Monthly Archives: November 2013

SISTER in the news again!

Sister Jean speaks at Good Pitch Chicago

Chicago Tribune, Business:Chicago Confidential
Melissa Harris
October 24, 2013

Seven directors of unfinished documentary films pitched a who’s who of Chicago philanthropic and business leaders for financial and marketing support Tuesday as part of the city’s first Good Pitch event.

The actor Danny Glover appeared, supporting two films, “The Message” and “Strong Island.” Multiple attendees wanted photos with Glover — but Glover first posed with Sister Jean Hughes, an Adrian Dominican nun, featured in “Sister.”

The film follows three nuns promoting “radical feminist themes,” as a 2012 Vatican report put it, in a patriarchal hierarchy. Hughes works on Chicago’s West Side for St. Leonard’s Ministries, which helps men and women re-enter society after prison. The filmmakers have been trailing her for about eight months, she said.

“It’s funny to see yourself in a movie when you’ve gone 75 years and nobody’s paid any attention to you,” Hughes said, prompting laugher. She stood and talked to the audience of a few hundred people with the support of a cane.

She later added: “It’s not about sisters really. It’s about women. It’s about women who belong to an organization that they believe in, that their parents believed in, that their grandparents believed in. But in fact, they understand all of the sudden that in this system, women’s wisdom is not appreciated. Women’s leadership is not sought. So the system is missing half of the world, and it’s got to catch up.”

The men, she said, “are working fiercely — and these are not bad people; I’m not against the hierarchy — but the men are working so hard to prop up the system because they believe in it, and the women are working so hard to do the mission.”

Although every filmmaker left the event with more support, “Sister,” one Tweeter put it, “won the lottery” when Organizing for Action’s executive director, Jon Carson, said his group would screen the film across the country. OFA is the legacy organization of Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns. And it has access to the campaign’s “extremely valuable” voter databases, including 17 million email subscribers, The New York Times has reported.

SISTER featured in BRITDOC Newsletter

jean and danny

They call it the Windy City and, sure enough, there was a whole lot of good in the air at Good Pitch Chicago two weeks ago. If you were there then you too will have felt the winds of change as 250+ filmmakers, philanthropists, non-profits, community organizers, educators and advocates converged around seven amazing new doc film projects.

Good Pitch, fresh from events in Taipei and Buenos Aires, was brought to Chicago by Team BRITDOC in London and New York, and our partners on the ground in the Midwest.

The day was characterized by both a generosity of spirit and of checkbook: Chaz Ebert – cultural leader and widow of celebrated film critic Roger Ebert – set the tone at the audience mic for film after film, offering her own support and exhorting the audience to get involved.

Other pledges included USD25k to the outreach campaign for Homestretch by the Chicago Community Trust; Jeffrey Pechter pledged USD10k towards the production of The Message which was followed by a PUMA Catalyst Award of Euros5k from BRITDOC; POV delivered important news that Private Violence was recommended for national broadcast, ensuring it would be seen by millions; and ten people came up to the mic for Strong Island with grants totaling USD25k. ITVS and The Richard Driehaus Foundation both committed funding (USD13k and USD5k) to The Dreamcatchers; and Jeffrey Pechter, EP of Becoming Bulletproof committed a further USD75k on top of the time and financial support he had already made; Kat White of KatLei Productions offered 10% of the finishing funds needed for SISTER and a USD15k challenge grant from the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention was reached by the end of the day for Private Violence.

And then there was the real money shot: Danny Glover embracing Sister Jean – star of feminist doc Sister – exclaiming with a kiss, “You are one of my heroes.” Sister Jean’s response? “You should get out more”. Classic.

The men and women featured in the films truly were the heroes of the day (Roque, Sister Jean, Brenda, Kit and AJ), delivering highly personal stories of overcoming adversity whilst keeping the discussions grounded by the reality they all face; the fight for their basic rights: health, safety, a place to call home, freedom to practice faith, freedom from violence, and access to justice.