ARTS & CULTURE
Stakeholder and Grassroots Impact Production
In 2008, Young Communications Group, Inc. diversified its efforts to use communications to effect social change by working with documentary film makers to extend the life of their films by creating public education impact screenings. This unique service, has moved the agency squarely into the arena where culture and art intersect with social activism, advocacy and public policy, and social change.
YCG is responsible for developing the community engagement strategies, including identifying panelists who can articulate the issues shown in the film and engage with the film director/producer and audience. The agency also is responsible for organizing the screenings and promotions and marketing for these events. The following provides highlights from these impact screenings.
Trouble the Water
A redemptive tale of an aspiring rap artist surviving failed levees and her own troubled past and seizing a chance for a new beginning. As Hurricane Katrina raged around them, Scott and Kimberly Rivers Roberts took shelter with some neighbors in their attic in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. Kimberly, an aspiring rapper, brought her video camera and filmed herself, her husband and their friends before and during the devastating storm. This footage is at the heart of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s documentary about the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, along with the filmmakers’ own footage of Kimberly and Scott rebuilding their lives afterwards.
This was the first documentary film for which Young developed impact screenings. Working with faith based leaders, YCG started by showing the film to a select group of pastors, as the filmmakers wanted faith leaders to carry the message that self determination, resilience and government accountability are powerful. Pastors enthusiastically supported this message and Young visited numerous Black churches throughout Los Angeles to invite congregants to the screening. The result was standing room only attendance and action setting by the audience members. This film is distributed on HBO.
The Central Park Five
From award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, The Central Park Five tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by the miscarriage of justice. Still in the news, as President Donald Trump continues to call these young men out, YCG brought the film and the subjects to a powerful evening of discussion and activism at the California African American Museum. YCG also conducted media relations, holding one-on-one interviews with key media representatives, including Los Angeles Times and National Black Journalist Award recipient, Beverly White. This is a PBS distributed film.
The Black Power Mixtape
The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 is a 2011 documentary film, directed by Göran Olsson, that examines the evolution of the Black Power movement in America from 1967 to 1975 as viewed through Swedish journalists and filmmakers. It uses rarely ever seen archival footage to capture the events that shaped the Black Power movement. Young Communications Group, Inc. was responsible for media relations and developing private showings of the film to elected officials and key opinion leaders in order to continue a dialogue about criminal justice.
From 2012 to 2016, Young Communications Group, in collaboration with its nonprofit arm, the Adrienne Jules Foundation implemented the Addiction Incorporated Tobacco Education Program, which used the documentary film, “Addiction incorporated”, as the centerpiece of a comprehensive engagement, education and advocacy program. This program was designed to identify and eliminate tobacco-re-lated disparities, while providing a tool that will help youth and young adults make decisions not to initiate tobacco use. Further, the Addiction Incorporated Tobacco Education program was designed to provide a new and interactive tool for use by tobacco education and prevention professionals. Addiction Incorporated is a commercial quality documentary that won the New York Times film critics award and was directed and produced by film maker, Charlie Evans, Jr., who was the director of the Aviator.
The documentary film has been shown in all 50 states, as well as numerous countries abroad. A public private partnership was secured with the World Health Organization, which is using the film as part of its international tobacco campaign. The documentary and its curriculum have been translated into Portuguese and Chinese. More than two percent of the entire U.S. population has seen the film at engagement and advocacy screenings held at various schools, universities, anti-tobacco conferences, and scientific conferences. YCG and the Adrienne Jules Foundation own the rights to the film and all revenues from the educational distribution.
American Promise captures the stories of Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s son Idris and his best friend and classmate Sean as their families navigate through the rigorous prep-school process. Though both boys start out at the prestigious Dalton School, circumstances later force one into a public high school. The film is set against the backdrop of a persistent educational achievement gap that dramatically affects African American boys at all socioeconomic levels. Thirteen years in the making, the film was nominated for three Emmys.
Young Communications developed a series of impact screenings and panel discussions to tackle the issue of the educational achievement gap and to develop solutions. These screenings were part of an ongoing effort that is empowering boys, their parents, caregivers and educators to close the academic achievement gap for Black males. Screenings were held in Los Angeles and Pasadena.
LA 92 is a 2017 documentary film about the 1992 LA Riots, directed by Academy award filmmaker Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. Consisting entirely of archival footage, the documentary chronicles the 1992 LA Riots/Uprising after 25 years have passed. It includes film and video from the 1965 Watts Riots, the 1973 election of Tom Bradley, the 1978 promotion of Daryl Gates, the shooting of Latasha Harlins, the Rodney King videotape and subsequent uprising and violence that erupted after the acquittal of the officers involved in King’s videotaped beating.
Young developed a series of panel discussions that featured elected officials, including Congresswoman Karen Bass, representatives from the media, including Rico Reed from KJLH and the only black photographer for the L.A. Times, who also covered the uprising, Kirk D. McCoy and former Los Angeles Councilperson Jan Perry. The film ultimately was nominated for an Academy Award and won an Emmy and Peabody award. Young Communications Group, Inc. was credited for bringing the issues covered in the film to the forefront and creating a dialogue that focused on solutions and advocacy.
Charm City delivers a candid portrait of citizens, police, community advocates, and government officials on the frontlines during three years of unparalleled, escalating violence in Baltimore. The film highlights the positive actions undertaken by groups and individuals, optimistically offering humanity as common ground. Young Communications Group produced an impact screening and engagement event that was co-sponsored by The Brotherhood Crusade and Peace Over Violence, which was held the day before our recent mid-term election. More than 150 people attended the event, held at the Museum of Tolerance. Not only was this a timely event given the election, but it was just a week after the shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue. Featured on the panel were representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the Mayor’s Office and Youth Justice Coalition, along with the filmmaker and subjects of the film.
Charm City is structured around a small constellation of memorable people – community members, local elected officials, and law enforcement personnel – living and working in Baltimore during a period of sharp increased homicides. Similarities between the stories of the people depicted in this film and people living in Los Angeles was striking and not lost on the audience. This was the first time the film was shown outside of Baltimore and the filmmakers are already exploring partnerships with the Sheriff’s Department and the Police Academy.