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.



Shine Board Member Profile: Don Melnick

Shine Board Member Profile: Don Melnick


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.