Emma Gosnell reviews America’s Poor Kids in The Telegraph. “It was their voices – the programme largely consisted of them talking directly to camera – that made it so compelling,” she writes, referring to 10-year-old Kaylie, 11-year-old Sera and 13-year-old Johnny, who shared their stories directly to the cameras.
America’s Poor Kids aired last night on BBC Two to great response. The BBC Blog and Twitter feeds #poorkidsusa and #jezzaneumann were alive with many questions and comments about the film. This morning, The Guardian called it a “haunting film about child poverty in the richest nation on earth.” Writes Lisa Mangan, “The film was a tender curation and display of all the customarily unseen – or customarily ignored, at least by the people in whose power it lies to change things – ramifications of poverty.” The full review is available here.
America’s Poor Kids airs tomorrow night on BBC 2 This World. The British version of the film, known as Poor Kids on PBS’s Frontline, includes Sera and her family from San Francisco with the other children and families from the Quad Cities. Director Jezza Neumann answers questions about the making of the film on the BBC’s blog, which can be found here.
America’s Poor Kids gets 4 out of 5 stars in Time Out London.
Check out the review here, by Gabriel Tate.
If ever we wished a format wasn’t exportable, it’s this. But Brian Woods and Jezza Neumann’s concept of analysing the realities and effects of poverty through interviews with children proves just as punishingly effective in the States as it did in 2011’s UK documentary.
Focusing on three Iowan families laid low by the recession, it exposes the fallacy of right-wing claims that welfare is a hammock rather than a safety net. The parents are desperate to work and the kids desperate to learn, but unemployment benefit is pitiful, medical insurance scanty and waiting lists for subsidised housing on the rise. Theirs are itinerant lives of homeless shelters, motels and a constant, gnawing hunger.
As ever, the kids cut to the quick with the heartbreaking maturity of their observations: ‘Grades is my only way out of here,’ says 13-year-old Johnny; ‘This is not the Great American Dream,’ reckons 11-year-old Sarah. Yet there’s no self-pity, which, perhaps oddly, makes this important film as inspiring as it does despairing.
Last November, Poor Kids USA premiered on PBS Frontline and generated a huge response. For starters, the film caused quite a stir in the Facebook community — even before it aired! Posts related to the film broke records on Frontline’s Facebook page. Director Jezza Neumann was interviewed on WQPT’s The Cities series, along with Caren Laughlin of the Riverbend Food Bank, to talk about the film and the issues it raises regarding the intersections of poverty and hunger. In February, Producer Lauren Mucciolo was invited to the Little Red Schoolhouse in New York City to speak to the middle schoolers about the making of the film.
The film was rebroadcast on PBS in the Quad Cities in December, and the UK premiere is scheduled on BBC 2′s This World series in the coming weeks!
Meanwhile, producer Lauren Mucciolo is hard at work on her next Frontline film with Mongoose Pictures, which looks at incarceration in America. Production is taking place in Louisville, KY for the next six months, and our goal is to premiere in early 2014. Stay tuned for more information!
Also, Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program featured an interview with director Jezza Neumann and one of the fathers in the film this afternoon.
Tomorrow Jezza will be interviewed on NPR’s The Takeaway and the CNN Newsroom.
November is an exciting month! RGP’s El Regreso de Lencho is opening for a weeklong run at Quad Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 9th.
Later in the month, Lauren’s two collaborations with True Vision Productions will premiere on television. On Monday, November 12th, Chinese Murder Mystery, for which Lauren served as Assistant Producer, will be broadcast in the UK on Channel 4′s Dispatches series.
And on Tuesday, November 20th, Poor Kids USA will premiere on PBS Frontline nationwide. Check your local listings for more information. The documentary will also air in the UK in January on the BBC 2 — check back for more information on that presentation in the coming weeks. Lauren served as Producer.
Meanwhile, production moves ahead solidly on the Mongoose Pictures prisons film — both in Baltimore and Louisville, KY. Stay tuned for more information on this Frontline/BBC co-production in the coming year!
With Poor Kids USA in the final stages of edit, Lauren recently started a new job as Field Producer for Mongoose Pictures, another British production company. This new PBS Frontline project will look at mass incarceration in America, sending Lauren in the field to Baltimore — the city with the highest percentage of residents behind bars.
The Poor Kids USA documentary is finally wrapping up principle photography, coming on the heels of major accolades for director Jezza Neumann. His latest film Kashmir’s Torture Trail premiered earlier this month on Channel 4 in the UK to much fanfare, and Broadcast magazine named him one of the Top 10 directors in the UK! In the next 1-2 months we’ll know more about air dates for Poor Kids USA on BBC2 in Britain and PBS Frontline in the U.S. It’s looking like it will be a really strong and moving film.
With editing for Poor Kids USA now in motion, Producer Lauren Mucciolo is able to get her hands on new projects. This past week she supported some U.S.-based production for another True Vision documentary commissioned by Channel 4, which will likely air in November and potentially find international distribution thereafter. Stay tuned for more details.