Homes & Hands

The inspiring story of three communities that have found an empowering way to bring the American dream of owning a home to low-income residents. Community land trusts (CLTs) make housing permanently affordable by giving ownership of the land to local community groups and eliminating the usual spiral of land price speculation. Through the personal stories, tenacity and vision of community activists in Durham, North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Burlington, Vermont, audiences are compelled to rethink their assumptions about affordable housing and community development in the United States.

A GroundSpark production
Producer/Director: Helen S. Cohen; Director: Debra Chasnoff

'Homes and Hands' never fails to move and inspire people who tend to feel disenfranchised and left out of the planning process. They see that they can actually take matters into their own hands and have an impact on their communities.

—Hank Herrera, Planner, Northeast Neighborhood Alliance Community Land Corporation, Rochester, NY

An extraordinarily informative and inspiring film that presents a clear and vivid description of how land trusts work and why they are an attractive mechanism for providing affordable housing and developing strong communities. A terrific teaching resource for courses in urban studies, housing and community development.

—William M. Rohe, Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The principles embodied in community land trusts and brought to life in this powerful film are lessons that should be incorporated into all federal, state and municipal housing initiatives.

—Rachel B. Bratt, professor and chair, department of urban and environmental policy, Tufts University

Let’s Get Real

LetsGetRealName-calling and bullying have reached epidemic proportions in schools today. Let’s Get Real gives young people the chance to speak up in their own words about the real issues behind the problem. With amazing courage and candor, the students featured in Let’s Get Real discuss racial and religious differences, perceived sexual orientation, disabilities, sexual harassment and more. From the youth who are targeted, to the students who pick on them, to those who find the courage to intervene, Let’s Get Real examines bullying from the full range of perspectives. This poignant film educates audiences of all ages about why we can no longer accept name-calling and bullying as just a normal rite of passage. Let’s Get Real is now widely used to jump-start violence prevention and multicultural educational programs internationally, and is a must-see for any adults who work with young adolescents.

A GroundSpark production
Executive Producer/Producer: Helen S. Cohen; Producer/Director: Debra Chasnoff

By far the best video I have ever seen about bullying. The articulate voices of the young people, the imaginative visuals, and the clear organization combine to make a teaching tool of great impact and vision.

—Stan Davis, bullying-prevention consultant,

This video should be required viewing for anyone interested in providing safe schools for young people.

—Jerry Newberry, M.Ed., executive director, National Education Association, Health Information Network

Simple, honest and oh so effective...This can't-miss discussion starter is highly recommended for both school and public libraries.

—'Booklist,' American Library Association

That’s a Family!

ThatsAFamilyWith blunt and sometimes hilarious candor, children from over 50 diverse families open the door to their homes, and explain things like “divorce,” “mixed race,” “gay and lesbian,” “birth mom,” “single parent,” “guardian,” and “stepdad,” and get right to the point of what they wish other people would understand about their families. While designed especially for young audiences, That’s a Family! stretches the minds and touches the hearts of people of all ages. It is a fresh look at the changing American family, and lets children lead the way in preventing prejudice and embracing diversity.

A GroundSpark production
Executive Producer: Helen S. Cohen; Producer/Director: Debra Chasnoff

Every parent, educator and policymaker should be concerned about school violence. By reflecting the true diversity of American families, 'That’s a Family!' breaks down intolerance and promotes true understanding – a first step toward making our school safe for all children.

—US Senator Barbara Boxer

An extraordinary film that teaches a poignant lesson about love and family.

—Robin Williams, actor

Enlightening without being didactic, this sterling production is an excellent resource to get kids talking about cultural diversity and family life.

—American Library Association

It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School

ItsElementaryIt’s Elementary takes cameras into classrooms across the U.S. to look at one of today’s most controversial issues – whether and how gay issues should be discussed in schools. It features elementary and middle schools where (mainly heterosexual) teachers are challenging the prevailing political climate and attempts to censor any dialogue in schools about gay people.

Rather than focusing on the debate between adults, though, the film takes the point of view of the school children, starting as young as first grade. The results are surprising and, as says LA Reader, “funny, touching, and fascinating.” Second graders react to a book about a girl who gets teased because she has two moms; third graders’ jaws drop when they find out some of their favorite celebrities are gay and passionately debate gay marriage; fourth graders say it makes them “feel weird in your stomach” when other kids yell “faggot” on the playground and teachers don’t do anything about it; eighth graders fire a barrage of poignant questions to the gay guest speakers who visit their social studies class. It becomes quite clear that most children are affected by anti-gay prejudice in some way, and that they are very responsive to a curriculum that teaches respect for everyone, including lesbians and gay men.

A GroundSpark production
Producer: Helen S. Cohen; Producer/Director: Debra Chasnoff

An indispensable and unparalleled resource for school personnel…The NEA strongly encourages educators to use It's Elementary as a means of ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for every child.

—Reg Weaver, president, National Education Association

Should be mandatory for all new teachers if we are serious about raising kids to be free of hate and prejudice.

—Judy Shepard, executive director, Matthew Shepard Foundation

The most important film dealing with LGBT issues and safe schools ever made.

—Kevin Jennings, Founder, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street

Holding GroundHolding Ground is at once a cautionary tale of urban policies gone wrong and a message of hope for all American cities. In 1985, African-American, Latino, Cape Verdean, and European-American residents in Roxbury, MA united to revitalize their community. The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative went on to gain national recognition as residents fought to close down illegal dumps, gain unprecedented control of land from City Hall and create a comprehensive plan to rebuild the fabric of their community. Through the voices of committed residents, activists and city officials, this moving documentary shows how a Boston neighborhood was able to create and carry out its own agenda for change.

A Holding Ground Productions Film
Produced and Directed by Mark Lipman and Leah Mahan

This terrific documentary—at once a moving history and a hopeful battle-cry—tells the story of a grassroots struggle to revitalize an urban neighborhood abandoned by America. The model of inter-ethnic solidarity and effective activism it presents will come like rain in a dry season to communities all over the nation.

—Jonathan Kozol, Author, 'Death an Early Age,' 'Amazing Grace'

I would hope that anyone associated with community planning, neighborhood organizing and the rebirth of neighborhoods would have a chance to view the film.

—Mary Lou Crane, New England Director U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Powerfully captures the high moments and the drudgery of rebuilding communities. The producers have brought a strong and creative touch to their work that will leave the audience with engaging portraits of activists and doers who refuse to give in and do prevail. We come away not only with good stories, but hope. Well done.

—Henry Hampton Executive Producer and Creator, 'Eyes on the Prize'

Father’s Day

fathersdayFilmmaker Mark Lipman looks back at the impact of his father’s death over thirty years ago and uncovers more than he bargained for. What begins as a personal memorial to his father evolves into a moving exploration of grief and depression, the vagaries of memory and the veneer of family normalcy. Haunted by his inability to prevent his father’s death at age 17, the making of this film came to span twenty years as Lipman tried to construct an image of his father from relatives’ memories and psychiatric records unearthed from hospital archives. The film circles around to become an inquiry into his own life – the choices he has made and how his father’s life resonates within his own. Using evocative home movies and poetic imagery, Father’s Dayallows the viewer to become immersed in intimate conversations about death, suicide, mental illness and the choices that went into the creation of a family. There are no easy answers or tidy conclusions and so the film creates an unusual space for viewers to reflect upon their own lives.

Produced and Directed by Mark Lipman

An amazing accomplishment. Father’s Day is an intensely personal film that will speak to anyone exploring the imprint of their parents on their own lives.

—Bo Smith, Film Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Irresistibly, viewers are absorbed by lives and feelings that may seem as unremarkable as their own, but, once addressed here, blossom with the import of what we can and cannot know about our selves and others. Father's Day is a remarkable achievement.

—Jeff Clark, James Madison University, 'Booklist'

A compelling and original look at the father-son relationship. [Lipman's] efforts to penetrate the secrets in his family echo the mystery and uncertainty and, ultimately, the powerful bond between all fathers and sons.

—Sam Osherson, Ph.D. Author, 'Finding Our Fathers'

Embracing Our Sexuality

EmbracingOurSexualityA fascinating look into the conversations of nine women who gather together for a weekend to talk about sex. The women range in age from 21 to 71 and come from diverse racial backgrounds and sexual orientations. In this intimate video produced, directed and recorded by women, we see the openness and warmth that evolves as the women share their questions, experiences and concerns. The women talk frankly about sexual orientation, menstruation, masturbation, sexual fantasies, orgasms and the effect of AIDS and sexual abuse on their lives. Both serious and humorous, the wide range of experiences presented offers a unique opportunity for all viewers—women and men—to talk about their sexuality.

Produced by Jennifer Campion, Bianca Cody Murphy and Betsy Wisch; Directed by Nicolas Kaufman & Mark Lipman

These warm, direct, touching, intelligent, heart full, accepting women inspire trust and evoke your own story, perhaps one that has not yet been told.

—Gina Ogden, Ph.D., Sex educator and therapist

A must see for women's groups everywhere to open dialogue, empathy and acceptance.

—Ruth Harriet Jacobs, Ph.D., Center for Research on Women, Wellesley College

The diversity--in age, culture, race, sexual orientation--of the women who very candidly share their experience with us, makes it possible for any woman to identify herself and find herself represented in this film.

—Lourdes Rodrigues-Nogues, Ed.D., Counseling Center Psychologist, Simmons College

Finding Our Way

FindingOurWayWhat do men really want sexually? How did they learn about sex? How does sexual expression change with age? Finding Our Way explores these questions and offers a rare glimpse into men’s experiences of their sexuality as it follows the discussions of ten men who meet at a weekend retreat. The men range in age from twenty-seven to seventy-one and come from a variety of backgrounds: a writer, an insurance agent, a clergyman and the owner of a dry cleaning store. They are heterosexual, gay and bisexual. Finding Our Way is a first step toward creating new role models and moving beyond the stereotypes surrounding male sexuality. The program helps men feel less afraid of closeness with other men and encourages both men and women to talk more openly about their sexuality.

Produced by Nicolas Kaufman, Mark Lipman & Cooper Thompson; Directed by Nicolas Kaufman & Mark Lipman

Unique in the field, both in its compelling content and in its rare glimpse into the blessings and curses of male sexuality. See it at least twice.

—Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale Child Study Center

An important and valuable resource for the growing field of Men's Studies. It should be used in a variety of academic courses related to gender issues, aging, and sexual health, as well as by men's groups in non-academic settings.

—Ron Mazur, Ed.D., 'Journal of Sex Education and Therapy'

'Must viewing' for all men (and women) exploring their lives, in particular, their sexuality in today's questioning society.

—David L. Giveans, 'Nurturing Today'

To Have and To Hold

The first documentary to examine the problem of wife abuse through the man’s experience of it. Composed primarily of interviews with men who have assaulted their wives and lovers, this classic film explores the personal and societal attitudes that lead men to do violence to those nearest them. It also examines the changes in attitudes that are essential for men to stop their violent behavior. Why do men beat their wives? How common is woman abuse? How do violent men perceive their own violence? At what point will men who batter seek help? Is it possible for violent men to change? To Have and to Hold addresses all these questions and probes issues that touch all men’s lives: the need to control a situation; the use of violence as an accepted means of solving problems; the training to dominate women; and the inability to feel and express emotions.

Produced by Mark Lipman & Emerge; Directed by Mark Lipman

Offers hope about the potential for violent men to change and take responsibility for their feelings and actions.

—'Ms. Magazine'

Compelling, educational and illuminating. It's a sketch of masculine impotence and rage...a film that must be seen.

—Bruce McCabe, 'Boston Globe'

Will stimulate important discussions about why men batter women and what must be done to stop it.

—Joseph Pleck, Author, 'Men and Masculinity,' 'The Myth of Masculinity'