MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
ABOUT THE FILM
Fed up with Trump’s presidency, black women across America are mobilizing to run for office and use their vote to change the course of our country! While they are a powerful force, we see that these formidable black women don’t necessarily have the support of the status quo Democratic Party. The film Grabbing Back will shine a light on these trailblazing African American candidates, what they are up against, and the galvanized voters who are getting off the sidelines to be heard, in the hopes of shifting the Trump trajectory and grabbing back the house in the 2018 midterm elections.
With fast approaching New Jersey primary elections in early June, where two of the main subjects in Grabbing Back are running, Tanzie Youngblood, a retired school teacher and widow, and Tamara Harris a former businesswoman with international finance experience, time is of the essence! In addition, we have recently expanded our documentary to include Stephany Rose Spaulding, Colorado District 5. By spreading our production across the country, we now require immediate additional funds for travel related expenses and multiple crews. Grabbing Back also hopes to include candidates: Veteran Pam Keith, Florida District 18; Councilor Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts District 7; and Shion Fenty, a Republican from Virginia’s 4th District. These candidates’ calendars are robust, and the shooting schedule is packed from now until November.
Filmmakers Pamela French and Shareen Anderson, along with producer Wendy Missan were so inspired by what they saw in the highly charged election in Alabama (where black women voted 98% for Doug Jones turning Alabama’s senate seat blue for the first time in 25 years) that the trio decided to turn their lens on the powerful movement of African American women, who being the most faithful constituent of the Democratic party, are revitalizing democracy. Missan was so grateful for Senator Doug Jones’ victory that she wrote a thank you letter to Alabama, which was prominently published in the New York Times.
WHY WE NEED YOU!
With your support and kind donations towards this Kickstarter campaign, we will be able to continue filming our subjects, as well as begin editing the film Grabbing Back. Our aim, with your help, is to have a rough cut underway before the June 5th New Jersey Democratic primary. We want to shed light on this timely and important story as soon as possible to help introduce these incredible trailblazers to the world!
Additional monies raised from this first round of funding will be used towards shooting live events on June 5th with New Jersey candidates Tamara Harris and Tanzie Youngblood as they make the final push and watch election returns. We need to make our goal of $20,018 now, and no donation is too small!
Grabbing Back will be a character-driven feature documentary film, capturing the highs and lows of the 2018 election year. The film will hopefully culminate with at least one of our candidates being sworn into office on Capitol Hill in January 2019. We plan to have a large social media presence and a live component to coincide with critical primary election days along the campaign trail.
We have candidates that have primaries throughout the summer, and one subject who is the nominated Democratic candidate in Colorado's 5th District, which means she is guaranteed to be on the ballot in November.
As our candidates are in the final stretch of their campaigns, we are filming around the clock. With early morning canvassing, and late night debates, the schedule never seizes for Grabbing Back. This will continue for the next six months with principal filming ending shortly after election day on November 6th, 2018. We will be editing along the way and anticipate producing a finished rough cut in time for the festival season 2019. Our marketing and outreach campaign strategies will coincide with the festival premieres. Keep and eye out for Grabbing Back in 2019.
WHO WE ARE
Pamela French is a New York based, independent producer/director and mother of two, who specializes in fly-on-the-wall films. Her most recent documentary film, Becoming More Visible, turns the spotlight on four diverse young transgender New Yorkers as they contend with family and societal expectations to become their true selves. It did the festival circuit ending at DOCNYC in 2016, and is soon to be released worldwide on Sundance Now.
Shareen Anderson is an award-winning producer and director based in New York City. She's developed and produced a wide-range of documentary films and series for networks, such as A&E, PBS, Al Jazeera English, Netflix, Fusion, Esquire, TLC, Oxygen, and many others. Most recently, she created and executive produced The Murder of Laci Peterson, a six-part limited documentary series for A&E, which won a silver medal at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards.
Wendy Missan is a newbie to the film world, and Grabbing Back will be her debut as a film producer. This project was born out of her writing an impassioned "Thank you to Alabama" letter following Doug Jones' victory. Her letter of gratitude was published in both the New York Times and the Daily News on the same day in their lead editorial spots. For letter writers, this is hitting the lottery!
Appropriately, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Shirley Chisholm’s election to the House in 1968 as an “Unbought and Unbossed” reformer from Brooklyn. She was the first black woman elected to the United States Congress and she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1968 to 1983. Decades before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, Shirley Chisholm was ahead of her time. In 1972, she announced her groundbreaking campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party, Chisholm was making history. While her bid for the top job at the White House was short lived, the symbolism of her run is as powerful today as it was then. She was a pioneer for her generation, a woman of many firsts: the first African American congresswoman, the first African American to run for president, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Shirley Chisholm’s profound impact on other women of color in politics is clearly realized in our subjects candidacies, reflected in the groundbreaking congressional campaigns of these remarkable women who are also up against the formidable status quo political climate. The film will make use of archival footage of Chisholm’s landmark speeches, showing the historical origins of our characters’ runs for congress and the similar political resistance they are facing fifty years later.
The galvanization of black women voters is critical to our subject’s campaigns. Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood, likewise echoes the importance of black women voters in her speech at the 2017 Women’s March in Las Vegas, saying “From Virginia to Alabama and recently in Wisconsin, women have beaten the odds to elect our own to office: women of color, transgender women, rural and urban women. And these victories were led and made possible by women of color,” Richards said. And we all certainly remember that famous photo of Angela Peoples, a black woman, from the first Women’s March holding a sign that reads, "Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump” as she stands coolly among the crowd, sucking a lollipop. We aim to include the ever- important voices of Richards and Peoples in our film.
This is a historic time for women, and more specifically, women raising their voices and “grabbing back”. As Time magazine’s Avengers’ cover story stated, “It’s too early to tell how the movement will change Washington”, but outside the Beltway, a transformation has already begun. In 2017, they became activists, spurred by the bitter defeat of the first major female presidential candidate at the hands of a self-described pussy grabber. Now, in 2018, these doctors, mothers, teachers and executives are jumping into the arena and bringing new energy to a Democratic Party sorely in need of fresh faces.” Tanzie Youngblood, Tamara Harris and Stephany Rose Spaulding are among these fresh new faces and with their supporters, who are striving to be represented, heard and bring about change, tell a colossal story.
Risks and challenges
As our candidates are in the final stretch of their campaigns, we are filming around the clock. With early morning canvassing, and late night debates, the schedule never seizes when running for Congress. This will continue for the next six to seven months.
We have primary elections in five states over the next five months. We need multiple camera and crews to capture our candidates' runs at key moments, such as debates, fundraising events and election days. Between travel related expenses, multiple crews, live televised events and simultaneously editing, all while continuing to film, the monies from this Kickstarter campaign, your contributions, will be used to keep this project going until we flip the house in November 2018!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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