FOND Group in the movies

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Fond Group Launches Air, Land & Sea Special Section at Hamptons International Film Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – East Hampton, NY – October 3, 2016

Water has always been the element of emotion, and for those on the East End of Long Island it represents everything from sports to commercial fishing to drinking water to moving meditation.  This rich and valued relationship inspired Nicole Delma of the Fond Group to create a new section called Air, Land & Sea for the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) which runs from October 6th through October 10th, 2016.  The goal is to tap into film as a story telling method to generate awareness around manmade environmental issues and allow filmmakers and experts to share information and discuss solutions to these local and global problems.

“I was inspired when Leonardo DiCaprio used his winning speech at the Academy Awards to express his concern over the environment,” says Delma.  “I recognized the power of film for this message, and I approached the Hamptons International Film Festival to create a new category to open the discussion on this important topic.  I was so pleased that they immediately embraced the concept and launched Air, Land and Sea this year.”

The program will include a screening of Emmy-nominated director Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s SONIC SEA, which focuses on protecting aquatic wildlife from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution, narrated by Rachel McAdams.  The screening on Sat. Oct. 8 at 2:15 will be followed by a panel discussion led by Delma with award winning journalist and filmmaker Daniel Hinerfeld and Alison Chase of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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DiCaprio’s documentary on climate change with Oscar-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens BEFORE THE FLOOD will also be in this section in the HIFF 2016 lineup.

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Festival 2016 Career Achievement Award honoree Edward Norton is lending his personal support with an amazing raffle on CrowdRise, the social fundraising platform he founded.  The lucky winner will get to hang 10 with Edward Norton and surfer Takuji Masuda as well as have dinner with Alec Baldwin at the awards dinner honoring Norton.  The money raised will fund HIFF’s Jr. Educational Programs as well as the Surfrider Foundation. Norton is the subject of HIFF’s always fascinating “Conversations With” and is also the Executive Producer of Masuda’s documentary BUNKER 77 about surfing legend Bunker Spreckels.

bunker77_websitebackgroundThe program also includes THE BLOOP, the short documentary by Cara Cusumano about the mystery of the loudest underwater sound ever recorded and THE PROPHET OF PLAS-TEEK, the narrative short from Joshua Cohen which tells the satirical tale of a prophetic hermit who dedicates his life to worshiping the plastic deities he collects from Montauks’ hidden coves.  Director Joshua Cohen and Scott Bluedorn, the star and co-creator will be in attendance.

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HIFF has a long history of presenting not only Academy Award winners but important special sections including Films of Conflict & Resolution and Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights.

“Our Signature Programs help to elevate the content of the festival’s programming with films that continue to provide audiences with thought provoking material,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director.  “Our hope with Air, Land and Sea is for the festival to embrace the global discussion on environmental issues, and build a platform for filmmakers and audiences to engage and interact.”

Nicole Delma created the Fond Group to motivate businesses to do work that mattered.  A successful marketer with large companies, she wanted to bring together brands and publishers and causes where for profit and not for profits engage in unique projects to raise awareness.   A matchmaker of consciousness, she is tapped into important foundations, top brands, and philanthropy.  “I was reaching a hundred million people on a daily basis,” says Delma, “And when I searched my heart I thought it was really important what my message moving forward was going to be.” Delma recently executive produced INTO THE SEA for the Surfrider Foundation directed by Mikey DeTemple with a voice over by John Slattery.  Nicole lives in Sag Harbor with her family and is also a surfer, tightly tied to the community and the environmental issues which affect people here on a daily basis.  And like water her professional goals encompass emotion and using her talents to do things that matter.

For more information please contact:   info@fondgroup.com
Buy Tickets for the Hamptons International Film Festival here. 

Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND Group

Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND Group

 

Surfing in India?

Beyond the Surface is an explosion of color and calm, a documentary film, travelogue, and contemplative call to action on issues involving women’s empowerment, helping disadvantaged kids, spirituality and the fragility of the environment.

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The women of Beyond the Surface.

It’s a journey powered by the waves of India’s massive coastline, and riding – in part – on the surfboard of 25-year-old Ishita Malaviya, who describes herself as the first woman to pursue surfing professionally in India, one in a small community of total surfers there. “What I love about surfing is that in a country like India where people are divided in terms of caste, creed or economic status,” says Malaviya, “the ocean has been a great equalizer and united us all together.”

The Film's Star: Ishita Malayiva

The Film’s Star: Ishita Malayiva

The film, shot in the spring of 2013 by cinematographer Dave Homcy, was launched the year before when his wife, Hawaii-based surfer and environmentalist Crystal Thornburg-Homcy, contacted Malaviya about meeting during a trip to India. At a local chai shop, Thornburg-Homcy introduced herself and another fellow surfer, Emi Koch, founder of Beyond the Surface International (BTSI). Koch’s non-profit – founded when the now 25-year-old was still at Georgetown University – uses surfing – and a network of surfing groups in different countries – as a means of self-expression and support for underprivileged children in marginalized communities. Koch, who sums up the BTSI mission as “using the power of play for social change,” had hoped to to film and feature young wave riders from the Kovalam Surf Club in southern India.

Dave and Crystal-Thornburg Homcy at work.

Dave and Crystal-Thornburg Homcy at work (left).

With a film as shared goal, Koch and Thornburg-Homcy partnered on the project that would ultimately bear the BTSI name – and asked Malaviya if she’d join them for the ride. “It had always been a dream of mine to meet with other female surfers and surf with them in my own country,” recalls Malaviya, who (with boyfriend Tushar Pathiyan) co-founded and runs a surf school, The Shaka Surf Club, on India’s western coast. Malaviya says she felt “truly honored to be asked to be a part of this project and excited about the possibility of going on a month-long surf adventure!”

Malaviya catches a wave.

Malaviya catches a wave.

That adventure, captured in Beyond The Surface, follows Malaviya, Thornburg-Homcy, Koch and three others (Liz Clark, Lauren Hill and Kate Baldwin) as they travel along India’s southern coast and take to the waves, engaging with the surf club youth and the women they meet en route. The film’s band of surfers, activists and adventurers encourage the women they encounter to join them in the surf, to rediscover their uninhibited selves and feel more connected to the water. “In spite of coming from completely different worlds, we were able to connect with each other over something as simple and profound as the joy of riding a wave, says Malaviya, who’s also “seen how surfing is having a tremendously positive impact in local communities where people are discovering the joys of being in the ocean.” That discovery, in turn, is part of the film’s message of protecting the environment.

Beyond the Surface also documents the travelers’ self-discovery along the way – in yoga practice, surfing and conversation – and the travelers share their experiences, to the accompaniment of a memorable soundtrack and scenery.

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As a female surfer, Malaviya is aware of her outlier image and the message it sends to women in India.

“As a woman, I feel that growing up in India toughens you and in many way forces you to grow up a little too soon. I love that surfing not only made me a stronger woman but also reintroduced an element of play back into my life,” she says. “More than anything it has been a great spiritual influence in my life and made me realize the importance of living my life now.” In facing big waves, “I learned to embrace challenges and face my fears head on.”

Malaviya – and her fellow Beyond the Surface surfers – have many goals for the film. One is forging a sense of connectivity. “This is a very pure project,” she says. “I hope that people will be inspired to travel, experience new cultures, connect with others through a common love for the ocean, and develop compassion for our fellow human beings and Mother Nature.”

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Koch sees the finished film, which blends many perspectives, as “a work of art … like a living museum” and evidence of her conviction that “everyone has a story.” To that end, her non-profit’s newest project, Coast 2 Coast  links young people in disparate communities to use their voices to tell and share their stories.

For women, Malaviya says the film’s message transcends borders and cultures.” I hope that these magical moments captured on film will make all women feel like a part of a sisterhood and inspire them to pursue their passion and experience that same sense of liberation in whatever they do.”

 

For more information:

Beyondthesurfacefilm.com

Beyondthesurfaceinternational.org

 

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By Moira Bailey

Coast 2 Coast

Coast 2 Coast is a participatory cross-cultural collection and evolving database of stories conceived by youth from diverse coastal communities around the world, shared and exchanged through their own photography, film, art, and words.

Students at the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Calif., will be exchanging their photography and personal narratives once a month with youth from Peru, New York, and Los Angeles over the course of the academic year. All youth participants will produce their own one-minute videos on a social topic of their choose to be screened for the local community in May 2015.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/coast-2-coast–2/embedded

Funding raised through our Indiegogo Campaign successfully launched Coast 2 Coast through its first year!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/coast-2-coast–2/x/2110555

Coast 2 Coast’s online space provides a platform for youth to share their voices with a global audience. These stories are the shared experiences of adolescents growing up within different socio-economic contexts along diverse coastlines worldwide.

Participating youth hone multimedia skills to document their experiences, cultures and communities, and collaborate with youth around the world through the online platform in which they share and respond to one another’s creative works.

About BTSI:

Beyond the Surface International is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit platform for youth empowerment projects in marginalized communities worldwide using surfing and creative-learning initiatives as innovative mediums for positive social change. BTSI develops safe space learning environments where youth can enjoy the freedom to explore their talents, interests and capabilities. BTSI facilitates innovative learning projects utilizing a free-progress education model to empower individuals to question socio-cultural norms and be courageous agents of change in their communities and beyond.

Learn More about Coast 2 Coast:
https://coastcoast-project-swe2.squarespace.com/
Support the Coast 2 Coast project and other  Beyond the Surface International efforts, here:
http://www.beyondthesurfaceinternational.org/#!get_involved/c8k2
By Emi Koch
Emi Koch, Founder of Beyond the Surface International

Emi Koch, Founder of Beyond the Surface International

About Emi

Beyond The Surface International Founder / Humanitarian As the daughter of a lifeguard, Emi Koch was introduced to the ocean at an early age.  Her dad pushed her into her first wave when she was two years old.  All she wanted to be was a professional surfer. But one day in her senior year in high school everything changed.  Her teacher pointed out a statistic:  “If the world’s population was condensed into a village of 100 people only one of that 100 would have a chance at a college education and (own) a computer.”  Upon hearing that statistic, Koch felt that she was that one person in the village, and that she needed to fight for the rights of the other 99 people so that they would have the same opportunities that she had.Emi enrolled at Georgetown University upon graduating from high school.  She started out as an International Politics Major with her career goal to be a US Diplomat.  The summer after her freshman year in college she went to Nepal and lived with Buddhist monks and taught street children in the monastery school.  This was when she realized what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
Emi still had the passion for surfing inside her and tried to figure out a way to combine that passion with her passion for social justice.  While volunteering in Nepal she heard about a non-profit founded by a professional skateboarder.  He combined his passion for skateboarding with his passion for helping kids in Afghanistan.  When Emi came back home she bought “How to Form a Non-Profit in California” and “Beyond The Surface” was born.Beyond The Surface is a non-profit organization started by Koch.  Their mission is to eradicate youth homelessness in global coastal regions worldwide and empower street children through the sport of surfing.BTS is her dream, she chose to start a non-profit and devote her life to helping it grow into an even greater agent of change.

http://www.beyondthesurfaceinternational.org/


 

Small Steps and Slumdog Children of the World

BY HILLARY KAYLOR –

Where did your feet take you today? Mine padded across my apartment, into my work shoes, out to the pavement and onto the subway. There was more pavement, and then a carpeted office. Maybe, if I’m lucky, they’ll later take me to a bar, a club, a movie. This mundane route is actually a revival of one I took before I left for Cambodia to volunteer. It feels different now, because before, each step I used to take I felt connected to my feet, when in reality, they never even touched the streets at all. In that sense, I was never truly grounded: never connected to the earth, never connected to anything. So, on this morning commute did my feet actually take me anywhere at all? Did they touch the world; did they really choose my path? My answer after my time abroad is no.
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I was protected by the barrier of my shoes and my routine. In New York City, trash is strewn about, vomit, discarded food containers and dog shit. And though I walked those avenues every day, my feet did not touch them. For that, I was less thankful than I was complacent. I mean, who even thinks about such things as gratitude for shoes when living in New York? I did have the sense to notice that when I was barefoot, it was special; in sands, thick grass or plush rugs. To be barefoot meant a privilege–a sacred thing reserved for vacations and safe spaces. Then, and only then, was when I was truly connected to my steps, my path, my feet and the imprints they left as I made my way.

Perhaps this is your experience too. You walk from place to space, your shoes carrying you all the way. Protected and safe. But what if they took you somewhere else? To a prison, to a war zone, into a burning garbage dump? And what if you didn’t have shoes? And had to navigate your scorched soles through piles of glass, syringes, and toxic waste?
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In the documentary short Next Steps, a group of ‘slumdog’ Khmer children–those living shoeless on toxic garbage dumps to forage for food–are asked, “What’s the best thing you’ve ever found?”

The kids alight, their sooty faces grinning, and then shout, “Plastic!”

“And the worst?” Probes an off-screen speaker. For this, the kids are quieter, unsmiling.

Finally one answers.

“A dead baby.”

This film, one of many documenting the plight of destitute populations living off garbage in Cambodia, Nicaragua, Romania, Guatemala and more, is a devastating look into the mission of the Small Steps Project, headed by Amy Hanson: reformed celebrity reporter with a closet full of Louboutins-turned philanthropist and that voice off-screen. Peruse the many short films, testimonials and pictures on the charity’s site, and see a post-apocalyptic world where children roam in rags, eating and collecting trash all the while choking back thick black smoke from tire fires and other blazes. Their parents, if they have any, are impoverished and considered societal misfits: suffering from alcoholism or HIV, and have found a home here because there is literally no other place for them to go. The dumps are more attractive than the streets: they provide a community of sorts, sometimes with organized chiefs of modern tribes, and the influx of garbage trucks provides a consistent and reliable deluge of material to sort through.

Sometimes the parents have jobs within these tribes as collectors. Other times? The parents stay inside their trash shanties all day, drunk. Inside their homes fashioned from plastic beams and vinyl beer adverts, drawing stagnant water from a sulfur-stinking pool. In those cases, and in the case of abandonment, it’s the children as young as four who trudge forth with two-foot-long metal hooks–instruments better suited for medieval torture than trash collection. They do not go to school. They do not see anyone outside their dump community. They do not know of a way out; they cannot comprehend another life. Their feet take them nowhere, and they are connected deeply to their lot in life, physically and psychologically. More than you and I, they are connected to what this earth has become.

Before I met Amy this year in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, I wanted to help heal the world, but I was overwhelmed. Even paralyzed at times. There were too many options, too many people in need. I was just one person, with limited resources. How to choose anything: a country, an epidemic, a cause? I took a leave of absence from my job for three months, in no small part to my mentor’s shocking death and my realization that those who seemingly have it all can end up in a headspace where they believe they have nothing at the end. But was three months even enough time? Would I make a lasting impact? Or would it just be a speck in the overall scheme of things? I was too protected by my shoes, and my small world, to really understand what I was doing, and why.

But there was something about Amy. There was something about the name Small Steps. And there was something about their mission that put it all into sharp relief:
Small Steps aims to put shoes on the children across the world that live on trash dumps. Small Steps is unique in its way because of its shoe-based efforts and two-pronged plan of action. Stage one is to get shoes on the feet of the kids in the dump so they are no longer standing in glass, animal remains and raw sewage and give them immediate aid in food, medical supplies and other necessities. Stage two is to empower the dump-living community with the tools to relocate: transportation, job placement, and other expansion efforts.

Naturally, there are many implications and hurdles in solving this problem at one dump, let alone across several countries and cities. The first problem is: no one on the dump wants to leave it. It’s their home, after all. And their livelihood, however insufficient. The second is with unemployable parents, the children more or less follow the same path. Without school, without outsiders, without skills that could be translatable, the kids are often painfully shy or terribly ashamed of their soil and their smell. There is poor and then there is a child who roams barefoot on a garbage dump. Among the economic hierarchy, there is a difference and that difference is palpable when interacting with them. They ask for nothing, they avert their eyes. Their smiles emerge faintly when joked and played with and then are gone instantly as they gauge your reaction. Are you here to help or to hurt? And how are you going to help anyway?

But it’s about starting small to get big results. As Amy says “Sometimes poverty feels like such a big problem that what you do to help or donate feels like a drop in the ocean and you can’t tell what impact it has. But if everyone takes a small step, the impact is huge.”

The idea of mattering to just one is at the heart of successful philanthropic movements.

When faced with the question of why volunteering or donating matters, at any step or stage, I think of this.

This is a mantra that may ring true for those who, like me, had not yet heard.

If it matters to just one person, you have actually changed the world.

Especially if, like Small Steps, you concentrate on global projects, like showing documentaries at Glastonbury (June 26-30) documentaries about their efforts across the world, including Cambodia, Nicaragua and India with expansion plans for Romania, Laos, Guatemala and Africa. Or auction shoes from the likes of Ben Stiller, Morgan Freeman, Coldplay and The Rolling Stones, who are donating the shoes they perform in at Glastonbury to the cause.

This is how Amy starts small to get big results. Today it’s shoes, tomorrow water filtration, next week, nurseries and Mommy programs that employ parents within schools and centers. Expansions, outreach programs, investors, celebrity philanthropists and world tours are just some of the many paths Amy is spearheading to bring Small Steps to a truly global scale.
Through my work with Amy, I met mothers and children affected. Beautiful children, dark-complected with almond eyes, whose smiles can light up a life, let alone a room. We fed them, we played hand-slapping games, we took them to the beach for the first time in their short lives.

There the kids learned to swim in our arms. Stripped down to their underwear, and others naked, there was no shame among them; they had lost any they had long ago. Shame is life to them.

They screamed in the ocean, they squealed. The burnt rubber smell left their skin. Some whose skin was very dark in the morning is lighter now, more attractive according to Cambodian culture. With the dump washed away temporarily, they transformed into flashing beacons. Their initial shyness fell away, they smiled, they played, and they pretended to sneak up on us. They took turns with water goggles, undone by the luxury of this, the most magic piece of plastic they have ever encountered. They don’t have to trade this one in. And they are considerate with one another, gentle. Passing the goggles around and showing each other the truth beyond what they ever imagines. They are not in fire, they are in water. And in the water, they can see.

The children come to school with us. They are fed more rice then they have seen, bits of sweet egg, garlicky morning glory, fish heads with the flesh still on. There are toys, there are bathrooms. They shower and then stand naked together, as we dry them. We wrap them in big red towels and hold them close. We comb the lice from their hair. Gently. One girl with hair cascading down her back waits with a blissful smile on her face as I take a half hour to turn her tangles back into strands of silk. I hold a section with one hand away from her scalp so that when I attack the knots she won’t feel the rip. The first time I do it she looks at me in shock. She is not used to getting her hair brushed. And certainly without yanking the hair from her head. She sits still and watches the other girls watch her. She winks at them, and when I am done she bows to me.

I try to bow back, and she runs away. But when I see her later she hooks her arms through mine. Another wants to borrow my sunglasses. Her brother has a mouthful of rice that spills from his mouth in delight at a joke known only to him. A girl of three bursts into giggles when I pretend her tiny new shoes, given to her by Small Steps, are mine and I walk away like an elephant in them, strutting like a beast on a runway. In turn, she steps into mine and models for me, my moccasins slapping against the dirt floor in huge comic effect, until she reaches me, wraps her twiggish arms around me, hugs me and doesn’t let go until I pry her off and bring her back to her mother.

She abandons my shoes, as she is more comfortable barefoot in the safety away from the dump. And that day, when I left the school, I left mine too. I walked back to the volunteer house in the sidewalk-melting sun. I stepped in pools of stagnant water. I cut my feet on glass. I tended to my wounds in my hotbox room with swipes of stolen paper napkins from restaurants and a foul-smelling salve I’d come to rely on for everything from sprains to headaches. After a few weeks of this, my soles became yellow and black: hard and strong, like slabs of rocks. And with each step, I felt the ground beneath me; I felt my feet carry me instead of the other way around. I began to run faster and lighter. My toenails turned black and my feet became my own protection from the elements. It was against the rules to be shoeless at the NGO where I worked, and of course at the trash dump that Small Steps serviced during my time there, because it was so dangerous. But whenever I could, I was without them. I wanted to feel everything beneath me, my path. I wanted to feel where I was going.

Now, back in my New York office months later, my feet have softened, my nails pretty once again, my soles pink as I am compelled to wear shoes like everyone else or face reprimand from HR. It feels like a personal failure. Under my desk, in meetings, and whenever I can, especially outside, I take them off. It aligns me with my time away; it reminds me of the kids who do not have them. And it lets me dream about where my moccasins are today, months after being left in Cambodia. If someone has taken them. If they are protecting someone else. Someone who needs protecting far more than me.

And as for my thoughts on the world and how we can change it; I’ve come to this. Giving is an endlessly replenishing resource. The more we seek, the more we find. This trip to Cambodia for me was something, but not nearly enough. I’m currently speaking to Amy about a Canadian fire truck convoy to deliver supplies to slumdog children in need in Nicaragua. And Guatemala. And anything else I can do. Because it really doesn’t matter if I have shoes or not, as long as I am connected to my path.

To donate to Small Steps, please visit here.

To purchase Glastonbury tickets and for more general information, click here.

Post by Hillary Kaylor – to read more on Hillary, click here.

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