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Acacia in Kenya Screes Graceland Girls for International Day of the Girl, Oct 11 

Join Acacia in Kenya in raising awareness and resources to help educate girls.

The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 in 2011 and declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face throughout the world.

The event will feature the screening of the award winning documentary, Graceland Girls, produced and directed by Jordan Salvatoriello.

This evening is designed to raise awareness of these incredible challenges, recognize the importance of empowering communities to educate young girls, and celebrate the differences made by organizations committed to investing in the future of educating women.

Acacia in Kenya will also be featuring extraordinary musical and dance performances by Elena Barker, Paige Zacharkis, Rhythmic Dreams and others.

Saturday October 11, 2014 
7:00 – 10:00PM
Malden High School
77 Salem St
Jenkins Auditorium
Malden, MA 02148

More info: http://evrd.us/Zem49
Find tickets: http://evrd.us/gYMi5

All proceeds from this benefit will go directly to Acacia In Kenya in support of current and future scholarships, programs and infrastructure projects for St. Elizabeth Lureko’s Girls HIgh School.

Graceland Girls Screens in Hagadera Refugee Camp

I was excited to learn that Graceland Girls screened at the Open Learning Exchange’s Community Learning Centre in Hagadera (Dadaab, Kenya) on April 14 to emphasize the power of educating girls to end the cycle of poverty.  The film screened alongside a second film about female genital mutilation, a practice which 100 – 140 million women and girls worldwide are still subjected to.


Diane Pueschel, Global Programs Manager & CLC Program Director shared some photos she received of the screening.  It is amazing to see the work in action!

Diane wrote in an e-mail that the films were “very well received and the discussion following was very lively and worthwhile.”

This is the first of a series of screenings at refugee camps in Dadaab, including a screening in Dagahaley and Ifo camps in the coming weeks.  Diane writes that as an official partner of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Open Learning Exchange is working to expand their program into Somalia as well with the help of community leaders on the ground there.

No-Brainer Solution to Ending Global Poverty: Educating Girls

Photo by Maria Amasenti

“The best escalator out of poverty is education, whether in Boston or Bangladesh,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof told an auditorium full of students and social entrepreneurs at Education:Empowering Girls One Book at a Time at Northeastern University Wednesday evening.

The event featured Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and co-author of their book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The inspiration for the book came following their time as Timescorrespondents in China where they learned of the nation’s female infanticide and gender based abortions and with the harsh realization that oppression against women and girls was in fact a global epidemic. WuDunn says there are between 60 and 100 million missing females in the world today. Women and girls who are educated tend to marry later in life, have fewer children, learn how to better care for those children and are more likely to reinvest in their own family.

They were joined by ex-Microsoft exec., John Wood, now Founder and Board Co-Chair of Room to Read, and author of Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy.

“It’s the biggest no-brainer solution,” said Wood. “It frustrates the hell out of me that more isn’t being done about it.” In fact, educating women and girls is the fastest and most effective way to fight global poverty, yet the movement is an incredibly slow one.

The group challenged the School of Social Enterprise students to take action, or “get stuff done,” as Wood likes to say. “As children we use action figures, not talking figures,” Wood adds. And it’s all about action. Along with educating girls, other topics of discussion included economic empowerment, gender-based violence, and maternal healthcare. Their collective advice to these current and future social entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t be afraid to sell: Use some of your business savvy to galvanize a social change movement.
  • Evidence and evaluation is hugely important: Collect data, measure impact.
  • Support local change-makers; use a community-based model. (“We want a hand-off, not a hand-out,” said Wood.)
  • Be transparent: From program management to business practices and finance, show it all.
  • Travel: Step out of your comfort zone and see the need and the impact for yourself – it will inspire you!

As the old Chinese proverb says, “Women hold up half the sky,” and as great as the injustices against women around the world, even greater is their potential to end global poverty with our support. You cannot stop progress. It will happen, but how long it takes is up to us.

United Nations AGB Screening & Panel Discussion March 3

Join me for the 2014 United Nations Association of Greater Boston’s Women’s Forum celebration of International Women’s Day, Inspiring Change: Educating Girls to Break the Cycle of Poverty.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Inspiring Change,” celebrating the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action; advocating for women’s advancement everywhere in every way.

Women’s Forum will be screening my film GRACELAND GIRLS followed by a panel discussion on the power of educating women and girls to eradicate poverty.

Panel will include:
Jordan Salvatoriello, M.F.A. – Director of GRACELAND GIRLS
Dr. Richard Rowe - Chairman/CEO of the Open Learning Exchange
Monte Allen - Senior Director, CARE USA

When & Where
MCLE - 10 Winter Place
Boston, MA 02108
From 5:30 pm to 8 pm


GRACELAND GIRLS provides an intimate look at how the high school students at Graceland Girls School in Kenya have defied the odds, proving that adolescent girls are the cornerstone for development. The girls express the beauty and pressures of empowered Kenyan girlhood and share their personal struggles to find hope for a better future.

Open Learning Exchange Screen Graceland Girls to Refugees

Open source learning emerged in the late twentieth century and was embraced by select universities on a global scale by early 2000.  However, open educational resources, although bolstered by increased use of the internet, remained largely out of reach to those without online access.

Organizations such as the Open Learning Exchange, a social benefit organization (501c3) headquartered in Cambridge, MA are committed to ensuring free access to quality basic learning for all.  This is particularly relevant for refugees and those displaced or forced to flee their homeland due to threat of violence or lack of resources.

In August 2013, the Open Learning Exchange began work towards establishing three Community Learning Centres, which will provide open learning opportunities to refugee populations, in particular children and youth, living in three UNHCR camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

Included in the educational materials in Dadaab is my documentary short, Graceland Girls, which will be screened this spring at all three Centres, along with other educational films.  As Somalis in the Kenyan school system, the story of how educating girls in Kenya can help break the cycle of poverty may hit close to home.  It is my hope that the film will stimulate a revealing discussion rooted in the culture, politics and economy of their host country and their Somali homeland.

Open educational resources can be the catalyst for systematic and institutional changes in the educational system on the ground, and provide the basic education needed to empower youth to create change and end poverty for themselves and for future generations.

*Photo courtesy of Open Learning Exchange

Q&A: Oakton High School’s Response to Graceland Girls Messages

I received a request to screen Graceland Girls at Oakton High School in northern Virginia, initiated by a 10th grader named Alicia.  Alicia took the initiative to start a local chapter of Girls Learn International, and wanted to screen the film for the group in celebration of the International Day of the Girl on October 29.  I am impressed!  Are there more strong women who want to make a difference like Alicia out there?

I asked Alicia if she could host a discussion following the film and then record some of her fellow students’ answers to share them with me.  What she shared gives me hope that young people are open to cultural messages, they do care about these issues and want to be a part of the solution. Check it out:

Q: How did the film make you feel?
A: At first I felt really bad, and embarrassed because I take my schooling for granted, when they have to work so hard. And I complain about school when they have so much more to complain about, but they don’t. They’re thankful. It makes me think I should be just as thankful, if not more. And the end of the movie was very uplifting, like, I don’t have to be ashamed that I have so much more, because I can help them get more.

Q: What obstacles are these girls facing?
-Societal Norms

Q: What are some of the ways you feel education can help break the cycle of poverty?
A: To see the big picture of education as the teachers at Graceland did. To understand that knowledge is power and education is the key to obtaining that power – the power to make a difference.

Q: What are some similarities you see between the Graceland Girls School and your high school? What differences do you see?
A: Similarities: VERY determined to get into a good university, and lots of pressure to get into a good university. Also we are both worried about money for college.

Differences: Difference in the reason for. For us, we live in a rich community where going to community college is shameful and looked down upon, but if that’s where we go, it’s not the end of the road (although it feels like it). But for the Graceland Girls, if they don’t get in, it literally IS the end of the road.

One difference that stood out to me the most, was what the girl said when she saw her picture on the board. She said “I look beautiful.” That really stuck out to me the most, because if northern Virginia girls saw a picture of them on a big screen, they would criticize themselves and so how ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ they looked. We may have better schooling, but the Graceland Girls sure do have more self confidence. Maybe it’s because they know they were sent to school because their parents believe in them, and they know that they can have a future, they are worth it.

Q: What are some things we can do in the U.S. to empower women and girls here and around the world?
A: Doing things [that we already are] like having clubs and movies to educate people on girls educations (hehe). But we also need to get people to care, and understand that this isn’t some charity that you give a few dollars to and forget about, this is actually a big problem in the world that needs to be solved.

Boston Kids Film Festival: “We are lucky to go to school”

We had a great discussion following the screening of The Making of Malala and Graceland Girls on Saturday at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, MA.  It was really great to share the girls’ stories with middle and high schoolers and to hear their reaction to the plight of their counterparts in other parts of the world.

Some of my favorite responses were:

“We take our education for granted, but we are actually very lucky to go to school.”

When I asked the crowd how the statement “At the age of 12 a girl is supposed to marry” made them feel, a young girl answered: “Gross.”  When I asked her how old she is, she answered “12.”

Hearing their reactions and their excitement to get involved was inspiring and with the recent requests I have received for screenings at middle and high schools, I have realized I need to move forward with developing a film discussion guide, tips for creating empowerment groups like Girls Learn International and perhaps a fundraising toolkit to help maximize awareness of the issues presented in the film, and to give viewers an easy way to act. More to come!

From Paris to Boston: Two Film Festivals Feature Graceland Girls, Nov 1 & 2

Check out two film festivals who are featuring Graceland Girls next weekend!

25th Paris International Lesbian & Feminist Film Festival will feature Graceland Girls on Friday, November 1(vendredi 1er novembre) at 17h00 – Petite Salle - Séance Kenya, générations féministes, Space EFCB, 23/25 rue Emile Zola – Montreuil 93100, Métro Robespierre.

Dans un lycée pour filles au Kenya, pays où la majorité des filles n’ont pas accès à l’éducation et sont victimes d’inégalité sociale et économique, une série de portraits intimistes et pleins d’espoir.

If you are in Paris, stop by si vous plait!

Filmmakers Collaborative‘s BOSTON INTERNATIONAL KIDS FILM FESTIVAL will feature Graceland Girls on Saturday, November 2, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144.

Come by and say hello as I’ll be attending the screening and will participate in a post film discussion about the importance of educating girls to break the cycle of poverty.

In addition, Graceland Girls will screening alongside the short film “The Making of Malala,” the story of Malala Yousafzai’s the improbable international teen spokeswoman for girls’ education.

Peace Day Philly Features Graceland Girls for Global Awareness

Peace Day Philly, a regional celebration of the International Day of Peace, September 21, has invited Graceland Girls to screen as part of their Global Awareness Films Series, “Films at the Fish.”

This worldwide day of ceasefire and non violence can have a significant positive impact in the Philadelphia region through the active involvement of individuals, groups, organizations and neighborhoods.


SEPTEMBER 6 – OCTOBER 4, 2013: Every Wednesday – Saturday at 8 p.m. & Sundays at 3 p.m., “FILMS AT THE FISH,” the Walking Fish Theatre, 2509 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA.  For more information, CLICK HERE.

The Walking Fish Theatre will screen a group of independent films related to global issues as part of their “Films at the Fish” program and in partnership with Peace Day Philly. We are thankful to the generosity of the filmmakers who are making these films related to global issues available for the International Day of Peace/Peace Day, and we also thank Chicago’s Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF) for drawing our attention to the shorter films.

Peace Day Philly 2013 Films will include:

CHILD 31 (31 minutes) – Child hunger and the Mary’s Meals initiative.
Website with trailer

GRACELAND GIRLS (29 Minutes) – Access to education for girls in E. Africa

ROAD TO PEACE (65 minutes) – An inside look at the depth and humor of the Dalai Lama.
Website, with trailer

RU: WATER IS LIFE (24 minutes) – Access to water in S. Sudan and its impact on education for girls
Website, with trailer 
Water Is Basic organization, South Sudan

Film Screening times will be posted in late August….check the Films and the Fish schedule HERE.

Awareness Film Festival Screens Graceland Girls, July 27

Graceland Girls has been chosen as an Official Selection at the 4th Annual Awareness Film, Art & Music Festival, July 25 – 28 in Santa Monica!  The film is scheduled to screen on July 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd St Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

The mission of the Awareness Film Festival to gain a clearer understanding of our world’s pressing issues: Ecological, Political, Health/Well Being and the Spirit. The festival showcases both Documentary and Narrative Features, as well as Short Films, Music Videos and Public Service Announcements. We have filmmaker Q&A’s, filmmaker Panels, as well as conscious art and music.

The Awareness Film Festival was formed by Heal One World, a non-profit charity. This Festival is also a fundraiser for Heal One World. Any net profits from this event will go completely to charity, including partner organizations.  For more information, visit: www.awarenessfestival.org.

For a complete schedule or to purchase tickets, visit: http://awareness.festivalgenius.com/2013/schedule/week.

Southside Film Festival Screens Graceland Girls: June 12 – 14

The documentary short about the power of girl education in Kenya to help break the cycle of poverty, Graceland Girls, has been accepted as an Official Selection into the SouthSide Film Festival in Bethlehem, PA.

The SouthSide Film Festival is an annual five-day event featuring international films, guest filmmakers, juried selections, locally produced films, seminars, and networking opportunities for filmmakers and fans of independent film.

Graceland Girls is scheduled to screen on the following dates/times:

Screening 1:  Victory Firehouse: 7:20pm Wednesday, June 12
Screening 2:  Sinclair Lab Auditorium: 5:20pm Thursday, June 13
Screening 3:  Sinclair Lab Auditorium: 5:20pm Friday, June 14
Screening 4:  Victory Firehouse: 7:20pm Friday, June 14

The SouthSide Film Festival is a program of The SouthSide Film Institute, a not-for-profit volunteer-run organization promoting the art of the independent filmmaker.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit SouthSideFilmFestival.com.

Festival De Cannes’ Short Film Corner Highlights Graceland Girls

Graceland Girls is included as part of the Short Film Corner at the Court Metrage.  Organized by the Festival de Cannes, the Short Film Corner is the essential rendez-vous for filmmakers.

Cannes Court Métrage reflects the Festival de Cannes’ desire to develop initiatives, encouraging emerging talents as well as the particular format of short films.

Salvatoriello Discusses Girl Education for CFAN

Graceland Girls Explores the Power of Girl Education 
By Jordan Salvatoriello, Producer, Director and Cinematographer
Award Recipient of The Caucus Foundation Grant Program

A little over a year ago, a dear friend told me about the girls at the Graceland School in Central Kenya. At this unique private boarding school for underprivileged teen girls, students are not only given the rare chance to receive a high school education, but the hope of joining the ranks of the next generation of female leadership in East Africa. As a woman, a documentary filmmaker and an activist with a keen interest in human rights issues, I was captivated by the idea of working with these girls and learning of their individual struggles and triumphs.

As I began to more deeply research the situation in Kenya, I found undeniable evidence that educating girls is the most direct and powerful way to impact economic development. In fact, it creates a ripple effect that can help break the cycle of poverty there, spreading from the individual, to their family, their community and so on. Yet despite this, many Kenyan girls continue to be denied an education, as well as rights, equality, independence and respect due to deeply rooted cultural and political obstacles. They are often pulled from school due to poverty, the need for laborers at home or to be married for a dowry. Even if girls are lucky enough to stay in school, there is often no time to study at home, no food to help them stay focused and motivated and no source of light to study by. The girls represented in my film Graceland Girls have, so far, defied these odds. This is a powerful story, and one I feel can have a powerful impact.

When I began this journey, I was a fledgling filmmaker still fumbling with my video camera. It seemed appropriate that I was learning a craft alongside the girls. As they experimented with photography, I experimented with video. As they learned and worked toward their lofty academic goals, I too worked toward earning my degree. We were connected on many levels, and that was something I found to be unique and important to this process.

Since it’s world premier in late 2012, Graceland Girls has been well received and honored with the Director’s Guild of America Jury Prize, the Caucus Foundation Gold Circle Award, and recently received the Maria Menounos “Take Action Hollywood” Award at Emerson College’s annual Film Festival in L.A. In addition, I have been invited into the classroom to show the film and talk to students about their Kenyan counterparts, as well as the importance of education, community service and valuing women and girls as equal contributors in our communities. It is my hope that this work will remind us of what we may take for granted in our own lives, but also where we could invest our resources to make the greatest impact on global development. In addition, I think it will be important for Kenya, and surrounding cultures that may still deny women and girls equal rights and access to education, to experience stories such as this. Perhaps through story, we can create more understanding, support and ultimately educational opportunities and help the ripple effect work its way outward.

Women Deliver Conference to Feature Graceland Girls, Malaysia, May 28 – 30

Exciting news! The Women Deliver 2013 Global Conference, the largest global meeting of the decade to focus on the health and well-being of girls and women, will be screening Graceland Girls at their “Cinema Corner,” May 28 – 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The film screenings will put a “face” to Women Deliver’s mission of reducing maternal mortality and improving access to reproductive health. The Cinema Corner will engage filmmakers, media outlets, and audiences in film-related advocacy opportunities, and relay the message that the arts is an important element to making a more equitable world for girls and women.

For more information, visit: http://www.cvent.com/events/women-deliver-2013-conference-registration/event-summary-ccfb71484fb4492da451fabcc2679863.aspx

We Are All the Same Underneath

I had dinner tonight with Dr. Tom Kariuiki, a member of the board for the Graceland Girls School in Kenya, upon which the film is based, and a dear man.  He gave us updates on the girls, as best he could, and I told him about the recent successes of the film.  He was very pleased to hear it, and smiled broadly from ear to ear.

I spoke with our hosts, Robert Grant and Kate Bowditch who both lived in Kenya for a time, about a meeting in May to discuss the “One Child at a Time” club, which Robert runs at Brookline High School and which first sparked our African travels to make this film.  I hope to meet with him and his current students to get a sense of how they fundraise for tuition for Kenyan girls and how we can collaborate on a toolkit so schools across the country can replicate their model.  It’s a project that could help to educate students about the importance of girl education, and get students involved in altruistic opportunities where they learn about women’s rights, as well as gain a more global view through interaction with their counterparts around the world.  It could go a long way in supporting fundraising efforts to send young Kenyan girls to high school, which could be very rewarding and easily done.

As I have expressed in my previous posts, since the Kenyan government only pays for schooling through primary (8th grade), those who are less fortunate are forced to drop out, and if anyone in the family attends, boys are always the priority.  There are many private high schools in Kenya that charge a high tuition, and therefore, their students are among the wealthiest in the country.  There are also schools that are heavily subsidized by large organizations, like the Catholic church, but few schools operate like the Graceland Girls School, with some of the students being from more privileged families to offset the costs of the bright but needy students who would not otherwise have been able to attend.  It is this model that will help break the cycle of poverty, and I am thrilled by our ongoing collaboration.

Tonight, as we sat across the table from each other, we enjoyed traditional Kenyan ugali and stew, as well as Kenyan tea (with hot milk), nice and sweet as I remember it.  It took me back to the summer I made this film, and to the time we spent with these amazing girls.

Since then, I have seen their faces on the silver screen more times than I can count, and I wonder if they can sense I am thinking of them.  And, as I write this and look out at the night sky, I realize it is the very same sky I stood under from that hilltop in Nyeri that summer, searching for cell phone reception to talk to family back home (and trying to remind myself that the scream of the Hyrax is not a threat!).  As I think of it now, I am reminded how we are all the same.  We are all human and imperfect, we have hunger and passions, and hopes and dreams that we wish to see fulfilled.  We all struggle with how to get by, with sorrow, fear and joy, with family and without, with riches and with nothing.  We are all the same underneath.  And I am so thankful to be able to do the work that I do, and for the family that I have.  There are only good things ahead.

Film Wins Maria Menounos’ “Take Action Hollywood” Award

We had an excellent screening of Graceland Girls at Emerson’s L.A. Showcase on Thursday night at the Harmony Gold Theater. I had a chance to talk about the ripple effect of educating girls to break the cycle of poverty and the amazing strength and inner beauty the girls at the Graceland School possess.

I am proud to say that Graceland Girls received EXTRA TV’s Maria Menounos’ “Take Action Hollywood” Award for social issue filmmaking. Very exciting!

March 7 Screening at Peace on Earth Film Festival

Graceland Girls is the first film of the Peace on Earth Film Festival, screening at 6:20 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 at the historic Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602. Admission is free and it is open to the public!

Click here for more details on the film screening. 

Or for more information on the festival, visit Peace On Earth Film Festival at www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org.

For the festival press release, click here.

13th Annual Emerson Film Festival Welcomes Graceland Girls

I booked a plane ticket to L.A. to attend the 13th Annual Emerson Film Festival, hosted by the graduate alma matur, Emerson College.  I’m honored that Graceland Girls has been accepted as an official selection!  The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood.  The event will begin with a Q&A with director James McTeigue, director of The RavenNinja Assassin, and the critically acclaimed V for Vendetta.

The LA Film Showcase will also screen on Emerson’s Boston campus on March 14, so stay tuned for details.  Click here for more information on the festival.

Graceland Girls Wins California Film Award

I am excited to share that Graceland Girls received the Diamond Award via the California Film Awards on January 26 in San Diego. Congrats to the next generation of female leadership in Kenya. Keep up the good work, your stories are making an impact!

The California Film Awards recognizes and celebrates important world cinema that represents the forefront of aesthetic, critical and entertainment standards in contemporary independent filmmaking and screenwriting. The California Film Awards honors new and cutting-edge American and foreign independent films in several competition categories.  Partnering with notable film industry companies, film educators, directors, producers, and writers, the California Film Awards provides a forum for talented filmmakers to be recognized for their work, creativity, and achievements.

Graceland Girls to Screen at Peace on Earth Film Festival

I am very pleased to announce that Graceland Girls has been accepted into the 2013 Peace on Earth Film Festival, and is scheduled to screen March 9 in Chicago!

Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF), taking place March 7 – 10, is a not-for-profit festival established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent filmmakers from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and eco-balance. POEFF aims to contribute to a culture of peace through international cinema, dialogue and programming highlighting individuals on the vanguard of peace activism and social change. POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families, and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness, into the light of communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding.

The 5th annual POEFF is hosted by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and taking place at the historic Chicago Cultural Center‘s Claudia Cassidy Theater (78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602), in the heart of Chicago’s world-renowned theater district.

The event features panel discussions with attending filmmakers and activists in the various modalities of peace, as well as Q & A sessions with filmmakers themselves. Admission is free and open to the public.

Judge Me Only By the Content of My Character

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday honoring the influential American civil rights leader who tirelessly campaigned for racial equality. While listening today to King’s most notable public address, his “I Have a Dream” speech, I couldn’t help but think of all of the various forms of discrimination and acts of intolerance that still take place.  Discrimination based on skin color is still rampant in many parts of the country.  The repression of women and the denial of their basic human rights is practiced in many areas across the globe. Countless people are taunted and abused due to their sexual orientation.  People with disabilities are still often seen as less capable, or the “other,” as is evidenced by a 70% unemployment rate.  People of certain faiths exclude, judge or are violent toward others who do not share their beliefs.

However, Dr. King reminds us today that it is our character that truly matters. I have a dream that we will “one day live in a [world] where [people] will not be judged by the color of their skin,” or their gender, their faith, their sexual orientation or by their disabilities, “but by the content of their character.” Let us not be satisfied, let us continue to question the norm and continue in non-violent activism across the globe, until we find our common humanity as human beings with equal potential for greatness.

Women’s Freedom Center to Screen Graceland Girls at Festival

I was contacted by the Women’s Freedom Center in Vermont to include Graceland Girls in their annual Women’s Film Festival, featuring 24 films by and about women.  I am honored to be a part of this powerful event.

The Women’s Freedom Center is a local organization in Windham County, Vermont working to end domestic and sexual violence.

They are a feminist organization committed to offering support and advocacy to survivors of violence, as well as prevention and educational activities to help create a community in which violence is not tolerated.

The film festival takes place March 8 – 17, 2013 at the New England Youth Theater in Brattleboro, VT.  The schedule will be posted soon, but for more information, visit: womensfreedomcenter.net

Director Salvatoriello Attends Director’s Guild Award Ceremony in NYC

Graceland Girls Director, Jordan Salvatoriello, is honored at the Director’s Guild of America Student Film Awards in New York City on November 28.

Documentary Wins Caucus Foundation Gold Circle Award

We are proud to announce that Graceland Girls received the 2nd Place Gold Circle Award at the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors Foundation Award Ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles Sunday night, December 2.  The Caucus honors outstanding, creative television and interactive media talent, and I am pleased to be recognized by such a prestigious organization!

Graceland Girls Chosen as “Best Of” the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival

Graceland Girls was chosen as “Best of” the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival!  The film screened this afternoon, alongwith three other films, at Chicago’s Historic Holiday Star Theater for those who may have missed the original festival in early October.  I am thrilled for another great chance to spread the word about the power of educating girls to help break the cycle of poverty.  Hope you enjoyed the film!

Salvatoriello, Graceland Girls Wins Director’s Guild of America Jury Prize

The Director’s Guild of America recently announced the winners of the 18th Annual DGA Student Film Awards.  I am excited to announce that Graceland Girls has won the DGA Jury Prize for the women’s category.  Check out the news in the Hollywood Reporter!

Graceland Girls Wins Four “Feminism on Film” Awards

The Women’s Independent Film Festival today announced their Fall 2012 Award Winners, and I am proud to share that the documentary short Graceland Girls brought home four out of six awards in the “Feminism on Film” category!

Graceland Girls Won the Following 2012 Feminism on Film Awards:

  • Best of Feminism on Film Award
  • Best Directing Award
  • Best Editing Award
  • Best Cinematography Award
For a complete list of award-winners, CLICK HERE.

Berkeley Beacon Features Girl Education & Graceland

Check out the Berkeley Beacon article featuring Graceland Girls and an interview with Director, Jordan Salvatoriello:


OCTOBER 31, 2012 AT 6:42 PM

All Masters of Fine Arts ‘12 graduates at Emerson College construct a master thesis; Jordan Salvatoriello’s took her to Kenya.

Salvatoriello knew she wanted her master thesis film to be about an important mission. Her drive was there, but she couldn’t seem to pin point a cause.

“I thought that I wanted to do more social issue work,” said Salvatoriello. “I’ve always been interested in documentary so I thought, ‘How can I bring my creative side together with a social issue that I would like to follow as a career?’”…CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE.

Screening Time at Women’s Independent Film Festival, Nov 2-3

Here is the 411 on the Graceland Girls screening at the Women’s Independent Film Festival in West Hollywood this weekend:

Graceland Girls will screen on Friday, Nov. 2 during BLOCK 3, 10:15 p.m. – 12 a.m. at the Actor’s Company Theater, 916a N. Formosa Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90046.  For more information on screening times, visit: www.womensindiefest.com.  To purchase tickets, click: http://womensindiefest.com/IndieFestival_2012.html.

The festival will be hosted by actress Michal Sinnott.  WIFF is hosting a closing reception this Sunday, November 4 from 4 – 8 p.m. at downtown art gallery, Papillion Institute of Art which is currently featuring artist Michelle Robinson’s exhibition on femininity and sexuality.  This event is free of charge for all attendees of the festival screenings, filmmakers and their guests.

The mission of the Women’s Independent Film Festival is to celebrate and give voice to the many diverse and unique perspectives offered by women in cinema from every part of the world.  Hope you can make it!

Women’s Independent Film Festival Selects Graceland Girls

We are pleased to announce that Graceland Girls has been chosen as an Official Selection for the Women’s Independent Film Festival in West Hollywood, CA on November 2 – 3, 2012.

The festival’s mission is to celebrate and give voice to the many diverse and unique perspectives offered by women in cinema from every part of the world. They seek to offer a platform in Los Angeles for the many diverse perspectives of women within the world of independent film. Women’s Independent Film Festival awards and screens the best independent films made by women filmmakers from around the world.  We are thrilled by this honor!  For more information on the festival, visit: www.womensindiefest.com.

Chicago International Social Issue Film Festival Panel Video

We had a great time in Chicago this weekend and saw some amazing social issue films.  Some of my personal favorites were Unfit: Ward vs. Ward by EDWIN SCHARLAU III, KATHERINE CARMICHAEL and PENNY EDMISTON and It’s a Girl Thing by SHANNON SILVA.  It was wonderful to join a panel discussion with fellow filmmakers, as well as Founder of The Empower a Girl Foundation, Allison Tibbs.  Check out some of the discussion on Graceland Girls with Director, JORDAN SALVATORIELLO.

We’re off to the Chicago International Social Issue Film Festival

Tomorrow we leave for Chicago to attend the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival(http://www.facebook.com/CISCFF), where Graceland Girls will be featured as part of the “Women’s Empowerment and Social Change” block on Sunday, Oct 8 at 12:30 p.m. (Showplace Icon Theater).  Director, Jordan Salvatoriello will be participating in a Q&A following the block.

We’ll be attending The Microlending Film Project, Rachel Cook’s doc centered on the current state of global microfinance to women as a tool for alleviation of poverty on Friday night, which has long been an area of personal interest.  There are so many wonderful stories to see to further the dialogue on social change making their premier this weekend.  It’s not to be missed.  Hope to see you there!

The Energy Puts the “Fun” in Fundraiser!

Thanks to all who attended the fundraiser for our Graceland Girls Saturday night at the Hard Rock in Boston.  It was a lot of fun and a portion of ticket sales goes to the 4-year tuition of our two Maragima girls who are now attending Graceland Girls School and getting the high school education they deserve. We are nearing our goal of $12,000 ($1,500 a year, per girl, for four years of school)!  Thanks to Adam Wolfsdorf for his kind heart and The Energy for the great music, making it an amazing evening all around!

Of course, we’d love to find a more long-term solution to the issue of girl education that attacks the root of the problem and breaks the cycle of poverty once and for all.  We are in the midst of seeking out both corporate and non-profit partners to create an ongoing fund that would go toward, not only high school tuition, but important policy advocacy work that will create wide-spread, permanent change.  If you are interested or know of someone who is, please contact me directly at reelchangegal@gmail.com.