A Healthy Baby Girl

AWARDS: Peabody Award; chosen for PBS’s national testimonial campaign “Be More,” Melbourne Int'l Film Festival, Best Documentary, IDA Best Documentary Nomination, Official Sundance selection

A Healthy Baby Girl is an intimate, humorous, yet searing exploration of what happens when science, marketing, and corporate power enter our deepest family relationships. A Healthy Baby Girl is an inter-generational story of one family's response to an ethical and technological crisis, experienced from their home in Merrick, Long Island.

In 1963, filmmaker Judith Helfand's mother was prescribed the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), meant to prevent miscarriage and ensure a healthy baby. But technology is rarely a benign midwife. In 1990, at age twenty-five, Helfand was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. She went home to her family to heal from a radical hysterectomy. There she picked up her camera. Her video diary, A Healthy Baby Girl, was shot over five years and goes beyond loss to document mother-daughter love, family renewal, survival, political awakening, and community activism.

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Film website, DES resources and original study guide
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Blue Vinyl

AWARDS: Best Cinematography Award at Sundance, Emmy nominations for Best Documentary and Outstanding Achievement in Research; International Documentary Association nomination for Distinguished Documentary Achievement

With humor, chutzpah and a piece of vinyl siding firmly in hand, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand and co-director and award-winning cinematographer Daniel B. Gold set out in search of the truth about polyvinyl chloride (PVC), America's most popular plastic. From Long Island to Louisiana to Italy, they unearth the facts about PVC and its effects on human health and the environment.

Back at the starter ranch, Helfand coaxes her terribly patient parents into replacing their vinyl siding on the condition that she can find a healthy, affordable alternative (and it has to look good!).

A detective story, an eco-activism doc, and a rollicking comedy, Blue Vinyl puts a human face on the dangers posed by PVC at every stage of its life cycle, from factory to incinerator. Consumer consciousness and the "precautionary principle" have never been this much fun.

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Outreach and organizing website

EK Velt: At the End of the World

Ek Velt: At the End of the World is a 17-minute epilogue to BLUE VINYL and created especially for the DVD. Shot primarily by Judith Helfand, in the heymish style of A HEALTHY BABY GIRL, it picks up on a sub-plot only mentioned in BLUE VINYL, the sobering threat of Florence and Ted selling their house of 42 years and “downsizing”. Judith's hopes of them staying in the reclaimed blue wooden house are dashed and the reality of what it takes for middle-class people to find an affordable apartment or a retirement community -- close to the community they call "home" and made out of a material that is healthy becomes a whole new angst-driven odyssey for Judith to tackle, or just angst over – which she does. Buckle up and join her as she struggles to figure out: did my parents just let me believe that I had changed them so I could believe that I could change the world… and then when I was out changing it… they moved to a vinyl sided 55+ community. OY…. this puts REAL back in reality and iron back in IRONY! (If you miss it on the Sundance Channel you can see it on the BLUE VINYL DVD.

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Everything's Cool

AWARDS: Official selection at Sundance, South by Southwest, Full Frame Film Festivals; Green Heroes Award from Elle Magazine

Everything’s Cool is a toxic comedy about the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding and political action: Global Warming. The good news: America finally gets global warming; the chasm is closing and the debate is over. The bad news: the United States, the country that will determine the fate of the globe, must transform its fossil fuel based economy fast (like in a minute). While the industry-funded nay-sayers sing what just might be their swan song of scientific doubt and deception, a group of self-appointed global warming messengers are on a life or death quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to push for a new energy economy. Hold on — this is bigger than changing your light bulbs.

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The Uprising of '34

AWARDS: One of the Ten Best Documentaries of 1995, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; Gold Apple Winner, National Educational Film & Video Festival

The Uprising of ‘34 is a startling documentary which tells the story of the General Strike of 1934, a massive but little-known strike by hundreds of thousands of Southern cotton mill workers during the Great Depression. The mill workers' defiant stance - and the remarkable grassroots organizing that led up to it - challenged a system of mill owner control that had shaped life in cotton mill communities for decades. Sixty years after the government brutally suppressed the strike, a dark cloud still hangs over this event, spoken of only in whispers if at all.

Through the voices of those on all sides, The Uprising of ’34 paints a rare portrait of the dynamics of life in mill communities, offering a penetrating look at class, race, and power in working communities throughout America and inviting the viewer to consider how those issues affect us today. The film raises critical questions about the critical role of history in making democracy work today.

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