Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, filmmakers and festivals alike have had to adapt and meet our audiences online. After a last in-person screening at the 2020 One Earth Film Festival in early March, we were honored to screen Seasons of Change on Henry's Farm at the Vail Film Festival in May 2020, where the film garnered the "Best Documentary" award. The film will next screen at the Boulder Environmental/Nature/Outdoors Film Festival in July.
We are thrilled to report that Seasons of Change on Henry's Farm was completed this fall and grateful for the warm reception the documentary received at Oregon's BendFilm Festival ("The 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World" – MovieMaker Magazine) and at special sneak preview screenings sponsored by Illinois State University in Normal, IL and Eureka College in Eureka, IL. More festival and screening news coming soon!
We are also grateful to Chicago Filmmakers' Chicago Digital Media Production Fund for supporting Ines Sommer's new micro-doc series focused on Chicago's newly elected Aldermen and New City magazine for including Ines in their annual tally of Chicago film professionals: Film 50: Chicago’s Screen Gems 2019.
The film uses oral histories, archival photos, broadcasts, and music recordings to paint a portrait of Rev. Clay Evans, a Civil Rights leader, award-winning Gospel Music artist, and broadcast ministry trailblazer.
Escaping the hopelessness of the Jim Crow South, Rev. Evans migrated to Chicago in 1945. Within a few years, Evans founded the legendary Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, “the Ship,” where he pastored for 50 years.
Rev. Evans lent support to Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, stared down the wrath of Mayor Richard J. Daley, and was the founding National Board Chairman of Operation PUSH (1971-76). Evans challenged the norms of political and church leadership, televised the nationally-acclaimed What a Fellowship Hour, and is widely regarded as Chicago’s Pastor.
Directed by Chicago documentary filmmaker Ines Sommer and produced by Patty Nolan-Fitzgerald, the program features interviews with Reverend Evans, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Lou Della Evans-Reid, Father Michael Pfleger, Congressman Bobby Rush, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr, and many others.
We are thrilled that "Count Me In", Sommer Filmworks' documentary about participatory budgeting, was selected for the Chicago Park District's CHICAGO ONSCREEN series! About the 2017 official selections: "The Chicago Onscreen Class of 2017 is made up of seventeen filmmakers living, working and creating in Chicago. Their work showcases the city from every angle, creating vibrant portraits of the people who live here and the city we all call home." Find film descriptions, locations and schedule here: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/chicago-onscreen-about-the-films/
We were honored to premiere "It Is No Secret – The Life and Inspiration of Reverend Clay Evans" at Chicago's Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on June 25, 2017 in celebration of Rev. Evans' 92nd birthday. For several years, producer Patty Nolan-Fitzgerald had conducted oral history interviews that explored the legacy of this legendary "pastor of pastors." Nolan-Fitzgerald turned to Sommer Filmworks to create a tribute video rich with oral history interviews, archival photos, What a Fellowship Hour broadcasts, and Gospel choir performances. Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the audience at the premiere screening and luminaries such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Minister Louis Farrakhan were in attendance. Artifacts, photos, and oral history interviews are now all housed at the Chicago Public Library's Rev Clay Evans Archive, where they will be accessible to the general public for decades to come.
Pictured at the premiere are: Ines Sommer, video director;
Patty Nolan-Fitzgerald, video producer; and Matt Lauterbach, editor.
Sommer Filmworks' new documentary COUNT ME IN highlights an innovative experiment in direct democracy called "participatory budgeting" that gives ordinary Chicagoans direct say over local public projects and monies. COUNT ME IN aired on PBS stations across the nation as well as the PBS WORLD channel in late 2016 and is now available for screenings by community groups, agencies, non-profit groups, public libraries and for the educational market. Contact us for more info at: email@example.com
COUNT ME IN offers an inspiring way to start a dialogue about civic engagement, community development and planning and is ideal for courses in: government • political science • sociology • urban planning
"Count Me In is an insightful and engaging look at how committed residents stepped up to bring real democracy to underserved neighborhoods in Chicago. It is sure to spark debate about the weaknesses of our present governmental system and inspire discussion about the possibilities for more public participation..."
– Dr. Michael Menser, Asst. Professor, Brooklyn College
August 31, 2016 by Todd Lillethun
Just in time for election season, director and DP Ines Sommer is finishing a documentary about participatory budgeting titled COUNT ME IN, which is scheduled to air on PBS in late October. As a resident of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, Sommer became intrigued by Alderman Joe Moore’s push to let residents vote on how money was spent in his district. Each ward in Chicago receives $1.3 million per year to spend on infrastructure and development, which can include everything from filling potholes to planting gardens in vacant lots. Decisions on how to spend that money has traditionally been left up to aldermen, but participatory budgeting gives residents the power to make those decisions instead. The film shows community members on the north, south, and west sides of the city driving the process in efforts to improve their neighborhoods: they write proposals, pitch their positions, and submit everything for a vote to their neighbors. It’s an empowering, but also labor intensive, and occasionally messy undertaking, and has been adopted by seven wards across the city, plus 1,500 other cities in the U.S. and Latin America. Sommer began shooting in 2013, and editor Susanne Suffredin (of the Kindling Group) was brought on last year. In 2014 the MacArthur Foundation awarded Sommer a grant to finish the film and connected the project to WTTW for distribution.
WTTW Chicago and UIC Great Cities Institute present COUNT ME IN at the
CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
Claudia Cassidy Theater
78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
Saturday, October 15, 2pm
Film screening followed by a panel discussion. Meet filmmaker Ines Sommer, PB Chicago organizers, and some of the participants! Free and open to the public!
More info at: www.countmeinmovie.com
RSVP here: interactive.wttw.com/events/2016-10-15-190000/free-premiere-screening-discussion-%E2%80%93-count-me
Journalist Lori Rotenberk, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, grist, and the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote about our documentary-in-progress "A Season of Change on Henry's Farm" in ReelChicago. The documentary is co-produced by Sommer Filmworks' Ines Sommer and author Terra Brockman. http://www.reelchicago.com/article/sommer-s-doc-focuses-illinois-organic-farm-family150423