The Wrong Light in US Theaters starting July 14th in NYC

The Wrong Light in US Theaters starting July 14th in NYC


The Wrong Light in US Theaters starting July 14th in NYC

May 30, 2017

We are pleased to announce that The Wrong Light will be opening in US theaters this summer starting Friday, July 14th, 2017 at the Cinema Village in New York City.  Stay tuned for screening times and information about Q&As with the directors, Josie Swantek Heitz and Dave Adams.

In The Wrong Light, a charismatic activist leads a globally-regarded NGO that provides shelter and education for girls rescued from brothels in Northern Thailand. But as the filmmakers meet the girls and their families, discrepancies begin to emerge and the story takes an unexpected turn.

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize – NJ Films – Montclair Film Festival
Official Selection – Cleveland International Film Festival
Official Selection – Atlanta Film Festival
Official Selection – Heartland Film Festival
Plus an Official Selection at UNAFF Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, Louisiana International Film Festival, Cine-World Film Festival

“The Wrong Light plays like a film noir set in the tropics.” 
— Bob Cannon, The Montclair Times

“A swirling mystery…heartbreaking and hopeful all at once.” 
— Darren Dean, producer of Tangerine

Synopsis: Amidst growing international concern about human trafficking, a nonprofit organization named COSA was founded in 2005 by Mickey Choothesa with the stated mission of serving as a refuge for at-risk and trafficked girls in Northern Thailand. Mickey, a self-described war photographer-turned-activist with an “upstream” prevention approach to trafficking, promoted COSA as a sanctuary providing educational opportunities for young girls. His work drew international donors, a steady stream of western visitors, and global press attention.

Filmmakers Josie Swantek Heitz and Dave Adams were fascinated by the story of two young girls who had been sold into the sex trade by their parents and were later rescued by COSA. They believed they had found a harrowing and uplifting story of heroism worthy of a feature-length documentary. With this in mind, they traveled to Thailand where they interviewed many of the rescued girls at COSA and travelled to their villages to speak with their families.

Unexpectedly, their conversations with both the girls and their families contradicted Mickey’s version of their stories, making the truth that much more elusive. Reluctantly, they became subjects in the film, revealing the story as it unfolded for them. THE WRONG LIGHT is the fascinating and troubling account of their quest to find answers and tell the real story of COSA, its work, and its impact on the young girls.

Who is Mickey Choothesa? Who are these girls? And who is responsible for their representation and exploitation?

Official Movie Website:

Official Facebook Page:

Directors: Josie Swantek Heitz, Dave Adams
Produced by: Susan MacLaury, Josie Swantek Heitz
Executive Producers: Albie Hecht, Barbara Dobkin
Co-Producer: Alexandra Blaney
Dir. of Photography: Dave Adams
Editors: Chris Tuss, Matt Cascella
Music By: Adam Taylor
Animation: Jonathan Ng, Grace An
Production Company: Shine Global, Inc

Shine Global, a non-profit media company, gives voice to children by telling stories of their resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. The organization’s films have won more than 50 major awards including an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject for Inocente and an Academy Award®-nomination and two Emmys® for War/Dance.

Cinema Guild is a premier distributor of independent, foreign and documentary films. Upcoming releases include Theo Anthony’s Rat Film and Patrick Shen’s In Pursuit of Silence. Recent theatrical releases include Albert Serra’s The Death of Louis XIV, Mehrdad Oskouei’s Starless Dreams, Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly and Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja.

Runtime: 78 minutes
USA, Thailand/ Not Rated
In Mien and English with English subtitles


Liyana to Premiere at the LA Film Festival

Liyana to Premiere at the LA Film Festival


Liyana to Premiere at the LA Film Festival

May 10, 2017

Liyana is set to premiere at the LA Film Festival this June.  The festival announced its 2017 competition lineup today and Liyana will be having its world premiere there as one of the 10 films in the documentary competition.

Directed by Aaron and Amanda Kopp and produced in association with Shine Global, this documentary/animated film follows a talented group of orphaned children in Swaziland as they collaborate to write an original African tale about Liyana, a girl on a dangerous quest. Inspired by the children’s darkest memories and brightest dreams, their fictional character’s journey reveals parallels between her fate and that of the young storytellers.

Aaron Kopp grew up in Swaziland and he and Amanda have been working on Liyana for the past 8 years.  While it is their first feature as directors, they both have significant experience working as co-producers and cinematographers on such films as the Oscar®-winning documentary Saving Face and the recent Sundance film The Hunting Ground.   Other team members include the rising animation talent Shofela Coker, Oscar® winner Daniel Junge as a producer, and editor Davis Coombe who has edited Emmy®- and Oscar®-winning documentaries. British/Zimbabwean actress Thandie Newton (“West World,” Crash, Mission Impossible II) is an Executive Producer on the film along with Susan MacLaury, Albie Hecht and Lisa Schejola Akin.

Liyana will screen Saturday, June 17th at 12:35pm

Individual tickets go on sale to Film Independent Members beginning next Tuesday, May 16 and to the general public on May 23. For more pass, ticket and event information visit

Notes from Susan: Inocente MSU Screening

Notes from Susan: Inocente MSU Screening


Notes from Susan: Inocente Screening at MSU


Photo credit Alexandra Hidalgo

By Susan MacLaury

Last week I reunited with Inocente, the subject of our film Inocente, to go to Michigan State University to do two screenings and Q and As of the film. We were hosted by Carleen Hsu, Professor of Practice in the Department of Media and Information and Film Studies Program, who was joined by faculty and staff in other departments to make our trip possible.

We showed the film first to Carleen’s film production class, attended by about 100 students, and later that night we did a second screening and Q and A for about 75 students, staff and faculty in one of the university’s libraries. Inocente was beguiling as always, and won the hearts of everyone with her honesty and grace. Her explanation of why she takes in homeless animals – even a very mean rabbit named BunBun – is humorous but very touching.

What also moved me tremendously was being honored at a dinner hosted by Michigan’s CAMP Program (College Assistance Migrant Program). We had a chance to meet wonderful staff and students, most of whom had worked in the fields as did the kids in our film, The Harvest (La Cosecha)

Inocente summed up the day by saying: “This film will continue to be relevant as long as homelessness, undocumented immigrants subject to deportation, and lack of support for the arts continue.”

If you are interested in hosting a screening of one of these films, please contact
Screenings at schools and universities must go through the films’ distributors (we can put you in touch).
Please be aware that the subjects or filmmakers are usually not able to attend but they do require that hosts provide travel and lodging and a speaking fee.


Earth Day 2017 Movies and Children’s Health

Earth Day 2017 Movies and Children’s Health


Earth Day 2017 Movies and Children’s Health

This Earth Day, we want to highlight the health consequences of environmental issues, especially for children, and some of the films that address them. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 are attributable to unhealthy environments.[1]  Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental risks including unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, air pollution, second-hand smoke, hazardous chemicals, and climate change.

An issue that Shine has highlighted through our documentary film The Harvest (La Cosecha) and farmworker rights campaign is poisoning from pesticides that could be life-threatening.  Pesticides are widely used in the fields and despite some US regulations about their safe use, many agricultural workers, including children, fall sick.  Even children who are not working in the fields but who are just living nearby, can suffer pesticide poisoning either from drift, water contamination, or from pesticides brought home on their parents’ clothing.  Unfortunately, the US has not been at the forefront of addressing these issues. The EPA recently decided to not ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, despite their findings that it could be dangerous for us, and especially dangerous for farmworkers and young children.

In addition to The Harvest check out other farmworker rights films such as:

Food Chains
King Corn
Food Inc

Other environmental factors that affect children’s health include waste, especially the growing problem of electronic and electrical waste (such as your old mobile phone) that is improperly recycled. It can expose children to toxins which can lead to a whole host of health issues including lung damage, cancer, and reduced intelligence.

Check out:

Plastic China

With climate change, our entire world and our future are in jeopardy.  But this weekend, thousands of people will be joining the March for Science on earth day with another Climate Change March the following weekend.  It’s encouraging to see so many people coming together to help save our planet and future generations.

If you want to learn more about environmental issues affecting us and especially children, we hope you’ll check out the above documentary films.  And if you are looking for more environmental films to watch check out our previous list from Earth Day 2015.



A Statement from Shine Global on Funding for the NEA

A Statement from Shine Global on Funding for the NEA


A Statement from Shine Global on Funding for the NEA

A still from Shine Global's 2012 Academy Award®-winning short documentary, Inocente

A still from Shine Global’s 2012 Academy Award®-winning short documentary, Inocente

As you may have heard, the recently proposed FY 18 federal budget eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with 16 other independent agencies.  Shine Global wishes to join the hundreds of artists and organizations expressing dismay over these cuts.  The NEA plays a vital role in the cultural life of the US, as well as being an economic driver of a thriving arts and culture industry.

The budget of the NEA represents a tiny portion of the overall Federal Budget – about 0.004% or 46 cents per American per year.  Founded in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, the NEA’s current annual appropriation amount is just under $148 million.  To compare, this is one third of what the US budget allocated last year for military bands alone.  And internationally, the Canada Council for the Arts budgets eight times as much, on a per-person basis, with plans to double that by 2021.  Cutting these programs will not balance the budget but will have an extremely negative effect on those benefiting from the work of NEA-supported artists and organizations.

Each year, the NEA supports programs of art and education in every congressional district of the US, strengthening the creative capacity of our communities, celebrating our rich cultural heritage, and promoting equal access to the arts in every community across the country.  Most of the NEA’s grants are awarded to small and mid-sized nonprofit groups, and many are targeted at both urban and rural economically disadvantaged communities.

We at Shine have seen first-hand the impact of the arts on people.  Our Academy-Award® winning short documentary film Inocente followed the story of a homeless 15-year-old girl who found hope and support through an after-school arts program in San Diego.  She now is a working artist but has served as an inspiration for the hundreds of thousands of people who have seen the film.  Inocente was even screened for members of Congress in 2013 to show them a personal angle on the importance of funding for the arts.

The NEA has supported our new IGNITE program which brings our films and companion materials to underserved youth who do not have regular access to high quality documentaries or the tools to engage with them.  With the support of the NEA, we are able to bring them a valuable and inspirational experience through the community film screenings.  In addition to sparking an appreciation for film, educating about new issues, and encouraging critical thinking, the IGNITE program inspires viewers to try new things, see the world in a new light, and have hope.  One middle school teacher reported: “I showed this film and taught the lesson plans to help a group of struggling 8th grade English learners, who have lost all hope and ability to “dream,” to once again believe in a better tomorrow.”  Youth themselves have reached out to tell us how inspirational a film was and how it has made them think differently about their own situation – and have hope for improvement.  This emotional impact is just as important as the exposure to film, new ideas, and learning opportunities.

The NEA not only supports Americans expressing our values and culture, but it also supports our economy.  According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, arts and culture is a $704 billion industry, comprising 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity each year and returns $22.3 billion in government revenue.

When Congress enacted the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act back in 1965, they affirmed a conviction that the arts and humanities are vital to the health and progress of the US.  And they were building on a tradition of the Federal government supporting the arts.  In his first annual message, President George Washington told Congress “there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature.” And Presidents year after year continued to affirm the importance of the arts to our continued prosperity.  The United States Constitution itself mandates that Congress be empowered to promote the “Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

The arts are not a partisan issue.  Every president since the NEA’s inception has continued to support its work.  The arts and humanities serve us all and public support is vital to ensure our common participation and common heritage.

The proposed budget is under reviewIf you’d like to join the conversation, please visit the Americans for the Arts’s Action Center to send a customizable message to your elected representatives. Be sure to share on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media with #ArtsVote, #SaveTheNEA, #StandfortheArts and tag your elected officials.


International Women’s Day: Shine Global and Women in Film

International Women’s Day: Shine Global and Women in Film


International Women’s Day: Shine Global and Women in Film

Shine Global Women - Intl Womens Day 2017

By Alexandra Blaney

Today is International Women’s Day and Shine Global is very proud to celebrate the many women we have worked with over the years as filmmakers, subjects, and activists.  Over 70% of the films Shine has produced or been involved with since our founding, have been directed or co-directed by women while all of them have had female producers.  And on screen as well, we have shared the stories of many resilient and strong women and girls including Rose and Nancy in War/Dance, Perla and Zulema in The Harvest, Inocente in the Oscar-winning Inocente, Lois and Noor in Dancing in Jaffa, Pushpa in Waiting for Mamu, Phreeda Sharp in 1 Way Up, Aisholpan in The Eagle Huntress, and Fon and Eye on The Wrong Light.

In the film world, gender inequality both on and off the screen has become a push button topic.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation of major Hollywood studios just found that they “systemically discriminated” against female directors and the EEOC is currently in talks with those studios in an attempt to address the charges.

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University has conducted extensive research and published many studies on women’s on-screen representation and behind-the-scenes employment.  They found that in 2016, only 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films were women, which actually represents a 2% decline from the previous year and is on par with percentages achieved almost 2 decades ago, in 1998.  In independent film, outside of the major studios, women are better represented, accounting for 25% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers. The Center for the Study of Women also found women are much more likely to work on documentaries than on narrative features. In the festivals they studied for the 2016 The Women in Independent Film Report, women comprised 35% of directors working on documentaries versus 19% of directors on narrative features. These numbers show there is still a long way to go to achieve gender parity.

This behind the scenes inequality is reflected on screen as well.  While the number of female protagonists of the 100 top grossing films in 2016 increased from 2015 by 7% to make up 29% of film protagonists, in films helmed exclusively by men, women were only 18 percent of protagonists.  In films with at least one female director or writer, 57% of protagonist were women.  Overall, audiences were still more than twice as likely to see male characters than female characters in top grossing movies, even with such blockbusters as the female-starring Rogue One.

And why does this matter?  Media has a huge influence on our social and cultural behavior, especially on children who are engaging with media up to 7-10 hours a day.  Omission or negative depictions in media can have lasting consequences for children’s beliefs and values.  Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media operates with the belief that “if she can see it, she can be it” and has been working towards increasing representation of women both on and off screen.  We’ve seen this maxim at work first hand with The Eagle Huntress.  Since Aisholpan’s debut as the first female to compete at the Golden Eagle Festival, three more girls have entered.

An article in AAUW Outlook magazine titled “The High Cost of Hollywood’s Gender Bias” found that women on screen are mostly see in traditionally female-dominated occupations, such as teachers and waitresses, and underrepresented in high-level occupations, such as doctors and engineers. A Geena Davis Institute study that analyzed gender roles in popular films distributed between January 1, 2010, and May 1, 2013, found that women held only 13.9 percent of senior executive positions, and only men were depicted as partners in law firms.

While women are underrepresented as a whole, representation for women of color is even worse with only 24% of women on screen being non-white.

At Shine we are proud of our track record of women-lead films and we are part of the movement demanding gender equality in the film industry and across all professions. Women and girls deserve to be seen and heard.