Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 2009

What an amazing year it has been for The After The Storm Foundation.

As many of you know, Hilla Medalia's film (AFTER THE STORM) premiered at The LA Film Festival in June, and it has already won several of awards including the Audience Favorite Award at The Woodstock Film Festival and at The Heartland Festival. Hilla also won a Crystal Heart Award for best Documentary feature at Heartland. Hawaii was a major stop on our film tour, especially because it was the first place we were able to screen the film for a theater full of kids, ages 8 to 18 (and the scenery wasn't bad either.) Our next scheduled screening is at The Windrider Forum, which is part of The Sundance Film Festival on January 30th if you happen to be in Park City, Utah. We also have a NYC screening at the JCC Manhattan on March 2nd.

Keeping the doors of the North Rampart Community Center open is the primary goal of The Foundation. Thanks to the efforts of the wonderful Deaconess, Joanne Finley, and the dedication of Coach Parker as well as the entire board of North Rampart Community Center (formerly St. Mark's), the kids in the neighborhood continue to have a safe and creative place to go after school.

Randy Redd has also been doing his part. He organized two very successful benefit performances this year at Joe's Pub in NYC to raise money for the Center. Singer/songwriters came together to celebrate New Orleans. This past Monday, December 7th, Randy Redd presented We Are The Song 2, a second helping of extraordinary new music at Joe's Pub to benefit North Rampart Community Center. This concert featured new songs by songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Chris Miller, Sam Willmott, Rob Rokicki, Jason Loffredo, David Sisco and Tom Gualtieri, Michael Walker and Kyle Ewalt, Barbara Anselmi and Ken Clifton. Save the date for the next Song/Storm concert. On Monday, February 15th, during Mardi Gras, We Are The Song 3: After The Storm will be presented at Symphony Space in New York City and will feature all new songs.

Not only did this concert raise money for NRCC but also raised awareness and introduced even more New York City singers, songwriters and musicians to The After The Storm Foundation and the new We Are The Song Songwriting Workshops. Thanks to a generous contribution from Freddie and Myrna Gershon and, Music Theater International, our first Song/Storm workshop will be held January 15-17 in New Orleans. During this 3-day workshop, local students (ages 13-18) will learn how a song is created from start to finish. Through games, singing, discussion, and exercises led by professional singers, songwriters and Broadway teaching artist, students will explore the components of basic songwriting: rhythm, rhyme, song structure, lyrics, and melody. After an introduction to songwriting basics, students will listen to a variety of well-known songs examining point of view, melody, lyrics, structure and arrangement. Then, using these tools students will write an original song of their own. This workshop is not about writing a hit song. In fact, no prior songwriting experience or musical training is necessary in order to participate. Students will be encouraged to share ideas, express themselves and tell stories thru songwriting. The students will also discuss individuality and community and how they might be able to express their individuality through song.

Stay tuned for more in the coming year.

We can't do it without you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“After the Storm” Documentary at Asheville Arts Center

Gerry and After The Storm at NC November 14th

Monday, November 2, 2009

We Are The Song: After The Storm #2 December 7th at Joes Pub

We Are The Song: After The Storm (#1), an extraordinary night of new music was presented at Joe's Pub on August 31st to benefit The North Rampart Community Center and to celebrate the work that began in New Orleans...After The Storm.
The concert featured new songs by many songwriters.

We Are The Song 2!
will be presented at Joe's Pub on Monday, December 7th at 7 PM and will feature encore performances of the new songs sung by Broadway performers as well as a very special musical tribute to Once On This Island and a thank you to that show's creators Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Tickets are on sale now and are available at

Some of the people that were involved in We Are The Song: After The Storm #1:
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Chris Miller, Sam Willmott, Rob Rokicki, Bill Schermerhorn and Doug Katsaros, Craig Fols and Fred Thaler, Michael Cooper and Hyeyoung Kim, Michael Walker and Kyle Ewalt, Kevin Hammonds, Lance Horne and Debra Barsha, Zach Zadek, Ken Clifton

and performances by songwriters Duncan Sheik, Jenny Giering, Wesley Whatley, Randy Redd, singers Cole Burden (Applause), Anderson Davis (Les Miserables), Kathy Deitch (Wicked, Footloose), Matt Doyle (Spring Awakening, Bye Bye Birdie), Julie Foldesi (South Pacific, Little Women), Aaron Simon Gross (13), Jeremy Hays (Les Miserables), Rachel Bay Jones (Showfolk, Hair), Fabio Monteiro, Brooke Sunny Moriber (The Wild Party, Parade), Jill Paice (The 39 Steps, Curtains, The Woman In White), Megan Reinking (Hair), Rashidra Scott (Avenue Q, Finian’s Rainbow), Antonique Smith, Robin Skye (Parade, Cyrano), Ali Stroker, Michael Winther (33 Variations, Mamma Mia, 1776) and LaChanze (The Color Purple, Once On This Island). Musical Director and Coordinator Aaron Jodoin led a seven-piece band with singers Brandon Michael Arrington, Molly Hager, Justin Lopez and Mary Catherine McDonald providing background vocals and a new song by Barbara Anselmi.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hilla and I spent our lat day in Hawaii vistiing the West side of the island of O'hau. Thanks to the amazing Jeff Stone we were able to screen the AFTER THE STORM film to a group of exceptional high school kids involved in a film production program at Waianae High School called "Seariders". Jeff and his brother Randy Stone started this program almost ten years ago to help local teens on the island get a head start in learning the skills needed to compete in the world of film and tv production. Candy Suiso, an inspired and inspiring teacher is in charge of the program and the staff are all brilliant graduates of the school who have come back to Waianae to pass along what they know to the next generation. You can visit their website at to learn more about them.

Superstar: : Kristina Vakameilalo

James, Jeff Stone, Candy Suiso, Hilla, Beverly Stone

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Audience Award at Heartland

In Hebrew there is an expression, Today Started Off On The Right Leg. James and I woke up to a wonderful view of the ocean in Hawaii and then The Heartland Film Festival called to tell us that After The Storm won the audience favorite award. Of course everyone loves an award, but this one is especially important and special for us. After all the audience is what counts. We are hoping this will help us bring the film to more people. Thank you Indiana!!! Good morning Hawaii!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aloha Hawaii

Hilla and I are here in Hawaii forcing ourselves to enjoy the sun and the sea and the kindess of the island people. This morning we were on the local morning news program and then we went to the theater where we screened the film for students from five different schools. This was the first time an audience of young people were gathered together to watch the film, and judging from their reaction afterwards AND their concentration during I'd say it was a big success. The kids seems to connect on such a deep level with the struggles of the New Orleans' kids and the stories of each of them overcoming their obstacles. We're already trying to figure out how to create more screenings for Middle School Students throughout the U.S.

Anyone out there with ideas about how to get this film into Middle Schools and High Schools?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heartland Film Festival Follow-up...

THE HEARTLAND FILM FESTIVAL has to be one of the nicest festivals around -- if not the nicest. The people, the location and of course the world famous Hoozier hospitality make this a welcome change for those of us who've done the rounds of festivals. Located in the heart of the Midwest, (Indianapolis, Indiana) Heartland features what they call TRULY MOVING PICTURES. Our own film, AFTER THE STORM will be shown seven times over the next week, giving locals plenty of time to see it. At both of the screenings that Hilla and I attended, the theater was almost full and if the Q & A afterwards was a good indication, everyone was deeply moved and wildly enthusiastic. At the awards ceremony last night, the film won A CRYSTAL HEART AWARD in the documentary category! The momentum is really building and the word is getting out all over the country.

Tomorrow we're on to Honolulu to the Hawaii Film Festival!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NY Premier

Over the weekend, AFTER THE STORM won the AUDIENCE FAVORITE award at the Woodstock Film Festival! And as if that wasn't enough, the next day the film received a wonderful review in the NY Times on Monday morning. But all this was leading up to an exciting opening night screening of the film at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Some of the performers featured in the film arrived fresh from New Orleans to join in the festivities and see themselves projected ten foot high -- Desiree´, Griffin, Gabrielle, Ashley and Annie were all there along Gerry McIntyre, Randy Redd, Duncan Sheik, Chita Rivera, Lynn Ahrens and Steve Flaherty and many many other.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Start of Phase 3

We are thrilled to announce that our feature documentary, After the Storm, will premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in mid-June 2009, and shortly thereafter, at the Outfest Film Festival, also in Los Angeles.

Thanks to the generosity of the Priddy Brothers and Rosie O'Donnell, the amazing contributions of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and so many others, the After the Storm film project is nearing completion. We are turning our attention to garnering the funds needed to finish the documentary, fund the premieres and continue and/or launch a handful of projects, aimed at securing the arts in the minds and hearts of the next generation in New Orleans.
This summer marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and yet, the latest statistics show only 25 percent of the area’s community centers have re-opened and restarted their arts programs. The loss of these centers is a key obstacle to the recovery of New Orleans and has especially impacted local programs for youth.

The progress at St. Mark’s (now North Rampart Street Community Center) has continued since the doors reopened following our initial contact in June 2006. The summer program currently has about 150 kids; the after-school program has 250-300. Thankfully, our work has catalyzed and inspired others to support and serve the Center, and much of the facility has been restored. There is, however, so much more to do.

Our documentary film is a vehicle for fundraising and for bringing the plight of New Orleans ’ young people to the public’s attention. Therefore, our goal is to have 2,010 screenings of After the Storm between June 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010 throughout the continental United States. Along with the funding needed to see us through the premieres, we are planning the following programs in New Orleans:
  • After-School and Summer Arts Programs -- continued operation at North Rampart Street Community Center and expansion into other New Orleans community centers.
  • Summer Musical Theater Workshop -- a new, week-long, life-to-life Arts experience that connects New York theater professionals with New Orleans community center kids through one-on-one training, workshops, classes and performances.
  • Year Round Music Lab – creation and implementation of a year-round music lab at North Rampart Street Community Center.
  • New Community Center Partnerships – development of relationships with other New Orleans community centers to re-build and create programs to introduce and enhance kids’ participation in the arts.
We are now raising the necessary funds to complete our post production and publicize and market the film’s release. We still have a ways to go. Won’t you consider helping us reach our goal? Please make a donation at
With your assistance, we can realize our dream of bringing the community centers and arts programs of New Orleans back to life and profoundly contributing to the lives of young people -- one neighborhood at a time.

James Lecesne