New York, NY –July 26, 2022 – POV, America’s longest running non-fiction series, follows Peabody Award-winning director Judith Helfand as she reckons with her mother’s belongings following her death, via decades of family home videos in the absorbing Love & Stuff, making its national broadcast premiere on POV, Monday, September 5, 2022 (check local listings), available to stream through November 4, 2022 at pbs.org, and the PBS Video app. In addition to standard closed captioning, POV, in partnership with audio description service DiCapta, provides real time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities. POV is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary season.
In Love & Stuff, veteran filmmaker Helfand harnesses every bit of her signature first-person style and heimish gallows humor to face a universally gut wrenching reality – imagining life without her mother – who faces imminent death from terminal cancer much sooner than later.
After one week of ritual mourning known as shiva, Helfand must come to terms with a new reality. She and her brothers begin the arduous task of going through all their mothers’ stuff – and the stuff their mom could not bear to part with belonging to their dad – generations of family photos, Judaica, and memorabilia. All of which her mother had wanted to go through with Helfand while she was alive so that her children would know what was what, who was who, and perhaps most important to her but never said outright: to help jumpstart the conversation about the end of her life and their life together as a family. While time is not on Helfand’s side, 25 years worth of archival family footage-turned-cinematic portal is – and in the wake of her mother’s death – it becomes a means of connecting the love to the “stuff" and one generation to the next.
Helfand had been striving to adopt a baby in the year before her mothers’ health totally declined. Instead, seven months to the day her mother died, when she is in the deepest of grief, she gets the call that will turn her into an instant “old new" [single] mom to a much-longed-for newborn. At nearly 50 years old, a half century older than her baby girl, that dreaded question, “How do you live without your mother?” takes on new meaning, pushing Helfand to explore, face, and deal with – a lot of love, a lot of stuff – and ask the ultimate question: "What do we really want to leave our children?"
"Before the Covid-19 pandemic, my biggest fear and the thing I could not even let myself imagine, let alone find the words for, was to say goodbye to my mother and thank her for being so wonderfully loving, intuitive and warm. I also couldn’t fathom, as a family, helping help her live a very good death at home – an end of life of our own making," said director Judith Helfand. "Now, in the wake of what I hope was the worst of the pandemic, I realize and fully appreciate what a miraculous gift my family and I were granted. Our face to face end of life was even accompanied by a face to face funeral, seven days of shiva, and a loving circle of friends and family. Launching this film now, while millions of people are suffering from unresolved grief because they did not get to be face-to-face with their loved ones at the end, and did not get to mourn in-person with community, turns the film, and the conversations and actions we hope it inspires, into an incredibly timely opportunity and privilege. My parents were avid "viewers like you" of PBS. Having Love & Stuff broadcast on POV here in New York on WNET, and across the nation, would have made them wildly kvell (Yiddish for "burst with pride")."
“Twenty-five years ago, POV aired A Healthy Baby Girl, Judith’s intensely personal film about her battle with cancer caused by DES, a drug prescribed to her mother during pregnancy,” said POV’s executive producer Chris White. “In Love & Stuff she’s come full circle, gifting us with a similarly profound and layered multigenerational exploration from both sides of the camera. From birth to death and grief to life.”
Love & Stuff, was produced by Judith Helfand Productions, Medalia Productions and Secret Sauce Media and Artemis Rising Foundation in co-production with American Documentary. Judith Helfand is the director, the producers are Helfand, Hilla Medalia and Julie Parker Benello. Marina Katz is editor with David Cohen is also a co-director. The executive producers are Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary, Regina K. Scully, Jenny Raskin, Susan Margolin, Megan Gelstein, Nancy Blachman, Sarah Cavanaugh, Dan Cogan and Geralyn White Dreyfous along with Abigail Disney, who is a contributing producer.
Director/Producer: Judith Helfand
Producers: Hilla Medalia, Julie Parker Benello
Editors: David Cohen and Marina Katz
Co-director: David Cohen
Executive Producers: Erika Dilday, Chris White, Nancy Blachman, Sarah Cavanaugh, Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Megan Gelstein, Susan Margolin, Jenny Raskin and Regina K. Scully.
Contributing Producer: Abigail Disney
Download Love & Stuff photos here.
About The Filmmakers
Judith Helfand, Director, Love & Stuff
Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand is best known for her unique voice as a first-person filmmaker. She has taken on the dark worlds of chemical exposure, corporate malfeasance, environmental injustice, the climate crisis, the long-term impact of structural racism colliding with the politics of disaster and disaster preparedness. In Love & Stuff she delves into deep grief and parenting. Her uncanny gift of marrying dark humor with transparency when addressing serious issues, makes them as personal as they are universal, as resonant as they are entertaining.
Her films include The Uprising of ’34 (co-directed with esteemed veteran George Stoney), her groundbreaking personal film A Healthy Baby Girl, its Sundance award-winning sequel Blue Vinyl, followed by Everything’s Cool (both co-directed with Daniel B. Gold) and her incredibly prescient feature Cooked: Survival By Zip Code which she produced with Kartemquin Films and was broadcast on Independent Lens in 2020. Three of her award-winning films made their world premieres at Sundance, and all have been nationally broadcast on PBS/POV/Independent Lens, HBO, and The Sundance Channel.
A committed field-builder, Helfand co-founded Working Films in 1999, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using nonfiction storytelling to increase civic engagement and promote environmental and racial justice at the local, state, and national levels. In 2005, she co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures, created to support women documentary filmmakers at critical stages in their careers with creative mentorship and community building matched with strategically timed funding. She now serves as a Senior Creative Consultant and co-runs the (Egg)celerator Lab, a year-long creative mentorship program for first and second time feature documentary directors. As part of her early work at Chicken & Egg Pictures Helfand was a producer on the 2012 Oscar® nominated short The Barber of Birmingham and an executive producer on The Forest for the Trees, Orgasm Inc, Brooklyn Castle, Semper Fi: Ever Faithful. In 1997, Helfand received a Peabody Award for her film A Healthy Baby Girl which had its world premiere at Sundance and was broadcast nationally on POV. In 2002, her film Blue Vinyl -- the "world's first toxic comedy" – had its world premiere at Sundance where it launched a precedent setting multi-year engagement campaign and was nominated for two Emmy Awards.
In 2007, she received a United States Artist Fellowship. In 2016, she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Branch and in 2019, she was awarded the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s 2019 Freedom of Expression Award.
She taught documentary production at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for seven years, was the 2007/2008 Environmental Filmmaker in Residence at UW Madison where she co-created a production class focused on environmental filmmaking and an engagement class built around a local environmental film festival. In 2020, she was the Bob Allison (Allesee) Endowed Chair in Media at Wayne State University’s Department of Communications, part of the adjunct faculty at SVA’s Social Documentary Program, and has just completed a two-year visiting professorship at Columbia University's Journalism School teaching emerging visual journalists. In fact the short film paired with LOVE & STUFF for this broadcast, Call Me Anytime I'm Not Leaving the House, was created in Helfand's Spring class the "Art and craft of documentary, by emerging filmmaker Sanjna Selva.
Deeply committed to mentorship and passing it forward, Helfand is recognized by many in the broadcast documentary field as "one of the best pitch trainers out there" and has done intensive training, program design and moderation for Chicken & Egg Pictures' live/virtual pitch events, The Athena Film Festival's Work-in-Progress Program, The Double Exposure Film Festival's PITCH forum for emerging visual journalists, and has just co-designed and launched the Jewish Film Institute's first ever storytelling intensive/pitching forum, Pitch & Kvell. Helfand is currently working on a range of projects, including the audience engagement campaign that is being launched in step with Love & Stuff, about the importance of processing grief in community with others face to face and heart to heart. She lives in NYC with her daughter Theo (who is now eight) and their pet house bunny Ccco Knugel.
David Cohen, Co-Director, Love & Stuff
David Cohen is a filmmaker and editor whose work has screened internationally, including: Sundance, Tribeca (Opening Night), SXSW, Hot Docs, New Directors/New Films, DOC NYC, Outfest, Frameline and AFI Docs. As an editor, David's films have garnered numerous festival awards and a Primetime Emmy Award® nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Recent credits include: The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales (Sundance), Love, Gilda (Magnolia Pictures, CNN Films), Cooked: Survival by Zipcode (PBS/Independent Lens) and a forthcoming series for Hulu. In addition to theatrical distribution and broadcast, his work has been published in The New York Times (Op-Docs), The Nation and Out Magazine. David has taught guest/master classes in the art of storytelling and film editing at Columbia University, Savannah College of Art and Design and has served as a mentor to undergraduates at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He attended the Sundance Documentary Edit & Story Labs and received his BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School.
Hilla Medalia, Producer, Love & Stuff
Hilla Medalia is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and producer has received four Emmy® nominations. Her projects have garnered critical acclaim and screened internationally in theaters and on television including HBO, MTV, BBC, Netflix and ARTE. Her range of titles include: Innocence 2022, H2: The Occupation Lab 2022 (DocAviv), The Reason Why 2021 (Jerusalem Film Festival), Love & Stuff 2020 (HotDocs, DOCNYC), Leftover Women 2019 (Tribeca, ARTE), Transkids 2019 (a 5 episode series for yesDocu and film), The Oslo Diaries 2018 (Sundance, HBO), Muhi - Generally Temporary 2017 (San Francisco FIlm Festival, Hot Docs), Censored Voices 2015, (Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale), The Go Go Boys 2014 (Cannes Film Festival), Web Junkie 2014 (Sundance Film Festival, POV, BBC), Dancing in Jaffa 2013 (Tribeca, IFC Sundance selects), Numbered 2012 (ARTE), After the Storm 2009 (MTV), To Die in Jerusalem 2007 (HBO). Hilla is a member of the American Academy of Film and Television and she holds an M.A. from Southern Illinois University.
Julie Parker Benello, Producer, Love & Stuff
Julie Parker Benello is the Founder of Secret Sauce Media, her latest venture to produce and invest in surprising and timeless film projects. Julie co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures with Judith Helfand and Wendy Ettinger in 2005 with a shared belief that diverse women nonfiction storytellers have the power to catalyze change at home and around the globe. She produced Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s Academy Award®, Emmy, Gotham and Independent Spirit winning feature documentary American Factory, streaming on Netflix, in partnership with Higher Ground Productions and Participant Media. Most recently she produced Sarah Jones directorial debut Sell Buy Date which premiered at SXSW 2022, and Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s Netflix Originals documentary Athlete A. She is a longtime collaborator of Judith Helfand co-producing her 2002 Sundance and HBO award winning film Blue Vinyl. Julie lives in San Francisco and serves on the Board of SFFILM and is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Documentary Branch.
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