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

    official selection Full Frame 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 a PDF of the press notes, click on the link below.

     

    To download a PDF of the press notes, right click (or ctl click)
    the link below, then select “save target as” or “save link as” to save to your hard drive.

     

     

    PDF icon Raising Renee Press Notes

     

     

     

    STUDY GUIDE AVAILABLE

    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