‘For Once In My Life’ Featured In 2012 American Film Showcase

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State Department Selects Documentary Showing How People with Disabilities Work to Inspire Audiences

For Once in My Life, a film about The Spirit of Goodwill® Band, a musical group made up of program participants from Goodwill Industries of South Florida (Miami), is one of 29 films selected for the 2012 American Film Showcase. A partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of Southern California’s (USC’s) School of Cinematic Arts, the American Film Showcase is an international cultural diplomacy initiative that will bring award-winning American films, including documentaries, feature films and animated shorts, to foreign audiences through events worldwide.

For Once in My Life is a film that shatters preconceived notions of what it means to have a disability and shows the greatness that lies within each of us. The film chronicles the 28 members of the Spirit of Goodwill Band, all of whom have varying developmental and physical disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome and blindness, and a wide range of behavioral disorders. The band, which first began in 1981, transcends age, gender, race, socio-economic status, and physical and mental abilities, with music as the members’ shared joy.

The Goodwill in Miami opened its doors and allowed a camera to follow the members of the band as they prepared for a performance at the U.S. Mayor’s Convention in 2009. Viewers follow the lives of lead singer and saxophonist Terry, who is blind; pianist Christian, a virtuoso who is blind and autistic; soprano Nancy, who has a mental disability and is the primary caretaker and breadwinner for her two older siblings with disabilities; and many other inspiring individuals.

With the enthusiastic encouragement of Dennis Pastrana, president and CEO of the Miami Goodwill, as well as the Goodwill’s rehabilitation team and the band’s musical director, the band makes these accomplishments look easy, but the film demonstrates how breathtakingly hard the work is for these 28 people to perform at such a high caliber.

“For Once in My Life is a heartwarming film that pays tribute to the vocational rehabilitation professionals, teachers and parents who believed in the band members’ abilities, and to others who rise above limited stereotypes themselves to become productive, contributing members of society,” said Dennis Pastrana, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries South Florida.

For Once in My Life has won fourteen awards at film festivals in Nashville, Port Townsend, Sarasota, Sonoma and at South by Southwest in Austin and is the recipient of the ABLE Trust Award and the Barbara Jordan Award, two awards that laud organizations that have produced material for the public which accurately and positively portray people with disabilities. For Once In My Life has been screened all over the world in countries such as Greece, Poland, the far east as well as international maritime (cruise) and airlines. In addition, the band was invited to the White House to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

“For Once in My Life provides a message that is consistent with Goodwill’s philosophy: Given the opportunity, we can all do amazing things,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “It is inspiring and exciting that the State Department and USC have chosen to share this message with audiences around the world.”

The State Department will announce screening dates for the American Film Showcase later this year.

To purchase DVD or Blu-Ray copies or to inquire about a screening license for private and local screenings, visit http://4onceinmylife.com. Digital downloads are available on Netflix and iTunes.

Follow For Once In My Life on Twitter: @foimlfilm, and on Facebook: ForOnceInMyLifeFilm.

To see a complete list of the film’s awards, visit: http://4onceinmylife.com/proyecto/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=13&Itemid=16

About Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of North America’s top five most valuable and recognized nonprofit brands as well as a leading social services enterprise (Source: Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100). Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,600 stores and online at shopgoodwill.com. Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2011, nearly three million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill’s career services. Goodwill channels 84 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at http://goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Connect with us on Facebook, at GoodwillIntl, and on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl. Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

About The American Film Showcase
The American Film Showcase builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools to bring people together and foster greater understanding. The 29 films included in this year’s program were selected because each illustrates diverse viewpoints and reflects contemporary American society and culture. In addition to presenting the films to overseas audiences, filmmakers and film experts will also conduct lectures, workshops and master classes on a variety of topics, including filmmaking, storytelling, cinematography, marketing, distribution and funding, animation, digital technology, and emergent media.

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Lauren Lawson-Zilai
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