The Harbers Family Foundation brings human and environmental issues into focus through the power of visual media. Working with some of the best photographers and filmmakers in the world, we create compelling visual narratives that enhance the efforts and tell the stories of the organizations working to make the world a better place.
Non-profit organizations are notoriously good at doing good, and notoriously bad at talking about it. It's not their fault, really. They are funded to feed the poor, care for the sick, and save the planet. Rare is the donor who says, "Here is some money to make a movie that tells your story." Enter the Harbers Family Foundation. We applaud the efforts of the organizations that make it their business to help others. And we clap with resources. Our goal is to help charitable entrepreneurs articulate and share the value of the work they do in order to inspire others to help them do it. We engage world-class visual storytelling talent on behalf of folks who spend most of their time working behind the scenes. Everybody needs a little red-carpet time.
When Rosy was 6 years old, her mother died of AIDS. She and her little sister, Ronewa, left their village in South Africa with nothing and went to live with strangers. At 13, Rosy got good news: she was the recipient of a Sumbandila scholarship for a world-class secondary education. This year, Ronewa, who was just 18, succumbed to AIDS herself, and Rosy is more passionate than ever, as she finishes her studies at the University of Cape Town, about the hope that education can provide for children who know what it feels like to lose everything.
In 2006, Tiffany Persons went to Sierra Leone to film a documentary. Struck by the poverty she saw, her first response was to “give everyone a dollar” but she soon realized that would only contribute to a culture where the poor awaited their saviors rather than becoming their own saviors. She decided to invest instead. This is her story.
Many people are aware of Ghana's tragic history of orphaned children. What they don’t know is that some of the so-called “orphans" have either one or both parents still living but unable to care for them. Sadly, more than 90% of orphanages in Ghana are illegal or unmonitored, which can lead to child trafficking and exploitation. Since 2006, Orphan Aid Africa (OAfrica) has been working to close illegal orphanages and reunite children with their families. This short film is the story of how OAfrica helped one of those families.
Larry Fink spent his early photographic career documenting the inevitable collapse of the capitalist state. When that didn’t materialize – “I mean, we were delusional!” he says with a grin – he turned his lens to the capitalists themselves: the celebrity elite, jazz musicians, fashion models… After nearly a half-century, his passion for his art continues, but is tempered with a passion for living life with deeper purpose. “I’m hoping my wife is happy. I’m hoping that my daughter is fulfilled. I’m hoping for simpler things than I used to."
From an early age, photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier could sense the steel industry’s hold on her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. And she turned to art because of it. In her book, The Notion of Family, Frazier documents life in a steel mill town and the impact of the industry on her community and her family. Collaborating with her mother and grandmother, she uses her family as a lens to view the past, present and future of the town.
If you like surprises, you’ll love legendary Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, who claims she only photographs what surprises her. From an iconic iguana seller in Juchitán to a gray sky filled with birds, her work reflects a profound – but often playful – attitude toward life and death. In the fifth film of our Imagemaker series, Iturbide talks about her influences, the dignity she brings to her subjects and her “imaginative” approach to self-portraits, some of which, she admits, were born in psychoanalysis sessions.
There is perhaps no group more misunderstood in America than “Black Men.” The fifth film in our Imagemaker series, Question Bridge: Black Males attempts to deconstruct age-old stereotypes by allowing black men to ask each other questions about what it means to be “black” and “male” in America. Their answers reveal a diversity of thought, character and identity rarely seen in American media. When black men talk honestly to other black men about being black men, “blackness” ceases to be a monochromatic concept.
When you think of social change, stock photography isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. But it should be. The fourth film in our Imagemaker series features The Lean In Collection, a groundbreaking partnership between Getty Images and leanin.org that aims to shatter visual clichés and “repicture” what women can do by showing them actually doing it. In the words of Facebook COO and leanin.org founder, Sheryl Sandberg, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
It’s the dawn of the drone age. America is outsourcing some of its most strategic military operations to flying robots. The third film in our Imagemaker series features ICP’s Photojournalist award winner Tomas van Houtryve, who sent his own drone into American skies to document the changing nature of warfare, privacy and government transparency.
In the second of eight short films on the 2015 ICP Infinity Award winners, we meet Young Photographer, Evgenia Arbugaeva. A graduate of ICP’s Documentary and Photojournalism program, Evgenia took her camera to Tiksi, Russia, a remote and barren Arctic town that was once her home. The images she brought back have been described as almost more painting than photograph, marrying the documentary with the romantic in a style best described as magical realism.
Great photography is in our DNA, so every year Harbers Studios supports the International Center of Photography by producing a short film series about the photographers honored at the annual Infinity Awards. In the first of eight short films on the 2015 winners, Mario Testino, arguably the most influential fashion and portrait photographer of our time, opens up about his art, his life, and his illustrious subjects.
For the second film in The Harbers Storytelling Project, we approached YouTube pioneer, social media entrepreneur and guerrilla filmmaker Casey Neistat to make a movie about storytelling. In true Neistat fashion, he said OK. And then proceeded to do it his way. The result is classic Casey: authentic, funny, irreverent, poignant, and inspiring. Click here to watch it.
We are thrilled to present Reclaim Democracy, the first short film, directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, to emerge from The Storytelling Project, a collaboration between Harbers Studios and TNPLabs. Watch as Harvard Law professor and political activist Larry Lessig explains - with the help of some talented artists - how we can change the way we fund elections and, in the process, take back our electoral system.
First Graduates of Gashora Girls Academy Off to College
Continuing our documentary work with the Gashora Girls Academy, Harbers Studios presents Girls of Gashora: College Bound, the latest chapter in the lives of an incredible group of young women. In this poignant and inspiring video, some of the first girls of Gashora leave their families in Rwanda and begin the next phase of their educational journey in America. Click here to watch
Introducing Harbers Studios
and The Storytelling Project
The Harbers Foundation is excited to announce the formation of Harbers Studios, a production arm of the foundation created exclusively to develop and distribute groundbreaking short films for charitable causes and organizations. In partnership with TNP Labs, Harbers Studios recently launched The Storytelling Project at the 2014 Nantucket Project. Our idea: pair five eminent thinkers with five gifted filmmakers. Then turn them loose to create five short films that will move viewers beyond awareness and move them to action. The inaugural series is currently underway and the Project’s first films will be released over the course of the next year. Look for more exciting announcements in the coming months.
The Harbers Foundation is thrilled to announce that our work, produced by MediaStorm on behalf of the International Center of Photography (ICP), has won the prestigious 2014 Webby Award in the Documentary Series category. The New York Times has called the Webby Awards “the Internet’s highest honor,” and this year, that honor went to our series of short films documenting the life and work of ICP’s 2013 Infinity Award winners. The 2014 Webby Awards entertained nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and more than 60 countries around the world. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards is presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
International Center of Photography
Great photographers give us a glimpse into worlds we have never seen before. Only rarely do they give us a glimpse into their own worlds. Once again, the Harbers Foundation is pleased to sponsor just such a glimpse. Funded and executive produced by the Harbers Foundation, and produced by the incredibly talented team at MediaStorm, the short documentaries [here] turn the lens around to showcase the work, life and inspiration of each of the 2014 Infinity Award winners.
© 2014 Renee and Jeff Harbers Family Foundation