Friday, October 17, 2014

Ben Niles' SOME KIND OF SPARK makes its World Premiere the Fifth Annual DOC NYC

I’m terrible at doing pieces announcing upcoming films and such, which is why I don't usually run them.  I usually just repost the press release- which I'm not always happy with. 

On the other hand occasionally a film comes along that is both by a director whose work I like (I like NOTE BY NOTE) and about something that I feel is important (music education) which is why I’m going to post the press release for SOME KIND OF SPARK which is getting it’s world premiere at DOC NYC this year.

Caption: Kara Charles. Credit: Plow Productions.

New York, New York, Oct. 15, 2014 – With children’s music education sharply declining over 20% since 2001 (according to Music Educators National Conference), Ben Niles, director of the award-winning “Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037),” chronicles in his new feature-length documentary, SOME KIND OF SPARK, six kids (ages 8-12) from far reaches of New York City as they embark on a life-changing experience – the opportunity to study music in Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program (MAP), a Saturday outreach program for students from communities that are underserved in the arts. Filmed over a 3-year period, SOME KIND OF SPARK intimately follows the students and their dedicated teachers and captures the budding and profound relationships building upon every lesson.

SOME KIND OF SPARK makes its World Premiere in the Metropolis Competition at the Fifth Annual DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 2:00pm at SVA Theatre. Niles will participate in a post-screening Q&A with the MAP students featured in the film.

“I’ve always been a big believer in music education and what they’re doing over at MAP got me excited. They’re changing lives through music. I wanted to try and make my own impact through this film,” said Niles. “What better stage to hold the film’s world premiere than in New York City at DOC NYC!”

With rare access to Juilliard’s MAP program, SOME KIND OF SPARK paints a deeply intimate portrait of the students struggles to do well in school and in the program, allowing them to patiently tell their own stories. Spanning borders and ethnicities, gender and class, the film quietly but effectively, illuminates such pressing contemporary social issues as high poverty rates, low family literacy and weak school-family relationships. These kids go on a musical journey, both inspiring and very challenging. This is a new world for these children – many who have never even heard of Juilliard – and the demands are high, even for beginners. Each child has his/her own conflicts and hurdles to overcome. From a first recital and stage fright, to a lack of practicing and dedication, to a shortage of funding for an instrument.

Ultimately, SOME KIND OF SPARK is about transformation – aiming to serve as an inspiration for other programs across the nation to nurture two of our most valuable national treasures: our children and our musical heritage.

In order to channel additional funding toward music education, Ben Niles and Plow Productions will partner with museums, universities, symphonies and theaters to organize screenings for their community members and supporters. Plow Productions is also creating an innovative web space that will serve as a virtual stage for kids across the country to upload videos in which they showcase their musical talent and explain the importance of music to their lives.

About the Filmmaker:
Ben Niles is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His film, “Note By Note (The Making of Steinway L1037),” won top honors at the Sarasota Film Festival, was nominated for an IDA award and selected to the prestigious American Documentary Association, screening in over 30 countries. It has now been translated into 5 languages and premiered nationally on PBS. He is currently co-directing “Still We Rise” with producer Molly Raskin, a film about mental health in Liberia. In his years in the record industry, Niles created album packages for Collective Soul (Entertainment Weekly’s Best 100 Album Covers 2000), Jewel, Jon Brion, celebrated box-sets for Phish and George Carlin, and packages and identities for jazz musicians Cyrus Chestnut, James Carter and Henry Butler.

Plow Productions
HD | Color | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | 5.1 Stereo | 89 minutes
Director/Producer: Ben Niles
Editor: Sara Pellegrini
Cinematographers: Hope Hall, Ben Wolf
Editorial Consultant: Purcell Carson

Web and Social Media:
Official Website:

For tickets and more information go here.

And look for full coverage here at Unseen Films when the film pays the festival.

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