Radical Generosity


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production

LOGLINE

a documentary on economic justice, speaks for the vulnerable populations in New York City, at the same time promoting a solution to their struggle.

SYNOPSIS

Sharon Richardson- formally correction officer, charged with murder in the secondary degree and conspiracy in the first against her abuser. She spent 26 years in prison, battling being a prisoner, being convicted of murder. During those years, she elevated herself, completed school, met many awesome women that it was just a one-time incident that brought them to prison for many years. They told stories to one another, and sat with each other during the times of pain, suffering and depression, and talked about their dreams, goals and everything that people judged them for. 26 years later, Sharon came home, “it was like, everywhere that I’ve gone, no one wants me. I work 2 jobs. I have a little money saved up, my credit is good, I have people who can write letters for me, tell me what it is I have to do to change the minds.” experiencing the two hugest barriers for formerly incarcerated coming home, housing and jobs, She felt so defeated and hopeless about having no place accepting her. Sharon is a re-entry specialist and an advocate for home-violence; She’s struggling to start her own catering business to hire previously incarcerated women and tell their story through food.
Sharon met April at a non-profit organization; they hit it off right away and started a mentor and mentee relationship on entrepreneurship since then.
April Tam, an immigrant from HK, working on wall street for over 10 years, instead of falling in love with money, she sees it as a tool to create social change. Inspired by Nobel Prize winner, Mohammed Yunus, April is opening a vegan restaurant that follows the principles of Social Business. Which is to say, a cause-driven business. Investors will only get their investments back. But all dividends will fund charitable projects in the developing world. Not only that, the business will provide jobs for the previously incarcerated, the homeless and victims of sex trafficked locally. Assisting April in her venture is a tour-de-force in the NYC vegan food scene — Craig Cochran. Growing up in the projects of Buffalo, Craig worked as a dishwasher, a delivery boy, eventually working his way up to owning 3 vegan restaurants in New York City. As April’s mission inspired him, he guides her through the process of opening a restaurant. He’s also actively fighting for animal rights and a big advocate for plant-based food.
After a whole year of going through obstacles after another. Construction finally started with contractor, Mark Rogers, Mark, like Sharon, was previously incarcerated. He was in prison for 8 years for trafficking cocaine. After being released he turned over a new leaf and founded his construction company. With the same goal in mind, Mark lowered his price and became a live saver for the project. As Mark explains in the film: “If there aren’t any job opportunities out there for people who come out of jail, you’re telling them to go back to what they’ve been doing - which lead them to prison in the first place, and that doesn’t help society at all''
The final moment awaits, will Sharon and April achieve their goals?

 

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

I started this project in February 2015, right after meeting April and hearing about her idea of opening the restaurant, a non-profit social business that donates 100% of their profits and creates employments for the previously incarcerated and homeless. At that time, they have just found a space on 48th street and 8th Ave. I dreamt alone with her about the benefits it will bring to our society. But at the same time, feeling skeptical towards April’s radical generosity. I began filming when they signed a 15 years lease and estimated a 4 months shooting time. Things did not go as planned, neither April’s nor mine. And now 2 years have passed, while waiting for the grand opening of our dreams, I have gotten to know Sharon, Mark, Craig, and many other people that was inspired by and became apart of April’s Journey. Among all people, Sharon really took my breath away with her openness and incredible charismatic personality. With a past of being in prison for 26 years, she battled being a prisoner, elevated herself in prison, became a advocate for home violence and have made great contributions to change what it is now for women that have the same experiences as her. She found hope in the least expected place and is spreading to more and more people.
I strongly believe that her story deserves to be heard and their mission deserves to be acknowledged and pass on. And that believe became my motivation of continuing with this project. I hope this New York story with characters from completely different backgrounds, races and life experiences unite together to build a better society film will inspire more people to not judge others by their past, create and give everyone a fair chance at succeeds. I aspire to continue using filmmaking as a way to contribute to social change and I hope this film will open many doors to launch my career for many more inspiring films.

KEY CREW

Lulu Men - Director/Producer

Lulu Men is an artist based in New York City, she has also lived in China and Singapore. Lulu has a business degree in Fashion Merchandising and furthered her study at the School of Visual Arts. Where she found her passion and voice for arts, experimenting with different mediums through graphic design, paintings, and sculptures. After received her BFA from SVA, she proceed her study at MFA Social Documentary Films, where she continued to grow as an artist, express and speak with film. Lulu received her Masters Degree in May 2016. She continued to work on films on social issues. Lulu’s works has exhibited at "Global Projects" at Broadway Gallery, NYC in August 2013 and February 2014, as well as SVA Social Documentary Thesis Showcase 2016.

 

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