MY NAME IS PEDRO
Your support will make possible the theatrical release of this remarkable, moving and timely award winning documentary. Our film chronicles the life of NY Times lauded maverick educator, Pedro Santana, over a five year time period. What happens in those five years has to be seen to be believed.
Inclusion StatementOur film highlights underserved communities in The South Bronx, NY, East Ramapo, NY and Haiti and how those communities educational institutions are negatively effected . Our Puerto Rican, former special ed student, subject and hero, is committed to improving education for kids, no matter the cost.
About The Project
EVERYONE HAS A PEDRO!
Thank you for visiting our fundraising page for our very special completed documentary feature, MY NAME IS PEDRO, about Pedro Santana, a maverick educator from the South Bronx who changes lives within the Public School system and beyond. Our director is Peabody Award Winner, Lillian LaSalle.
"Who was your most inspirational teacher? For thousands of students in the Bronx and elsewhere, that teacher is a man named Pedro Santana. Yes, we've seen inspiring documentaries about the failings of our Public Education system before. Yes, we've seen stories of inspirational educators who bravely try to change the system. But if you don't know Pedro....well, you don't know jack! Pedro may just be the definition of an iconoclast. In a story as uplifting as it is troubling, he is a man who throws a very wide shadow. This brilliant documentary might at first seem like deja vu, before the story zigs and zags in ways that leave you thinking..."OMG, didn't see that coming." Wonderfully human, yet epically important, My Name Is Pedro will challenge your notion of what it means to be "Fiercely Independent" as it brings into focus how seriously in jeopardy our country's education system is." --- Jeff Morris - Woodstock Film Festival
“…..First time feature director Lillian LaSalle speaks of a responsibility she felt to address a severe lack of funding for public schools, and manages to weave this message into the film alongside a touching portrait of a local hero.” Arthur Miller, I-D Magazine
“…“Pedro believes that a teacher’s job is to look into the eyes of that child, know who that child is supposed to be and dedicate themselves whatever way they have to reaching that child.”- Elissa Gootman -The New York Times
We are excited to join the Seed and Spark community. Our team is releasing and distributing this multi award winning feature. This raise will make it possible.
Why make a contribution?
Most recently, a new paradigm has taken place in the world of independent film: Self Distribution
After a series of discussions with media experts, and based on the poignant and timely subject matter in MY NAME IS PEDRO, we decided that this would be the best route to take.
As a committed ambassador of Pedro Santana’s story, we have committed to:
Releasing the film in theaters, beginning May 29th in New York City.
Doing “non-theatrical” screenings in communities all over the country. These are referred to as “impact” screenings. These can take place in schools, for organizations, in libraries, (basically any place there is a screen), and a community of people can come watch the film, free of charge.
We will especially focus on educational institutions and underserved communities .This will also help spread the word about the film.
We are partnering with an educational distributor that will get the film into libraries and school libraries, especially at teaching colleges and Universities.
We are hiring an aggregator that will then make the film available on all streaming platforms.
The costs are all spelled out in a very transparent way on this Seed & Spark page.
We spent seven years completing the film. Five years to shoot and two to edit. All a complete show of love and effort from our incredible team due to the person that Pedro Santana meant to education and to us. All of us worked tirelessly to make a compelling documentary that we felt would have a big impact on everyone who sees it. When you see it, it will change you. The documentary also features Aasif Mandvi, Rosie Perez and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter.
Our film festival run has been most successful. We have accumulated wonderful recognition from Film Festivals of which the awards are listed below. The biggest gift was to attend each screening, nationwide, and participate in Q and A's after the film's screening and seeing the extreme reaction from the audience. In each case, there was not a dry eye in the house. People wanted to praise the film but also added, "This film needs to be seen." , "This film will change people." "Everyone in education and beyond needs to see this film." "How can I share this film with others?" Some very thoughtful questions were asked and answered.
Some of the awards we have garnered are:
Woodstock Film Festival - (Premiere) - WINNER - Honorable Mention
Brooklyn International Film Festival - WINNER - Audience Award
Chicago Latino Film Festival - WINNER - Audience Award
St Louis International Film Festival - WINNER - Spotlight on Documentary Impact Award
Golden Door International Film Festival - WINNER - Best Documentary
Impact Docs - WINNER - Award of Merit
San Diego Latino Festival - Official Selection
What do we mean by "Everyone has a Pedro"? In making this film we discovered that there was not one person we spoke to that did not have that one teacher who changed their lives. The answer usually comes immediately. It rolls off the tongue with little effort. From our director, "My Pedro was my 7th grade teacher, Claire Levine" . Who was your Pedro? Please share this with us! Like our Facebook page - MY NAME IS PEDRO - and send us a message!
In order to make the biggest impact in our communities, the time is NOW to have this film released. Our timeline and plan is in place. We will open in May, 2020 theatrically in New York City for a one week run in addition to having been invited to the Maysles Documentary Center, also in New York City, for a 4 day run. There may be some other theaters involved, nationwide, but we are still in discussions. We cannot release this film without your help.
In addition, we are committed to doing what are called impact/community screenings. These are considered "Off - Theatrical" screenings that bring films to schools, community centers, organizations and libraries to spread the word about the film from the ground up, and have the added bonus of spreading Pedro's message to as many people as possible, prior to the film's release. Soon after the film's theatrical release, it will then be available on Streaming/VOD platforms like Amazon.
Your donations will help us pay for publicists, legal fees, marketing and promotions, any possible fees associated with the theatrical debut, a dedicated team that specializes in impact/community and "event" screenings, travel needed to attend these screenings to participate in Q and A's, bookers, rental fees for screenings, making DCP copies and DVD's, etc. 100% of all proceeds will be used for our costs, which does not include any fees for myself or our team at Sweet 180. That's our investment, our time. We also have some wonderful incentives for your contribution.
No amount is too small. We humbly ask for your help. We ask that you please pass this on to your friends and family and share on Social Media.. If you would like a private screening in your home to show the film to possible donors, our director will take a trip anywhere in the US to join you.
The result of distribution will be the immortalization of a very important and timely feature film and of the man himself, Pedro Santana. A much deserved outcome.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lillian at email@example.com . In addition, we can supply a link of the completed film to anyone who is considering making a large donation.
About the film:
This film explores what public education meant to South Bronx Latino maverick educator, Pedro Santana, and what he, in turn, meant to public education.
Infectious in his optimism, Santana becomes one of the most influential public school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system after turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. He is unapologetic in his commitment to create change for kids, no matter the odds. When a glowing front page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion to use his famed 'out of the box' and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district. But the political challenges there may simply be too great, even for the infallible Santana. In order to continue his life's mission that 'every kid can learn', (he himself was labeled 'special ed' as a child), he realizes that he must venture beyond not only the restrictive 'four walls' of the public education system, but also his own neighborhood, city and even his own country. This is a profound story of how one person actualizes learning and positive change in children, adults, environments and communities through an 'impact' ripple effect strategy that he has effortlessly perfected.
'My Name Is Pedro' is an essential and timely reminder of the importance of great educators that exist within the infrastructure of our country's public education system.
My Name is Pedro tells the story of a teacher who transformed not only the lives of the pupils he worked with, but a whole community in the East Ramapo school district of New Jersey. The district is dominated by ultra orthodox Jewish board members, who consistently vote in the interests of their Yeshivas. Pedro Santana, an endlessly positive character with a passion for life and the biggest heart, comes in to help transform the community, in what unfolds as a hugely inspiring yet tragic tale. First time feature director Lillian LaSalle speaks of a responsibility she felt to address a severe lack of funding for public schools, and manages to weave this message into the film alongside a touching portrait of a local hero. Combining observational and archive footage of Pedro's life and work, as well as public school board meetings, the director stuck to her subject like glue, and the results are full of hope and love.
Arthur Miller: Writer
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About This Team
Lillian LaSalle - Director, Producer
Director Lillian LaSalle is a recipient of the Peabody “Futures of Media” Award for Producing the web-series, Halal In The Family, starring Aasif Mandvi, which garnered wide spread media attention for taking on Islamophobia through the use of comedy and parody. The web series received over 580 Million Media impressions. Halal in the Family is currently being developed as an animated series. This series will mark America’s first portrayal of a Muslim family on television.
LaSalle is the Producer of several feature films including, Loggerheads, which premiered in competition at The Sundance Film Festival and Sweet Land, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature for writer/director, Ali Selim. LaSalle’s other notable feature Producing credits include: Today’s Special, Just Like the Son, Find Love, Heavy Petting, and Mentor, as well as Southern Belles and American Cannibal: The Road to Reality.
Also as a producer, LaSalle is currently in development on the feature film, from writer/director Tom Gilroy (Spring Forward, The Cold Lands), entitled Our Lady Of The Snow, which will shoot in Winter 2020 amd will star Isabella Rossellini. Also in development is LaSalle’s follow up feature documentary, THREE BROTHERS, a personal exploration into her own family, and specifically severe mental illness.
LaSalle is the President of the highly lauded, Sweet 180, a New York based management and Production Company, which she has fiercely grown over the last seventeen years.
A Brooklyn native and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, LaSalle is an honors graduate of the High School of Performing Arts in theatre and an honors graduate of the music conservatory program at The State University of New York at Purchase, where she was the first female student admitted into the classical guitar department.
My Name is Pedro is LaSalle’s directorial debut.
Jonathan Clasberry – Producer
Jonathan began his film career in his hometown of Austin, Texas where he co-founded Benberry Media. After producing a number of projects and short films he moved to New York City in 2011. His recent work includes Alive Inside, a documentary about music and Alzheimer’s, and the winner of the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance film festival; North Blvd, an indie feature starring Amy Esacove and Mackenzie Phillips; as well as a variety of producing roles on multiple documentary series for CNN, A&E, Telemundo, and Lifetime. He works and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Michael Fowler – Executive Producer - pictured here with lovely wife, Zelene Fowler
Michael Fowler is President of Affordable Housing Partners, Inc (AHP), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. AHP provides equity for the development of affordable apartments (including assisted living facilities) for low income residents. It also provides equity for the preservation of Historic properties.
Fowler is the financial backer of SingFit, which is turning music into medicine. SingFit™ PRIME is a music-therapist-designed cognitive and physical stimulation program crafted especially for the senior living industry. SingFit PRIME incorporates singing, movement, trivia and reminiscence for a fully engaging mind/body workout.
Fowler is also the financial backer of Re-Borne which is a colostrum-based supplement which enhances performance, recovery and health, as well as several musicians: Jensen Reed, Christian Hand, and Alexa Melo.
His motto: I like doing good while doing well.
Monica Cohen – Co-Producer
Monica is a passionate Colombian filmmaker and music composer. She started her career as a social worker, working with ex-combats from illegal armed groups in Colombia, guiding them through the process of returning to a civil life away from the guerrillas and the paramilitary groups. After two years, Monica realized that in order to achieve peace, people from all sectors of society must be aware of and mobilize to solve the rooted problems of Colombian people, a goal that couldn’t be achieved without communication and understanding. Monica then turned her path and found in art the tool to open channels of communication between contrasting realities. She moved to New York City in 2010 and since then has collaborated in a wide variety of social documentaries. She has also worked in film distribution for dGenerate Films, as an assistant producer for Cine Institute and Crowing Roosters, and as an editor for HBO and Big Fish Entertainment. She is now the owner of a production house dedicated to composing and producing music for film and television, as well as producing creative video content for the web for organizations and artists.
Jillian Sczesnak – Associate Producer
Jillian Sczesnak grew up in the Chicago area. She developed a love of film and storytelling at a young age, which led her to study Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University. She moved to New York after graduating, where she has worked as a Production Coordinator, Producer’s Assistant, and Associate Producer on various projects, while pursuing her passion of screenwriting on the side. She aspires to become a successful Showrunner.
Mary Manhardt – Editor
Mary Manhardt is a documentary film editor and consultant, specializing in verite. Her work has been screened at Sundance, the New York Film Festival, Hot Docs, SXSW, AFI/SilverDocs, Vancouver, Tribeca, LA and IDFA, and broadcast on HBO, PBS, MTV, ABC, and A&E. Among her credits:The Farm;The Execution of Wanda Jean; girlhood; Farmingville; Street Fight; American Teen; Racing Dreams; Mystic Ball; Monica & David; Love, Etc.; Wham! Bam! Islam!; A Son’s Sacrifice; Bronx Princess; Camp Victory, Afghanistan; Pelotero; American Promise; Medora; Tough Love; Do You Dream in Color?; The Babushkas of Chernobyl; Tigand several episodes ofMaking a Murderer,the Emmy-award Netflix series. She is currently editing My Name Is Pedro.
Mark Demolar – Additional Editor/Co-Producer
Mark Demolar is a musician and film editor based in Brooklyn, New York. His work as a musician includes the release of multiple records as well as national and international tours with the band Woodsman. When not working on music he has helped bring documentary films, music videos, and commercials to life through his experience in video editing. Most notably the Sundance audience award winning film Alive Inside.
Antony Barkworth-Knight – Animator
Antony Barkworth-Knight is a filmmaker from Manchester, UK.
As a filmmaker he produces diverse work encompassing artist film, documentary, music video and live performance.
Central to his work is a strong interplay between audio and visual.
This interplay is driven by use of a wide variety of techniques such as hand drawn animation, abstract video, field recordings and intimate interviews.
The end results are tapestries of sight and sound.
Recent work includes:
Homage to the Rain - Lighwaves Festival, 2019
The Remnants Parade - Stock Gallery, 2019
Utah Dream - Random Acts, Channel 4, 2018
Blackburn - Blackburn Museum and art Gallery, 2018
Bardo / Window - Music videos, GoGo Penguin, 2018
New North and South - Manchester Art Gallery, 2018
Lasagne Rhythm - Music video, Lavender Worm, 2018
The Nature of Nano - Manchester Science Festival, 2017
Counterpoint - HOME Cinemas / Manchester Jazz Festival, 2016
Nix Nought Nothing – Music
Nix Nought Nothing is a songwriting moniker from composer Bart Warshaw. In addition to being an accomplished songwriter, he writes music for a diverse range of media including films, radio and exhibitions, and makes highly immersive radio documentaries. Haling from London, now based in New York, his work is published by Cavendish Music and has been featured in numerous productions across the world.
Alison Walsh - Creative Executive - Sweet 180 Productions
Ali Walsh has been with the Sweet 180 team since July 2017. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island, with a dual degree in film media and journalism. While at URI, she met her "Pedro," film production professor Keith Brown, and her passion for filmmaking was born. Originally from Connecticut, she moved to NYC four years ago to pursue a career in the film industry. She has also written, directed and produced her own short films.
Evie Freeman - Creative Executive - Sweet 180 Productions
Evie, originally a Brit with a degree in Musical Theater from Bird College, moved to NYC to pursue her aspirations of Producing and Casting Film/TV. She started assisting Lillian and the Sweet180 team where she was introduced to My Name is Pedro. She’s passionate about the message behind the documentary and hopes that people all over the world will soon be able to learn about the incredible man that is, Pedro Santana.