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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zero Weeks is a documentary about activists' efforts to enact paid family leave legislation on behalf of families in the United States. Revealing that the U.S. is one of only two countries that don't ensure that folks who need paid time off to take care of loved ones can do so, Ky Dickens has made a compelling, informative film to bring this concern to a broad audience. The movie provides intimate and emotional personal stories to enhance the message. Viewers can expect some poignant narratives in which jobholders from at-risk families are forced to return to work at great sacrifice to either themselves or their loved ones. They're faced with choosing between loss of income (which may mean homelessness or bankruptcy) and supplying valuable personal time for caregiving, healing, or forming significant family bonds. Dickens sees the issue as a matter of "family values." Mature themes, some sad moments, and one use each of "f--k" and "s--t" make this a film best suited for teens and up.
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What's the story?
Inspired by her own experience after childbirth, filmmaker Ky Dickens takes an in-depth, thoughtful look at the importance of the U.S. enacting national paid family leave legislation in ZERO WEEKS. The United States is one of only two countries that don't currently provide its citizens with paid family leave. Decades of advocacy have finally resulted in several individual states (e.g., California, New Jersey) enacting their own laws, but a national policy is long overdue. Filled with relevant facts and information -- using simple maps and graphics; interviews with activists, public officials, and business owners; and archival film clips -- the movie tracks efforts and successes for those committed to the cause. Central to the film are compelling personal stories. The challenges of giving birth and having to return to work almost immediately (for both moms and dads) alternate with stories of catastrophic illnesses, the need for caring for aging parents, and other critical family emergencies. Throughout, the agonizing dilemma of "Do I keep my job or take the time needed to heal myself or help those I love?" is front and center.
Is it any good?
Ky Dickens clearly intends to make audiences aware of the devastating, often heartbreaking choices people must make as she presents her case for U.S. paid family leave legislation. In Zero Weeks, Dickens clearly explains the issue, focusing on what is needed and how it can be accomplished. The people she films -- from young couples wanting to spend time as a family after the birth of a child to a struggling single mom with stage 4 breast cancer forced to integrate work with chemotherapy and radiation, all while taking care of her little girl -- have provided Dickens with compelling arguments in favor of such legislation.
As it is now, because of the failure of our federal government to come to the table, several states have taken it upon themselves to provide for their citizens. Progress is being made, state by state, because of ordinary folks and committed activists like Ellen Bravo, who has devoted decades on behalf of families. Zero Weeks should be a vibrant asset to the cause.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the purpose of documentaries: to entertain, inform, inspire, and/or persuade. Zero Weeks is an example of a documentary intended to accomplish multiple purposes. What did you learn? In what way, if any, did the movie inspire you? Persuade you to take action? Was it "entertaining" enough to hold your interest?
Were you surprised that the U.S. lags so far behind other countries, even those far less industrialized than our own? Can you think of some reasons why this is true?
The film doesn't include any interviews with or detailed information about those who oppose paid family leave legislation, though it mentions "corporate lobbyists" as one significant adversary. What reasons might foes of paid family leave give to explain their resistance? Do you think Dickens provided enough of a "con" to her "pro" position?
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 2018
- Cast: Ellen Bravo, Kristen Gillibrand, Tom Perez
- Director: Ky Dickens
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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