Archive for November, 2009

Lifetime Achievement Award for Film Maker Debra Chasnoff



By | Straightlaced

We are very proud to announce that Debra Chasnoff’s alma mater, Wellesley College, recently honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary Filmmaking from the college’s Art Department and Cinema and Media Studies Program.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Film Maker Debra Chasnoff

Lifetime Achievement Award for Film Maker Debra Chasnoff

Here’s a bit from the speech, Beth Pfeiffer, one of the trustees of the college, made during the award presentation:

“Debra Chasnoff, class of 1978, majored in economics. After a short stint in corporate America, Debra went on to follow her true passion—social change. Understanding social change is the result of deep passion and potent pragmatics, she embarked on her filmmaking career in 1984 with the film Choosing Children. Her commitment to equity and understanding informed the film and her courage to speak out and her personal honesty and talent that gave the film a place in history.

Accolades followed immediately, including an Academy Award in 1991 for her subsequent film, Deadly Deception, and they multiply from there. Founder and Executive Director of GroundSpark, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating visionary films and dynamic educational campaigns that move individuals and communities to take action for a more just world, Chasnoff has evolved into one of the most successful and dynamic documentarians of our time. Her latest film, Straightlaced, debuted this year and, having seen it, I’m sure the trail of awards will continue!”

Everyone here at GroundSpark, myself included, take our hats off to our colleague. Thank you for the work you do and the courage you inspire!

Minneapolis Premiere Right Around the Corner!



By | Screenings, Straightlaced

We are gearing up for the Twin Cities premiere of Straightlaced, which will take place Monday November 16th in Minneapolis. This will be the last regional premiere of the film, completing an thirty-city, ten-month long tour of Straightlaced! With an impressive array of community partners and dedicated volunteers working on the ground to fill the seats, word about the event is spreading quickly.

Betty Tisel hard at work in Minneapolis!

Betty Tisel hard at work in Minneapolis!

Super-volunteer Betty Tisel (pictured above), who has been a long-time donor to GroundSpark with her partner, Sarah Farley, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure success. “Imagine these buckets full of cash and check donations,” she says. “Visualize all these tickets being SOLD.” To help fulfill Betty’s dreams, get your tickets!!

I had the pleasure of talking with local radio host Leigh Combs last week about the event. A local teacher, advocate, and GroundSpark supporter, Leigh brought home the need for the Minneapolis community to not only come out to the event, but to start the dialog with young people about their experiences with gender pressures. To listen to the full show, click here. And just this week, I had the chance to talk about the more personal nuances and overall charm of Straightlaced with Todd Melby, a Minneapolis local radio documentarian with KFAI. Todd reminds us that the topic of gender and the pressure to conform affects not only young people, but adults also. You can listen to more of my talk with Todd here.

Please become part of what promises to be an inspiring and interesting community event in Minneapolis! For more information about the event or to sponsor the event please visit the event page. See you there!

Straightlaced in Long Island, NY



By | Straightlaced

On the evening of October 29, a group of students, educators parents and social service providers gathered at the Long Island GLBT Community Center in Bay Shore, NY for a screening of and discussion about Straightlaced, facilitated by GroundSpark national Trainer Scott Hirschfeld. Sponsored by the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth’s Safe Schools Initiative and organized by Director of Youth Services Nick Tryling, this event was part of the initiative’s Transgender Voices & Visibility series. To set the stage for the screening, audience members talked with each other in small groups about the messages they received about gender during their growing up years and how those messages impacted them. After viewing the film, participants engaged in a spirited discussion about the limitations of current gender role norms and expectations, and about strategies for increasing awareness about this issue among their students, colleagues and family members. The group found Straightlaced to be both an affirmation of their experiences and an inspiration to work toward more gender inclusive communities for young people.