A grant awarded by Artists Building Capacity as World Citizens in the fall of 2012 has helped CantoMedia of Katonah, NY, advance promotional preproduction for a documentary film about the Shobu Gakuen School in Kagoshima, Japan.
Shobu Gakuen provides a place for adults with developmental challenges to live independently as they learn useful skills and receive opportunity for artistic expression. Its goal is to empower residents to become productive individuals in their community as their work helps change their own and others’ perceptions about human capacity, and connects them with the wider world in a self-sustaining way. The Shobu Gakuen campus was designed as a residence with workshops for crafting furniture, paper, and pottery, running a bakery and noodle shop, and producing handmade clothing. The school community has earned an international reputation for its artwork and traditional crafts, particularly its Nui (Stitching) Project.
CantoMedia plans to create an uplifting, multi-cultural story about artists spreading a message of hope as their previously hidden potential is revealed, a literal demonstration of artists building capacity, and a learning environment that can serve as a model for communities worldwide. CantoMedia also hopes to make use of the production of the documentary as a teaching project for advanced documentary students at the Jacob Burns Media Lab in Pleasantville, NY. Filmmaker Frank Cantor has specialized in award-winning films about artistic collaborations and international artists, including films about artists Roy Lichtenstein, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, and Esmerelda Santiago.
Shobo Gakuen’s executive director, Shin Fukumori, invited filmmaker Frank Canto of CantoMedia to visit the school and create a documentary film about its pioneering work of building capacity through use of the arts. As an initial step in this process, the ABC World Citizens grant will enable CantoMedia to produce a 5- to 7-minute promotional video about Shobu Gakuen to raise funds for a full-length documentary to be aired in the U.S. and Japan.
The grant allowed CantoMedia to pursue three initial phases of the project in Fall 2012:
- Film research and shooting at Shobu Gakuen in Kagoshima
- Film-design processes of logging documentary footage and still images and capturing them into a video archive from which the promotional video will be edited. This promotional video will help potential funders see, hear, and feel the power of the Shobu Gakuen story and be motivated to fund an expanded version
- Acquiring funding for the film by identifying and meeting with the foundations and individuals who will benefit most from this production about the power of artists building capacity. Funding secured could support a one-hour television documentary suited for NHK in Japan and the Public Broadcasting System networks in the U.S.A.