Waiting for Mamu Sweeps San Diego Film Festival

Waiting For Mamu with tag line

In its last US festival appearance, the highly decorated film wins both the jury and audience prize

New York, NY–September 30, 2014. Produced and Directed by Thomas Morgan and Executive Producers Susan Sarandon and Morgan Spurlock, Waiting for Mamu has enjoyed quite a festival run over the past year, which culminated last weekend when it took both the audience and the jury prize in San Diego.  Among other awards, it also claimed the Audience Award in Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival as well as the Audience Award and Humanitarian Award at the Sedona International Film Festival.  Morgan says this will be the last US festival screening as they prepare what he calls “the next exciting phase for the film.”

Waiting for Mamu tells the story of Pushpa Basnet, a young social work student in Kathmandu, Nepal, who has changed the lives of more than 100 children who had been incarcerated with their parents in a local prison.  It was during a tour of the prison, as part of her course work, that Pushpa was shocked to see children sitting on the prison floors. The children had been incarcerated with their parents, which is typical when they lack another guardian. As she turned to leave, an 8-month-old girl tugged at her shawl. “Without saying a word, this little girl was saying ‘Don’t leave me,’” Pushpa recalled.

Less than a year later, at age 21, Puspha opened the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) and began taking the children out of the prisons across the country. She houses them, feeds them, sends them to school—she is their “Mamu,” which means mother in Nepalese.  She has housed more than 100 children over nine years and has 50 children who live with her at the ECDC today.

Producer/Director Thomas Morgan met Pushpa by chance and knew he had to tell her story.  The film is an unvarnished look at the difficult truths these children face and at Pushpa’s struggles and successes in changing their lives.

“It is an honor to receive both the jury and the audience award at the San Diego Film Festival capping off a fantastic festival run,” says Morgan “But our main focus remains on Pushpa’s organization and her children.  Until we are able to use the power of this film to fund her new ‘Butterfly Home’ and give security to the lives of these children, everything else seems trivial.”

“I have had others that have come to me to make a documentary or to tell our story. They come and they go,” says Pushpa.  “Thomas is the first that has come with the full intention of using our story to help our children, and for that I am forever grateful.  He is my guardian angel– he has been MY Mamu.”

Actress Susan Sarandon and Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (“Supersize Me,” CNN’s “Inside Man) served as Executive Producers on Waiting for Mamu, which was produced in association with Shine Global.

“One of the most beautiful and hopeful stories I’ve ever seen.  From the moment Thomas first told me about the project, I knew I had to do anything I could to help him get it made,” said Spurlock.

Susan Sarandon and Thomas Morgan founded Reframed Pictures earlier this year and recently welcomed Alexandra Dean and Adam Haggiag to the team. Though he wouldn’t give details of what was next he stated, “Our team and partners are working very hard on the next stages for this film.  It will be unlike anything you have seen before and will allow us to meet all of the goals we have for the film.”

For more information go to www.waitingformamu.com.

Media Contact:

Shayna Robinson
Reframed Pictures Staff
(234) 380-3272

Notes from Susan: A Visit to Otisville Detention Center

By Susan MacLaury
Executive Director, Shine Global
Inocente-SmileOn July 29 of this year I was privileged to see our film, Inocente, under unusual circumstances. I traveled with Vee Bravo, Flonia Telegraphia, and Karla Rodriguez from the Tribeca Film Institute and Baz Dreisinger, a Professor of English at John Jay College, to the Otisville Detention Center about 90 minutes north of NYC. Inocente was shown as part of the Prison to College Pipeline program.

Here’s what stays with me from this experience.

I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the program that the inmates created and facilitated for themselves. I was a college professor for 19 years, have shown my share of films, and facilitated hundreds of discussions to process them, and what I participated in that day was as good or better than any one of them.

The facilitator did a wonderful job, which was especially notable since he had appeared before the parole board only hours before. He was calm and engaged and gave 100% effort and told us after it ended that he was hopeful that his hearing had gone well and would know in a few days whether or not he’d be released.

The men watched the film in absolute silence, then moved into two small groups to talk about their reactions and to go through a series of exercises based on names: how they’d been named; what their names meant; whether they’d rename themselves if they could and if so, why; and finally the topic of homelessness. We’d done an exercise to help us remember one another’s names … you know the one…. everyone thinks of an alliterative adjective and uses it in giving their names: Dashing Don, Exuberant Evelyn, etc.

For days after when I’d think of the men, I’d recall Lonely Larry, who talked about having been in prison for 37 years and had no idea where he’d live if released, as opposed to Devoted Don, who said he knew he wouldn’t be homeless because after 27 years in prison he still had family who loved him and would take him in. By the way, Don has earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s since the program started.

The men were very open, surprisingly articulate, and very accepting of us. Though most were serving life sentences none of us felt uncomfortable for a moment. There were two guards with dogs but given that these were both 5-month yellow lab puppies no one was taking them seriously!

I left feeling very touched and very impressed with the program. My belief in the need for programs that genuinely make an effort to rehabilitate prisoners was heightened. I’ll remember these men and am grateful for programs like (P2CP) making a difference in their lives.

Vee Bravo is Director, Education at Tribeca Film Institute. In this capacity he and his staff have developed and presented film programs for 18,000 NYC public school students and their families. For the past 20 years, Vee has also created arts programs for inmates at Rikers Island in NYC and now in additional facilities in upstate NY. One of these is Otisville.

Baz Dreisinger is a professor of English at John Jay who makes the trip to Otisville twice a week to work with the 26 members of the John Jay Prison to College Pipeline (P2CP) program that has partnered John Jay with Hostos Community College and the NYS Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) since its inception in 2011, providing college instruction to several dozen students to date. The program is seemingly very successful in helping inmates reenter society, find employment, enrollment in training programs, internships, and college and boasts enviably low recidivism rates.

Our film Inocente is an inspiring coming-of-age story of a 15-year old girl in California. Though homeless and undocumented, she refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, proving that the hand she has been dealt does not define her – her dreams do. It won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2013 and continues to be shown around to world to students, activists, and dreamers of all types.