“Wage Theft in Chicago” explores the phenomena of wage theft; a practice of exploitation through which low-wage workers (restaurant workers, construction workers, and home-healthcare workers, etc.) are not paid their due wage. Moreover, low-wage workers are routinely the victims of discrimination and health and safety violations. All of these factors keep low-wage workers in a cycle of poverty throughout the United States. We interview staff of Arise Chicago, a labor rights organization, and several wage theft victims in the Chicago area to learn how this problem contributes to poverty in Chicago specifically. A recent study by The Center for Urban and Economic Development at the University of Illinois Chicago shows that over 7 million dollars a week are stolen from low-wage workers in Cook County alone. The documentary also explores practices of resistance to wage theft by labor rights NGOs, including by not limited to community-based activism, education and legal reform. To watch a preview, click here.
This documentary considers the women and men of the Berrien County Jail in Benton Harbor, Michigan, one of the poorest cities in United States. Our study focuses on two elements of their incarceration: the plight of their children and the impact of the Fresh Start Prevention Program, created by Berrien County Commissioner Marletta Seats, with the aim to emotionally rehabilitate inmates from their past patterns of destructive behavior and reduce the recidivism rate. Fresh Start has had some success, due in no little part to Marletta’s relentless determination to reach the inner selves of these inmates. She shows them why they are responsible for their incarceration (often inmates blame others – their parents, partners, the justice system, even their children!), and helps them to see how they can help themselves to stay out of jail. Secondly, we document the plight of children of those incarcerated; how parenting and being present is what is needed for most of these children, to break the cycle of poverty and incarceration. To watch a preview, click here.
Partnering with the world- renowned Novartis Foundation, we were able to visit Ifakara, Tanzania and its surrounding villages in March 2011. The documentary will feature the model developed by Novartis to address health care issues in sub-saharan Africa. In Tanzania specifically, Novartis has built and staffed health clinics, a care facility for lepers, a hospital, and several pharmacies. All of these facilities aim to prevent disease, in particular, malaria, that is prevalent in the region, and improve general health access. In addition, Novartis and its partners have established microlending in six villages in the region, all run by women, and all very successful in improving standards of living for these villagers. To watch a preview, click here.
Featuring the NGO, Partners for Sustainable Development International, we are completing a documentary on poverty reduction projects in Bangladesh that go beyond the concept of simple microlending (providing very small loans to the poor with no to little interest). PSDI's model is to work with families of the poorest of the poor, those without one meal a day or adequate shelter, helping them get started with adequate food and shelter. Once the basic survival of the population is ensured, PSDI begins the microlending process; helping to develop several cottage industries, through those loans, that employ 50 people or more in the community. The documentary also pays particular focus to the result of this poverty reduction process—education—featuring several primary schools for children in PSDI villages. Finally, the documentary shows how PSDI considers ALL the needs of the community, as it works to provide clean water and clean latrines for the villages it adopts. To wactch a preview of this project, click here.