERO WEEKS

SotU May Begin Inroads, but U.S. Is Still at ZERO WEEKS

After the State of the Union Address, I asked Ky Dickens, director of ZERO WEEKS, why the United States is so far behind most of the world in progressive maternal/paternal leave policies.

“The US is behind on this issue for historical reasons," Dickens says. "After WWII, Europe lost so many of their male citizens in the war that they needed women to both work and procreate in order to boost their productivity and populations. In order to make this possible, European countries had to create policies that made it easy for women to be in the work force – and family leave policies one huge part of this."

"What’s perplexing, however, is that every other developed nation - except for the United States – has followed suit," Dickens continued. "Pakistan and Mexico guarantee 12 paid weeks of leave, Hungary guarantees 24 paid weeks of leave, Canada guarantees 50 paid weeks of leave, Venezuela guarantees 18 weeks. You can look at any country in the world and they’re doing better than we are on this issue."

Dickens says that the policies in place in the United States force families to make difficult choices.

“Over 86% of Americans support the idea of paid family leave so the support is there," Dickens says. "Yet our policies are forcing people to choose between their families and their financial stability. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and join the rest of the world in embracing the reality that workers have families. Every political cycle has politicians and voters rallying behind the importance of families yet they aren't backing this legislation that could have the most tangible benefit for families across every demographic, class and race. It’s a no-brainer.”

Take a look at the film’s Facebook page here.

What Happens When School is Out for Good?

Rachel Dickson’s CLOSED FOR GOOD is raising finishing funds through the 3 Arts Program that supports Chicago artists. Rachel is Supervising Producer of THE SCHOOLS PROJECT. She is working with editor Nora Gully who has worked on documentary films ranging from the Academy Award nominated FINDING VIVIAN MAIER to THE INTERRUPTERS.

The film follows two families, one from Humboldt Park, the other from North Lawndale, as their public schools close. What are the social and emotional tolls when a community is upended? And how will the needs of the children be met?

More on the project here.

World Premiere at Hot Docs

Congratulations to the Radical Grace team, including first-time director, Rebecca Parrish, producer Nicole Bernardi-Reis and Kindling Group. The film which has its World Premier at Hot Docs on April 28, follows three nuns who were censured by the Catholic Church for their “radical feminism.” Each nun – Sister Simone, Sister Chris, and Sister Jean -- follow their calling in the fight for social justice. Sadly, Sister Jean from Chicago passed away in January.

More on the film here.

Screening information and tickets are available here.

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