"The film helped me understand that, even when an excellent adoptive family is available and the birth parent is flawed, reunification is sometimes the better option."

 

- Audience Member

 

Offering a rare look at the inner workings of the American child welfare system, Tough Love chronicles the lives of two parents—one in Seattle and one in New York City—as each fights to be reunited with children taken out of their custody. Through intimate, verité footage of both families, we witness first-hand the complex and daunting bureaucracy of America’s family courts. Moreover, we come to understand the powerful role poverty and prejudice play in keeping parents and children apart—and the challenges parents must overcome in order to put their families back together. 

"I saw Tough Love last night at its Hot Docs premiere, and I was so completely captivated by its beautiful narrative that I'm still having difficultly putting its brilliance to words."

 

-  Dawsyn B.

 

About The Film

What some audiences are saying about Tough Love:  

"It was the first time I have seen the parents' resilience lifted up in film. The character development was really thoughtful and not typical of other portrayals of parents which are usually all negative."

 

- Audience Member

 

"I so appreciated getting the perspective of the parents and seeing the complexity of the situation. As a psychotherapist working with children in the foster care system, this film really opened my eyes to the system from a different perspective."

 

- Danielle B.

 

Our Team

Stephanie Wang-Breal DIRECTOR/PRODUCER

 

Stephanie has been producing and directing films and commercials for the past 10 years. She most recently directed the award-winning feature length documentary, Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You, Mommy). The film was nominated for an Emmy®, and was the recipient of three Grand Jury Best Documentary Awards at the AFI/ Discovery Silverdocs Film Festival, the Asian American International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, as well as a 2011 CINE special Jury Award. The film had its national television broadcast in 2010 on the awardwinning PBS series POV. Stephanie’s second feature length documentary, Tough Love, will premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April 2014. Stephanie has also directed pieces for Tiffany’s, Apple, Goldman Sachs, UNICEF, CNN, MTV, and most recently an episodic series for Nickelodeon. Stephanie currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, five-year old son and 9-month old daughter.

 

Carrie Weprin PRODUCER

 

Carrie is a film, television and web video producer in Brooklyn, NY. She currently works for The New York Times Video overseeing third party video partnerships. Previously, Carrie worked as the Director of Digital Content at Bedrocket Media Ventures where she coordinated various digital video initiatives including the development and launch of four YouTube partner channels, and assisted in the production of the award winning independent film, Sleepwalk With Me. In 2014 Carrie produced the feature length documentary film, Tough Love. The film has shown at Full Frame Festival, HotDocs International Documentary Film Festival, DOCNYC and many others. The film is slated for a POV National Broadcast in the Summer of 2015. 

 

Ursula Liang CO-PRODUCER

 

Ursula is a journalist who has told stories in a wide range of media. A former staff editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine and writer/reporter at ESPN The Magazine, Liang was a host of the radio program Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI, associate producer for the Emmy nominated documentary, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, producer for the Emmy-nominated Asian American TV show Stir, and sports editor for the Asian-American magazine, Hyphen. She is currently finishing her first featuredocumentary, 9-Man--a story about a streetball sport in Chinatown--and recently produced for Fuel’s UFC Countdown, and FX’s UFC Primetime. Liang grew up in Newton, MA and lives in The Bronx, NY

 

 

Colin Nusbaum EDITOR

Colin is the co-editor and cinematographer of Caveh Zahedi's The Sheik And I, which premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, and earned a review from Film Comment calling Sheik the festival's top film. The film has gone on to screen at San Francisco International Film Festival, IFF Boston, Florida International Film Festival, and others. This year, Colin was awarded the prestigious Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowshipfor his work as an editor, and he will be mentored by Jean Tsien, Jonathan Oppenheim, and David Teague. Colin has also worked with award-winning directors Richard Hankin, Alex and Tanya Meillier, Michael Moore, Bob Richman, and Liz Garbus on documentary projects for HBO Documentaries, Overture Films, A&E Television, and PBS. Colin is based in Brooklyn, New York.

 

 

Mary Manhardt EDITOR

 

Mary is a documentary film editor and consultant, specializing in verite. Her work has won awards at major festivals, including Sundance, Hot Docs, SXSW, SilverDocs, Vancouver, Tribeca and IDFA, and shown on HBO, PBS, MTV, ABC, A&E and AMC. Among her credits: The Farm, The Execution of Wanda Jean, girlhood, Farmingville, Street Fight, American Teen, Racing Dreams, Mystic Ball, Monica & David, Pelotero, Wham! Bam! Islam!, A Son's Sacrifice, Bronx Princess, Camp Victory, Afghanistan, American Promise, and Medora. Mary won an Emmy award in 1999 for Picture Editing for The Farm. More recently, American Promise won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, 2013, and was an official entry in the 2013 New York Film Festival. She is currently editing Dreaming in Color.

 

 

Nadia Hallgren DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY NEW YORK

 

Nadia is a leading cinematographer and documentary filmmaker from the Bronx, New York. Her camera credits include Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury prize winner and Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water. Nadia has also directed two films; Sanza-Hanza, a short-documentary profiling teenage train-surfers in South Africa that was later acquired by PBS, and Love Lockdown, which premiered at SXSW and won the prize for best short film at HBO’s Urbanworld film festival.

 

 

Evan Briggs FIELD PRODUCER 

 

Evan Briggs was first drawn to documentary as an undergraduate at Duke University through the Center for Documentary Studies. Since then, she has directed and produced several short films that have premiered at film festivals in cities all over the country. Currently she is directing her first feature length film, while also working as a freelance video producer for various businesses and organizations in Seattle. She has taught digital filmmaking workshops for kids through the Digital Media Academy and currently teaches post- production and non-fiction filmmaking at the Seattle Film Institute. Evan holds an M.F.A. in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University.

 

 

Nathan Miller DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY SEATTLE

 

Based out of Seattle, WA, Nate has traveled across the US and abroad, acting as Cinematographer on music videos, commercials and shorts. In 2009, he shot the short film Aphids, which was an Official Selection at that year's Indie-Memphis Film Festival. In 2011, Nate acted as the Second Unit Director of Photography on the feature film The Off Hours, an Official Selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and later that year the short Howard From Ohio, which screened at the Seattle International Film Festival. With a couple shorts still in post, Nate is gearing up to lens a web series and several more shorts in 2013.

 

Tadd Sackville-West CINEMATOGRAPHER

 

Tadd is a Director of Photography with over 20 years experience in photography and 10 years of shooting documentaries, feature films (including Lynn Shelton's 'Your Sister's Sister') and commercials. He has worked with the band Pearl Jam, acclaimed artist Vic Muniz and the legendary record label, Sub Pop. Commericially, Tadd has lenses campaigns for Ford, Microsoft, Bud Light, Nike and Jeep-Wrangler.

 

 

Tyler Strickland COMPOSER

 

Tyler is a composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles. In 2006, he began his career as a touring multi-instrumentalist with a Capitol Records artist. Within six months he found himself touring the world from New York to Tokyo, and beyond. Always having had an extremely visual grasp on life and music, he eventually found himself putting the touring life aside to embark on his career as a composer for film. Tyler's scores have since accompanied both narrative and documentary films at the most prestigious film festivals world-wide, been heard on international broadcast television, and in countless ads for major global brands. Tyler's greatest ambition in life is to continue to create engaging music for meaningful motion pictures.

 

 

Melissa Friedman OUTREACH DIRECTOR

 

Melissa is a Harvard educated attorney who specializes in child advocacy and child welfare law. She works at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practices as a Skadden Fellow representing child victims of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Melissa attended Washington University in St. Louis for her undergraduate degree majoring in Latin American Studies and Spanish. After college, she spent two years working as a paralegal, volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the Bronx, and, lastly, living in and working at an orphanage in Guatemala. Melissa currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.