Radical Generosity


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production

LOGLINE

Radical Generosity chronicles the timeless endeavor to subvert the status quo. In a politically-charged climate more divisive than ever, Sharon Richardson and April Tam are taking matters into their own hands.

SYNOPSIS

What does it take to open the first social business in New York City? April Tam, an immigrant from HK, worked on wall street for over ten 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 plans to open a plant-based restaurant that donates a hundred percent of their proceeds to charitable organizations worldwide, at the same time, provides job opportunities for the vulnerable populations locally.

Assisting April in her venture is one of the hottest names in the NYC vegan food scene — Craig Cochran. Growing up in the projects of Buffalo, Craig worked as a dishwasher, a delivery boy, and eventually came to own three vegan restaurants in New York City. April’s mission inspires him and agrees to guide her through the process of opening a restaurant.

On the other hand, Sharon Richardson, the population April’s restaurant is aiming to help. Sharon was once a corrections officer, but found herself spending twenty-six years of her life in prison, locked up for her involvement in the murder of her abuser. During that time, she elevated herself, completed school and met other tenacious women also serving long sentences for one-time incidents. They told stories to one another, and sat with each other during the times of pain, suffering and depression. They talked about their dreams, goals and everything that people judged them for.

When her time was up, Sharon came home, but to her despair was treated like a second-class citizen. “It was like, everywhere that I’ve gone, no one wants me. I work two 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.” She was experiencing firsthand the two largest barriers for the formerly incarcerated: securing housing and employment. But Sharon remained hopeful. She remade herself as a re-entry specialist and an advocate for home-violence sufferers. She’s struggling to start her own catering business to hire previously incarcerated women and tell their story through food.

Entrepreneurial spirit coupled with determination to enact change has propelled these women. Sharon met April at a non-profit organization mixer; they hit it off right away and commenced a mentor and mentee relationship. April advises Sharon on her catering business while Sharon encourages April’s commitment to her business. Sharon and April attempt to transform communities from the inside out in their different ways. 

But Opening a restaurant is a process, and never guaranteed. Construction delays and the bureaucratic obstacles of opening a restaurant threatened April’s altruistic dreams of success. And as Sharon attempts to secure housing in a society that shuns her, we are introduced to the difficulties posed by reintegration.

Will April, Sharon and Craig acheive 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 provides employments for the previously incarcerated and homeless. At that time, they have just found a space on 48th street and 8th Ave. I began filming when they signed a 15 years lease and spent the next three years documenting their progress and setbacks on this social mission.

about 1 year into the project, I was introduced to Sharon, whose openness and incredible experiences inspired me. With a past of being in prison for 26 years, she battled being a prisoner, elevated herself in prison, became an 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. Sharon's involvement with the film also completed the second half of the circle where there is struggle and there is solution.

I believe that their story deserves to be heard and their mission deserves to be acknowledged and pass on. I hope this contemporary story with characters from completely different backgrounds, races and life experiences unite together to build a better society will inspire more people to not judge others by their past, create and give everyone a fair chance at success. And 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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