Recent Press and Praise

Nov 20, 2009

No red carpet for SMILE in 2010!

Hello all:

After much consideration and anxious awaiting, it's now official: SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS did not get short-listed for the 2010 Oscars. Still, it's amazing that we made it to the pool of applicants! How rare that is indeed!? What a challenge and incredible experience it has been meeting Academy standards: not to mention screening at the IFC Center in NYC and the ArcLight in LA as part of the IDA's Docuweeks. The press has been fantastic and the crowds enthusiastic---all well worth qualifying for the race!!!!! And our run is not over by any means: we are in the process of negotiating limited theatrical distribution and getting our DVDs in order. Foreign sales are coming in for the short version of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. Who would have dreamed that our first sale would have been in Israel?! We are delighted to watch how the story of this story unfolds: there are twists and rare opportunities all along the way. SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS truly has a life of its own!

More to come on our lively experience at the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, so stay tuned!

Oct 20, 2009

SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS screening in Philadelphia, Oct 24

Hello friends and fans!

I'm off to Philadelphia soon for our next screening of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS at the FirstGlance Film Festival. What a fitting place to screen a documentary on the singing phenomenon, Up With People, which started in the 1960s on a mission about Freedom. It's an enduring concept that strikes at the heart of our cultural history. The youth group proudly sang "Freedom isn't Free" during the Vietnam War years. And "Freedom isn't Free" after all, now is it??? Not surprisingly, like the Liberty Bell, Up With People developed a major crack (or two) over the decades but in the end, its members' idealism for a better world continues in spite of it all.

Please spread the word about our Philadelphia screening this Saturday, October 24 at 6pm at the FirstGlance Film Festival. It's going to be a great crowd and tickets are selling fast.

Franklin Theater at The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street
October 24 @ 6pm

This is a great opportunity to see SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS on a really big screen, so please tell everyone you know and let's fill the house!

It's definitely something to SMILE about!

Sep 3, 2009

Up With People archival---and pre-order DVDs?

OK, I've decided to post photographs and memorabilia, maybe some of the research documents supporting SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS, our documentary on Up With People. We'll start with a few and build the slide show on the blog. Look closely and you might find yourself or someone you know. It doesn't matter if you traveled with Up With People or not: we guarantee the archival history is rich viewing for everyone! We'll try and organize by place, or year, or by category, i.e., "world leaders", "celebrities" or "just for fun." Please let us know your comments as we unveil some of the most fascinating and surprising aspects of Up With People history.

Soon we will also post a place to pre-order DVDs on the website. We are getting many requests and the Google searches are noteworthy! Thanks for passing along the word about this amazing new doc. We are rushing to do everything we can to make it available to you.

And remember to smile! In spite of it all, and no matter what, be authentic and as positive as you can. Life is good.

Sep 2, 2009

New Clips Posted

Thanks to all for your patience while we uploaded the Q&A's from various film festivals since the premiere of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS: The Up With People Story at the Slamdance Film Festival. We tried to select the "best from the fests" to avoid being repetitive. We hope you enjoy them and please check back for more. We also plan to post promotional archival materials not yet seen....!

Don't forget these upcoming screenings of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS:

1. Temecula Int'l Film Festival, Sept 10-11 @5pm @ The Movie Experience in Temecula, CA
2. FirstGlance Film Festival, award winning, Oct 24 @ Franklin Theater in Philadelphia, PA
3. Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Nov 6-8, Colorado Springs, CO (time TBD).

See you there!!

Is Temecula, CA burning? --SMILE screens Sept 10 & 11

Hi friends,

We have another Southern California screening of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS: The Up With People Story. Come check it out at the Temecula International Film & Music Festival this coming Sept 10th and 11th. I've no idea how this will work with Southern California ablaze. Let's send good thoughts to our firefighters and hope the fires are contained soon. It's certainly a difficult time for a film & music festival, especially one that's as active and entertaining as Temecula. If you are in Southern California and would like to see SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS, please swing by Temecula and show your support! Here are the details:


The Movie Experience
Tower Plaza Shopping Center
27531 Ynez Rd. Temecula

The music festival follows immediately after. Woohoo!

Due to other commitments, I won't be able to attend this festival and join you in the Q&A, but we hope to send a team so you'll have some interesting folks to chat with after the screening. SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS raises a ton of discussion topics----that's for sure!!!!!!

Hope to see you there!

Sep 1, 2009

Spirit Awards for SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS: The Up With People Story

Woohoo! We are finalizing our application for the Spirit Awards! They are due September 14. It's so much fun to have the opportunity to file for such a prestigious award. In the scheme of things, how rare and awesome is that?! :) And the IFP already recommended SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS for a Gotham Award, so onward! Let the award season begin!

Last week we filed our "Documentary Film Entry for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences." Turns out you are not supposed to include contact information on the DVDs--it was an oversight on our part because we used the same DVD screeners we've been sending to film festivals. However an industrious fellow at the Academy volunteered to "Wite Out" that info so we didn't have to burn another 30 DVDs. Remember that stuff?? Since computers have taken over the word-processing world, I've wondered why Bic (the manufacturer) still sells "Wite Out" and what useful purpose it may have. Now I know!!! Hey, if we get short-listed for the Oscars, maybe Bic will want our endorsement?! We could certainly use the money to help pay for the life-long debt I've incurred in making SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS! Let's hope the industrious A.M.P.A.S. volunteer is also an artist. Otherwise an Academy voter might notice the Wite-Out on our DVDs and think: "Hmmmmm, another struggling documentary filmmaker!" I doubt Sony Classics or HBO would accidentally send in a marked DVD. They have bigger production budgets.

So now we wait! And attend Film Festivals. And pretend we are not waiting. But we are. All of us in that small pool of Oscar contending films are, well, waiting!! In the spirit of 6 degrees of separation, should you know someone that knows someone that knows an Academy voter, please send extra good karma for SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS and well wishes their way!

Toodles for now!

Aug 30, 2009

New Festivals Announced! Nov. 6-8 in Colorado Springs


Hip Hip Hooray! SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS has been officially selected to screen at the 22nd annual Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, scheduled for November 6-8, 2009. We are extremely excited about screening our documentary on Up With People at the longest running women's film festival in the world. Up With People is headquartered in Denver, Colorado so we hope many UWP alumni will have the opportunity to come to this festival. Stay tuned and we'll announce screening times as soon as possible. In the meantime you can check out general information at the RMWFF website at

I can't wait to travel to the high county again!


Aug 21, 2009

FirstGlance Film Festival, Philadelphia--Oct 24 @ 5pm


Our screening at the FirstGlance Film Festival will be held on:



If you are in the area, please join the fun and participate in the captivating dialogue.
It will be a night to remember. Come learn about youthful idealism and what images and ideals we sell to the rest of the world. You'll never think of the "melting pot" in the same way....or, maybe you will!

"Up, up with people, you meet 'em wherever they go!
Up Up With People, there the best kind of folk we know!
If more people were for people, all people everywhere,
There'd be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who care!"

News, press and praise during our Oscar qualifying run!

What a couple of amazing weeks in LA and NYC screening SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS for our Oscar qualifying run at DocuWeeks. The ArcLight Hollywood is a stunning movie experience, and we had sold out shows at the IFP Center in NYC. The Q&As and continued discussion in the hallways of both venues after each screening were vibrant and thought-provoking! The energetic dialogue would not let up among the handful of Up With People alumni who attended, as well as numerous non-UWP viewers.

I hope you check out the clips and news at A big thank you goes out to everyone at DocuWeeks for making these screenings possible. It was a privilege and honor to be counted among such great films screening at DocuWeeks and to meet the dedicated staff at IDA.

We've gotten amazing press in the process. You can check out all the new press and praise, and click on all the links posted on the blog. Please tell your friends!!

And don't forget to Google search the film title in quotes: "Smile 'Til It Hurts". The last time I did it logged 358,000 results!!!! How cool is that?!

Now that we've finished our Oscar qualifying run at DocuWeeks, I have to complete an application for the Little Golden Man. It's due next week. If you've gone through the process and have a thought, or if you just want to send big hugs and greetings, please post a comment!

We are also thrilled to announce that the IFP has recommended SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS for a Gotham Award!!! Let's hope we get nominated! Please send your well-wishes and good karma in that direction too!

I hope to post news from additional film festivals we hope to attend before the year's end. Our next confirmed award-winning film festival is FirstGlance in Philadelphia, PA on October 22-25, 2009. You can check out the announcement at:

We start our foreign launch in October too.

Thanks to all and stay tuned!

Aug 13, 2009

Interview on Leonard Lopate Show!

Hi friends,
There is a lot of news to report! I've posted recent press and praise coming off our fabulous screenings in LA and NYC as our qualifying Oscar run ends at the IFC Center in NYC tonight. You can find those on the blog. Also, here is an interview from the Leonard Lopate show:
Next week we should have some of our Q&A's posted too!
Stay tuned!

Jul 11, 2009

DOCUWEEKS!!! Are we really qualifying for an Oscar???

Pinch me! I am so excited to tell you that SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS was accepted as 1 of 18 feature films by the International Documentary Association for its annual DOCUWEEKS Theatrical Showcase. By participating in DOCUWEEKS, our film will qualify for the Oscars!!!! press release

There have been so many details that I don't know where to start. We had a major snafu with our post house in NYC. First, they were too busy to help me convert my project to an HDCAM so I had to hunt for an AVID in Arizona. Turns out that no one in Phoenix had the right kind of editing machine that was compatible to what we used in NYC. So I had to find a post facility in Los Angeles. When the project was finally opened, it was apparent that my NYC post house didn't even copy all the files properly!!! in the end I had to rebuild our project. Can you believe it???? I knew I had to redo the sound to make SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS acceptable to Academy standards, but I didn't anticipate having to re-cut the sound simply because original files were missing on the hard drive. It was a nightmare last week, running from Phoenix to LA but thank goodness LA post houses are open 24 hours and there are so many of them in LA that they were also very competitively priced. It all turned out well in the end and we are preparing the DCP process this coming week. (I've no idea what DCP exactly is or does to the picture, but the Academy requires it so it's getting done.) I'm omitting a 1000 details on the 24 hour/7 day process to get this done because I will bore you to tears and I'm wiped out from dealing with it myself. Thinking about it again makes me want to grab another beer. Anyone have an aspirin for this big headache of mine? :)

So what's next? The hard work is done and the IDA will now do their magic and screen SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS in both Los Angeles and New York City. After that I have forms to fill with the Academy and DVD screeners to send by September 1. There will be press and publicity details also. If you are in Los Angeles between July 31 and August 6, or in New York between August 7-13, come see SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS on the big screen!!! It's a great popcorn movie!

Here are the show times and theater details for SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS at DocuWeeks:

LOS ANGELES, July 31 - August 6:

ArcLight Hollywood

6360 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Show times:

Fri 31-Jul 12:00 PM 5:40 PM
Sat 1-Aug 2:00 PM 7:50 PM
Sun 2-Aug 3:55 PM 9:45 PM
Mon 3-Aug 12:00 PM 5:40 PM
Tue 4-Aug 2:00 PM 7:50 PM
Wed 5-Aug 3:55 PM 9:45 PM
Thu 6-Aug 3:55 PM 9:45 PM

NEW YORK CITY, August 7-13:

IFC Center
323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street, New York NY
Show times:

Fri 7-Aug 2:55 PM 9:50 PM
Sat 8-Aug 12:00 PM 4:30 PM
Sun 9-Aug 1:30 PM 6:10 PM
Mon 10-Aug 2:55 PM 7:55 PM
Tue 11-Aug 12:00 PM 4:30 PM
Wed 12-Aug 1:30 PM 6:10 PM
Thu 13-Aug 2:55 PM 7:55 PM

Hope to see you at the movies!


Jun 12, 2009

Pulling Quotes from pullquote reviewing our doc!

Dear fans,

In case you didn't see this comment from a viewer of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, I pulled a few quotes from pullquote for your reading pleasure. You can read the entire blog at

"A confession: I went into this doc with only the vaguest notion of what Up With People ( was, aside from shorthand for clean-scrubbed, conservative, and insipid, and the hope it might shed some insight on a very popular organization that appeals to clean-scrubbed do-gooder youths where I teach, FCA [ask your Christian friends]. Smile 'Til It Hurts, with its mix of talking-head interviews and epically cheesy archival performance footage [the 1986 Super Bowl halftime show!], did much more than deliver the goods. What I discovered about the history of these singing and dancing "radical moderates" was equal parts fascinating and fuuuuucked up."

"Cynical capitalism may have supplanted ideology, but despite it all, the members really believed in the Up mission. And they were like missionaries at first, impressively integrated from the get-go with African-, Asian-, and Native-American members singing and dancing with gusto everywhere from Watts to Washington D.C. alongside bright-eyed white go-getters [like a very young Glenn Close]. Over time, Up With People moved from a missionary to a tuition-based model, and escalating costs resulted in less racial and economic diversity."

"By the early 80s, reports a queeny former cast member, Up With People was a preserve for closet cases. His account drips with scorn, but it's balanced by passionate testimonies from other members, including one African-American woman who tells an amazing story of a Southern tour stop during the Freedom Riders summer. Ultimately, what's remarkable and endless engrossing about Smile is how many of the participants who appear in the doc still cite their time in the troupe as not simply life-changing but positive."

"A final word of warning if you manage to see Smile [and you should]: Good luck getting those earnest, catchy, campy songs--"Which Way, America?" "What Color Is God's Skin?"-- out of your head."

If you see any blogs on Up With People, please let us know. Also, please be sure to let others know about SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS and follow our tweets:

Enjoy the weekend!

Jun 11, 2009

Been tweeting...

It's a shame that I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been busy tweeting---or figuring out how to tweet facts about Up With People and the making of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. Right now I have about 300 followers---which is great! If you are one of them, thank you! If not, you can sign up to follow from the blog page. The thing about tweeting is sending short messages and sending them more often. I think I've tweeted over 200 times by now. But I'm not sure how to get the word out about the film, either in Twitterland or here on the blog. We are still getting 1000s of hits per week on the website and I need to be more diligent in putting up content. For example, I've been promising to put up the Q&A from Slamdance, Florida and now NewFest but haven't done it yet (bad girl!). The trick is cutting the clips down to YouTube length while keeping the visual interest. It just takes time.....anyone got a few minutes to spare?? :)

The other activity has been working with our sales agent, Films Transit, on the next steps toward distribution. We've been focusing on film festivals. I get requests to apply to various festivals every week. Most I haven't heard of before, not because they aren't important festivals, but because I simply don't know the festival circuit. It takes time to coordinate the festival application and materials and "Without A Box" is a big help. I've no idea how to approach the requests made in foreign languages though. :) I'm really enjoying the festivals we've had the priviledge to attend and I hope that we get to participate in many more. The audiences love the SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS and seems to learn a great deal by it. I always get a kick out of being there and expieriencing the laughter, joy, heartbreak and intellectual reactions first hand.

My next blog.....on NewFest!

May 17, 2009

Screening at NEWFEST in NYC June 5!

Hello everyone,

We are screening SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS in New York City at the NEWFEST film festival on Friday, June 5 at 8:15pm. Woohoo!

If you are in New York City, come join us for a fun-filled night at:

School of Visual Arts Theatre
333 West 23rd
Between 8th and 9th Avenue

By Subway
C or E to 23rd Street and 8th Avenue
1 or 9 to 23rd Street and 7th Avenue
F to 23rd Street and 6th Avenue

For tickets, check out the NEWFEST website at:

Here's what they are saying at NEWFEST:

"The amazing true story of the singing phenomenon Up With People, a performing youth group formed by an ultra-conservative religious sect in answer to the 1960’s counter culture movement. This curious tale reveals how the Moral Re-Armament religious movement created this performing group made up of both multiple closeted performers as well as great talents including a young Glenn Close. Was Up With People an uplifting symbol of the power of positive thinking, or a propaganda tool for everyone from the Nixon administration to America’s biggest corporations?"

Come see for yourself and you can decide!

"Up With People---all that and more!"

May 5, 2009

Rocky Mountain Womens Film Festival

News Flash:

On May 3rd in Colorado Springs, SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS screened as a very special sneak preview at the "Best of the Fest" event for the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival. We hope to be back to participate in the main festival from November 6-8, 2009.

Woo hoo! This is so exciting!


Apr 23, 2009

Twitter and then some

Hello friends and followers,
I'm tweeting Up With People factoids under StoreyVision! You can check out tweets on the right side of this blog too.

PS: We had a great private screening in NYC on 4/21. Woohoo! The next private screening will be held in Phoenix, Arizona to those who are in the documentary, plus a few from Up With People headquarters who are anxious to view the film. We'll follow the screening with a lively discussion!

PSS: Look here soon for video postings of the Q&A's. More to come!

Apr 17, 2009

Industry Screening in New York City 4/21

Films Transit is holding a private screening for the industry on April 21 in New York City. This is the day before Tribeca opens. We hope for a good turnout!! If you are interested in attending, email Diana Holtzberg at Seating is limited.

Apr 6, 2009

FULL FRAME screening!

Wow! Although Team Genius had already arrived in Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham-Raleigh, North Carolina and were watching films and enjoying the famed hospitality, I arrived from Orlando in time to watch Wavy Gravy before we screened SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS on 4/3. First, one can't mention the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival without mentioning what a great documentary festival it is---the festival staff and volunteers are truly amazing---and the crowds are enthusiastic and love docs!! It is one of the best organized festivals I've seen and the hospitality is unquestionably grand. Filmmakers are housed at the Durham Marriott hotel---a welcomed change from other venues. After all the travel to/from Phoenix and Florida, I eyed the soft mattress and debated whether to dive into it or run to see Wavy Gravy. Like all good festival goers, I ignored my exhaustion and opted to see another film. And, of course, I was glad I did. Watching Wavy Gravy was like reading between the lines of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. They could be book-ended together as two sides of the same idealistic coin. The films could be called "opposite compliments" that documented stories and people that emerged from the same tumultuous times.

We screened after Wavy Gravy to a fun audience of some 300+ people! I generally know what scenes will bring laughter, but many in this crowd laughed the entire way through---some clapping and stamping their feet to the music or singing along to the bouncing ball!! Can you imagine that? Still others were murmuring or taken aback and literally gasped at the personal stories. The audience was completely responsive and emotionally involved. It turns out there were about a dozen Up With People alumni in the audience. In the Q&A, some alumni spoke about their personal experiences in the organization. Unfortunately I didn't get all this on tape.

I was pleased to learn that the President of the Up With People International Alumni Association was in the audience. She joined Up With People in 1966 at the age of 15, but left in 1968 and dropped off the alumni grid until the 40th reunion in 2005. We spoke for quite some time after the screening. Watching SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS was obviously an emotional experience for her (it is even for people who never participated in Up With People). It struck me that her desire, like many alumni, is that the film will be an opportunity for healing and conversation and that many alumni hope the new cast members will embody the original principles of Up With People (but without the dogma). She wouldn't comment on the film because she believed it was important to see it more than once to allow the emotions to settle and the story to be absorbed. Fantastic! It's definitely an emotionally varied doc that is jam-packed with twists and multi-layered stories so seeing it more than once is good advise.

Hopefully her comment will reach the 20,000 alumni who have yet to see the film, and resonate for non-Uppies who see it also. I had a local TV personality tell me how he was a hippie demonstrator in the 1960s, and that SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS "gave him closure" on the decade because he and his peers "hated Up With People and what they represented" and that "they were the enemy". But after seeing the film, he realized that they were all kids trying to do something positive in the world in a very complex time. It's healthy to come full circle and take a more-measured view of idealistic youthful choices. It's great to see the impact of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS on viewers.

It also strikes me that many alumni forget that when they traveled they were just kids---kids full of hope and optimism and armed with an idealistic vision for a better world. Some view the film (or sadly just the clips on YouTube) through those youthful eyes and find it difficult to step back and view the organization in a historical and cultural context. They fear to delve into a conversation about the choices made. Much was at play on the world's chessboard, from politics and religion to corporate markets, race and freedom. That doesn't invalidate a positive youthful experience. SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS takes a broader viewpoint than participating in what some might simply call a singing cultural exchange program.

So go see it!
And see it again!

Because I took a flight back to Florida early the next day, I didn't get to spend nearly as much time in Full Frame as I would have liked. But our team was there and they had a fantastic time. It's a great social network, a festival packed with thoughtful docs, and set in a city with southern hospitality that is top notch. Be sure to put Full Frame on your calendar and attend next season. It's worth it! And from all of us at SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS: thank you to all the staff and volunteers at Full Frame who made the experience especially wonderful. It was a memorable time for all of us!

Florida Film Festival---MANY THOUGHTS!

On April 2, we screened at the Enzian Theater with a few more Up With People alumni in attendance. What a great venue---intimate dinner theater and the weather was perfect. I was a bit anxious about the Q&A because I knew several Up With People alumni would be coming, most of whom never knew how Up With People formed and were kept in the dark about the organization's past. I think it was an eye-opener for everyone as the complex story unfolded. I was delighted to hear so many emotional responses freely expressed during the film, not to mention the chatter afterwards!

Our screenings at the Florida Film Festival were sponsored by Women in Film and Television. I can't say enough positive things about the Women In Film organization, let alone the terrific support from the Florida Film Festival staff and volunteers. It was an honor to be hosted by such amazing people!. I learned that the General Manager of the Florida Film Festival even used the opening clips of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS as instructional material for the volunteer program. How cool is that?!He wanted the volunteers to express the fun and enthusiasm of Up With People throughout the festival. These organizations are top notch in every category. If you have an opportunity to sponsor them or join, please do. :)

Our screening audience was lively and the Q&A was vibrant. I received a few questions about the postings on YouTube and comments from alumni who expressed reservations about how gays were treated in the organization. Some suggested that the "gay issue" was a reflection of the decade more than UWP's recent history. Others said they always knew that there were gays in the cast, even in the 60s and 70s, so it was never a big deal and they didn't need to mention it. All I can say is that the film includes Eric Roos' personal experience while traveling in UWP. Since posting clips on YouTube, I have also received numerous emails from gays who traveled with UWP in various decades---even as recently as 2009---all of whom expressed appreciation for putting the subject out in the open. I also received one email from a 2007 alumni who claimed nearly all categories of sexual preference (the majority of which I'll admit I didn't even know existed), and that he was out in the open and accepted among his UWP cast peers. Given UWP's mission to be open and accepting of all cultures, races and sexual orientations, there should be no reason to run from the issue even now. Perhaps it's an opportunity to listen rather than react out of fear or feel the need to defend.

Glenn Close appeared at the Florida Film Festival the day after our screening. She was present for a Q&A after the screening of Fatal Attractions. Although numerous people in the audience were wearing SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS buttons, Glenn Close made it clear that she did not want to talk about her experiences growing up in Moral ReArmament and her acting, song and script writing years in Up With People. I don't blame her. It was an intense experience for my husband who kept his own prior involvement secret from me for nearly 15 years. I wasn't in the audience when she held her Q&A, but I hope some day we will have the opportunity to meet. I probably know more than most.

I left the Florida Film Festival for a screening of our documentary at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival on Friday 4/3 (see next blog), and returned to the Florida Film Festival on Saturday 4/4. Yes, I was exhausted from the puddle jump flights back and forth!! But because Florida was the first film festival I ever attended as a member of the audience, I wanted to participate in the rest of the festival and spend time with a local group of film students from Central Florida State who volunteered with enthusiasm to help promote SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. These kids were terrific. They donned themselves with retro clothing and passed out postcards and posters to willing recipients. I hear that some even sang the "Up With People" song they learned from watching the film. The team helped with everything including giving directions to a "navigationally challenged" person like me. One team member even filmed the Q&A. I hope to post that on YouTube soon.

I am smiling thinking about the closing party event at the Maitland Arts Center Saturday night. Have you ever heard of a "Frito Pie"? The event had a classy outdoor atmosphere with an amazing jazz band, and the food was a topic of conversation that made the event happily informal at the same time. The food reminded me of camping with the Girl Scouts. Who would think of opening a bag of Frito Lay corn chips, dumping in spoonfuls of chili and topping that with cheese, green onions and sour cream? I didn't try it because I had just taken the film students out to eat at the Cheese Cake Factory and I was stuffed from the Key Lime cheesecake (my favorite). Still, I really enjoyed watching people eat from a bag a Fritos and talk about how unique an experience that was. Maybe for those from the MidWest (where it's rumored that this food speciality originated) this is old news, but most of those attending the closing night event at the Florida Film Festival had never seen it before---let alone this gal from Phoenix. And dessert? Well, that consisted of a marshmallow on a stick----flame broiled to perfection then rolled in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Had the Key Lime cheesecake not been enough, I would have tried the new twist on the old fashioned S'more. Instead I watched enthusiasts go back for more. :)

Apr 2, 2009

Florida at the Enzian!!

Hello friends and followers!
I am anxiously awaiting our screening of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS at the Enzian Theater here at the Florida Film Festival. We had a great TV interview this morning. I had to hunt down a local Starbucks to use the internet, but mostly I needed caffeine. :) This will be our second screening here at the festival. The last screening on 3/28 was a fantastic experience with a great audience, some of whom were Up With People alumni and even a member of Blanton Belk's family (Blanton Belk was the Founder of UWP). Naturally there were many questions and I understand that the internet is buzzing on the Uppie Hotline, some even questioning my motives in making the film---well, I did have one, and that was to uncover my husband's past and tell the truth about the history of the organization. It's not a Pollyanna story by any means, but the 4 star review in the Orlando Sentinel is worth reading. (See attached press links.) The film doesn't shy away from anything, including the positive virtues and values of the Up With People organization and relevant historical experiences. But people will have to judge for themselves. Today I hope the Q&A is just as lively as it was last Saturday. And, I also hope Glenn Close will see it someday. She will be here at the Florida Film Festival tomorrow with a special screening of Fatal Attractions.

It's a whirlwind down here in steamy Florida. (Coming from Phoenix, every place with humidity is steamy!) The Festival has be great to work with and I'm delighted to be here.

Mar 23, 2009

Full Frame Screening Day Announced!

We are thrilled to screen SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham-Raleigh, North Carolina. YAHOO!!!! The date at time is:

Friday April 3
4:45 pm
Durham Convention Center
Cinema 4

If you are in the area, come see the screening at Full Frame! A Q&A will follow.
Hope to see you there!

Feb 13, 2009

Why the Florida Film Festival is special!

Hello everyone!

We are thrilled to screen at the Florida Film Festival in 2009! Check it out at It's an exciting venue not far from Walt Disney World in Orlando---one of the "happiest places on earth".

This is a special location for me for several reasons.

First, it's sort of a "homecoming" because the very first film festival I ever attended was the Florida Film Festival. That was many years ago and long before I had any notion whatsoever of documenting Up With People or becoming a filmmaker. I have fond memories of that experience so it is especially meaningful to have made a film that will screen at the Enzian. Thank you Florida Film Festival for the opportunity!

Second, the very first Up With People album was endorsed by John Wayne, Pat Boone, and (drum roll please) Walt Disney himself! On the cover, Walt Disney wrote that Up With People was "The happiest most hard-hitting way of saying what America's all about that I have ever seen or heard." I've often equated Up With People with Disney's "It's A Small World" ride. What's wrong with that? The popular Disney ride displays dolls dressed in costumes that represent more than 100 nations while singing the "it's a small world" song lyrics in 5 languages. World boundaries dissolve and continents are connected with an angelic all-white colored finale by this singular song. It's a work of cultural art and one of the first rides I take when visiting the Magic Kingdom, especially with little children at hand. Who wouldn't want that happy hope of unity branded in our brains? Up With People is quite similar, I think. Cast members have come from 89 countries, many of whom dress in the costume of their culture while performing universal togetherness on stage. And the Up With People song has been sung in numerous languages, even Swahili. But with both, those two catchy songs keep repeating in my head long after leaving the experience. I guess that's the point.

Wait! In 1964, Walt Disney created "It's a Small World" for the New York World's Fair. Up With People performed at the World's Fair too! So which came first? Up With People or Disney's "It's a Small World"?

Third, we had the opportunity to interview the first cast of the "new" Up With People in Venice, Florida in 2005. The youth were positively positive and a lot of fun, especially off camera at the local beach taco bar. We got to participate in a host family experience and break bread together. We also followed the cast around as they volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, community tree planting, and as they prepared back stage for the show. Venice has a median age of 78. That's not a typo. My father used to live there. He called himself a local Q-Tip because most people had white hair and wore white tennis shoes. I think the audience at the Venice High School certainly appreciated the energy of youth on stage. Unfortunately it didn't relay well on camera so we couldn't use it in the documentary. Still, it was a genuine experience of idealistic youth on the road.

Onward to Florida!

Jan 31, 2009


I plan to send personal hand-written cards to those who helped make the World Premiere of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS possible. For me, there is something a little more special about taking the time to write people the 'old fashioned way' rather than sending an email. I've purchased the cards and stamps and started writing to the cast, crew, consultants, venue operators and support staff. Eventually they will all be posted via snail mail.

But in the meantime, I want to send a special "shout out" to Eric Roos via the blog. He is a key character in the film and brings a boat load of humor to the screen. Eric attended various Sundance events with me to promote the film, and he gave a stellar interview on CNN. We thought the interview would last 15 minutes tops, but they kept the tape rolling for nearly an hour. I hear he shined on the French Canal + television and that Paris loves him singing on Main Street. Eric is a natural. He is witty and insightful, and has an uncanny ability to cut through the mire and provide an authentic perspective on numerous topics. He is also very generous!

Eric supplied us with some of the best SWAG available at Sundance. When we arrived at our condo, there were 14 large boxes of Nancy Boy natural body care products---soaps, shampoos, lotions---even shaving cream. A team of elves worked diligently to sort and pack the high-end Nancy Boy SWAG in gift bags that were handed out to guests at the SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS party. These were highly coveted items and nothing was left to spare! I attended several Sundance parties, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Nancy Boy products were a cut above everything else. Check out the array of Nancy Boy products at Lather up! I'm telling you it is some of the best natural body care products on the market.

Thank you, Eric!

Jan 24, 2009

Slamdance Ends

It's nearly 2:30 am in Park City. Am I really up this late? Slamdance ended tonight with great fanfare. It was a pleasure being invited and premiering at this festival. They are a rollicking and edgy tribe!

Tomorrow we head for Salt Lake City to fly back to our respective home towns. Yes, we are exhausted but content. We gave Park City every ounce of our energy. It was a fantastic experience few get to have. I'm privileged to be among the few and I know it, especially because we rode in on an elephant with such a great team.

I will blog later on the parties. People look past each other. They never really say "hi". It's entertaining to watch if you don't take it personally.

Onward to Florida Film Festival! (But first, sleep!)

Jan 23, 2009

Second Screening a Great Success!

I can't believe we failed to post about the success of the second screening at Slamdance. It was terrific!!! The sold out crowd found the doc to be engaging and many commented on how they hoped it would bring healing to Up With People members and the general public. It is a special privilege to watch audiences respond to the film, laughing out loud, clapping with enthusiasm, or fully captivated at tender moments. Our Q&A was as vibrant at the second screening as the first when some of the Up With People alumni were in the audience. Among the first questions asked is how Glenn Close views the film, or more appropriately, whether she is coming to accept the reality of her past as a child growing up in Moral Re-Armament and performing in Up With People for many years. I can't speak to how Glenn Close may react to the archival footage of her early acting and singing career in the final cut of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. However, after seeing a rough cut of the doc she told our Executive Producer, Jack Lechner, that she felt the film was "too balanced for her taste." Jack says she wanted the film to be more critical of Up With People, but for me I don't think that would have been fair. I can only speak to my husband's experience and how difficult it was for him to reflect on his experiences with Up With People and how he felt that as the front African American speaker for a group that was predominantly white, how he felt he was "an apologist" for what was going on in the world, and that because he was excited to be with the group moving in high places around the world, he "gave them what they wanted."

How often do we do that? Give people what they want? I think for some Up With People alumni I am not giving them what they want, but from many others who have written to me I am being thanked for presenting a fair story. This is no puff piece, but we did strive to present the truth behind the smiley upbeat organization---good and bad---as reflected by members. For those that have never heard of Up With People and who have attended the screenings, they keep talking about it and the relevance of the doc today. The human experiences expressed in the film goes beyond the Up With People organization itself. That is what makes this director smile. I'm even overhearing comments coming from people sitting near me in other screenings---there is a lot of buzz in the air!

Jan 22, 2009

Park City TV

Check out the SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS interview on Park City TV:

Click on the video stream on the left side of the screen, the click on January 22, 2009 and watch the Mountain View Show with Ori Hoffer at 6pm.


Jan 21, 2009

Sales Agents Announced

We are pleased to announce that Films Transit will be representing SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS on our worldwide sales. They are true masters in selling quality documentaries so we are thrilled to be associated with this outstanding company!!

Check them out at

Jan 19, 2009

Thoughts On Our World Premiere

WOW! WOW! WOW! How's that for a start? :)

Cast and crew arrived on Friday to a whirlwind of activity on Main Street and all were anxiously awaiting our premiere Saturday night. John and Patty Sayre, John and Ann Parker, Linda Blackmore Cates and Eric Roos---all of whom were involved in Up With People and are featured in SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS---were among those that joined us for the screening. It was their first opportunity to see it and participate in an electric and emotionally moving Q&A that followed. I was surprised that the first questions would be about Glenn Close and her participation in Up With People. I was even more surprised when Linda Blackmore Cates delivered a moving and thoughtful response. We hope to post a video of the Q&A soon. It was a sold out show and the audience responded with great enthusiasm---laughing at times, perhaps tearful at others. There is no doubt all left still thinking about the experience of the film.

The premiere was followed by a party at The Spur. Although Jim Carrey RSVP'd to our guest list, he didn't show. Neither did Robert Redford or Ben Affleck (but then again, I didn't ask them to come when we met a couple of nights ago.) However, we did have a great rock band from Phoenix perform for us: Crisis! They traveled to join our celebration and play a song written especially for SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS called "Stand Up!". Check out their website and listen for yourself. . A highlight of the party was to see Jeff Dowd (aka "The Dude") and Jack Lechner sing "Honky Tonk Woman" on stage with the band. It was a crowd pleaser to be sure, and they were good!! Hopefully I can post a clip of that soon too.

The next day was a blur with cast and crew leaving Park City, various press and TV interviews and yes, more parties!!! We are now gearing up for our second screening tomorrow night. If it is anything like the first, I'm confident we will have another lively audience followed by another thought-provoking Q&A.


Jan 16, 2009

Slamdance Rocks!

It is hard to describe the energy of Park City the festival season! Yes, there are "stars" walking down the street, cameras flashing, people hoping to buy tickets to a show while huffing and puffing up and down Main Street to take in all the festivities, entertainment and ancillary buzz.

Everyone at Slamdance is so helpful and supportive. We are all thrilled to be here and tomorrow is our big World Premiere....

So what have we been doing since arriving Wednesday night? Pitch, network, pitch, pass out SWAG and pitch some more! It's hard work promoting a film at Slamdance when the eyes of the industry are on the next Sundance film. Still, we are having a ball on Main Street and we have an effective team that is going above and beyond to tell the industry that SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS is a film to watch. Competition is tough but that's what makes it all so interesting. There are many talented people with outstanding films that are being shown here (like Mary & Max---an amazing animated human story!). It's humbling to be screening among them!

Today was extra special for me because several members of the cast and crew arrived. Obviously I knew they were coming, but to see them all together was a bit overwhelming. They have traveled from Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, New York and Nashville to join us as we celebrate the screening together. Not only that, they put jet-lag and the high altitude aside and joined a happy throng as we strolled down Main Street signing Up With People songs. They dressed up in matching hot pink hats, gloves and scarfs and started at Slamdance in front of the Treasure Mountain Inn, and then caroled down Main Street to the pleasure of the crowd. It was incredible to watch the crowds gather, walk, smile and sometimes sing with us. People were happy. Yes, people were very happy on Main Street today. :)

We sang and smiled to camera of our own..... I think we'll be on the French news?

Tonight I am off to parties. At the last one, I had the opportunity to meet Ben Affleck and invite him to see our movie. Our Executive Producer, Jack Lechner, worked with Ben on Good Will Hunting. Jack thought Ben should see SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS, but we are happy to know he is going home to his new daughter!! I also met Robert Redford. He opened the Sundance festival last night and introduced a documentary at the Temple Theater tonight. Killer smile, and his eyes really do sparkle. He could have been an Uppie.

Can't wait for what comes next!

Jan 13, 2009

Team Genius

I leave for Park City tomorrow morning and I haven't packed yet. We have been so busy working on details to make this the best screening possible that I can't believe our World Premiere is nearly here! Our publicist is diligently working the press, a marketing consultant is promoting the film, a fabulous party is planned at The Spur on Main Street, and we have engaged a sales agent in the happy event that our film will be sold someday soon. In addition to figuring out what to take to the brisk, oxygen-deprived mountains in Utah, I'm also fretting about the "Q&A." As a lawyer, you'd think I'd be able to speak easily on my feet. But this is different for many reasons, not to mention the emotions converging around the launch of a relevant, complex and entertaining documentary made by a first time filmmaker.

When I started this creative endeavor, a dear friend told me to enjoy the process of making the film because I may never have another chance. (It was sort of like Warren Zevon suggesting we 'enjoy every sandwich'....) I've often thought of that when the challenges of making a film seemed overwhelming---and there were many---yet I must say that above all, my greatest joy has been working with so many wonderful people who have invested their time, energy and creative resources to make this project successful. Without each and everyone of them, this launch would not be possible.

I will forever tip my hat to Team Genius, with sincere thanks and life long appreciation.

Jan 10, 2009

Gathering SMILE SWAG!

Postcards have arrived!
Posters have arrived!
Buttons have arrived!
Big Smiley Face Chapstick has arrived!
And goodie bags are being assembled for the SMILE party to follow the screening!
Yes, we have SMILE SWAG!