A groundbreaking documentary detailing how the United States is one of the only two countries worldwide without paid leave premiered at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) on September 16. Zero Weeks, a film by award-winning director Ky Dickens, weaves powerful personal stories with insightful interviews and explores America’s paid leave crisis and the cost of doing nothing.
“All of my films were birthed from necessity,” said Dickens. “Following the birth of my daughter, I was faced with the experience of inadequate maternity leave, which left me in emotional and financial distress. That experience became a gateway for awareness that millions of men and women face the same situation every year. The paid leave crisis does not only affect new parents, but anyone who has struggled with a personal injury or life-threatening illness, or cared for a sick spouse or aging parent.”
“The momentum behind the paid leave movement is undeniable,” said Ellen Bravo, co-director of Family Values @ Work, a local business leader, the head of the Maine chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and a nurse practitioner who needed and lacked paid leave. “Activists all across the country – including here in Maine – have been fighting for policies at the state and national level; in just over a year, we’ve doubled the number of states (from three to six) which passed paid leave. Whether you are nursing a newborn, getting chemo, or taking care of an aging parent while trying to earn a living, the lack of paid leave in this country impacts almost all of us. This film will be a powerful tool to create awareness and engagement.”
The issue of paid leave is of critical importance in Maine, which holds the largest population of older adults per capita in America who face the challenge of caring for aging parents or themselves while keeping their job. As CIFF’s Founder and Executive Director, Ben Fowlie, said of the film upon its acceptance into the festival, “Rarely do films come across our screens that tie in so nicely with the conversations happening in our communities. Zero Weeks was a reminder of just how powerful the documentary form can be.”
Following the film’s world premiere, the film will tour communities throughout Maine as part of the festival’s year-long community engagement program.
The tour in Maine is the first of many that will take place in states across the nation in 2018 as part of the Zero Weeks Impact Campaign. The film will be used to convene residents and involve them in efforts for paid leave. Targeted screenings through the country will also bring together a variety of stakeholders, including small and corporate business leaders, medical and public health professionals, those focused on aging, early childhood development and caregiving, and state and federal policymakers. These efforts will take place in partnership with NGO’s and companies, including AARP, Caring Across Generations, the Center for Paid Leave Leadership, Family Values @ Work, Main Street Alliance, MomsRising, the National Partnership for Women & Families, PL+US, and Working Mother Magazine, among others. The impact campaign is directed in collaboration with the film team by Working Films, a recognized leader in using documentary films for civic engagement and social change.