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USA, September 10, 2014 – 12 Months (2014), a documentary about a man who rents his home for a year to a family in transitional housing for $1 per month, will be shown on Friday, Sept. 19th at 12:00PM at AMC 34th Street Theatres as an official selection of Urbanworld Film Festival. The festival runs between September 17th and 21st and is hosted by BET Networks and sponsored by HBO.
“I am very excited to be screening our film [at Urbanworld Film Festival]!” exclaims award-winning director and producer Charysse Tia Harper. “This is the first film festival the documentary has been in and this is definitely a big one!”
The 64-minute film follows single mother, Felicia Dukes, and her four children as they live in Tony Tolbert’s 3-bedroom Los Angeles home for a year. It also looks at the issue of transitional housing, as well as explores the impact that generosity has on the community. Production began in December 2012, when the family moved in, and ended in January 2014, when the family moved out.
12 Months had its premiere in Los Angeles in February. Over the past seven months, it has been shown in various locations, such as a university (UCLA) and a taekwondo studio in southern California, as well at a discussion meet-up group and a pub in London, to name a few. The film comes back to the US to make its East Coast debut in Manhattan.
Tolbert was inspired to do this by reading an article in a magazine about the Salwens, a family who downsized their home and gave the difference ($800,000) to charity. Tolbert started renting his home for $1 per month in December 2011 and continues to this day. He, along with Harper, will be at the screening and Q&A to follow.
Harper, a filmmaker with roots from Trinidad & Tobago, has been making documentary since 2008 and created her company, Xplore the World, in 2009. Her first documentary, The Other Side of Carnival (2010), received the Best Cultural Documentary (New York International Film Festival) and Best International Documentary (ITN Distribution and New Media Festival) awards. This year alone, she has produced Not In Our Culture (2014), a mini-series looking at different tribal weddings in Nigeria; and has co-directed Panomundo, a documentary about the history of the steelpan in Trinidad & Tobago and its global influence, which will have its World Premiere in London in October 2014.
CTH: I decided to make 12 Months as soon as I heard the story! I was working on a video for a non-profit organization, All Peoples Community Center, and Tony Tolbert (the main subject in 12 Months) was on the board. He told me what he is doing and I immediately said I wanted to make this into a documentary! Simply put, my inspiration is telling stories that educate the public and let people realize that their lives are not as bad as they think. Things could be worse. Also, I wanted to show that human beings are 99% good!
CTH: Nothing makes me happier than to hear someone say, “I am so inspired that I want to do _____.” I just really want people to leave the film feeling that they can help someone else even if they do not have a house, money, a car, etc. Helping someone comes in many different sizes and forms and people should not feel limited by the resources they do not have. They need to see what they can offer and start with that.
CTH: Being selected by Urbanworld Film Festival is VERY EXCITED! I remember talking to my friend last year about the different festivals to enter 12 Months in. He said UWFF is a must! When the film was chosen, I sent him an email and said “You rock! Thanks for telling me about this festival!” I read that it is the US’s largest multicultural film festival! It is always flattering to be selected for any festival. But when the festival is in New York City – and that BET Networks is a presenting sponsor – it makes it even more unbelievable!!
CTH: After we screen the film here – we are promoting this as our East Coast debut – we are going to host two screenings in London next month. From there, we are going to make DVDs to sell it, as well as look at online streaming. However, if there is a distributor reading this, we are willing to put that all on hold if you are interested 😀CineCaribés: What is next up for you?
CTH: I have been working on a documentary about the history of the steelpan, from its inception in Trinidad & Tobago to its influence in Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Switzerland, US and UK. It is called Panomundo. We – British co-director Keith Musaman Morton and I – have been working on this for nearly three years and we are getting ready to premiere the film in London next month! After that, we aim to travel to the other six countries we shot in to have a premiere there. In other words, New York City: here we come again!Tickets to see 12 Months are $15, which can be purchased at Urbanworld Film Festival’s 12 Months page.