Until the end of 2004, when she became an independent producer, Cohen was co-director of Women's Educational Media (WEM), a nonprofit organization specializing in the production and distribution of social issue documentaries. She is the co-creator of WEM's acclaimed Respect for All Project, a program that produces cutting edge films, curriculum guides and training resources to help prevent prejudice among young people. Cohen spearheaded the Project's outreach and teacher-training program, which has been recognized nationally as a model for using film to affect progressive social change. Cohen's producing credits include all of the films in the Respect for All series: It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School, the groundbreaking film for parents and educators that aired on over 100 public television stations nationally; That's a Family!, the inspiring, award-winning film for elementary school kids about family diversity that screened to a packed room of educators and child advocates at the White House in 2000; and Let's Get Real, a powerful documentary about young teens' experiences with name-calling and bullying that has been endorsed by the National Education Association, Teaching Tolerance, and many others.
Cohen has also directed, produced and/or executive produced documentary projects for public interest clients, including the Institute for Community Economics (Homes & Hands: Community Land Trusts in Action), the California Nurses Association, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Island Affordable Housing Fund of Martha's Vineyard. Through her new venture, Open Studio Productions, Cohen continues to make independent and commissioned films, as well as consult with other filmmakers, artists, foundations, and educational institutions. She is an avid painter and the parent of a school-age daughter. To contact Helen S. Cohen, e-mail Helen@openstudioproductions.com.
Films by Helen Cohen
Streets of Dreams presents inspiring portraits of grassroots activists in communities of color who are using a community land trust to preserve affordable housing and promote development without the displacement of longtime residents.
Arc of Justice traces the remarkable journey of New Communities, Inc. and the struggle for racial justice and economic empowerment among African Americans in southwest Georgia.
NCI was created in 1969 by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Albany, Georgia to help secure economic independence for African American families. For fifteen years, NCI cooperatively farmed nearly 6000 acres of land despite racist attacks and refusals by federal agencies to provide grants or loans. Its land was lost to foreclosure in 1985, but 25 years later NCI was given new life as a result of a successful class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of African American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Winner of multiple audience awards, States of Grace intimately captures the profound transformation of a revered physician and her family in the wake of a life-changing accident.
With blunt and sometimes hilarious candor, children from over 50 diverse families open the door to their homes, and explain things like "divorce," "mixed race," "gay and lesbian," "birth mom," "single parent," "guardian," and "stepdad" -- and get right to the point of what they wish other people would understand about their families.
Three tenacious and visionary communities deliver the American dream of owning a home to low-income residents.
It's Elementary takes cameras into classrooms across the U.S. to look at one of today's most controversial issues - whether and how LGBT issues should be discussed in schools.
Name-calling and bullying have reached epidemic proportions in schools today. Let's Get Real gives young people the chance to speak up in their own words about the real issues behind the problem.