Documentary Production

Taking compelling stories and translating them into a visual format connects contemporary viewers to the past, keeping the stories alive and giving the historical figures a living voice.

Likewise, taking important contemporary stories and translating them into a visual format informs the viewer and hopefully compels them into action.

At Pretzel Pictures, we have a track record of locating unusual and hard-to-find resources, honoring due diligence to preserve integrity, authenticity, and accuracy.


 

Released Films and Series



Perfect 36: When Women Won the Vote             

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Of all the battles waged on Nashville’s doorstep, the final throes for the passage of the 19th Amendment were among the most heated, controversial, and colorful. In July of 1920, all eyes were on the Tennessee capital as Anti and Pro-suffragists each fought for their vision of a socially evolving United States. Foul play and coercion were all fair in this game of high stakes. One more state was needed to ratify the proposed amendment, and that duty rested solely on the shoulders of Tennessee. On a sweltering August 18, 1920, the House convened. After two consecutive 48-48 voting outcomes to table the resolution, it was put to vote. The votes were coming in neck and neck. At the last, a 24-year-old freshman legislator by the name of Harry Burn swung his vote, and changed history forever, making Tennessee the deciding 36th state to enable passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the Constitutional right to vote.

Began airing March 2017 on Public Television Stations Nationwide                                      

Distributed by American Public Television

www.perfect36doc.com

 

 

 

            

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Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Public Health Issue – Building Strong Brains Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Co-production with WCTE/PBS in association with Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth

6-Part Series Began airing February 2018

 

 

♦ John Seigenthaler Making Kids Count Media Award ♦

 

 


Let Me Walk This Path: The Faith and Martyrdom in Japan

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Tracing nearly 300 years of history, this 4-part mini-series documentary looks deeply into the heart of Japan from the arrival of the Jesuits in the 1600’s to the arrival of the Black Ships in the late 1800’s. What was the driving force behind the closing of the ports for some 200 years? Originally airing internationally  in 2010, Let Me Walk has continued to air seasonally on EWTN tv.

(DVD copies available at: EWTN tv Catalogue)

 

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 To the Point: A Perspective on Point Lookout

Point Lookout was a Union operated POW camp located at the confluence of the Potomac and the Chesapeake in Southern Maryland established in August 1863. Overpopulated, the conditions were harsh and the food scarce to non-existent. Over 50,000 men, women, and children, white and black alike, passed through its gates. Many of them never made it out.

 

Available on Ebay

 

 

 

 



New Films



Ain’t No Daisies: Women on the Plantation

Plantation life dates back to the very colonization of America. In its most simplified description, a plantation is a farm that produces a product for commerce.

But nothing about plantation life was simple, especially the roles of women. Power in all its variables, class struggles, vulnerabilities, betrayals, love, and sacrifice are all themes that played out on a daily basis, no matter the role one into which one was cast.

Home to all, prison to many, each woman – especially the slave woman -had to find the means to rise above personal adversities to survive.

Add into the mix the prevalent misogyny woven into the law of the land, the breeding programs, and a unique situation in Louisiana reflected in Creole social structure, wherein women were recognized at business and property owners.

The kettle into which all of these variables was strewn created a social structure much akin to a boiling cauldron.

Ain’t No Daisies – Women on the Plantation examines how the women on the plantation worked with the die they were cast in this seemingly opulent environment that was really a gilded cage.

(In Production- Tentative release – PBS 2020)

No Monkey Business

~ Your Coconut Milk Will Never Taste the Same ~

Burned out and disillusioned by the empty promises and artificial ideologies of big city life, Hana Man, like many other millennials, downsizes her possessions into a backpack and sets off on a journey of self-discovery to Thailand.

But upon her first volunteer mission working at a dog shelter, which happened to be surrounded by coconut plantations, she is confronted with the heart of what she was trying to get away from – ruthless commercialism, in this case, the coconut industry. As one of the top ten coconut producers in the world, the plantations in Thailand yield around 900,000 tons of coconuts per annum, exporting over $103 million in products overseas. Yet, smaller farmers earn only on average $0.03USD per coconut which, with the insatiable demand of globalization, creates added pressure to harvest more.

As a vegan who believed that she was not complicit in harming animals, Hana is shocked to understand the full extent to which exploitation and corruption are interwoven into the current Capitalist system. She witnesses the way in which Pigtail Macaques are an integral part of getting your coconut milk and other coconut products to market.

To date, the alternative tool other than using monkeys available to Thai farmers (a long bamboo pole with a hooked blade) is slow and strenuous to use. The monkeys can harvest 4 times faster than a fit man with the pole.

Hana will lead you on her journey of discovery through the breathtaking landscapes of Thailand, as she learns about the history of coconut farming in the region, spends time communing with the farmers and monkey trainers, and finds out about their relationship and dependency on the monkeys.

The situation is complex and most of the humans involved are equally trapped by their need to survive financially. Many of the farmers are not comfortable using the monkeys, since they can be dangerously unpredictable. Aggressive behaviour arises because the monkeys are distressed, exhausted, and forced to live in undesirable conditions. A visit to the monkey training “schools” will make you re-think that next coconut smoothie.

Ever burdened for ways to keep food on the table, many Thai’s also use their Macaques in sideshows or circuses, which Westerners unwittingly patronize, thus continuing to fulfill the downward cycle for both the monkeys and their handlers.

There are solutions, and this journey will also follow in the steps of those affecting positive change.

No Monkey Business is a story of multiple journeys that all intersect at the heart of big commerce. It will highlight critical issues in the current global food and economic system, along with unraveling the concept of Speciesism.

(In Development – Filming 2020)

A Square Deal

~ African American Women and Their Uphill Battle for the Vote

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, granting all of the women of America the Constitutional right to vote.

A number of African American women had been at the forefront of the women’s suffrage movement. A Square Deal highlights their invaluable contributions and acknowledging the formidable challenges that they overcame.

Despite marginalization by the majority of their white cohorts in the suffrage movement, these amazing women continued to forge the way for not just their rights but those of future generations.

Their work and fortitude, from before emancipation through the civil rights movement, is a shining example to all, and an outstanding model to younger generations.

The program outlines the work of first three generations of suffragists, leading up to the 1920 passage and the dynamics uniquely experienced by these women, i.e. white women faced sexism but not racism, black men faced racism but not sexism. Black women shouldered both challenges. Additionally, they had educational and class barriers that the generally elite socialites primarily engaged with white suffrage did not have.

But the fight for a “Square Deal” did not end at the signing of the 19th amendment for African American women, as it did for white women. The significant work and contributions of the next generations through the civil rights movement, including highlighting the march in Selma, will also be discussed.

(Tentative release via APT (PBS) – 2020/2021)

A Beautiful Mask

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In the early 1930’s, steps were being made toward the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. Around that same time, Michie Yamamoto was also taking her first steps. By the time she had her legs well under her, the Yamamoto family would have moved to the city of Harbin in the new puppet state of Manchukuo. Michie’s father, a successful businessman with a background in geology, had seized the industrial opportunity in the new state and was heavily involved in coal and the railroad. Called the “Paris of the Orient”, Harbin was also occupied by “White Russians” who had fled the terrors of communist Russia. Their elegant influence can still be seen throughout the region. While they brought their good taste, many of the former upper crust were reduced to working as domestics. Juxtaposed against the opulence and upscale lifestyle of the Yamamoto family and others like them, Chinese laborers heaved under the burdens of working in the Japanese-run open coal mines. There were also the factories of death – the human biological testing going on just miles away. At times, there were outbreaks in the community from viruses or carriers that had escaped the confines of the testing camps. In 1945, the tables turned. Japan was losing its grip in the Pacific arena, and Russia capitalized on the vulnerability in Manchuria. Michie’s family found themselves destitute and facing a cold Siberian winter before being exiled back to Japan. A Beautiful Mask  is a poignant personal reflection tracking the journey of growing up in Japanese-occupied Manchuria.

(In scripting)