The Blank School engages Babson community members and leads research to create entrepreneurial leaders.
Filmmaker in Residence
A Most Beautiful Thing, narrated by the Academy Award/Grammy Award-winning artist, Common; executive produced by NBA Stars/Olympians Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade; and directed/produced by Mary Mazzio, chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago). An amazing story. The film was featured on The TODAY Show, and NBC Nightly News, garnering a 100% Rotten Tomato rating from critics and is now streaming on Peacock (NBC’s new streaming platform) and Amazon Prime. A scripted series based on the film is now in development with Amazon Studios. In addition, FILA created a limited edition “A Most Beautiful Thing” shoe with proceeds to fund “A Most Beautiful Thing” Inclusion Fund and Pepsi hosted, with the Miami Dolphins, “A Most Beautiful Thing Weekend” which included a 1000 meal give-away to families facing food insecurity as well as an extraordinary event with the Obama Foundation in Chicago for thousands of young people.
I AM JANE DOE, narrated by Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, directed by Mary Mazzio, and produced by Mazzio along with Academy Award-nominee Alec Sokolow, chronicled the battle that several mothers across the country waged against Backpage.com, the largest online portal for commercial sex. Called “a gripping legal thriller” (Esquire); “a powerful call to action” (The Los Angeles Times); “the rare social-issue documentary that has an effect on a social issue” (The Washington Post); “especially impressive … a powerful piece of work” (Elle); “striking … powerful” (The Film Journal), I AM JANE DOE has captured not only the attention of film critics, but an avalanche of popular press as well (e.g. The New Yorker, Esquire, Cosmo, Vogue, The TODAY Show; NBC Nightly News, a three-part story in People), providing a remarkable opportunity for culture shift, impact, and awareness, particularly with respect to the under-reported crime of child sex-trafficking. More importantly, the film has catalyzed extraordinary activity, including new legislation (on a bipartisan basis) signed by the President in the spring of 2018; investigative reporting into the links between Google and Backpage; and a federal criminal probe of 3 Backpage executives, resulting in a 93-count indictment. The OECD, which invited Mazzio to speak about the issue of online harm, moved to amend its charter documentation, so that human rights violations and harm to children happening online are addressed as the organization moves forward to establish global policy for online platforms. The film opened theatrically and streamed on Netflix.
I AM LITTLE RED is a 10-minute animated short aimed at children most at-risk for sex trafficking, with the goal of prevention and awareness. The film, animated by Academy Award winners Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala from Punkrobot, and written by 10 survivors of sex trafficking (aged 14–21) along with Alec Sokolow (Academy Award nominated writer of Toy Story) and Mary Mazzio (director/Producer of I AM JANE DOE), is a contemporary re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. In partnership with The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LITTLE RED is expanding to a wide variety of federal and state agencies working with disenfranchised children. Over 1,000 New York State agencies working with at-risk children are now using LITTLE RED, and hundreds of shelters housing unaccompanied minors near border cities are doing prevention training with LITTLE RED. In addition, First Book is distributing LITTLE RED to 1000 Title I (low income) schools and programs across the country and Ricky Martin and his foundation are working with the Spanish version in Puerto Rico and Latin America.
Underwater Dreams, narrated by Michael Peña and funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and the Bezos Family Foundation, raised over $100 million dollars in corporate and private commitments in connection with a White House initiative built around the film. The film, which chronicles the epic story of how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts – and defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process, was hailed by Jonathan Alter as “the most politically significant documentary film since Waiting for Superman (The Daily Beast); featured on The Colbert Report and Morning Joe; called “astonishing... already a contender for the best documentary of 2014′′ (David Noh, Film Journal); “moving and insightful” (Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times) and named one of the Best Family Movies of 2014 by Common Sense Media, Underwater Dreams was released theatrically in Los Angeles, New York, and Phoenix with AMC Theatres and then screened at the White House, with introductory remarks by President Obama. A special version of the film was broadcast on MSNBC and Telemundo (simultaneously in English and Spanish) with promotion and events throughout the NBC Universal family. The film screened at the White House, at Clinton Global, Aspen Ideas Festival and many other forums around the globe.
A Hero for Daisy, chronicles two-time Olympian Chris Ernst who galvanized her rowing team to storm the Yale athletic director’s office in 1976 to protest the lack of locker room facilities for the women. The film was hailed by The New York Times as a “landmark film”; “fantastic” by Sports Illustrated; and “remarkable” by NPR. The film aired nationwide on ESPN Classics, Oxygen, WGBH, and WTSN-Canada; was invited to screen at the Smithsonian; and is in thousands of classrooms across the country. The film help to inspire a group of parents in Michigan to file a lawsuit, contesting unequal treatment of high school girls throughout the state, which prevailed, years later, at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Apple Pie, featuring Shaquille O’Neal, Drew Bledsoe, Mia Hamm and Grant Hill, is a tribute to the often-invisible strength, courage and power of mothers. The film was broadcast nationally on ESPN to critical acclaim and was called “illuminating—told with deftness and emotion … priceless” by The New York Times; “heartwarming” by Los Angeles Times; “fantastic” by NPR; and “excellent” by CNN. The film was also a recommended pick in both Entertainment Weekly and TVGuide.
TEN9EIGHT, which tells the inspirational stories of several inner-city teens as they compete in an annual business plan competition, was theatrically released in a first-of-its-kind partnership with AMC Theatres, and broadcast on BET/Viacom, coinciding with the release of a companion book to the film from Scholastic and a screening at the White House Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress. New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, said this about the film in The New York Times: “Obama should arrange for this movie to be shown in every classroom in America. It is the most inspirational, heartwarming film you will ever see.” Named as one of the 10 best documentary films on education by Take Part and selected as a finalist for VH1’s DOSOMETHING Awards, the film was also called “inspiring … should be compulsory viewing in high schools around the country” (Lael Lowenstein, Variety); “very well made” (Mike Hale, The New York Times); and “important,” (Marshall Fine, Huffington Post). The film received extraordinary press in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Fortune Small Business, Inc. Magazine, BusinessWeek.com, TheAtlanticWire.com, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, NPR, IMUS, and others.
The Apple Pushers, narrated by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton, follows immigrant street vendors who are rolling fresh fruits and vegetables into the inner cities of New York. The film was picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope (of which, Tracie McMillan of The Atlantic wrote: “emotionally, the film packs a wallop”) was exhibited theatrically on Earth Day in several cities by Whole Foods, followed by a nationwide broadcast on public television’s WORLD channel. The film has had a wide-ranging series of special screenings, including Aspen Ideas Festival with Robin Schepper (head of Mrs. Obama's “Let's Move” campaign); the U.S. Department of Agriculture with Kathleen Merrigan (Deputy Secretary of the USDA) for heads of federal agencies; as well as pop-up screenings organized by foundations, food policy activists, and policy leaders—all with the goal of sparking creative thinking about how to solve the obesity problem in low income neighborhoods. The film received extensive coverage in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Fox Business, The Washington Post, Variety, Fast Company, Financial Times, Forbes.com, Bloomberg, MTV.com, EcoSalon, among many others.
Lemonade Stories, featuring Richard Branson, Arthur Blank and Russell Simmons, focuses on how mothers have contributed to the entrepreneurial spirit of their sons and daughters. The film aired nationwide on CNNfn (and globally in Latin America, the UK, Israel, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Hong Kong), was the subject of cover stories by USA Today (complete with a trailer and photos on USA Today’s splash page), Forbes.com, The Christian Science Monitor, ABC News.com, as well as featured on NPR, Bloomberg Radio, and in Fast Company. Time Magazine also published an Op-Ed about the project in 2012.
Contrarian, narrated by Fred Thompson, chronicles the life of legendary stock investor John Templeton. The Christian Science Monitor recommended the film as one of its “Top Picks” and Movieguide, in a four-star review, described the film as a "fascinating documentary produced with a delicate sense of grace.” Reviewed favorably by The New York Times, Contrarian aired primetime nationwide on Bloomberg Television, and internationally throughout Asia.
Other projects include work for BlackRock (celebrating the firm’s 25th anniversary); an anchor film for Wellesley College’s “This is the Place” campaign; an ad spot for The Head of the Charles; and several shorts for Babson College’s “Entrepreneurs of All Kinds” campaign.