The story of acclaimed artist Beverly McIver and her promise to take her sister Renee (who is mentally disabled) when their mother dies — a promise that comes due just as Beverly’s career is taking off.

“In a notable fusion of subject and film, the same themes that fuel the artist’s distinguished body of work—race, class, family, disability—propel this cinematic portrait. Both are a testament to the transformative power of art. ” — Full Frame Film Festival

Emmy nominee – Best Arts and Culture Programming
Produced in association with HBO Documentary Films

2011, 82 min.

Raising Renee film

Emmy award nominee

best documentary syracuse film festival

Audience Award Independent Film Festival Boston

Full Frame Film Festival

Minneapolis St. Paul Int. Film Festival - Official Selection

Focus Film Festival

Raising Renee film

“McIver is a pure, effervescent delight!” – Slant Magazine

“Touching and very personal.”
– New York Times

“Fascinating… Takes you into territories that you might not have visited before. Deeply moving.” – About.com

“Extraordinary!”
– Blackfilm.com

“The latest documentary from filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan again proves the couple’s uncanny ability to mine a situation for endless nuances of behavior and experience.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“Raising Renee will touch many cords in viewers. It not only speaks to disabilities and care giving but also racism, poverty and the cultural generational shift in families today.” – Disaboom

Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film

Renee and Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film

CLICK TO EXPAND
“Touching and very personal.” – Neil Genzlinger – The New York Times

“Fascinating. Takes you into territories that you might not have visited before. Deeply moving.” – Jennifer Merin – About.com  

“The latest documentary from filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan again proves the couple’s uncanny ability to mine a situation for endless nuances of behavior and experience.” – Ty Burr – Boston Globe

“Raising Renee will touch many cords in viewers. It not only speaks to disabilities and care giving but also racism, poverty and the cultural generational shift in families today.” – Disaboom

“Powerful. An effective portrait of both the artistic process and family relationships. Highly recommended!” ☆ ☆ ☆ 1/2 – Video Librarian

“McIver is a pure, effervescent delight!” – Slant Magazine

“The film lays bare Beverly’s mixed emotions, showing the transforming effect the situation had on both sisters.  Touches upon such diverse themes as artistic endeavors, family, race, and disability, ultimately showing that family bonds run deep and have the power to change people in ways beyond imagination.” – Booklist

“An incredibly honest and intimate portrait of two sisters vying for their own independence, whether they know it or not. From the very beginning, the film grips you.” – Melissa Hanson – Movie Buzzers

“Extraordinary!” – Wilson Morales – Blackfilm.com

“In a notable fusion of subject and film, the same themes that fuel the artist’s distinguished body of work—race, class, family, disability—propel this cinematic portrait. Both are a testament to the transformative power of art. ” – Full Frame Film Festival

“Patient and graceful. Scenes range from the monumental to the mundane. Beverly assumes the role of caretaker with a mix of love, frustration, honesty, lonliness and vigor.” – Sarah Kricheff – Artinfo.com

“A powerful new documentary.” – Noah Wunsch – New York Press

“At once intimate and detached, observational and interactive, these relationships [between Bevery, Renee and the filmmakers] turn into a series of questions in the film, concerning the ways portraits can reveal and also reframe artists and subjects.” – Cynthia Fuchs – Popmatters.com

“A compelling portrait of the difficulties and pleasures of siblings, one of whom is mentally disabled.” – Tarice Gray – The Defenders Online

“Simply an incredible film.  Subject, cinematography, story, editing and pace are superb. Ascher and Jordan have developed a sophisticated shooting approach and masterful editing strategy. The film tells a compelling story that is a testament to the importance — and drama — of daily life.  This is truly documentary filmmaking at its finest.” – Tom Debiaso – Minneapolis Film Festival, Professor, former Dean, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

 

ON-AIR and PRINT INTERVIEWS

New York Times – feature piece on the film

NPR – THE TAKEAWAY

Boston Globe

WBAI

THE CALLIE CROSSLEY SHOW

DIAL GLOBAL

KXLU – CENTERSTAGE with MARK GORDON

WESTWOOD ONE

Q104.3 – SUNDAYS WITH SHELLI

 

FEATURED LISTINGS

“The Week Ahead” and “What’s on Today”

The New York Times

“Best Bets”

New York Post

“On TV”

Washington Post

New York Observer
Chicago Sun-Times

Columbus Dispatch
Daily Motion

Indyweek

Stage and Screen

South Coast Today

Star Pulse

Phillyburbs

PopMatters

Sibling Leadership Network

Tiny Mix Tapes

Vimooz

BROADCASTS:

HBO

AVRO Netherlands broadcast

SVT Sweden broadcast

Knowledge Canada broadcast

 

SELECTED SCREENINGS:

Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC

San Diego Museum of Art

Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC

Minneapolis Film Festival

Focus Film Festival

North Carolina Central University

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival

Yale University

School for Visual Arts – NYC

North Carolina Museum of Art

Arizona State University

Syracuse Film Festival – Winner, Best Documentary

University at Albany

Woods Hole Film Festival

Independent Film Festival Boston – Winner, Audience Award

Full Frame Film Festival

RAISING RENEE began with an offhand promise. In 2003, Jeannie was a
fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, working on our film,
SO MUCH SO FAST. In the next studio was Beverly McIver, working on a
set of paintings about her life. They developed a friendship and Beverly
talked about the promise she’d casually made her mother Ethel that she’d
take care of her older sister Renee, who is intellectually disabled, if anything happened to Ethel. She was just starting to grasp what that might mean and pleaded jokingly for advice on how to get out of it.

We were fascinated by Beverly, her talent as a painter, her instinctive
storytelling—and the idea of her promise. Ethel, a maid in Greensboro,
North Carolina who had cared for Renee for 43 years, was strong and
healthy and no one had any idea of how the story would play out, but we
started filming a few scenes while we worked on other projects.

Six years later, the result is RAISING RENEE, a feature documentary that captures the McIver family’s saga of reinventing itself. The film is the third in our trilogy about remarkable families which includes the Oscar-nominated TROUBLESOME CREEK: A MIDWESTERN (about the Jordan family, threatened with the loss of their Iowa farm) and SO MUCH SO FAST (Sundance selection and Frontline feature about the Heywood family, threatened with the loss of their son to Lou Gehrig’s disease). All three films begin at a moment of crisis and take a longitudinal approach to uncover meanings that are only visible by filming over years, through an intimacy with our subjects forged by time.

We approached each of these films with an eye toward plot and the inherent drama of everyday life. At first glance the storyline may seem deceptively straightforward. But embedded in it is an exploration of family relations, race and class in America, and intellectual disability. Audiences sometimes approach these issues with clichéd assumptions —assumptions we seek to upend with the complexity of actual life. Beverly’s gift to her sister can be seen as heroic, but the film is just as interested in the conflicted feelings that come with that gift, which gets closer to the true nature of heroism.

RAISING RENEE is in part about the relationship of art-making and lived
experience. Audiences see events as filmed by our camera and as
interpreted in Beverly’s art, giving them a privileged position to examine the interactions of painting, life and film. Beverly’s canvases become another character in themselves.

The three films in this trilogy were long-term commitments because we’re interested in time – time for our characters’ lives to unfold, and time to elucidate layers of interconnections through story, structure, image and sound.

— Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan

Beverly McIver was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1962. She is the youngest of three girls born to Ethel McIver. Her oldest sister Renee is mentally disabled. Renee is 48 but has the mindset of a second grader. Beverly is Renee’s legal guardian.

Beverly is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art in general and has charted a new direction as an African- American woman artist.  She is committed to producing art that consistently examines racial, gender, social and occupational identity. Her sister Renee is a frequent subject of the artist as well as other family members.

Her work is in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, N.C., the Baltimore Museum of Art, the NCCU Museum of Art , the Asheville Museum of Art, The Crocker
Art Museum and the Nelson Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Arizona
State University.

She is currently Esbenshade Professor of the Practice in Studio Arts at Duke University. Prior to this appointment, McIver taught at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. for twelve years, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University.  She has also held residencies at many of the nation’s leading artist communities, including YADDO, the Headland Center for the Arts, Djerassi, and Penland School of Crafts. She has served on the board at Penland School of Arts and Crafts and currently serves on the board of directors at YADDO in Saratoga Springs, NY.

McIver’s work has been reviewed in Art News, Art in America The New York Times and a host of local newspapers.  She has received numerous grants and awards including the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation grant, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation award, a distinguished Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and Creative Capital grant.

McIver earned a bachelor’s degree in art from North Carolina Central University, a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pennsylvania State University and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina Central University.

FILM STILLS & POSTER

To download a hi res version, click on an image which will open in a new window, then right click (or ctl click) the hi res image, then select “save image as” to save to your hard drive.

Raising-Renee_McIver-Embrace_300dpi

Embrace. Photo credit: (c) Beverly McIver, courtesy Betty Cuningham Gallery

Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film

Beverly McIver in Raising Renee

 

Mammy by Beverly McIver

Mammy by Beverly McIver

Renee and Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film

Renee and Beverly McIver in Raising Renee (c) West City Films, Inc.

 

Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film

Beverly McIver in Raising Renee film (c) West City Films

Beverly and Renee McIver in Raising Renee film

Beverly and Renee McIver in Raising Renee film (c) West City Films

Ethel McIver in Raising Renee

Ethel McIver in Raising Renee (c) West City Films, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Renee Poster /DVD front cover

Raising Renee Poster /DVD front cover

PRESS NOTES

To view and/or save a PDF of the press notes, click on the link below.

pdfIcon Raising Renee Press Notes

 

 

To view and/or save a PDF of the study guide, click on the link below.

Raising Renee Study GuideSTUDY GUIDE

For Social Work Educators and Students
(c) 2013 Council on Social Work Education   For more on CSWE


RAISING RENEE

Full Credits

 

 

Produced, and directed by

JEANNE JORDAN   &   STEVEN ASCHER

Cinematography & Sound
STEVEN ASCHER

Editing
JEANNE JORDAN

Music by
SHELDON MIROWITZ

 

Additional Sound
JEANNE JORDAN
ANDY COON

 

Music Themes
SHELDON MIROWITZ
STEVEN ASCHER

 

Vocal on Slip Away
TIM PIKE

Production Assistant
JORDAN ASCHER

Re-recording Mixer
RICHARD BOCK

 

Color Correction & Online
MICHAEL AMUNDSON

 

Online Edit
THE OUTPOST

Post consultant
MARK SPENCER

Transcripts
MULBERRY STUDIOS
NEW ENGLAND TRANSCRIPTS
Producers’ Representative
LOUISE ROSEN

 

Legal Counsel
SANDRA FORMAN

 

Fiscal Agent
CALLIOPE FILM RESOURCES

 

Insurance
CAROLYN NORTON
C&S International Insurance Brokers

 

Music Clearance
CHERYL COOPER

 

Video at Ethel’s Funeral
KIM CURRY-EVANS

 

MORNINGSIDE HOMES FOOTAGE
Courtesy of Andy Coon

 

GREENSBORO SIT-INS
Photographs by John G. Moebes
Courtesy of Corbis

 

GREENSBORO MASSACRE FOOTAGE
Filmed by Ed Boyd
Courtesy of BBC Motion Gallery

 

RADIO BROADCAST
Courtesy of Joseph Level WQMG/WEAL

 

SLIP AWAY
Written by Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell & William Armstrong
Performed by Sheldon Mirowitz & Tim Pike
Published by EMI

 

Website

MATT McMAKIN

Civilized Digital

SPECIAL THANKS

Roni & Hobson Bryant
Sharon Brooks
Lonnie & Olivia Brooks
Cardrew Davis
Boots & Dan Hinkle
Betty Hall McMasters

 

THANK YOU

Addison Gallery of American Art
Arizona State University
Sara Archambault
Association of Retarded Citizens, Orange County
Alexandra Anthony
Julie Bernson
Stephanie Brenner
Melissa & Ernie Button
David Carbone
Melvin Carver
Barbara Caver
Susan Chandler
Julie Codell
Randall Conrad
Andy Coon
Christine Dall
Nancy Doll
Chris Fournelle
Bill Glasgow
Ruth Hammell

Lisa Heller
Bill Isaacs
Michael Joerling
Paula Johnson
Dawn Kane
Kent Gallery
Rev. Vernon C. King
Robin Scott-King
Lyda Kuth
Donna Langman
Lesley Leduc
LewAllen Contemporary Gallery
Tim Mangini
Robb Moss

Atiyah Muhammad
Brandon Murphy

Sheila Nevins
Carol Nobles
Susan Noonan-Forster
North Carolina State University
Kathryn Ostermier
Shirley Henderson Palmer
Ron Platt
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Elaina Richardson
Mark Robbins
Harriet Ross
Raphael Rubinstein
James Rutenbeck
St. James Baptist Church
Chris Santa Maria
Susanne Simpson
Bennett Singer
Brad Snodgrass
Jane Tyndall
Talamas Company
Judith Vichniac
Douglas Walla
Weatherspoon Museum
Jill Williams
Robert Wills
Yaddo
Adam Zucker

 

 

For Home Box Office:
Supervising Producer
LISA HELLER

 

For Home Box Office:
Executive Producer
SHEILA NEVINS

 

A production of
WEST CITY FILMS, INC.

 

With support from:
LEF FOUNDATION

In association with
HBO, KNOWLEDGE NETWORK

RAISING RENEE
© West City Films, Inc, MMXI

 

Dedicated to
ETHEL MCIVER
1930 – 2004

SEE THE FILM

Beverly McIver - "Can you hear me scream" in Raising Renee film

Official film site – RAISING RENEE – a film by Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher