Antioch University Seattle is thrilled to share the news that one of our alumna, Aimie Vallat (along with Noah Dassel) is nominated for a Northwest Regional Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The nomination comes in recognition for, Present Moment, a documentary that Media Inc Magazine called, “An empowering film about courage, resilience and acceptance.”
The documentary is an insightful and compassionate portrait of a man coming to terms with Parkinson’s disease, incorporating it both into his sense of identity and into his determination to not only live, but live well.
The film was created by Vallat and Dassel’s production company, REEL WITNESS, which is “committed to creating a more resilient future by telling the stories of social change in our communities.”
“My passion for social justice filmmaking started when I was a college student living in South Africa in 1992.” Vallat says. “My first documentary project was to interview township residents to talk about the impact of receiving small business and home loans (we now call this micro-credit lending). It was an incredible experience witnessing first hand how a $20 dollar loan to sell vegetables could literally transform someone’s life. I left South Africa in 1994 energized and committed to a lifetime of working on social justice issues, and that has never really wavered…Now, with my production company, REEL WITNESS, my focus is about elevating a conversation around important social issues while looking at what is resilient and thriving in that story or person or organization. Staying alert to the places of growth and joy within any system of change has helped me stay motivated to keep doing this work after all these years.”
Vallat received her Master’s in Communication from Antioch University Seattle in 2009 and, for the past twenty years, has focused on issues of sustainability, social justice, and building thriving communities. She credits much of the success of Present Moment to local PBS station, KCTS 9, as well as to “Laila Kazmi for their unwavering support of our film and our local, Pacific Northwest filmmaking community.”
She goes on to describe her surprise and delight at the film’s success.
“What has happened since Present Moment’s release in 2015 has been a huge surprise for all of us. A few things really did change after making it; first off, I learned to trust and follow inspiration, wherever it might take you, without expectation. Secondly, as a family we sat down for the first time and talked frankly about the impact of Parkinson’s (PD) in all our lives. My sorrow prior to making the film of seeing my dad living with this disease has now lessened as we’ve been through this process together, and that was a very welcome and unexpected change.”
Present Moment has already received numerous other awards, and is a film festival favorite.
“All of those accolades have been a great surprise but it was never the intention when the film was made – to do the festival circuit etc. – but since we did end up doing following that path, it’s allowed more viewers to see the story and perhaps find some solace or a sense of connection. For that reason alone, I’m truly grateful that it’s been available to a much broader audience.”
The entire Antioch community wishes to extend our congratulations and joy at this achievement.