society films

Biographies of Presenters - Workshop Descriptions

Place at the Table
A Place at the Table
Presenters: Jeff Bridges, Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush, Tiffani Brown

AGNT Host: Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell


Fifty million people in the US-including one in five children - are hungry and do not get enough to eat. Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children are obese of overweight. Hunger and obesity are two sides of the same conic. Without access to healthy food, disease and health care costs will continue to rise. We all agree that a systemic change to our food system is necessary, so how do we get there?

The Take Your Place Social Action Campaign brings together, a consortium of leading nonprofit organizations, experts, companies and engaged community members who are concerned about the high level of food insecurity and obesity in our country. It’s designed to spur conversation and generate solutions to address our nation’s crisis of hunger and obesity. Looking at causes, explore parallel solutions: change policy at National level at the same time working at the local level with individuals, communities, supporting work of food banks, increase access to healthy affordable food, improving school lunches, and looking at finding solutions.
Jeff Bridges - Academy Award Winning American Film Actor and author of book on Zen Buddhism with Bernie Glassman  
  Jeff Bridges is an American actor who was born on December 4, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. Born to famed actor Lloyd Bridges, Bridges began his acting career as an infant, with parts in both TV and film. He broke through in The Last Picture Show (1971), which garnered him an Academy Award nomination. Bridges appeared in popular films such as Heaven's Gate (1980), TRON (1982) and The Big Lebowski (1998). He received Oscar nominations for Starman (1984) and Tucker (1988), and won the award for Crazy Heart (2009). ‘The Dude and The Zen Master,’ Book by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman Jeff Bridges is an acclaimed, Oscar-winning actor. Bernie Glassman is teacher of Zen Buddhism. Both men are devoted social activists. In “The Dude and The Zen Master,” the two friends candidly discuss myriad aspects of life and the importance of doing good in a difficult world. 

Bridges has had an illustrious acting career, appearing in popular films such as Heaven's Gate (1980) and TRON (1982), and receiving Oscar nominations for Starman (1984), and Tucker (1988). Later films include The Fisher King (1991) starring Robin Williams, and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), featuring Barbra Streisand. In 1998, Bridges experienced a resurgence in popularity with the Coen brothers' hit, The Big Lebowski. Bridges' 2001 supporting role in The Contender, was also well-received. His performance earned him both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination. In 2009, the actor received his fifth Oscar nomination and first Oscar win; this time, for his role in the romantic drama Crazy Heart (2009). His other projects have included roles in the TRON sequel, TRON Legacy and a role in the movie True Grit.

Tiffani Brown

Tiffani Brown is one of the founding members of the A Place at the Table social action campaign, a 5-year initiative based on the film by the same name to raise awareness about the scale and impact of hunger in America.   She works within and across major industries – media & entertainment, academia, government and business – to build innovative partnerships that effectively address hunger in the US.  As an attorney she is an advocate for stronger, healthier communities in economically distressed areas.  Within Los Angeles she has worked on financing for the Anderson Munger Family YMCA in Koreatown, The Dream Center in Echo Park and she currently serves on the board of The Ron Finley Project in South Central.                    

Laura Burton Capps

Laura Burton Capps has spent over 15 years developing strategic communications and issue advocacy campaigns for public officials, national non-profits and her alma mater, UC Berkeley.  She was a White House speechwriter for President Clinton, a communications director the Kerry for President campaign, chief spokesperson for Senator Ted Kennedy, and communications director for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. She now runs her own public affairs consulting practice in her hometown of Santa Barbara, CA.  Among other issues, her recent work focuses on childhood hunger and obesity with No Kid Hungry, Groceryships, and the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  She is Chair of the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women and on the board of Ocean Conservancy, Community Environmental Council, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.    
Sam Polk  
  Sam Polk was a CDS trader for Bank of America and the head distressed trader for one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After eight years on Wall Street, he left because he wanted to live a more meaningful life. He founded Groceryships, a non-profit that helps low-income families struggling with obesity. In January 2014, Sam published an OpEd about money addictionon the front page of The Sunday Review section of The New York Times, and the response was explosive. Hundreds of media outlets covered the story, including The Today Show, Morning Joe, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Thom Hartmann show, CNN, Bloomberg Television, NPR, and International media from Norway, South Korea, China, Vietnam, France, Britain, Belgium, and Germany. Sam has a BA in English from Columbia University, and holds the CFA designation. He lives in Los Angeles with his surgeon-turned-psychiatrist firecracker of a wife, and their infant daughter Eveline.  
Under the Same Sun
Under the Same Sun
Presenter: Susan Koscis; AGNT Host: Rev. Dennis Merritt Jones


How does the film add anything to one's knowledge and understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How can grassroots movements play a role in changing society? What elements of the film can you identify with personally? Can economics/business play a role in helping to resolve conflict?

Whom do you think is able to lead the change towards the other side inside your own community, and how? Examine ways to talk about these issues in your community.

Susan Koscis

SUSAN KOSCIS is the Director of Special Projects and Communications at Search for Common Ground. Previously she was Vice President of Arts & Culture, where she created the Common Ground Film Festival. She has been a grants panelist for the U.S. Institute of Peace and for the National Endowment for the Arts.From 1989-1994, Susan was the Director of International Projects for the American Management Association in New York, designing and implementing management training programs and products for organizations and corporations world-wide. Susan has held a variety of positions in arts management, including: the San Francisco Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, London Records, and CBS Masterworks (now Sony). While at CBS Records, she produced a classical music radio program that was heard in the NYC metropolitan area.
Following the Ninth Following the Ninth
Presenter: Kerry Candaele;
AGNT Host: Dr. Carol Carnes


Following The Ninth, like the Symphony itself, takes the viewer on an emotional and spiritual journey. What is the nature of this journey, and how do we understand its implications for our own lives?
The final chapter of the film is called Become Who You Are. What does this somewhat confusing admonition mean, for those in the film and for those of us watching? How do you see this spiritual dimension, and what is it suggesting to you about how to live in and change the world personally or with others? Hope is mentioned by the characters in the film. What does it mean and does it change by the context we find ourselves in?

How can music and social change go hand in glove. What's going on in Santa Barbara that incorporates music and personal and political change?  Can we rewrite the Ode in a way that fits people's own lives, to be sung by groups like the women in Chile, in joy and in struggle, or just to oneself or a small circle of friends?

Kerry Candaele

  Kerry Candaels has produced and directed several documentaries including Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Iraq for Sale. He also co-produced A League of their Own, with Kelly Candaele, a documentary about their mother's experience in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Kerry is the author of three books, two on US history, and the most recent "Journeys with Beethoven.  
Every Three Seconds Every Three Seconds
Presenters: Helen Mendoza, Perch Ducote;
AGNT Host: Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell


We currently produce more than three times the food it would take to feed every man, woman and child on the planet yet, more than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, yet 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in American each year. Every 30 seconds, an African child dies from malaria, millions of children die each year from preventable disease. There are millions of children worldwide who do not get even a basic education. How does the film address solutions?

Examine strategies and solutions individually and on a larger scale re solving the problems of hunger, disease and lack of education


Enemy of the Reich Enemy of the Reich
Presenter: Kabir Helminski; AGNT Host: Dr. Kathy Hearn


How can we increase understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and those of other faiths? How does this film assist inimplementing long-term educational campaigns?

What are some specific ways to increase understanding between cultures?

Kabir Helminski

Kabir Helminski is a translator of the works of Rumi and others, a Shaikh of the Mevlevi Order which traces back to Jalaluddin Rumi, and co-director of The Threshold Society ( He is also a spiritual activist who sometimes blogs for Huffington Post.His books on spirituality, Living Presence and The Knowing Heart, have been published in at least eight languages. Among his recent publications are: Love’s Ripening, Rumi on the Heart’s Journey (Shambhala 2010); and The Rumi Daybook (Shambhala 2012). In 2009 Kabir was named as one of the "500 Most Influential Muslims in the World". He has toured North America as Shaikh with the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey bringing Sufi culture to more than 100,000 people.
Money and Life Money and Life
Presenter: Katie Teague, Rinaldo Brutoco; AGNT Host: Dr. Roger Teel


What is real wealth? How does the dominant money system contribute to my sense of scarcity and separation from community and the natural world?How can we move beyond being merely consumers, debtors and creditors, and put money in service to what we really care about as citizens and as human beings? How do my financial choices align with my most deeply held values?How do I embody generosity (or not)? Can we foster a monetary circulatory system that fosters democratic equality?

Understanding these issues helps personal and community betterment. What actions are you willing to take (e.g. shifting to a local bank? joining or creating a local time bank? doing more random acts of kindness?) If you are a wealth holder is your capital being fully utilized according to your values. If not, begin exploring the myriad ways to leverage the gift of your resources for the benefit of many.

Katie Teague

Katie is an independent documentary filmmaker working in the growing field of transformational media. In 2009 she founded Storm Cloud Media, LLC, for the purposes of bringing forward Money & Life. Storm Cloud Media is committed to bringing inspired educational media to the social change process. Katie's post-graduate background is in depth and developmental psychology. She brings years of study in psychology, human development and the wisdom traditions to her work as a social and spiritual change agent. Katie is also one of the 2012 Sundance Grantee filmmakers contributing on 99% The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.
  Rinaldo Brutoco  
  Rinaldo Brutoco is a successful entrepreneur, executive, author and futurist and the Founding President of the World Business Academy. Rinaldo has published numerous cutting-edge articles and books that address the role and responsibility of business in relation to the critical moral, environmental and social concerns of the day.A keynote speaker at business schools and conferences for over 25 years, Rinaldo is widely recognized as a practical visionary, change agent, and futurist.Rinaldo is President of the Chopra Foundation, Chairman of the Unstoppable Foundation and serves on the board of the JUST Capital Foundation. Rinaldo has served on the Board of Directors of The Men’s Wearhouse since its IPO in 1992 and has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Gorbachev Foundation.