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THE ARTISTS

PANMELA CASTRO

Graffiti artist Panmela Castro has risen to the top of the male-dominated graffiti world in Brazil by blazing her own trail, and using street art to raise awareness about an issue that hits very close to home: domestic violence.

www.panmelacastro.com

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SOHINI CHAKRABORTY

Sohini Chakraborty began volunteering at a shelter for sex trafficking survivors in India in 1996. As a dancer and sociologist, she knew instinctively that dance could help girls reclaim their bodies after the trauma of trafficking, and over the past two decades, Chakraborty has touched the lives of over 65,000 survivors.

www.kolkatasanved.org

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FATOU DIATTA aka SISTER FA

Senegalese hip-hop star and activist Sister Fa is a controversial figure throughout West-Africa, where she regularly tours, using her fame to spark a dialogue around female genital mutilation, which is still too taboo to discuss in many communities.

 www.sisterfa.com

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ANNA TAYLOR

American fashion designer Anna Taylor was a college student when she met an unemployed Kenyan seamstress named Judith in one of Nairobi's slums. Anna hired Judith to sew her clothing designs, and went on to found Judith & James which trains and employs impoverished Kenyan women to produce high fashion clothing. At the age of 22, Taylor debuted her collection at New York Fashion Week.

www.judithandjames.com


To directly support the work of the women featured in Little Stones, make a tax-deductible donation through Driftseed's Artists page.

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the experts

PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA Executive Director, United Nations Women

PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA

Executive Director, United Nations Women

MOLLY MELCHING Founder and CEO, Tostan

MOLLY MELCHING

Founder and CEO, Tostan

ALYSE NELSON President and CEO, Vital Voices        

ALYSE NELSON

President and CEO, Vital Voices        

THADDEUS BLANCHETTE Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

THADDEUS BLANCHETTE

Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

MUSIMBI KANYORO President and CEO, Global Fund for Women

MUSIMBI KANYORO

President and CEO, Global Fund for Women

MARCOS NASCIMENTO Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University

MARCOS NASCIMENTO

Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University

The Filmmakers

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SOPHIA KRUZ

PRODUCER/DIRECTOR

Driftseed Co-Founder

EMMY® award-winning documentary filmmaker Sophia Kruz has a passion for non-fiction storytelling. Her work has screened at film festivals, museums, libraries, community centers, and health-care facilities nationwide, and is broadcast regularly on PBS stations. Kruz's documentary work is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, Marian Chace Foundation, International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and the Womanity Foundation. She is currently a co-founder of the non-profit Driftseed and the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women 2015-2016 Visiting Social Activist. 

Formerly a producer in PBS Detroit's National Documentary Unit, Kruz produced RIDE THE TIGER (2016), a documentary on neuroscience and bipolar disorder and BEYOND THE LIGHT SWITCH, Hour 3 (2015), for national PBS broadcast. From 2010-2013, Kruz held the position of Video Producer & Editor at UMS, the University of Michigan's international performing arts presenter. She earned her BA in Screen Arts & Cultures at the University of Michigan.

MEENA SINGH

CINEMATOGRAPHER/CO-PRODUCER

Driftseed Co-Founder

Meena’s documentary work has taken her all over America, and most notably, she shot scenes for 2013 Oscar winning documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom. Born in Chicago to an Indian father and an American mother, Meena finds a balance between her eastern heritage and western upbringing through cinema. Her background of global influences has helped her bring a unique perspective to the projects she takes on. This, coupled with her high level of technical knowledge and training, and her desire to bring affecting stories that matter to the screen in a visually compelling way, have made her a highly valuable asset and long-term collaborator with the directors she’s worked with. 

She studied cinematography at Columbia College Chicago and shot her first two feature films before the age of 21. Following her early success, she relocated to Los Angeles to attend the prestigious American Film Institute. Her work has received numerous awards and critical acclaim, and has screened at film festivals around the world. Meena is a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild.

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KAROLIINA TUOVINEN - Editor

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AMRITHA VAZ - Composer

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ANKITA SINGH - Driftseed Co-Founder

From the director

LITTLE STONES follows four women whose lives are dedicated to empowering survivors of gender based violence and eradicating the atrocities of domestic violence, human trafficking, extreme poverty and female genital mutilation. These women are therapists, activists, missionaries, and entrepreneurs.

These women are artists. 

Art is what drives these four women, provides an avenue for self-expression, and allows them to heal other women and girls in their communities. Each artist featured in LITTLE STONES is a creative visionary, and I wanted to tell their stories with the same aesthetic care as they give their own life’s work, which is why I selected Meena Singh as the film’s cinematographer. Singh has a background in narrative filmmaking, and our plan was to approach the photography of LITTLE STONES from a cinematic view, focusing on detail and aesthetics, playing with visual transitions and juxtapositions, and interweaving the four stories through a compelling visual narrative. From the hazy orange skies in Sohini’s Kolkata to the hot pink paint of Panmela’s graffiti, the bright primary colors of Anna’s Kenyan prints to the dry hot yellow desert sun of Senegalese villages on Sister Fa’s tour, viewers get a taste of traveling around the world, hearing stories of social injustice that are strikingly similar while culturally unique.

Singh and I traveled alone with our camera gear or occasionally with the support of a local interpreter or driver. In this way, we were able to take a fly-on-the-wall approach to our subjects; safe and intimate, without making the women feel self-conscious about being filmed. We stayed close to, or in some cases, in our subjects’ homes, being granted intimate access to their personal lives. This approach allowed us to capture previously unseen footage inside India’s government shelter homes, villages in rural Senegal, and heart-wrenching interviews with sex-trafficking and domestic-violence survivors. We tried to make our subjects feel comfortable by working with only female interpreters and an all-female production team, ensuring interviews and verité scenes were honest and emotional in societies where genital mutilation, prostitution, and even sexuality are taboo.

I wanted to continue to highlight the work of female artists by selecting women to perform the film’s key creative post-production positions. Sundance Composing Lab alumni Amritha Vaz wrote an original score featuring female Gambian kora player Sona Jobarteh and female bansuri player Sheela Bringi. Karoliina Tuovinen was the film’s finishing editor, and a nearly-all female team at Technicolor studios finished the film’s color correction and sound mix. In short, LITTLE STONES is a film about women who are using art to create social change, by women artists who believe their creativity can help other women in their own communities, and around the world.

The film’s title comes from suffragist and women’s rights activist Alice Paul’s 1974 quote, “I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone.” The sentiment, that we all have a role to play in the global fight for equal rights, to me perfectly encapsulated the work of each artist featured in the documentary, and my own goals for LITTLE STONES. I hope the documentary encourages creative dialogue and expression around issues of global gender based violence, and that through Driftseed, the 501c3 non-profit organization which Singh and I founded during production, we will continue to grow the mosaic of the women’s movement, stone by stone.

 

Sophia Kruz

Director, LITTLE STONES

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The music

Composer Amritha Vaz put together an all-star team of musicians for the Little Stones score. Learn more about the soloists who contributed:

SONA JOBARTEH - kora

SHEELA BRINGI - bansuri

KAMALJEET AHLUWALIA - santoor

 

EDUCATION ADVISORS

Our team of education experts at the University of Michigan School of Education's Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research are hard at work creating lesson plans, resource and discussion guides to accompany Little Stones at high school, university and community screenings. To learn more about how you can host a screening or use Little Stones in your classroom, please join our mailing list.

The Little Stones filmmakers and 100 high school students at the film's Ann Arbor, MI Test-Screening and Education Symposium.

The Little Stones filmmakers and 100 high school students at the film's Ann Arbor, MI Test-Screening and Education Symposium.

ELIZABETH MOJE
Interim Dean, School of Education, University of Michigan

DARIN STOCKDIL
Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research, School of Education, University of Michigan

VICTORIA HAVILAND
Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research, School of Education, University of Michigan

CATHY FLEISCHER
Professor, English Language and Literature, Eastern Michigan University

GLYNDA A. HULL
Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California Berkeley

IMPACT PARTNERS

International Expressive Arts Therapy Association

InsideOut (Detroit)

iZosh Women Investing in Women

Promundo

Study Hall Educational Foundation 

Vital Voices

Zonta International

American Dance Therapy Association

Art Works for Change

Driftseed

Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research, University of Michigan

Center for the Education of Women, University of Michigan

Global Fund for Women

Funders

Funding for the production of the Little Stones documentary and impact campaign was provided by:

  • Albion College
  • Ferris State University
  • International Expressive Arts Therapy Association
  • Marian Chace Foundation
  • Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women
  • Verizon Wireless Foundation
  • Whole Foods Market of Michigan
  • Womanity Foundation
  • Zonta International District 15

We are deeply grateful to all our individual donors:

Ahbra Williams
Alana Font
Alex Kruger
Alex Toulouse
Alexander Cole
Alexandra Wedenig
Alice Gray Lewis
Amber Theriault
Andrew Glass
Andrew Moses
Anju & Ajai Singh
Anna Prushinskaya
Anne Bernardini
Anonymous
Antonella Notari Vischer
Arjun Baragi
Audrey Stryker
Aurélia Paola Ovan

Barbara Hosler
Barbara Kessler
Barbara Sawyer-Koch
Ben Freed
Benjamin Glatt
Beth Gilliland
Bianca Bowman
Bonnie Odom-Brown
Brian Aldrich

Caitlin Gardulescu
Callie Dean
Camila Ballario
Carissa Caricato
Carissa Welton
Carla Persico
Carly Friedman
Carolin & Dick MacDonald
Cathy Cieglo
Chelsea Moore
Cherie Nutter
Cheryl Hall
Christina Machak
Christopher Cook
Cindy Straub
Claire Ewing
Claire Weiner
Clotilde Decker
Connie Ellis
Connie Ellis
Corinn Lewis
Cristina Persico
Cyntha and David Burgoyne
Cynthia Pepper

Dan Alpert
Daniel & Bonnie Bernstein
Danielle Berridge
Dante Ballario
Dave Yen
David Soto Karlin
David Turner
Deb Axelrood & Gary Prezpiora
Deborah Godfrey
Delphia Simmons
DeShaunda Gooden Warner
Diana Russell
Dick Soble
DJ Boehm
Donald Hart
Donald Munski
Doug Cunningham

Ed Moore
Edie Harold
Edmund Horstman
EL Martin
Ellen Fiske
Ellen Forney
Emily Leary
Emily Stout
Eric Jacobsen
Etta Abrahams

Garrod Post & Robert Hill
Gary & Martha Kruz
Genna Cohen
Gerrit Yntema
Gino Roncelli
Gladys Peterson
Glenda Logue
Grace I Chang

Haydee Izaguirre
Hilary Cohen
Holly Powers
Howard White

Isabelle Behm

Jacqui True
Jane Speer
Jane White
Jared Maher
Jason Whalen
Jean-luc Deschaine
Jeanine Tomko
Jeffrey Herbstman
Jenny Freels
Jenny Geiger
Jenny Hackel
Jeri Rosenberg
Jerry Sloan
Jessica Bloom
Jill Kacel
Jim Kruz
Joan G Smith
Joan Herrgesell
Johanna Epstein
John Nelson
John Yahner
Jonathan Vander Pol
Joshua Pokempner
Joy Smith
Juanita Seery
Julia Winfield
Julie Dean
Julie LaCost

Kalyn James
Kari Buie
Kari Dion
Karin Beyer
Kathleen Harrigan
Kathy Brown
Kathy Buko
Katie Herrgesell
Ken Fisher
Ken Jones
Kendal Kelly-Yahner
Kevin McQuillan
Kevin Slagle
Kim Markey
Kip Wilson
Kshipra Rele

Laura Strowe
Laura Thompson
Lauren Kruz
Lauren Tighe
Laurie White
Leah Williams
Leigh Kraushaar
Lisa Lazar
Lisa Marra & JR
Lisa Weichman
Lois Ann Hernquist
Lou Glorie
Lucas Stein
Lucie Nisson
Lynda Berg

M. Agosten
Mae Axelrood
Margaret &Jack Goodnoe
Mari McKenzie
Marilee Benore
Marilyn Keen
Marina Gross-Hoy
Marissa Lapedis
Martha Campbell
Martha DeChant
Martha Schutte
Mary Geiger
Mary Georges
Matthew & Leslie Graff
Maurita Holland
Melinda Bieber
Melissa Calabrese
Melody Moezzi
Michael Michelon
Michael Singer
Mike Sivak
Mistinguette Smith
Molly Anne
Molly Beggs
Molly Cohen
Molly Jeszke
Monique Deschaine
Morgan Loel
Moses Family

Nancy Elwood
Nancy Grace
Nathan VanderVeen
Nicki Norris
Nicole Kruz
Noah Neary
Noah Stahl

Oliver Uberti

Paola Gianturco
Pat Leary
Patricia Jackson
Paul Foley
Paul Saginaw
Pauline Lubens
Peggy Lampman
Peggy Lynch
Peter D'Angelo
Phyllis Herzig

 

Rachael Ropeik
Regan Powell
Regina Theriault
Rich Homberg
Richard Hackel
Richard Fahle
Richard Rattay
Rishi Daftuar
Robert Levy
Ron Herzog
Ruth Ann Logue
Ryan Nach

Sally Volk
Sam Pessin
Sandra Fried
Sandy Ryder
Sara & Andrew Kruz
Sara Billmann
Sarah Markey
Schwall Family
Sebastian Encina
Seth Ferder
Shannon Kohlitz
Sherlene Kohlitz
Sophia Ju
Stephanie Thompson
Steve Schram
Steven Wood
Susan Little
Susan Margle
Sydney Skov
Sylvia & Stanley Kruz

Tanya Luz
Taryn Covrigaru
Tessa Adzemovic
Thalia Avila
Theo Schear
Tom Bray
Tricia Kelly
Truly Render

V. Migrin
Valerie Rosenberg
Vicki Honeyman
Victoria Kaplan
Virendra & Sherry Singh
Virginia Raymond
William Penegor
Zach Lee
Zack Arnold