Shine Board Member Profile: Robert Baker

Shine Board Member Profile: Robert Baker

Blog

Shine Board Member Profile: Robert Baker

As part of an ongoing series, we want to introduce you to the Shine Global family and especially our outstanding and hard working board members who help move Shine forward.

Name: Robert Baker
Joined Shine Board of Directors: 2005
Title: Chief, Office of Political Programming, Federal Communications Commission
Current Role at Shine: Member of the Board of Directors

Born and raised in Washington D.C. where I met Marla, my wife of 47 years, together raised our two daughters, attended Georgetown Law School, and began my first career as a communications attorney.   Detoured from the law to a career in the music business and spent some intensely interesting years managing recording artists.  Met Shine’s future Co-founders Albie and Susan during that misspent youth, and all of us became the very best of friends for over forty years and counting.  Returned to relative calm at the FCC where I head the staff of attorneys dealing with all political advertising issues in radio and television broadcasting, cable television, and satellites.  Enjoy extensive travel around the country speaking about political advertising issues on behalf of the FCC.  Proudest moment in my career was the national Federal Communications Bar Association’s singular yearly Award for Excellence in Government Service, a lifetime achievement recognition from my peers throughout the country.  Prior to joining the Shine Global Board as a founding member in 2005, I sat on the Boards of The New Playwrights Theater in DC and the District of Columbia Arts Center.

Why did you join Shine’s board and why have you stayed on for several years?

When Albie & Susan began describing their vision for Shine over dinner in NYC, and told us about their idea for documenting a story about the horrors of child soldiers in Uganda, the basis for Shine’s first film, War Dance, I wanted to be a part of the experience by joining with them on what promised to be an amazing and fulfilling journey.  Nothing in my work life has been quite so thrilling and rewarding as my association with Shine and its ascendency to great heights in presenting films and doing outreach about the bold spirit and resiliency of children faced with and overcoming extraordinary challenges.  Our friendship with Albie & Susan and their level of passion, vision, boundless energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm, is inspirational and motivates me to continue my involvement with Shine.

What’s a favorite Shine moment for you?

Sitting with Albie & Susan in the packed audience at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2007, we waited nervously for the premier screening of Shine’s War Dance.  The audience remained still as the story unfolded making it difficult for us to gauge just how well the film was being received.  Then came a moment in the film when a pervading sense of danger is felt as village boys walk through the tall brush.  It is unexpectedly interrupted by a touching moment of humor when the boys at the end of their walk playfully jump into a river laughing — the audience erupted with joyous laughter in union with the boys.   We knew at that moment that War Dance had captured the audience completely.  A close second occurred at the end of that screening when the audience jumped to its feet for a rousing standing ovation.

What is a Shine challenge that you feel supporters should know about?

There is a common thread that runs through all non-profit Boards — finding the funds and resources to operate at a sustainable level.  For Shine, this is compounded by its remarkable evolving success with the number of potential projects growing and the relative increase in the costs of operation.  Shine has a new film, Liyana, premiering at the LA Film festival later this month, with several other important projects in varying stages of development.   Couple increasing film production and development with Shine’s successful outreach to school educational programs and you have a recipe for expanding need.   For our existing supporters, we need to keep reinforcing the importance of supporting our mission.  We do that through our bi-monthly newsletters, our yearly gala in NYC, and, of course, continuing to present only high quality documentaries.  In less than twelve years Shine has produced an amazing array of films telling compelling stories about children from all over the world.   At a time when funding for the arts is imperiled by political forces, we must continue to find new and innovative ways to garner support for our projects.  I ask supporters to consider how important it is to tell stories to inspire us at a time when there is a movement in our country to diminish the artistic communities ability to inspire for change.

See the full list of Shine’s Board of Directors Members and Board of Governors Members here and read the first five profiles of board members Dario Spina here, Keith Brown here, Kay Sarlin Wright here, Marilyn DeLuca here, Al Cattabiani here, Bill MacArthur here, and Don Melnick here.

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

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

Blog

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:
http://www.thewronglight.com

Official Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/TheWrongLight

Credits:
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

Blog

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 tickets.lafilmfestival.com.

Shine Board Member Profile: Don Melnick

Shine Board Member Profile: Don Melnick

Blog

Shine Board Member Profile: Don Melnick

 

As part of an ongoing series, we want to introduce you to the Shine Global family and especially our outstanding and hard working board members who help move Shine forward.

Don MelnickName: Don Melnick
Joined Shine Board of Directors: 2005
Title: Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology and Director of the Center for Environment, Economy, and Society, Columbia University
Current Role at Shine: Chair of the Board of Directors, Member of the Governance and Nominations Committee

Currently, I am the Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology at Columbia University.  While I live only three blocks away from where I was born, I have spent most of my adult life traveling, working and living around the world. For the past 40 years, I’ve used molecular genetics to explain aspects of the ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation of animals. This research has spanned organisms from frogs to elephants, and continents from Central and South America to Asia and Africa. For the past 15 years, I have also been involved in environmental policy, co-chairing the UN Millennium Task Force on Environmental Sustainability, and providing strategic advice to many countries on environmental issues.  But perhaps most rewarding has been my work in education from developing an integrated ecology curriculum for middle schools in Brooklyn, to a STEM high school program in Indonesia, to new BA, MA, and PhD programs at Columbia in ecology, evolution and environmental biology – eventually leading to the first new department in the Arts and Sciences since WWII.

Why did you join Shine’s board and why have you stayed on for several years?
Whether in a megacity or a rural village, a highly industrialized nation or a developing country, a university or a primary school, throughout my travels and work, it has become clear that children form the foundation of every society.  I joined Shine for three critical reasons, the importance of children and the challenges they face, the value of bringing those to light through the use of documentary filmmaking, and an abiding faith that the founders of Shine, Susan MacLaury and Albie Hecht, will do everything in their power to bring the challenges and triumphs of children to a worldwide audience.  I have been with Shine from its beginning and the commitment to the Board that I have made, including being its Chair, reflects the importance I attach to its mission.

What’s a favorite Shine moment for you?
My favorite Shine moment came very early on in the organization’s history.  We were previewing War Dance at MOMA.  I was concerned that the audience would be too jaded to truly appreciate the film’s message, and too self-conscious to react in an emotional way to its uplifting ending.  I was wrong. The audience was on its feet for the last five minutes of the movie, cheering, crying, and hugging.  It was a very moving moment, one I will never forget.

How do you use your specific skill set in your work as a Shine board member?
I have led many large scale, complex projects in many countries.  I have also been a member of a number of boards of non-profit organizations.  I try to bring the skills I have gained in both of these capacities to the issues we face in Shine as we grow and work hard to stay true to our mission.

What is a Shine challenge that you feel supporters should know about?
Shine faces multiple challenges, as do all organizations of its type.  Foremost among these is raising the funds necessary to finance its growing number of projects.  But beyond the finances, Shine must adapt its work to the rapidly changing platforms of communication. This is not trivial.  Similarly, Shine must highlight the new challenges children face in a fast changing world.  Issues that most of us never dreamed we would confront as children.  In all three of these areas, Shine is poised to excel, which is why Shine is such an exciting organization.

See the full list of Shine’s Board of Directors Members and Board of Governors Members here and read the first fiveprofiles of board members Dario Spina here, Keith Brown here, Kay Sarlin Wright here, Marilyn DeLuca here, Al Cattabiani here, and Bill MacArthur here.

Shine Board Member Profile: Kay Sarlin Wright

As part of a new series, we want to introduce you to the Shine Global family and especially our outstanding and hard working board members who help move Shine forward.


Kay Sarlin WrightName:
 Kay Sarlin Wright
Joined Shine Board of Directors: November 2011 (previously on Advisory Board)
Title: Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at Empire State Development
Current Role at Shine: Member of the Board of Directors, Member of the Marketing Committee

Kay Sarlin Wright is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at Empire State Development, New York State’s chief economic development agency, where she oversees public affairs and the Global NY division. Prior to joining the Cuomo administration she served as Associate Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and senior advisor for marketing, creative services and communications, and provided strategic advice on political and policy matters on the City, State, and Federal levels. Before DCA she was a Vice President of the Glover Park Group, where she was a communications advisor to major national corporations, non-profits, and political campaigns. She has also served as a Congressional Chief of Staff and Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Department of Transportation.

Why did you join Shine’s board and why have you stayed on for several years?
Shine was started by my parents in 2005.

In January 2005, my mother and I had lunch with an executive director of a non-profit focused on providing health and human services and we discussed the war in Northern Uganda. We learned how thousands of children walked hundreds of miles each night to sleep in the fortified city of Gulu. We couldn’t believe how little we knew and after lunch we found out that we weren’t alone — this was the UN’s number one most under-reported story of the year. And then the question became how could more people learn about stories like this and the answer was originally we could raise money to make one documentary. This lunch was a seminal moment in the creation of Shine and it’s hard to believe all that Shine has accomplished since then.

What’s a favorite Shine moment for you?
When we travelled to Africa to visit families who were living in IDP camps we met with many children, some of whom were featured in Shine’s first film War/Dance and we were very inspired by their strength. We quickly understood that whatever the mechanism would be for telling their story, at its core, the film would be about the incredible resilience of children.

How do you use your specific skill set in your work as a Shine board member?
My background is in communications and marketing and it’s exciting to work with the talented members of the Shine marketing committee to find new ways to forge partnerships and effectively communicate Shine’s mission of hope. It’s never easy convincing people to see films that focus on troubling topics, often without easy solutions, but Shine’s films create awareness and allow us to start discussions that can lead to real change.

What is a Shine challenge that you feel supporters should know about?
In the last ten years securing funding for documentaries has become increasingly difficult and every donation is very important to us.

See the full list of Shine’s Board of Directors Members and Board of Governors Members here and read the first two profiles of board members Dario Spina here and Keith Brown here.

The Eagle Huntress Opening in Select Theaters Oct. 28

The Eagle Huntress, directed by Otto Bell and produced in association with Shine Global, is set to open in select US theaters on October 28th followed by additional cities.  The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it was bought by Sony Pictures Classics and features narration by Star Wars star Daisy Ridley and an original song by Sia.

The film follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.

Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, The Eagle Huntress features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography ever captured in a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film.  Director Otto Bell told National Geographic “it’s rich in a lot of universal themes we can all appreciate, like female empowerment, the relationship between a father and his daughter, coming of age, and the natural world.”

 

THE EAGLE HUNTRESS RELEASE PLAN

10/28

NEW YORK • LOS ANGELES

11/4

SAN FRANCISCO • CHICAGO • WASHINGTON, DC

11/11

SAN DIEGO • DALLAS • HOUSTON • MINNEAPOLIS • PHILADELPHIA • BOSTON • PHOENIX

11/18

SEATTLE • PORTLAND • DENVER • MILWAUKEE • MIAMI •FT. LAUDERDALE • BOCA RATON • WEST PALM • BALTIMORE • ATLANTA • ST. LOUIS • HONOLULU • AUSTIN • NEW YORK AREA• LOS ANGELES AREA

11/23

NATIONWIDE • DETROIT • INDIANAPOLIS • SAN ANTONIO • MADISON • PITTSBURGH • CHARLOTTE • RALEIGH-DURHAM • NEW ORLEANS • CLEVELAND • CINCINNATI • COLUMBUS • DAYTON • KANSAS CITY • SALT LAKE CITY • NAPLES • FT. MYERS • ORLANDO • SARASOTA

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER