Two Worthy Film Projects Need Your Donations

Eliciana works on an early stage of The Summer of Gods
Eliciana works on an early stage of The Summer of Gods

I have just pledged money to two worthy film projects by Eliciana Nascimento and Eli Adler, and I urge my readers to do the same.

Eliciana, an MFA student at San Francisco State, took (and aced!) my Advanced Cinematography class this spring. She and husband Ben Watkins plan to film her thesis project, The Summer of Gods, in her native Brazil, and are trying to raise $30,000 to shoot and complete the film this year.

Their Kickstarter campaign so far has garnered over $17,000 in pledges, but the project will not be funded unless the full amount is pledged by July 3rd — next Wednesday!

Please read more about Eliciana’s film and make a donation of any amount before July 3rd here:

The Summer of Gods is a short film about a young girl named Lilli who visits her grandmother in rural Brazil. Near her village, she encounters Orishas (African gods) who challenge her with a mission.

The film is set in the Northeast of Brazil where Afro-Brazilian religious traditions remain strong. In the film, Lilli’s grandmother is in charge of an annual celebration for the Orisha Yemanja. In real life, the event is known in Brazil as Festa de Yemanja and it is the largest Orisha celebration in the country.

In this event, devotees of African religious traditions dress in all white to take their offerings to the sea to thank Yemanja for helping them in their social and political struggles. In The Summer of Gods, this celebration is at risk of expiring because Lili’s great-grandmother is about to pass away.

Says Eliciana, “As a storyteller and social activist, my motivations around filmmaking are rooted in telling stories of people from the African Diaspora who have often been marginalized by societies and the mainstream film industry. My goal is to use cinema as a tool to reveal the beauty, culture and mythology of these people.”

Eli and Jack Adler retrace a horrific journey though Poland in Surviving Skokie
Eli and Jack Adler retrace a horrific journey though Poland in Surviving Skokie

Eli Adler, a Bay Area director of photography and a friend and colleague, is teamed with editor Blair Gershkow and trying to raise $200,000 over the next year. Their film, Surviving Skokie, is an intensely personal documentary by Eli — a former Skokie, Illinois, resident — about the neo-Nazi demonstrations of the 1970s, their aftermath, his family’s horrific experience of the Shoah, and a journey with his father to confront long-suppressed memories.

In the film, Eli’s father, Jack — a Holocaust survivor — confronts his own past, returning to Poland with Eli to tell the stories of family members who perished in the ghetto and death camps.  They visit Jack’s ancestral home in Pabianice, Poland, and the Auschwitz death camp, retracing the steps of Jack’s horrifying journey.

Please read more about Surviving Skokie and donate to the project here:

Like Jack, many survivors endured the horrors of the Holocaust and came to America to put the past behind them.  For decades they kept their awful memories secret, even from their children.  But their silence ended when a band of Nazi thugs threatened to march in their quiet village of Skokie, Illinois, “because that is where the Jews are.”

As community leader and survivor Aaron Elster says in an interview: “The neo-Nazis accomplished something — they were the stimulus of the survivors getting together and saying hey, we’ve got to do something. And what they did was to end their years of silence, become truth tellers, and speak out so that their painful stories would not be forgotten.

Surviving Skokie is the story of a community’s battle against the voices and gestures of hate, of a quiet village and its once-turbulent history.  It is a universal story about the importance of speaking up and out.  And it is the personal story of a quest through which a man and his father rediscover their pasts.

Both projects are in need of donations of any amount. Please pledge now to help these filmmakers tell their stories.

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