Friday, March 10, 2023

New film explores complexities of parenting, ADHD diagnosis and its consequences

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 12, 2022

The Other Tom poster
The Other Tom poster

Photo: Outsider Pictures

Outsider Pictures is releasing a new production in New York October 14, 2022. In The Other Tom filmmakers Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo present a painful to watch 111-minute drama of Elena, a single mother in El Paso, Texas, and Tom, her nine year old son who teachers identify as a problem child. Their lives, already stretched financially and emotionally, take a turn for the worse after he is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The film explores the controversial diagnosis, subsequent prescription of psychiatric medication, the school system’s intense pressure on parents to comply with a chemical solution and the concept of excessive medication in childhood. According to a spokesperson it will be available for online streaming.

Julia Chávez plays Elena and Israel Rodríguez Bertorelli plays Tom. The film, in English and Spanish with subtitles, premiered in Venice in 2021 and includes on screen sexual situations. No rating was listed in the press release.

Following a troubling accident Elena becomes concerned about the possible side effects of the prescription medication her son is taking. When concerned for his well-being she stops administering the drugs to Tom, Social Services threaten to remove him from her custody unless he resumes taking the powerful psychiatric medication.

“The fact that we are parents was the single overwhelming motivator in our making this film,” Plá said of his collaboration with wife Santullo on The Other Tom in promotional materials provided via email by a publicist. “It’s nearly impossible these days to remain oblivious as a parent to the myriad of mental disorders and pathologies our children are diagnosed with, based entirely on behavior. It has become normal to create syndromes for behaviors and then develop drugs to ‘treat’ them. Increasingly, overworked teachers demand that their students be put on psychiatric drugs to quell disruption, and more and more doctors oblige, prescribing them like candy…but parents also, out of ignorance or convenience or sheer desperation, may find themselves surrendering to this mindset and medicating their children. This generation carries our hopes, and with this film, we hope to open eyes to a more human approach to helping them to adulthood.”

Chavez is a graduate of the Pearson College UWC in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Plá, director and writer, is a Mexican-Uruguayan director, screenwriter and producer. In addition to this production his feature films are La Zona (Venice, 2007), Desierto adentro (Cannes, 2008), La demora (Berlinale, 2012), and Un monstruo de mil cabezas (Venice, 2015). Santullo, director and writer, is a narrative and screenplay writer. In addition to this production her work as a screenwriter includes the feature films Un monstruo de mil cabezas, La demora, Desierto adentro, and La Zona. The Other Tom was produced by Buenaventura Cine and BHD Films.

Arizona university seeks to recognize journalists in under served communities

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 5, 2022

Lindsay Walker, senior director of Development, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Lindsay Walker, senior director of Development, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Photo: Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University pursuing its mission of “supporting communities of color, immigrants and LGBTQ+ individuals” is administering the Shaufler Prize in Journalism for its second year. According to a spokesperson who responded to questions via a public relations person via email, the contest “is open to all professional and student journalists, working at outlets of any size. We encourage entries in all formats, including video, audio, web and traditional print.”

Winners receive $20,000 in cash awards in the professional and student journalist categories. The first-place winner in the professional media category will receive $10,000. Second and third place winners will receive $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. The winner in the student category will receive a $5,000 award, according to a press release. In 2021, Paul B. Anderson, principal, of Seattle-based Workhouse Media, established the Shaufler Prize in Journalism in honor of his late friend, Ed Shaufler, who cared about promoting the understanding of underrepresented people, according to a press release.

“The Shaufler Prize, now in its second year, recognizes the best journalism in the country that advances the understanding of issues related to underserved people in society,” said Lindsay Walker, senior director of Development, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, when asked about the goal of the contest. “This prize seeks to recognize journalism that offers in-depth coverage of the issues affecting communities of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ population; tell stories that capture human experiences and build understanding among diverse people and communities; and explore and illuminate key public policy, legal, social, cultural or political issues regarding the treatment of marginalized communities and individuals.”

When asked how the organizers define “color” and underrepresented communities for purposes of submissions, she replied, “While we provide examples of such communities, we seek to allow journalists and their stories to illuminate the subjects and issues they are covering. In other words, the work can speak for itself, and we seek to be more inclusive — not less.”
The selection criteria? She said, “Judges evaluate the work based on four criteria: reporting quality, reporting depth, storytelling/narrative and impact potential.”

When asked how, if at all, the organizers distinguish between individual journalists and those working for large organizations and corporations she replied, “At this time, the contest does not make that distinction. Our aim is to let the work speak for itself.” When asked for the names, titles and affiliations of the judges who determine the winners and their photos she replied, “The judging panel for the 2022 contest is still being formed. The finalist judges in the professional category for 2021 included: Sharif Durhams Managing Editor of Raleigh News and Observer and Charlotte, Observer. (now with the Washington Post); Lee Edwards, digital based journalist with the Real Chi experimental newsroom in Chicago; Nora Lopez, managing editor of San Antonio Express, president of National Association of Hispanic Journalists   in the country. She became a U.S citizen in 2008; and Asha Saluja, formerly audio producer and manager of Slate podcasts; former host on Radio Free Brooklyn.”

According to the press release, in its inaugural year, the 2021 first place prize was awarded to Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte, and the staff of The Washington Post, for their story, Born with Two Strikes: How systemic racism shaped Floyd’s life and hobbled his ambition, part of the series, George Floyd’s America. Lizzie Presser of ProPublica took second place with Tethered to the Machine about JaMarcus Crews, who tried to get a new kidney. Maria Perez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel received third place for The Long Way Home about migrant workers at a Wisconsin green bean plant dying of COVID-19. In the student category, the Cronkite School’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism took the top prize for Little Victims Everywhere, a series examining child sexual abuse in Indian Country.

Washington state artist shares ways to slow down in new book

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 28, 2022

The Cottage Fairy Companion
The Cottage Fairy Companion

Photos: Yellow Pear Press

Artist Paola Merrill reads children’s books and posts video snippets of her life in a cottage in rural Washington State as The Cottage Fairy on As of this writing a little over one million people follow her updates. In The Cottage Fairy Companion A Cottagecore Guide to Slow Living, Connecting to Nature, and Becoming Enchanted Again (Yellow Pear Press, $22.99), her first book, she shares her “meditations and practices.” From idea to completion the project required one year.

When asked about herself by email via her publisher she replied, “I spend my days painting in my cottage, taking long walks with my husband and dog, reading children’s books, and drinking lots of tea while curled up with my kitty! My goal is to make my art and work as earth conscious as possible, and to spread joy and wonder through all my media. In the same way that nature and stories inspire me, I want to encourage creativity and peace in others to share the light and beauty of this world.”

She wrote the book for “Anyone looking to slow down for some moments of peaceful reflection!” The 166-page softcover book published this year features her art in watercolor and ink pens. It is divided into four main sections by season: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Paola Merrill, author, The Cottage Fairy Companion

Paola Merrill, author, The Cottage Fairy Companion

When asked what she hopes to achieve by writing about living in a cottage she said, “To give readers a moment to slow down and reflect on the beauty of life around them. And maybe inspire them to simplify life and prioritize what brings them fulfillment and joy.”

How will she measure success in relation to the book? She said, “I am not actually trying to measure success. It has been a dream of mine to publish a book for a long time, so just getting it out is already a success to me!”

She relies on the publishing company for book promotion and makes announcements across her social medias channels. Fairy in the title refers to the name of her YouTube handle, “and references the magic and whimsy that inspired me to start my channel and creative journey.”

When asked what she means when she says mindful while gardening, baking, and other tasks in the book, she said “To be fully aware of the present moment, and reflect on the joys of simple living and activities as you take part in them. This is countercultural to the fast-paced hectic bustle of most daily routines our society promotes.”