Founded in Cleveland, Ohio by Jillian Wolstein, HELP’s mission is “to provide hope, education, love and protection to those facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances through injustice and human challenges.” HELP also owns and operates Flats East Bank’s Truman’s 216 restaurant. All proceeds from Truman’s 216 go to helping those in need, and the restaurant also provides meals to alternative local shelters.
Today, HELP funded Pretty jackson, a new film from Zodiac Features, the Cleveland and Los Angeles-based production company behind the 2019 thriller I see you, and the School of Film and Media Arts at Cleveland State University.
Scheduled to begin production this month in northeast and central Ohio, the film centers on Clevelander Rickey Jackson and his struggle to survive a 1975 wrongful murder conviction on death row. and 39 years in Ohio’s most dangerous prisons, something old Scene writer Kyle Swenson has written extensively, both in articles for Scene and in his book, Good Kids, Bad City: A History of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America.
Clevelander Matt Waldeck will produce for Zodiac Features alongside Jackson, and Frederic Lahey will oversee the involvement of CSU film students in the production.
Next month, HELP will host a small fundraiser (either virtually or at Truman’s 216), which will include a meet and greet with Jackson to benefit the film and Innocent Prisoner Advocates, a program run by HELP and Jackson that provides funding for newly released prisoners. prisoners exempt from basic necessities as they begin their new lives.
“We’ve been working to find a platform for Rickey to tell his story in his own way since 2017,” Waldeck said in a press release about the film. “He’s an important figure in Cleveland’s past and future, and while Rickey’s journey is one of real-life horror, he’s a living example of our ability as men. and women to find hope, survive, love and forgive even in darker times than one imagines.
Waldeck says HELP’s assistance was crucial in getting the project started.
“That HELP is stepping up and funding the project now, especially in a year when the economy has been particularly volatile, says a lot about its commitment to the community and its organizational mandate,” he says. “Being able to offer CSU film students the opportunity to help tell a powerful and important story like Rickey’s would be a boon to Cleveland’s burgeoning film community at any time, but it is an even bigger victory in an otherwise limited semester due to COVID-19, and we look forward to working with Frédéric and the School of Film and Media Arts in the coming months.
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