Feature documentary to
screen at DOC NYC, November 11th.

CHICAGO— The United States is the only
country in the developed world that does not guarantee its citizens paid family
leave. In the new documentary Zero Weeks,
which premiers November 11 at DOC NYC in New York City, director Ky Dickens
explores the impact of that policy on families dealing with the birth of a
child, a medical crisis or an aging parent.  For many Americans, especially those with
low incomes, it comes down to a choice between keeping a job and caring for
someone they love.
Dickens, who directs advertising projects through STORY,
explores the issue of paid leave through personal stories and expert testimony.
We meet a young woman who, following the birth of a child, loses her job at a
daycare center and ends up on food stamps. Another woman, battling cancer,
receives chemotherapy treatments on her lunch break to avoid missing work.

The film pointedly shows that the 1993 Family and Medical
Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for some workers, is of
little use to lower income Americans who can’t afford to go without a paycheck.
There are, however, hopeful signs as Dickens follows the recent successful
effort to enact the nation’s most generous paid leave act in New York State.
Among her interview subjects are New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,
Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and
Ellen Bravo, director of Family Values @ Work Consortium, which advocated in
favor of the New York law.
Dickens became interested in the subject of paid leave
after her daughter was born. “I was working for a small production company at
the time and it could afford to give me only two weeks of paid leave,” she
recalls. “I had assumed that all women got three months of maternity leave. In
terms of paid leave, the United States lags countries like China, Venezuela and
will screen at DOC NYC, the country’s largest and most
prestigious documentary film festival, on November 11th at 11:15
a.m. in the School of Visual Arts Theatre in Chelsea. The screening will be
followed by a Q&A session with Bravo and DeLauro, as well as Dickens and members
of her production team. Other upcoming screenings include one in Washington DC,
hosted by Gillibrand. Ultimately, Dickens is aiming for a distribution
agreement with a major studio or streaming service.
Dickens’ previous work includes Sole Survivor, a profile of four survivors of otherwise fatal plane
crashes that premiered on CNN in 2014. Her 2009 feature Fish Out of Water won four juror prizes and secured international
distribution by Netflix and First Run Features. On the advertising side,
her work includes commercials and branded content for Tylenol, Sears, Hallmark,
McDonald’s, Koehler, Purina, Huggies, Ronald McDonald House Charities and
Wrangler.  She is featured on the highly competitive “Free the Bid” list
of the top recommended female directors in America.
Ultimately, Dickens hopes that Zero Weeks will raise awareness for an issue that too long has
languished on the fringe. “Paid leave doesn’t only mean maternity leave,” she
notes. “It applies if you become sick or injured, if your spouse or your child
becomes sick or injured, or if you have to care for an aging parent. It affects
virtually every person in America.”
STORY is represented on the East Coast by Ilene Silberman (212)
794-9030; in the Midwest by Amy McIntyre (312) 550-2554, in the Southeast by
Miller + Associates, (954) 563-6004; in the Southwest by Gossip!, (214)
288-2813 and on the West Coast by Yvette Lubinsky, (310) 827-2626.
For more
information, visit http://www.storyco.tv/
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