latest blog posts - Music by Prudence > Oscar winning documentary by Roger Ross Williams
It was the middle of the night, inside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when Roger Ross Williams got the news.
“I was directing an episode of ‘Undercover Boss’ and we were shooting with the CEO,” said Williams, a filmmaker and veteran journalist. “I got a call from HBO saying that the film was nominated.”
The honor? An 2010 Academy Award nomination for his documentary short, “Music by Prudence.” The Easton, Northampton County, native eventually would go on to win the Oscar.
“The reason I became a journalist is because you get to go into all these different worlds and explore all these different stories,” Williams told students at Berks Catholic High School on Wednesday. “I always sort of kept my eye on the prize. When I got to a certain level, I’d aim higher.”
His reach would take him halfway around the world – from his home in New York to the King George VI School Children’s Centre & School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Read the full report by Becca Y. Gregg on the Reading Eagle
POV (US television’s longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films on PBS) recently hosted IDA’s Doc U on the Road to examine the question “Can Your Doc Really Change the World?” with a panel of documentary heavyweights and the conversation continued afterwards with a Q&A and reception.
The panel included Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence), Rachel Libert (Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Boomtown), Diana Barrett, founder of the Fledgling Fund, and Cynthia López, Executive Vice President and Co-Executive Producer of POV. Read more…
Last night Music by Prudence screened at the Gala opening of the first annual International Disability Film Festival, Abära, organized by Arts & Disability Ireland.
Darren Mooney, winner of “best pop-culture blog” Irish Blog Awards, gave the film a raving review. Here are some highlights:
“Music by Prudence is an absolutely fascinating documentary from director Roger Ross Williams, looking at the band Liyana, fronted by Prudence Mabhena. The thirty-three minute documentary does a wonderfully effective job giving us a snapshot into the Zimbabwean band, composed of faculty and students from the King George VI Centre and School for Children with Physical Disabilities. The runtime is remarkably short, but Williams compensates by giving us a whirlwind introduction to the band’s lead singer, who has enough charm and wit to carry a far longer documentary. The band themselves provide a beautiful soundtrack, and there’s talk of them releasing two albums off the back of the film’s success.”
Music by Prudence will be the opening film at Abära – the International Disability Film Festival in Dublin, on Thursday October 20th! And the best news of all: Prudence is traveling to Ireland to attend the festival!
Abära is Ireland’s first ever International Disability Film Festival. The aim of the festival is to celebrate progress made by people with disabilities while increasing awareness and understanding of the many challenges still faced by people with disabilities around the world.
During the gala opening night, Prudence will be interviewed by RTÉ’s Arts & Media Correspondent, Sinéad Crowley. Limited tickets are available.
And if you can’t make it to the opening night, no worries: preceding the screening on Friday evening, Prudence will be present again, interviewed by Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway.
The festival runs from Thursday October 20th until Sunday October 23rd.
For ticket information, click here.
To download the full festival program (PDF), click here.
And even more right here.
Prudence was appointed Unicef’s national Goodwill ambassador last Tuesday. She will be working closely with Unicef on advocacy to protect children from all forms of violence, particularly children with disabilities.
Unicef’s Dr Peter Salama said: “This appointment is in recognition of Prudence’s bold endeavors to use her vocal talent to speak on behalf of millions of Zimbabwean children.
“Her voice has provoked positive actions for children and has helped move Unicef’s work in Zimbabwe,” he said.
In a Press release, Unicef said Prudence has been given the befitting appointment in recognition of her genuine commitment to communicating strong and clear messages advocating for the rights of children with different forms of disability.
“In being appointed as a national goodwill ambassador, she joins local singer legend Oliver Mtukudzi, appointed three months ago as regional goodwill ambassador for Unicef, in using music to highlight issues affecting children in Zimbabwe and in the region,” reads the release.
“Her music reflects on the neglect she experienced by her parents because of her condition and encourages love and protection of all children regardless of their physical condition.
“In the Oscar-winning documentary film, ‘Music by Prudence’, Prudence relieves her many hardships in life to encourage and empower young people living with disabilities,” reads the press release.
Read more on Zimdiaspora.
So much has happened for Prudence, ever since Music by Prudence stole the hearts of so many people, and certainly after winning the Academy Award for best Documentary Short. After the media frenzy surrounding Kanye Gate whirled down, the focus was on Prudence, where it belonged. Soon after the Oscars, Prudence came back to the US for a whirlwind tour; Human Rights Watch teamed up, and with their generous help and support the film has become the cornerstone of an advocacy campaign, and Prudence a role model for many.
Prudence visited the White House, and overnight became a star in her home country, Zimbabwe, as well.
The most amazing thing that happened to Prudence, however, happened earlier this year. It had become harder for her to breath as a collapsing spine wore on her lungs, and she received spinal surgery in Denver, straightening her back!
Recently, the Denver Post portrayed Prudence and her amazing story, as she’s been in Denver for a number of months, rehabilitating from the major operation. Read her interview right here.
Last month, Prudence and the film were featured on Spotlight Radio. Spotlight Radio is a great source for people who want to learn English. It’s is a daily 15 minute radio program that uses a special English method of broadcasting. They use fewer words, slower speed, and shorter sentences.
People can listen to Spotlight Radio online, on public radio stations, and in school classes.
Listen to the Spotlight broadcast on Music by Prudence right here.
Music by Prudence has been nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Music and Sound! Congratulations to sound mixer Chris Bertolotti, music producer Ted Mason, and music engineer Joseph Colmenero, and of course to the musical geniuses of the band Liyana, and to their star singer, Prudence Mabhena.
The 32nd Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards Ceremony will be held at September 26, 2011.
Click here to see all the nominations.
“Music by Prudence” and “Mugabe and the White African” will screen as the next installment in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 29th annual “Contemporary Documentaries” series on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 PM at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Admission to all screenings in the series is free.
The 29th annual “Contemporary Documentaries” series continues through June 1, showcasing feature-length and short documentaries drawn from the 2009 Academy Award nominations, including the winners, as well as other important and innovative films considered by the Academy that year.
All films will screen at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on Wednesdays at 7 PM. Doors open at 6 PM. All seating is unreserved. The filmmakers will be present at screenings whenever possible.
For additional information, visit www.oscars.org or call (310) 247-3600.
Prudence Mabhena has had spine surgery in the United States to save her singing career!
In the past, Prudence could sing for one to two hours during a show without a break. But recently, she’s had to do shorter shows and take breaks in the middle and come back.
It became harder for her to breathe as a collapsing spine wore on her lungs. “I was getting tired. After doing anything, I was so tired,” Prudence, now 23, said from the Denver Children’s Hospital on Thursday.
On Jan. 24, she had a surgery there in which doctors put rods into her spine and were able to straighten it. And Mountainfilm, in large part, made that happen. Here’s how.