Founded in Cleveland, Ohio by Jillian Wolstein, the mission of H.E.L.P. is to "provide hope, education, love and protection to people facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances by way of human injustices and challenges." H.E.L.P. also owns and operates the Flats East Bank restaurant Truman’s 216. All the profits from Truman’s 216 go towards helping people in need, and the restaurant also provides meals to local alternative housing shelters.
Now, H.E.L.P. has funded Lovely Jackson
, a new film from Zodiac Features, the Cleveland and Los Angeles-based production company behind the 2019 thriller I See You
, and Cleveland State University’s School of Film and Media Arts.
Slated to begin production this month in Northeast and Central Ohio, the film centers on Clevelander Rickey Jackson and his struggle to survive a wrongful 1975 murder conviction, death row, and 39 years in Ohio’s most dangerous prisons, something former Scene
writer Kyle Swenson has written about extensively, both in articles for Scene
and in his book, Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America
Clevelander Matt Waldeck will produce for Zodiac Features alongside Jackson, and Frederic Lahey will oversee CSU film students’ involvement with the production.
Next month, H.E.L.P. will host a small fundraiser (either virtually or at Truman’s 216), which will include a meet-and-greet with Jackson to benefit the film and Innocent Prisoner Advocates, a program led by H.E.L.P. and Jackson which provides funding to newly released exonerated prisoners for basic necessities as they begin their new lives.
“We have been working to find Rickey a platform to tell his story his way since 2017,” says Waldeck in a press release about the film. “He’s an important figure to Cleveland’s past and future, and even though Rickey’s journey is one of real-life horror, he is a living example of our capacity as men and women to find hope, survive, love and forgive even through darker than imaginable experiences."
Waldeck says H.E.L.P.'s assistance has been crucial to getting the project up and running.
"For H.E.L.P. to step up and fund the project now, especially during a year where economics have been particularly volatile, speaks volumes about their commitment to the community and its organizational mandate," he says. "Being able to offer CSU film students the opportunity to help tell a powerful and important story like Rickey’s would be a boon to Cleveland’s burgeoning film community anytime, but is an even bigger win during an otherwise limiting semester due to COVID-19, and we look forward to working with Frederic and the School of Film and Media Arts in the coming months.”
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