I should have been a social sociologist. I would be making a lot more money than I am now. Sociology and society fascinates me. I know I should be writing something positive about America especially as we approach the Fourth of July. But to be honest, as I write this today I’m just not in the mood to write about patriotism, fireworks or freedom. That may come tomorrow. You may say that I’m looking into the darker side of American history and you would be right. Mainstream media and our millions of electronic devices (social media, etc) heavily adds to moral panic in society. During this time of the year, I couldn’t ignore what American society and it’s people have done to it’s citizens based on fear, racism and group-think. To be honest, looking at the images and reading the explanations below makes me sick to my stomach. Unfortunately, moral panic continues today but we may not be aware of them because we are currently experiencing he moral panic in the current day and are unaware of the consequences to society. (read moral panic #8) It’s only when we look back in history are we aware of what occurred and the damage that has been done.
What is a moral panic? A moral panic is a feeling of fear spread among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society. A Dictionary of Sociology defines a moral panic as “the process of arousing social concern over an issue – usually the work of moral entrepreneurs and the mass media.” The media are key players in the dissemination of moral indignation, even when they do not appear to be consciously engaged in crusading or muckraking. Simply reporting the facts can be enough to generate concern, anxiety, or panic.
Throughout American history, there has been numerous moral panics. I could list hundreds here but I’ve chosen ones that are the most accepted by sociologists and the people that have chosen to study moral panics such as Stanley Cohen, who was a sociologist and criminologist who wrote the 1972 study Folk Devils and Moral Panics.
The witch-trials emerge in the 15th century out of the practices surrounding the persecution of heresy in the medieval period, although they reach their peak only during the Wars of Religion following the Protestant Reformation. The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe were a widespread moral panic suggesting that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom during the 15th to 18th centuries. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery at meetings known as Witches’ Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times.
2. LYNCHING IN THE UNITED STATES (1860-1960)
Briefly, the Confederate states – after losing the Civil War – had visited upon them the ultimate indignity: Reconstruction, which gave freedmen (former slaves) the rights of human beings. That is to say, desegregation. That didn’t go over so well in the South (and still doesn’t, to some extent, anywhere in the US), and for about 100 years, any black person in the South accused (not convicted of any crime) of looking at a white woman, whistling at a white woman, touching a white woman, talking back to a white person, refusing to step into the gutter when a white person passed on the sidewalk, or in some way upsetting the local crackers was liable to be hauled from their house or jail cell by a mob, mutilated in a ghastly fashion, hung, and then burnt to a crisp. All governments – state or federal – and their agencies (like the cops) simply ignored this. You could buy picture postcards from proud local merchants of notable area lynchings.
3. THE SEXUAL PSYCHOPATH LAWS (1930’s-1950’s)
This text is straight from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, “The Sexual Psychopath Laws” (1950):
“Women and children are in great danger in American society because serious sex crimes are very prevalent and are increasing more rapidly than any other type of crime. J. Edgar
Hoover wrote, “The most rapidly increasing type of crime is that perpetrated by degenerate sex offenders …. (It) is taking its toll at the rate of a criminal assault every 43 minutes, day and night, in the United States.”Practically all of these serious sex crimes are committed by “degenerates,” “sex fiends,” or “sexual psychopaths.” Wittels wrote, “Most of the so-called sex killers are psychopathic personalities …. No one knows or can even closely estimate how many such creatures there are, but at least tens of thousands of them are loose in the country today. Other sex offenses are generally misdemeanors. Exhibitionism and homosexuality are the most prevalent of these. Hundreds of homosexuals can be found in any large city.”
4. WAR ON DRUGS (1970’s to late 1990’s)
Some critics have pointed to moral panic as an explanation for the War on Drugs. For example, a Royal Society of Arts commission concluded that “the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, … is driven more by ‘moral panic’ than by a practical desire to reduce harm.”
Some have written that one of the many rungs supporting the moral panic behind the war on drugs was a separate but related moral panic, which peaked in the late 90’s, involving media’s gross exaggeration of the frequency of the surreptitious use of date rape drugs. News media have been criticized for advocating “grossly excessive protective measures for women, particularly in coverage between 1996 and 1998”, for overstating the threat, and for excessively raising it in women’s minds for the rest of their lives. For example, showing excessive concerns extending even into the late 2000s, a 2009 Australian study found that of 97 instances of patients admitted to the hospital believing their drinks might have been spiked, drug panel tests were unable to detect any drug in any of the cases.
5. SATANIC DAY CARE SCANDALS (1980’s)
Some day care providers in the US were, during the 1980’s, accused of abusing children in satanic rituals. Their accusers? Children who had been coached by traveling “experts” to “remember” satanic child abuse by day care centers. No cross-examination of the children was allowed; most of them weren’t even present in the courtrooms. A national moral panic, fueled by trash like the book above and dozens of unbalanced fundamentalist parents ensued. Trials were held all over the US. “Satanic Panic” was the catchy name given to the rising fear that Satanic forces were taking over the country.
The most prominent of these Satanic sex abuse cases was the McMartin Preschool case in Southern California. Initial accusations were made in 1983; pre-trial investigations ran from 1984 to 1987; and the trial itself ran from 1987 to 1990, making it (at the time) the longest and most expensive criminal trial in United States history. Among the accusations were that children were taken to a maze of underground tunnels for the abuse and for rituals; they were forced to watch and/or participate in bestiality and the ritual slaughter of animals; saw “witches fly;” and the teachers wore robes with no clothes underneath. Seven teachers and administrators at the school were charged with crimes, but only two went to trial.
Peggy McMartin Buckey was acquitted on all charges. Her son, Ray Buckey, was acquitted on 52 of 65 charges; verdicts on the others were deadlocked. A second trial for Buckey produced the same results, and prosecutors declined to bring him to trial a third time.
6. AIDS (1980’s to 1990’s)
In the 1980’s a moral panic was created in the media over HIV/AIDS. The famous iceberg advertisement by the government clearly hinted that there was a lot more to HIV/AIDS than the public could possibly know about with the vast bulk hidden from view. Some media outlets nicknamed HIV/AIDS the ‘gay plague’ stigmatizing a specific section of the population as being the primary cause and carriers of the ‘gay plague’. While scientists gained a better understanding of HIV/AIDS as the 1980’s moved into the 1990’s and beyond, the illness was still seen by many as one either caused by or passed on by the gay community. When it became clear that this was not the case, the moral panic created by the media moved off in another direction blaming the general lax moral standards of the younger generation (both male and female) which then moved onto the next area of moral panic – the growth of the ‘laddettes’ – alcohol fueled young ladies who attempted to copy the behavior of young males. Statistically, the number of young people who behave in an anti-social manner at the weekend is dwarfed by the actual number of young people in the UK but the moral panic subculture created by the tabloid press would have the general population think differently.
7. CRIMILIZATION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM (2000’s to Current)
In the past decade, there has been a growing convergence between schools and legal systems. The school to prison pipeline refers to this growing pattern of tracking students out of educational institutions, primarily via “zero tolerance” policies, and, directly and/or indirectly, into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. The school to prison pipeline has emerged in the larger context of media hysteria over youth violence and the mass incarceration that characterize both the juvenile and adult legal systems. While the school to prison pipeline is facilitated by a number of trends in education, it is most directly attributable to the expansion of zero tolerance policies. These policies have had no measurable impact on school safety, but have racially disproportionate effects, increase suspensions and expulsions, elevate the drop-out rate, and raise multiple legal issues of due process. A growing critique of these policies has lead to calls for reform and alternatives.
8. Registered Sex Offenders (Mid 1990’s to Current)
Some argue that sex offenders have been selected as the new realization of moral panics concentrating on sex, stranger danger, and national paranoia. People convicted of any sex crime are “…transformed into a concept of evil, which is then personified as a group of faceless, terrifying, and predatory devils…”, who, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, are perceived as constant threats in our neighborhoods, habitually waiting for an opportunity to strike. Consequently, sex offenders are often brought up by media on Halloween, despite the fact that there has never been any recorded case of abduction or abuse by a registered sex offender on Halloween. Academics, treatment professionals and law reformist groups such as RSOL and WAR have been vocal in their criticism that current sex offender laws are more based on moral panic and “public emotion than good science”, and have expanded over time to cover non-violent and low-level offenders, and treating them essentially the same as predatory offenders, often leading to disproportional punishment of being added on public sex offender registry, sometimes for life; and being subject to strict ordinances restricting their movement and places of living. Critics often point out that, contrary to popular media depictions, abductions by predatory offenders are very rare and 95% of child abuse offenses are committed by a someone known to the child; studies by the U.S Department of Justice found sex offender recidivism to be 5.3% which compares as second lowest of all offender groups, only those convicted of homicide having lower rate of recidivism. Critics claim that, while originally aimed towards the worst of the worst, the laws have gone through series of amendments, often named after the child victim of a highly publicized predatory sex offense, expanding the scopes of the laws to low level offenses. The media narrative of a sex offender highlighting egregious offenses as typical behavior of any sex offender; and media distorting the facts of some cases, has increased the panic leading legislators to attack judicial discretion, making sex offender registration mandatory based on certain listed offenses rather than individual risk or the actual severity of the crime, thus practically catching less serious offenders under the domain of harsh sex offender laws. Additional reading…
Additional moral panics in America:
Rainbow Parties (2000’s)
Video games and violence (1990’s to early 2000’s)
Homosexual recruitment (1970’s to 1980’s)
–Matt Duhamel, Filmmaker Host
Okay, so I’ve been talking about incarceration, ex-felons and prison reentry frequently over the last few months, but there’s good reasons for this. With the production of our upcoming documentary film, NOT FOR RENT! and my recent workshop presentation at the InterNational Prisoners Family Conference, these topics have been on my mind a lot lately. My presentation that I gave at the conference was entitled, The Impact of the Sex Offender Registry on the Family, which helped attendees understand what families go through when they have a loved one on the registry. My workshop was one of dozens of break-out sessions and keynote presentations revolving around prison issues including: Ending the Destructive Cycle of Inter-generational Incarceration, Healthy Relationships and Strong Families, Insights from France on Prisoners’ Families, Getting off Drugs and Staying out of Jail, Technology that can Reduce Mass Incarceration, and many more. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I’m able to attend in 2017.
In addition to these powerful topics, presenters and exhibitors came to the conference to discuss what many people agree is collateral damage due to mass incarceration: Children of Incarcerated Parents. In addition, many scholars feel that children of incarcerated parents are the “Invisible Victims” of mass incarceration while suffering a wide range of emotional problems. So how many children are effected in the United States? According to the New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents and a special project from the Osborne Foundation, more than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. In addition, the study also reports that One in 9 African American children (11.4%), 1 in 28 Hispanic children (3.5%), and 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) in the United States have an incarcerated parent.
To put in simply, the problem is huge. With over 2-million people behind bars in the United States, (E. Ann Carson, Prisoners in 2013, Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014) I’m vested in this issue for personal reasons due to my own arrest in 2006 and the affects it has had on my teenage daughter. While I was incarcerated I had the opportunity to become close with fathers who were struggling with connecting with their children from inside prison, and in some cases not speaking or seeing their child for many years. I even wrote a short activity book for fathers behind bars and their attempts to stay connected with their children on the outside (I also cover parental alienation). To this day I’m still trying with all my heart to rebuild a relationship with my daughter due to my poor choices and incarceration…it’s proven to be a very slow process. I haven’t seen my daughter since 2007 but with recent email communication, I’m happy that she’s willing to correspond even though email tends to be somewhat impersonal. I’m unsure of the exact emotional trauma that my daughter has suffered due to my four years in prison since we haven’t even reached that level of communication yet, but research states the trauma is massive to millions of children in this country and around the world as we will see…
Parental incarceration is now recognized as an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE) ; it is distinguished from other adverse childhood experiences by the unique combination of trauma, shame, and stigma. Kristin Turney, an assistant sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine was recently interviewed for a Education Week news article where mentioned a study that found children of incarcerated parents have higher rates of attention deficits than those with parents missing because of death or divorce, and higher rates of behavioral problems, speech and language delays, and other developmental delays. In separate but related studies, Ms. Turney also found higher rates of asthma, obesity, depression, and anxiety. For education, the statistics are equally dramatic: Only 1 percent to 2 percent of students with incarcerated mothers and 13 percent to 25 percent of students with imprisoned fathers graduate from college, according to a 2013 report from the American Bar Association and the White House. Ms. Turney also went on to state in an article for Population Reference Bureau that “We know that poor people and racial minorities are incarcerated at higher rates than the rest of the population,” she says. “Incarceration is likely compounding the disadvantages their children face, setting them further behind, and contributing to racial and social class inequalities in children’s health.” She agrees that due to the strong links between parental incarceration and children’s health, rethinking of sentencing policies is strongly recommended.
At the 2016 InterNational Prisoners Family Conference held in Dallas this last week, I was excited to meet leaders of organizations that are reducing the trauma for children of incarcerated parents. One such organization goes beyond the U.S. borders and into Uganda and other developing nations where children of incarcerated parents are referred to as “forgotten victims of crime and the orphans of justice”. Wells of Hope Ministries, founded by Francis Ssuubi is a nonprofit organization with a mission “that addresses needs of prisoners and their families, with great attention being give to children with a parent in prison through sustainable and compassionate programs.” When I met with Francis at the conference he talked to me about how his Ministries organizes trips so children are able to visit their parents in prison. He said that these visits are “powerful times of connection” and with most of the children not seeing their parents for ten or more years the visits can be very emotional. The Ministry also provides children with food, shelter, clothing and education and filling them with the love of Jesus.
The International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents (INCCIP) was also present during the prisoner family conference. A group came together during a panel discussion on necessary steps to moving forward on issues primarily based around the children of imprisoned parents and potential ways to spread awareness about the detriment to the child and ways to strengthen families. Though I was unable to attend the meeting I did learn about INCCIP’s first annual 2017 Conference in New Zealand at their exhibit booth. Since issues affecting children with a parent in prison are transnational, INNIP has recognized the value in connecting individuals, families and organizations worldwide. To learn more about INCCIP’s mission and programs, view their intro video.
During my first day at the conference, I was excited to meet Camp David of the Ozark founders, Benjamin and Grace Smith. Their website reads: “Camp David of the Ozarks is a 501c3 non-profit Christian summer scholarship camp uniquely designed to meet the needs of children of prisoners. Children of prisoners are often considered the most at risk youth in America. We have found that a week of camp can play a significant role in giving these children a better future. Located in Rolla, Mo, Camp David began as a small rustic camp in 2004, and has steadily grown since. But camp isn’t just for the kids, each summer we have over 100 volunteers who cook meals, wash dishes, help with crafts, play games, and are just there for the kids. So come join our team in giving hope to children of prisoners!” I spoke briefly with Benjamin and Grace about their camp and my hopes to produce a documentary in 2017/2018 on the affects on children with a parent in prison, and perhaps even build the film around their camp. I feel that camps like Camp David of the Ozark where children can come together and not feel so alone, is a wonderful way to reduce the emotional impact these children are feeling everyday because of incarceration.
One organization that I’m familiar with because I was mailed their “Bill of Rights” while I was in prison, is the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (SFCIPP). Though they were unable to attend the conference, they are doing amazing work in the field of mass incarceration and the children it affects. They are a coalition of social service providers, representatives of government bodies, advocates and others who work with or are concerned about children of incarcerated parents and their families. Formed in 2000 under the auspices of the Zellerbach Family Foundation, SFCIPP works to improve the lives of children of incarcerated parents, and to increase awareness of these children, their needs and their strengths. Their life changing Bill of Rights is so powerful I will list it in its entirety. You can also download their brochure for free.
1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my parent’s arrest.
Develop arrest protocols that support and protect children.
Offer children and/or their caregivers basic information about the post-arrest process.
2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about me.
Train staff at institutions whose constituency includes children of incarcerated parents to recognize and address these children’s needs and concerns.
Tell the truth.
3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made about my parent.
Review current sentencing law in terms of its impact on children and families.
Turn arrest into an opportunity for family preservation
Include a family impact statement in pre-sentence investigation reports
4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent’s absence.
Support children by supporting their caretakers.
Offer subsidized guardianship.
5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
Provide access to visiting rooms that are child-centered, non-intimidating and conducive to bonding.
Consider proximity to family when siting prisons and assigning prisoners.
Encourage child welfare departments to facilitate contact.
6. I have the right to support as I face my parent’s incarceration.
Train adults who work with young people to recognize the needs and concerns of children whose parents are incarcerated.
Provide access to specially trained therapists, counselors, and/or mentors.
Save five percent for families.
7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because my parent is incarcerated.
Create opportunities for children of incarcerated parents to communicate with and support each other.
Create a truth fit to tell.
Consider differential response when a parent is arrested.
8. I have the right to a lifelong relationship with my parent.
Re-examine the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
Designate a family services coordinator at prisons and jails.
Support incarcerated parents upon reentry.
Focus on rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration.
Metamora Films is committed to creating educational and thought provoking films resulting in a more emotionally engaged society. The organization’s film projects assist in expanding compassion and tolerance in order to better understand our differences and similarities matter. As mentioned earlier in this blog, we are currently in production of NOT FOR RENT!, a documentary film that addresses the issues of housing and ex-offenders. Though I have not officially begun organizing a production team for a future film project, I would at least like to see if there are filmmakers, producers, and directors out there that are interested in the subject of children and incarcerated parents. My goal is to produce either a documentary or a short narrative film on this subject by 2018. If you are interested in collaborating, please contact me anytime.
Thanks again to the wonderful people at the 2016 InterNational Prisoners Family Conference and the amazing work they are doing for children, families, the incarcerated and formally incarcerated, and anyone affected by mass imprisonment.
–Matt Duhamel, Film Director/Producer
It’s been over just a year since the release of our second documentary film, The Forgiveness Journey. The 73-minute film was an emotional and challenging endeavor for myself and for the people that we spoke to. Over about a eighteen month production schedule, my wife and I interviewed doctors, psychologists, religious leaders and everyday people about the process of forgiveness. Questions were brought to the table: How do we forgive? Are all wrong doings forgivable? What happens to us emotionally when we are able to forgive ourselves? I feel that The Forgiveness Journey, though low-budget (budget was only about $1,000) and filmed with a very small crew, was able to answer these questions, help others think about their own situations, and open up conversions about sensitive subjects, including my own story which I will talk about briefly in this blog post.
Since we released the film in Salt Lake City, Utah in February of 2014, there has been mixed reactions to some of the points we raised in the film. Some people have expressed that forgiving is conditional and depends on the offense and/or wrongdoing, while others feel that there are no conditions to forgiveness and that all people should be forgiven no matter what. Personally, I stand somewhere in the middle. Forgiveness is very complicated. Without understanding the entire story, it’s difficult to understand the dynamics that are at play. One point we brought up in the film is that forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Most people agree with this point.
Marina Cantacuzino, the founder of the U.K. based, The Forgiveness Project, appeared in my film discussing how forgiveness works between two people, her organization in London, and the misconceptions of forgiveness. She was quoted in the film saying, “There are those who see forgiveness as an immensely noble and humbling response to atrocity – and then there are those who simply laugh it out of court.”
During the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Salt Lake City in 2015, The Forgiveness Project displayed their “F Word Exhibit“, which tells stories of people whose lives have been shattered by violence, tragedy and injustice and who are learning to forgive, reconcile and move on. I learned a lot from Marina about forgiveness which I’ve applied in my own situation with my daughter, Maddie. Thankfully, Maddie and I have finally developed email contact, but no plans yet of actually talking or seeing each other. I need to be patient.
Marina’s new book, The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, brings together the personal testimonies of both survivors and perpetrators of crime and violence and asks the question whether forgiveness may have more currency than revenge in an age which seems locked into the cycle of conflict.
One man that I will never forget is Arnold Thomas. I met with him over a course of a couple of months in fall, 2014. Arnold is a suicide survivor and lives blind because of his attempt. I’ve spoken to Arnold a few times over the last couple of years and I understand he is doing very well with his journey of self forgiveness. Arnold is a successful blind owner and Chief Executive Officer of White Buffalo Knife Corporation located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Presently, he serves on a National Veterans Health Administration/Indian Health Service work group. Additionally, Arnold has been involved in developing curriculum for suicide prevention and intervention programs on the local and national levels.
Unfortunately, I’ve lost contact with some of our film’s subjects including Vicky Thomas, who struggled with childhood abuse, forgiving her mother and step-father, and working through personal traumas. At the time of our interview in 2013 near Portland, Oregon, she was the editor for New Connexion, a journal of conscious living and working through the forgiveness process. Her interview with me was emotional, honest and raw. She talked about the emotional and sexual abuse she endured as a child, the religious cult that her mother forced her to go to as a teen in southern California, and what she is doing to come to terms and to reconcile with family members. I just learned today that she is doing well according to the new CEO of New Connexion. “She is no longer the editor and has taken time off before her next professional adventure‘, he states. I’m excited to find out what she has in store for her new career.
Dr. Forrest Crawford, a professor at Weber State University, commented professionally on forgiveness in the film. I met Forrest for the first time during our interview during an award ceremony he was being honored at in Ogden, Utah. He had mentioned during our interview, “The process of forgiveness means that I have to be grounded and motivated to serve others.” I love this statement. Since the film’s interview, Forrest was one of our guest speakers at the film’s release at the Broadway Theater. We’ve also collaborated on public speaking opportunities including presenting at the 2015 John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, and a Weber State University “Forgiveness Panel.” In addition, Forrest is a co-founder of several organizations including the Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission and the Utah Black Education Forum. He is currently serving on the Utah’s ACLU Board of Directors. I learned a lot from Forrest about forgiveness since meeting in early 2015. He is great friend and colleague.
It’s wonderful to know how many great people my wife and I met during the production of The Forgiveness Journey and the support from the local community during the film’s official release in Salt Lake City. One of the reasons why I decided to make a film on forgiveness was to better understand my situation with my daughter and to help others through their forgiveness journey. In the film I worked with writer and life coach, Kimberly Giles at Clarity Point Coaching. I will always be grateful for her time, patience and knowledge on the topic of forgiveness and second chances. Lilli Martin from Signs of Forgiveness also took me on a journey in the film throughout the Salt Lake City community. I joined her as she spread the word and symbol of forgiveness. Her updated website states: “The symbol is fresh ~ not steeped in any dogma except the incontrovertibly of Forgiveness to freshen our planet and your world.” One year later, Lilli is still involved in the forgiveness movement and is going great. I’m still thankful today for her ability to forgive me for my mistakes.
I hope over the last year viewers have been able to take away something from the film that will help them with their journey. Forgiveness is not easy. We must be patient with ourselves and others during the process.
If you haven’t yet watched the film, you can see it FREE on YouTube. I would love to hear your comments.
— Matt Duhamel, Metamora Films
As a social justice filmmaker and a TV host with MetamoraTV, I like to seek out ways that my films and projects, along with other films by influential filmmakers across the world can be seen by our communities. Recently, I found “The Meaningful Movies Project“, a non-profit organization that helps neighborhoods, groups and individuals organize, educate and advocate using the power of social justice documentary film and conversation to build positive and meaningful community. I see this as an amazing opportunity to build conversations on important social topics through the power of film.
According to their website, The Meaningful Movies Project, “empowers citizens to gather, educate, inspire, connect, and commit to effective, non-violent solutions in building a more peaceful and just world.” The first step would be to start a group, and the great thing is a large budget is not required. If fact, some groups start inside homes, then expand to a larger community facility. I may be looking at starting a group in the Pacific Northwest (we are relocating Metamora Films from Utah to Washington State possibly later this year…stay tuned!) which would be a great opportunity to not only share the films that we’ve produced at Metamora, but other films that target social justice issues. I can’t help to feel that I should be doing much more in helping others through the power of independent film. I’m sure other social justice filmmakers feel the same way: how can we as artists help change the world through our work? Sure, there’s film distributors, online distribution, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. that help filmmakers promote their films to the public, but in my opinion, there’s nothing better than to meet people face to face and learn how the film affected them personally. The possibilities are endless with community screenings such as the Meaningful Movies Project.
Over the last few years, I’ve hosted charitable film releases in Salt Lake City, Utah where we’ve shown, The Forgiveness Journey, a documentary film on the process of forgiveness, What Makes Me Tic?, a documentary on Tourette Syndrome, and Life Under The Horseshoe, a short film on Spring City, Utah’s live, stage radio show. Each film release has had a wonderful turnout and donations were raised for charitable organizations such as The Forgiveness Project (U.K. based) and the Tourette Association, Utah Chapter. Now, with The Meaningful Movies Project, I feel that the possibility of reaching even more people is available through groups, community events and film releases.
It’s my hope that The Meaningful Movies Project catches on throughout the country (and even world!) in order for more and more people to witness the power of film and how it can better our cities, communities and world.
If you’re interested in starting a group in your area, please visit the online application. Good Luck!
– Matt Duhamel, Metamora Films