Downloads: Press Release
StoryCorps’ First Animated Television Special, Drawn from Its Oral History Archives,
Unveils Dramatic Personal Stories from Everyday People. All You Have to Do Is Ask—And Listen.
Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. Funded by CPB.
“StoryCorps on PBS: Must-See, Can’t-Miss, Your-Life-Depends-on-It TV.”—Richard Corliss, TIME.com
The first-ever animated television special from StoryCorps celebrates the transformative power of listening. Directed by the award-winning animation team the Rauch Brothers, Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special features six stories drawn from StoryCorps’ 10 years of asking everyday people to share their conversations with family and friends. These oral histories are a never-ending testament to how much can be revealed in the closest of relationships and how readily, as StoryCorps founder Dave Isay says, “you find wisdom and poetry” in the words of regular folks. An interview between Dave and his inquisitive 9-year-old nephew, Benji, frames the program’s intimate conversations.
Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special premieres on Thanksgiving Day (also the first day of Hanukkah), Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). It is a special presentation of POV (Point of View), American television’s longest-running independent documentary series. Both POV and StoryCorps received 2013 MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions.
This broadcast takes place the day before the National Day of Listening, a holiday created by StoryCorps to encourage people take the time to record conversations with loved ones the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as Black Friday. To coincide with the POV broadcast, The Penguin Press has released a new book, Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps, and re-released Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project, supported by a national book tour (details below).
Since StoryCorps began with its first recording booth in New York’s Grand Central Station in 2003, the project has traversed the country recording and preserving tens of thousands of stories. Select conversations are aired Friday mornings during NPR’s Morning Edition. Since 2010, the conversations, given distinctive and delightful animation by Mike and Tim Rauch, have found a new audience on the POV series.
Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special offers a couple of greatest hits, new treats, dramatic “reveals” and Dave’s telling of how StoryCorps began. He explains to Benji that he found an old tape recorder one Thanksgiving when he was a boy and began playfully taping the talk of his grandparents and aunts—an undertaking that made an unexpectedly deep impression on him, especially when he saw the pleasure his loved ones found in just being listened to. The tapes were lost, but to this day Isay keeps looking for them. In typical 9-year-old fashion, Benji doesn’t quite get it. “I’d love to play the tape for you,” Dave tells him. “Doing that recording really taught me something: You can find the most amazing stories from regular people. All you have to do is ask them about their lives—and listen.”
- Here are the new animated stories in POV’s Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special:
- Making It: Noe Rueda grew up poor in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. At the young age of 8, he already relied on his entrepreneurial talents to help his mom and three siblings make ends meet; even $20 would make his mother cry with gratitude. Noe tells his high school teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood, and Alex shares his dreams for Noe’s future.
- Marking the Distance: When Gweneviere Mann, a San Francisco native living in New York, lost her short-term memory following surgery to remove a brain tumor, she was forced to navigate life in a new way. Every day brought new puzzles: Where was she? Who was the person talking to her? But she wasn’t alone. With the support of her boyfriend, Yasir Salem, she found she could tackle the challenges her condition threw her way—and a few more.
- The Road Home: Eddie Lanier ignored his prominent father’s warning about the family’s disposition to alcoholism and struggled for over 40 years, until his 28th stint in rehab finally led to sobriety. Homeless and hungry, he roamed the streets of his native Chapel Hill, N.C., and found a friend in David Wright, a passerby whose frequent donations stood out. The two friends discuss Eddie’s remarkable journey.
- Me & You: In New York, 73-year-old Jackie Miller talks to her adopted son, Scott, revealing something about her early life that puts his adoption in a new and dramatic light. As they express their profound love for one another, Scott touchingly recalls how he came out to her and expresses his trepidation about the future.
- The StoryCorps special includes two favorites from previous POV seasons:
- Miss Devine: In Bradenton, Fla., cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson hilariously recall their fearsome Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine, the only woman who scared them more than their grandmother. There was no earthly excuse to miss Sunday school, even if it meant arriving in your pajamas and tennis shoes, as James personally attests.
- No More Questions! Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps booth in San Francisco by her son Cheng and granddaughter Chen. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors in China to her adventures as a Bloomingdale’s store detective. Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side.
Intimate, surprising, frank, comic, moving—Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special is a wonderful doorway into the StoryCorps archive and into profound questions about memory and its legacy across the generations. “So, maybe this year, I’ll ask Grandma some questions,” Benji tells his uncle Dave after hearing people tell their stories, “just like you did when you were a kid.”
Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special, produced in association with American Documentary | POV, is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
About the Filmmakers:
Dave Isay, StoryCorps Founder and President/Executive Producer
Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps and the recipient of numerous broadcasting honors, including six Peabody Awards and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. He is the author/editor of numerous books that grew out of his public radio documentary work, including three StoryCorps books: Listening Is an Act of Love (2007), Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps (2010) and All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps (2012)—all New York Times bestsellers. Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps was published by The Penguin Press on Oct. 21, 2013.
Mike Rauch, Producer/Director
Mike Rauch first became fascinated with the triumphs, trials, and life stories of everyday Americans while working as a door-to-door book salesman. He joined StoryCorps in 2007 and worked as an intern and facilitator before taking on his current role as a producer and director on the StoryCorps animated series. He also works with his brother Tim to produce independent animation through their studio Rauch Brothers Animation, and he is currently developing a film featuring 1950s recordings made by Puerto Rican migrants in New York City.
Tim Rauch, Animator/Director
Tim Rauch has been drawing ever since he was old enough to hold a crayon. His career in animation began on The Wonder Pets! , an Emmy Award-winning preschool show, for which he was an animator and designer. Since then, he has created animation for clients as diverse as Sesame Workshop and Mountain Dew. Through Rauch Brothers Animation, he has directed and animated two award-winning independent films that have screened in more than 50 film festivals worldwide.
Lizzie Jacobs, Producer
Lizzie Jacobs is the co-executive producer for animation and the senior editor for print at StoryCorps. She joined StoryCorps in 2006 while earning her master of fine arts degree in nonfiction writing from The New School. In her time at StoryCorps she has contributed as an audio producer; an editor of three New York Times bestselling books and the recently released Ties That Bind—all with The Penguin Press; and a producer of the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps animated shorts for POV.
Directors/Producers: Mike and Tim Rauch
Animation and Design: Tim Rauch
Executive Producers: Dave Isay, Donna Galeno
Producers: Lizzie Jacobs, Mike Rauch
Co-producer: Maya Millet
Original Music: Nick Yulman
Running Time: 26:46
POV Series Credits:
Executive Producer: Simon Kilmurry
Co-Executive Producer: Cynthia López
Vice President, Programming and Production: Chris White
Series Producer: Andrew Catauro
About the books (published by The Penguin Press):
Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps
Ties That Bind honors the people who nourish and strengthen us. StoryCorps founder Dave Isay draws from ten years of the revolutionary oral history project’s rich archives, collecting conversations that celebrate the power of the human bond and capture the moment at which individuals become family. Between blood relations, friends, coworkers and neighbors, in the most trying circumstances and in the unlikeliest of places, enduring connections are formed and lives are forever changed. Against unspeakable odds, at their most desperate moments, the individuals we meet in Ties That Bind find their way to one another, discovering hope and healing.
Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project
StoryCorps’ first book celebrates the participants of this revolutionary project with transcripts of 50 of the most remarkable stories arranged thematically into a beautiful mosaic of American life. The themes of the interviews remind us of the shared humanity that binds us all: home and family, work and dedication, journeys, history and struggle. Included are stories from September 11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Book tour with Dave Isay:
Monday, Nov. 4, Book Passage, San Francisco
Wednesday, Nov. 6, Barnes & Noble, Santa Monica, Calif.
Thursday, Nov. 7, KPCC, Pasadena, Calif.
Friday, Nov. 8, Powell’s Books, Portland, Ore.
Monday, Nov. 11, Barnes & Noble, New York, N.Y.
Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and now in its 26th season on PBS in 2013, the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit www.pbs.org/pov.
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American Documentary, Inc. (www.amdoc.org)
American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.
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