CASA screening of Tre Maison Dasan Inspires Those Working with Children and the Incarcerated​

CASA screening of Tre Maison Dasan Inspires Those Working with Children and the Incarcerated​

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CASA screening of Tre Maison Dasan Inspires Those Working with Children and the Incarcerated​

Shine Global’s film Tre Maison Dasan , explores parental incarceration through the eyes of three boys. Following their interweaving trajectories through boyhood marked by the criminal justice system, and told directly through the child’s perspective, the film unveils the challenges of growing up and what it means to become a man in America. Hilarious, heartbreaking, uplifting and ending with tremendous hope, Tre, Maison and Dasan’s lives are stories of growing up, struggle, loss, empathy, positivity, resilience and unconditional love.

CASA Essex recently hosted a screening of the film for their volunteers and staff and other employees of the Essex County New Jersey child welfare system to help provide insight into the impact of a parent’s incarceration on their children and to spark discussion of how to effectively support this vulnerable population. The following statement from the organization’s Director of Volunteer Management Brenda Schwartz explains what they took away from the screening.

Organization: CASA for Children of Essex County (CASA Essex)
Director of Volunteer Management: Brenda Schwartz
Website: www.casaessex.org

CASA for Children of Essex County (CASA Essex) is an independent, court-authorized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes the welfare of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment by providing a safety net of support, advocacy and mentorship. CASA trains and supervises civilian volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these foster children in court to ensure that each child has the opportunity to thrive by receiving needed services and assistance while helping to move the child towards a safe and permanent home. CASA Essex is one of 950 CASA programs nationwide and the oldest CASA program in New Jersey.

CASA Essex recently hosted a screening of Tre Maison Dasan for an enthusiastic audience of CASA Volunteer Advocates as part of their Continuing Education training.  Given the film’s subject matter, we also invited our colleagues in the Essex County Division of Child Protection and Permanence (DCP&P), courthouse staff, and law enforcement professionals. Beyond providing a forum for CASA volunteers to interact socially with our DCP&P colleagues, the broad array of professional and volunteer roles represented by the 50 attendees stimulated a valuable exchange of viewpoints during the post-screening discussion with the film’s Director and Executive Producer.

The screening was an emotional experience for many. A glance around the audience revealed tears in the eyes of lay volunteers and seasoned DCP&P caseworkers alike.

The audience was riveted as each boy’s story evolved. Their innocence and guilelessness humanized the extent to which their young lives were impacted by their parents’ crimes, while at the same time humanizing the inmates themselves.

Tre’s visit to his father clearly illustrated how contact with a caring parent, even one who’s incarcerated, has the potential to positively alter the course of a child’s life. By accepting responsibility for his own mistakes, and presenting them as a cautionary tale, Dad offered Tre a glimmer of hope that he could break the cycle of intergenerational imprisonment and poverty.

The filmmakers asked attendees to complete pre- and post-screening questionnaires, in order to assess the film’s emotional and practical takeaways. The audience was eager to share their thoughts, writing-in a total of 411 responses between the two surveys! Collectively, these answers portray an audience who left the screening with heightened awareness of their own internal biases against the prison population, the need to look beyond these attitudes, and deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance maintaining the parental bond in this population for the benefit of the children we work with.

When asked what other professionals they think would benefit from seeing the film, besides naming various justice system and child welfare titles, there were suggestions to share it with teachers, psychologists, foster parents, and even the children and parents themselves.

CASA has benefitted from the experience by opening the door to future shared training opportunities with DCP&P, and is pleased to have connected the filmmakers with the Essex County child welfare system to explore additional collaboration.

Liyana Red Carpet Premiere

Liyana Red Carpet Premiere

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Liyana Red Carpet Premiere

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 09: (L-R) Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Phumlani Mahlangu, Thandie Newton, Nomcebo Tsabedze, Sakheni Dlamini, Zweli Msane and Shofela Coker attend the “Liyana” New York Premiere at IFC Center on October 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images)

Liyana premiered in New York City at the IFC Center on Tuesday, October 9th.  The red carpet featured Emmy-winning actress and the film’s Executive Producer Thandie Newton. She joined co-directors Aaron and Amanda Kopp, animator Shofela Coker, and three of the film’s young protagonists and storytellers Phumlani Mahlangu, Nomcebo Tsabedze, and Zweli Msane.

Produced in association with Shine Global, the film features South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe guiding the children at an orphanage in Swaziland through a collaborative storytelling process. Their titular fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life in gorgeous animated artwork from artist Shofela Coker. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell — in fiction and in their own lives.

The film has won over 26 festival awards and currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The New York Times says the film “breaks free of the heaviness that can weigh down an issue-based documentary” featuring “strikingly rendered animation from Shofela Coker” and ultimately “shows the optimism and self-awareness that can come from creativity.”

While RogerEgbert.com says “the film is guaranteed to be an uplifting one for viewers of all ages” saying that “amidst all the wondrous visuals, both real and imagined, in… Liyana, the most resonant of them all are the beautiful faces of its young storytellers”

Liyana will be screening at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, NYC starting on October 10th before opening in LA and cities across the country.  For a list of upcoming screenings or for information on how to bring the film to your theater visit  www.liyanathemovie.com/screenings/

Meet our Fall 2018 Interns

Meet our Fall 2018 Interns

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Meet our Fall 2018 Interns

Meet our Fall 2018 Interns: Syeda Anjum focusing on marketing and Paige McCall focusing on content. Shine is lucky to have the two of them working with us this fall.

Syeda Anjum is a sophomore at Barnard College of Columbia University, majoring in Film Studies on the pre-medical track. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Syeda spent her whole life exploring diverse neighborhoods with her friends and family. She was inspired by Shine Global’s mission statement having spent the last three years volunteering with organizations, such as the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA). Inspired by the stories of immigrant families, Syeda wanted to shed light on children’s stories from multiple backgrounds. She believes that children’s stories offer a distinct perspective on global issues that most people are unaware of, and she wants their voices to be heard by a larger audience. As the marketing intern for this fall, she strives to highlight key messages through the power of social media, which has played a keen role in delivering stories as of late.

 

Paige McCall is a senior at New York University studying Film and Television. She’s from a small town outside of Seattle, WA that is best known for being where they filmed parts of Twin Peaks. Paige is a writer who’s had a lifelong passion for storytelling through films, and loves creating content for younger audiences, specifically teenagers who feel they haven’t had their voices heard or that their thoughts aren’t valued. Outside of school, Paige has worked for many years with a Seattle-based company that creates inspiring books for kids and families, even writing two of her own. She was immediately interested in Shine because of their emphasis on creating content for at-risk or underrepresented children, and because of her interest in learning more about the non-profit world. Paige has spent the majority of her time at NYU working on television writing and production, and hopes to continue working in these areas after graduating in the Spring.