Moving Train’s mission is to help documentary filmmakers tell compelling, socially relevant and entertaining stories that become catalysts for change. Through fiscal sponsorship and mentoring Moving Train will demystify and facilitate every stage of the filmmaking process from fine tuning an idea through distribution.
THE EDGE OF SUCCESS
Palo Alto sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, just a few miles away from tech giants Google and Facebook, and home to Stanford University. Some of the wealthiest and smartest people in the world call this Bay Area city home, but it’s also home to a sobering statistic. In recent years, there have been two high school suicide clusters. The first was during the 2009/2010 school year during when five current and former students took their own lives. Five years later it happened again, this time four students committed suicide. Countless others have been admitted for both inpatient and outpatient care for treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression.
We want to find out why. Why are so many teenagers with access to some of the best education in the country so stressed out, to the point where they are ending lives that have barely just begun? Are schools to blame? Are the parents to blame? Are the kids putting too much pressure on themselves and each other? Do these kids suffer from a previously undiagnosed mental illness?
“The Edge of Success” seeks to shine a light on this issue. The film follows six Gunn High School students during their junior and senior years in Palo Alto, showing what their daily lives are like as they navigate through the common stresses of high school. “There’s just so much competition,” said Tone Lee, one of the six students we profile. Another student, Lisa Hao feels internal pressure. “I’m not sure how OK I would actually be if I got B’s now and I knew I was putting in 100%,” said Hao. While they are all unique individuals with different backgrounds, hopes, and dreams, they share a commonality: their high school lives have been shaped by the suicide clusters. “We’re always going to be that age group of kids at Gunn where this happened again,” said Sawyer Lythcott-Haims, a high school junior.
Beyond the student perspective, the documentary will look at how the two most recent suicide clusters have affected the entire community, from the school district, to the parents and mental health experts, and pediatricians. They see the depression, stress and anxiety in teenagers who come into their offices and exam rooms every day and are looking at new approaches to stop this crisis from becoming an epidemic. “What we’ve got to do is figure out how to offer these amazing academic opportunities without crushing the life out of them,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, a parent and former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford. The Center for Disease Control, at the request of local public health officials, is now conducting a study to help understand why this is happening.
This isn’t just happening in Palo Alto. It’s happening in towns all across the country, which the documentary will highlight. The Edge of Success doesn’t expect to solve the problem, but it can be a start to an important conversation.
World Premiere at Slamdance 2015, Acquired by Warner Brothers/New Line, Available now on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and other VOD outlets
Batkid Begins tells the story of 5-year old Miles Scott who has spent half his life battling leukemia. Now, it’s his wish to transform into BatKid. San Francisco’s Make-a-Wish thinks bigger. Why not turn San Francisco into Gotham City. Then the idea goes viral. Will it overwhelm Miles, Make-a-Wish, and the city or will the good of humanity make this into a day to remember for millions?
TAKE ME TO THE RIVER
World Premiere at SXSW 2014
Take Me to the River is a feature documentary celebrating the inter-generational and inter-racial musical influence of Memphis in the face of pervasive discrimination and segregation. The film brings multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians together, following them through the creative process of recording a historic new album, to re-imagine the utopia of racial, gender and generational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday. Featuring Terrence Howard, William Bell, Snoop Dog, Mavis Staples, Otis Clay, Lil P-Nut, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Yo Gotti, Bobby Rush, Frayser Boy, The North Mississippi All-Stars and many more.
THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
World Premiere at SXSW 2015, Acquired by Film Movement for worldwide theatrical release in early 2016.
Theory of Obscurity will tell the story of the renegade sound and video collective known as The Residents. A story that spans 40 years and is clouded in mystery. Many details surrounding the group are secret, including the identities of its members.
We will take viewers inside this incredibly private group with unprecedented access to their archives and their current 40th anniversary tour. They’ve released more than 60 albums, performed all over the world and inspired many people to be weird, take chances and find their own voice.
Now, our film will introduce The Residents to a whole new generation.
UNEXPECTED JUSTICE: THE RISE OF JOHN PAUL STEVENS
Broadcast on WTTW in September 2015
Chicago in 1969 wasn’t a place to expect justice. Decades of political
corruption had earned the city a well-deserved reputation as a place
where powerful men acted with impunity… and when unknown local
attorney John Paul Stevens was asked to investigate corruption by
state Supreme Court judges, a cynical public expected business as
usual: another whitewash from inside the system.
Instead, Stevens put his own career at risk in a case involving powerful political forces, prominent officials, unreliable witnesses, and feverish media coverage alongside headlines of man’s first journey to the moon. His tireless efforts launched him to national prominence…and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, where the lessons learned in that summer of 1969 continued to resonate across his decades of service.