Born out of the Women’s March on Washington, America Rise is a documentary about women leading the way as people collectively fight to preserve and improve our country and democracy. By supporting this film, together, we can be the change we want to see in the world.
100 Days of Optimism
Inclusion StatementTo portray this intersectional movement, the female and male directorial team knew it was important that many diverse voices be heard. Viewpoints expressed from different races, religions, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. All who are taking action to make the world a better place.
About The Project
This is the story of women leading the way as people fight to improve their communities and country by taking positive action. America Rise sends a message of resilience, determination, and optimism.
Born out of the Women’s March on Washington, America Rise is a documentary about the essential power of the people. As the Power To The Polls, Me Too and ENOUGH movements make dynamic shifts in the American societal landscape, this film will continue documenting this culture of change through the telling of personal stories. The directing duo, Sarah Kennedy and Brian Overholt are now preparing to document the upcoming March for Our Lives in Washington, DC on March 24th. Our nation's youth are taking this positive action to bring an end to gun violence. We will be there to tell their story. Follow us here to join our journey.
HOW IT STARTED AND WHY MILLIONS MARCHED
The Women's March on Washington 2017 is now recorded as the largest one day protest in U.S. history, with nearly 5 million marching. We were there in over ten cities to document this historical moment. For many Americans, it was hard to accept that we had elected such a President in 2016. A man who had campaigned by uttering sentiments of hate, misogyny, racism and general bigotry about the very people he hoped to lead. Women who had been organizing for years, and also people who were taking action for the first time, used their voices and influence to say enough is enough.
WHO WE ARE
Seattle based director Brian Overholt first became aware that hundreds of marches were happening that day in January 2017 when his Mom made the decision to march in Washington D.C. Its significance really hit home when she told him, “They recommend we bring a black sharpie to write our personal information on our arm before the march, in case of riots. It’s a little scary, but it’s physically impossible for me not to go. I have to march". Brian then felt inspired to do something himself. He called talented Nashville based filmmaker Sarah Kennedy who he had collaborated with in the past. They quickly decided to organize documentary coverage of multiple marches across the country.
Director Sarah Kennedy says, “My goal is to prove to myself and to other women and men that change is indeed possible if we can learn to understand and harness our own power, exercise our influence, and continue to persist against the patriarchy.” Co-director Brian Overholt adds, “Durng the march it felt like a historical movement was starting, we now know that to be the case. It opened my eyes to what people can really do when they decide to take action and that's the story we want to tell."
MEET THE ACTION TAKERS
The first person Director Brian Overholt discovered and interviewed for this film was Somali-American writer and activist, Fathia Absie. Fathia is based in Seattle and is bringing people of different backgrounds together through her program Eat With Muslims. Through this community engagement, she works to demystify the “single story” that has been negatively attached to Muslims around the world.
Next, the directing duo traveled to New York to connect with Abby Holland. Abby is a Brooklyn based comedian and activist who volunteered for the march in NYC and is part of Lady Parts Justice League. An activist group focused on fighting for reproductive choice and health. Through her comedy, she helps to break abortion stigma, brings damaging legislation and lawmakers into the light, and advocates for reproductive freedom.
While covering the March for Truth in June 2017 the filmmakers met Caroline Mann who organized the Knoxville Women’s March, which drew nearly 10,000 marchers. She had never been an activist or even participated in a protest before the January 21 march. Caroline says, “The election was such a shock to my system, I couldn't remain inactive. I couldn’t continue to be a passive bystander. I had to start working for change, for my kids and for my own sanity”.
The path soon lead America Rise to connect with Cleo Barnett, the Program director for the art and activist group Amplifier. In July, director Sarah Kennedy traveled to Los Angeles to catch up with this artivist group to learn more about their story. Amplifier is responsible for the We the People image series.These iconic protest signs were created by artist Shepard Fairey in collaboration with other artists and thought-leaders. The artivist group paid to insert close to 1 million of these portable protest signs into editions of the Washington Post the day of the march. Cleo drove to Washington in a van and passed many out herself.
Cleo says, "There is this one moment in time when you know the whole world is watching and how can we support this moment in time, through a very strong, cohesive storytelling project that could bring people together and it could act as a bridge for both sides. It’s not about left or right, it’s about, where are we as United States citizens, what do we stand for and what are our values"
Nine months after the march, the directors traveled to Detroit, Michigan to film the Women’s Convention. Here, over 5,000 women from all across the country came together to network, strategize, and unite. Over the weekend, the team happened to meet writer and trans-advocate Katelyn Burns. During a honest and in-depth interview, Katelyn talks about her experience as a transgender woman at the Women’s March in Portland, Maine. The sea of pink pussy hats and vast ocean of uterus art was disorienting and off-putting for her as a trans woman. Katelyn goes on to explain that she had a change of heart when she experienced a profound connection with a fellow female marcher. She says, “We realized that we have a shared fight. We realized that womanhood could be less about the flesh and more about the fight. We are all fighting to have control over our own bodies."
GAINING MOMENTUM AND POSITIONS OF POWER
America Rise had film crews present at the one-year anniversary of the Women's March on Washington in Seattle, Los Angeles and Knoxville, TN. To hear from national march organizers, Director Sarah Kennedy traveled to Vegas to document the National Women's March event, Power to the Polls. The sentiments expressed in interviews and from the podium painted the march in 2018 as a revolt, and 2018 as a pep rally. As the latest wave of feminism continues to gain momentum, so does the film's production.
PRODUCTION IN 2018
Sarah and Brian are now planning to be present to document the upcoming National School Walkout in Los Angeles and in Seattle, WA. To describe the many diverse perspectives of this country, the filmmakers plan to follow a couple key campaigns for women who are running in Tennessee, California and in other parts of the country.
Filming is aready under way for 2018 and extends through the winter. The completion of America Rise is expected for the summer of 2019. By supporting this film, you will help us to document history unfolding and make our continued production possible.
WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES
America Rise is a story that shows that it is possible to maintain optimism in this space where pessimism is the most reasonable option. Yes, things are bad, and this is echoed on a daily basis with stories of racial and gender inequality, bigoted lawmakers, attacks against reproductive rights, gun violence, and sadly way too many #metoo stories to count. But what if it didn’t have to stay this way? What if we all worked together, fueled by a solid resolve and love for all of humanity, would it be possible to change the world?
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About This Team
SARAH KENNEDY - Director/Producer
Sarah is an Emmy-nominated director who is passionate about being a social advocate and telling stories that matter. Powered with a degree in fine art and 10 years of professional expertise in journalism and commercial TV production, Sarah has a strong and calculated cinematic voice and has directed several award-winning shorts. Her work most prior to this film includes a series of mini documentaries about the struggle and rebirth in rural communities across the state of Tennessee.
BRIAN OVERHOLT - Director/Producer
Brian is a filmmaker and human rights advocate who enjoys merging the two world’s whenever possible. He lived most of his life in East Tennessee before making the move to Seattle just over six years ago. Brian started his career in Local TV News and became an award-winning photojournalist. During that time he spent six years on a documentary entitled, Pigeon River Project. It follows the story of his hometown community’s fight to clean the polluted river that runs through Newport, TN. A paper mill has polluted it since 1908. Brian is directing and producing more projects as of late, while still making time for his first love of cinematography. As a freelancer he is involved in multiple-projects at a time, currently he is the Director of Photography for the Seattle based series CUDDLE that is due out by the end of 2018. www.dboverholt.com
SANDY JEGLUM - Editor/Digital Media Producer
Sandy is a Seattle based documentary film editor and producer. Most recently, Sandy edited the feature-length documentary Headhunt Revisited (2017) and was the co-producer/assistant editor of the feature-length documentary CRAZYWISE (2017). As a digital media producer, Sandy has run successful crowdfunding campaigns for various films. Women’s rights and human rights have always been at the center of Sandy’s career and she is excited to continue working toward gender equity as the editor of America Rise.
LAURA WOODSON - Graphic Designer
I have always had a passion to work with my hands. When I'm designing, drawing, painting or making something, that is my happy place. I have ten years experience and enjoy the challenges that derive from each new project. I aspire to create interesting, visually appealing designs that make a strong statement. Collaboration, oftentimes, is one of the best ways to achieve the highest point of creativity. I have established a solid background in brand identity, logo development, and hand lettering. My approach will be to brainstorm with my clients and to develop good ideas with their needs in mind. Do you have design needs? Let's work together to make something amazing!
RYAN ENKEMA- Camera
Ryan grew up in the PNW and has been working as a freelance videographer and photographer for nearly a decade. He has shot for both television and narrative projects, as well as corporate videos, live music and music videos, in addition to print media. His work has been featured in film festivals, on television, and in magazines.
SUSAN LASALLE - Consulting Producer
Susan is a producer and has managed over 200 documentaries, commercials and PSAs. From 2012 - 2014 Susan produced feature length documentary, The Breach, which earned a Best of Fest award at the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival and Best International Documentary at Galway Ireland Film Festival in 2014.
AMIE NEWMAN - Communications Advisor
Amie is a creative writer, editor and communications professional. Amie's career has a focus on global health and development, gender equity, and reproductive justice. Her experience includes working as the Global Communications Specialist for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Amie is a freelance writer and editor for Ask Me About My Uterus, and staff writer for the digital platform, Our Bodies Ourselves.
MICHAEL TOMPSET - Contributing Artist
Michael worked as a senior designer in London for 12 years before bidding farewell and moving south to Spain. He now dedicates himself full time to artistic pursuits in the tranquil surroundings of a Mediterranean coastal village. Michael's beautiful art piece of the Statue Of Liberty was repesented in the Seattle Women's March 2.0. We contacted him about doing a collorbration for our campaign and he loved the idea. Our graphic designer Laura Woodson worked with him to create the campaigns AMERICA RISE movie poster.
SPECIAL THANKS: To those who have helped us get through production and development so far with gear support, filming, financial support, and also emotional and creative advice and counsel. We couldn't have gotten to this point without all of you: Darci Davis, Nacny Wilson, Susan LaSalle, Virginia Bogert, Stefanie Malone, Kate Dandel, Julie Mullaney, Lars Larson, Jared Manley, Hageman, Jill and Jim Overholt, Tom and Becky Hodge, Bill and Odette Shults, Paul and Shannon Miller, Clara Hankins, Samantha Scaffidi, Michelle Pomeroy, Rachel Kline, Brian Mcnew, Koerner Camera Rentals, Karen MacDonald, Brion Rockwell, Carla Torgenson, Cristina Pacheco, Kate and Gary Dornan, Jody and Barron Kennedy, Edy Recindez, Pedro Sandoval, Nancy Gonzalez, Michaela Marchardt, and there are so many more we could name the list would go on forever. Thank you to everyone. -Gratitude