For over three decades, Hudson River Film & Video, an award-winning production company, founded in 1970 by Mike and Sonja Gilligan and Chuck and Michelle Clifton, has produced independent documentaries aired on public television and other networks.
In 1966, Mike and Sonja were trained by well-known psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Casriel of New York City, to lead group therapy sessions. The Gilligans developed original insights into human behavior and later founded Fusion Groups in order to teach those insights. Fusion used group encounter methods to train participants to recognize and name their inner emotions and feel them as positive and life-affirming forces. Many of the participants were from the creative arts (artists, dancers, actors). The Cliftons joined the group in 1969.
The four of us, who now comprise the Hudson River Film & Video company, have sought a goal of combining the psychological insights from our past encounter group training with our arts backgrounds to produce documentaries that get to the heart of powerful human issues. One of the most satisfying things about making documentaries is that no matter who the people are we are videotaping, or where they are in their emotional life, they reveal themselves to us because they feel they are in a safe place. It is important to us that our own artistic collaboration extend to the people we are featuring in our documentaries. Others, who have observed our style have used the analogy of a dance company to describe the improvisational way the four of us work together. After 35 years of partnership, our productions have a unique perspective that has become the signature of our work.
In 1995, after reading Harvard psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan's book, "Violence: America's National Epidemic," we realized that we had found our calling. Dr. Gilligan, in a spellbinding treatise, laid out the mystery of what caused men to be violent! Inspired by his book, we felt compelled to bring our experience and skills in understanding human emotions together with our film-making background to make this our next documentary project.
Dr. Gilligan introduced us to a restorative justice program he was evaluating in the San Francisco County Jail. Manhood & Violence: Fatal Peril, became a one-hour documentary on that program. It gave us our first opportunity to begin the journey toward understanding violence. In 2004, Fatal Peril was part of a 22-city educational outreach program (www.reentrymediaoutreach.org) and broadcast on public television stations nationwide. It was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2005. In addition, the program has been used as a teaching tool by jail and prison administrators, psychiatrists, psychologists and university professors.
In the summer of 2005, it was featured at a symposium hosted by the College of Human Ecology, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota and the Vera Institute of Justice of New York City. As a result, we were asked to produce two videos that deal with domestic violence and substance abuse. The first show videotaped in St. Paul at the University of Minnesota, "Safe Return Initiative: The Intersection of Prisoner Reentry and Domestic Violence in the African American Community," includes interviews with experts discussing the unreported toll of domestic violence. The second show, "Allen and Dyanne: A Case Study," is about a couple who were repeatedly arrested for criminal behavior while struggling with drug addiction. Filmed in Madison, Wisconsin for The Center for Family Policy and Practice it shows how a lack of education and the impact of poverty has affected a family and its five children.
Jail Talk is our latest one-hour documentary and will air on public television stations, starting in June, 2008. Jail Talk follows inmates moving through Nashville, Tennessee's Davidson County Jail which has one of the most progressive and intense offender retraining programs in the United States, a model for other jails and prisons throughout a nation where one in every five people serve time behind bars.
Both men and women offenders take part in the excruciating journey of self-examination with batterer-intervention and trauma-survivor programs. They can opt for job training and placement, parenting and a novel program of caring for abused animals. What makes these programs successful is the involvement of the whole community from the time the inmates enter and continuing after their release.
Daron Hall, the Sheriff of Davidson County, and Paul Mulloy, the Jail Administrator, are most responsible for creating a safe environment for the men and women. They have brought together a security team and a revolutionary group of facilitators who have the collaborative goal of creating a reentry plan that starts on the first day of arrest.
Paul Mulloy: "If you are asking these people to change their lives, then you have to help them do that, and treat them with respect, because they aren't some kind of strange people you sometimes see on TV, they are our next-door neighbors."
With Jail Talk we are continuing our journey to discover what lies behind the violence.
INDEPENDENT TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS:
2004 MANHOOD & VIOLENCE: FATAL PERIL: Nominated for Emmy Award; 2005:
Winner of The Videographers Award, Telly, Davey & MarCom Creative Awards.
1994: WORLD'S END: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HUDSON RIVER HIGHLANDS:
Houston International Film Festival: Certificate of Merit
1991: FARMING AMERICA: Houston International Film Festival: Silver Award. Narrated by
1989: THE HUDSON RIVER: AN AMERICAN PARADISE: Emmy nomination: Outstanding
Issues Programming. Narrated by Hal Holbrook
1987: METRO: MANHATTAN CHOWDER: Cine Golden Eagle. New York Times: "Splendid,
fascinating." World Theatre Fest, Nancy, France. Narrated by Colleen Dewhurst
1981: NO EXCUSE, SIR: Cine Golden Eagle; American Film Festival; Oklahoma
International Film Festival; EFLA
1980: REFLECTIONS: National Daytime Emmy Nominee; International Silver Screen Award;
World Theatre Fest, Nancy, France
1979: HENRY HUDSON'S RIVER: A BIOGRAPHY: Emmy Award; Cine Golden Eagle;
Grand Prix: Houston International Film Festival. Narrated by Orson Welles
1976: CHRISTINA'S WORLD: Four Emmy Awards: Outstanding Documentary, Editing,
Cinematography, Writing/Direction; Cine Golden Eagle. Narrated by Julie Harris
EDUCATIONAL FILM & VIDEO PRODUCTIONS:
2006: Rebuilding the Church, Rebuilding Lives: Telly Award
2005: Genesis: Telly Award
2004: Five Friars on a Mission of Hope: Telly Award
2001: Manitoga: Historical Services Award for Excellence from Lower Hudson Conference of
Historical Agencies & Museums
1998-99: Welcome to Dutchess County (shot over four seasons) for Dutchess County Tourism
Promotion Agency: 2000 Telly Award; Historical Services Award for
Excellence from Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies & Museums
1997: ESPN: Breaking the Lines: The Jackie Robinson Legacy Cable Ace Award (editing)
1996: The Story of the West Point Foundry: Historical Services Award for Excellence
from Lower Hudson Conference of Historical Agencies & Museums