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Screening Of ’A Passion For Giving’ Applauds Philanthropy

Originally Posted: September 04, 2009

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Jill Zarin, Henry Buhl (featured in the film) and Countess LuAnn de Lesseps (whose husband Count Alexandre de Lesseps is also featured in "A Passion For Giving") at the Ross School on Thursday for a sneak preview. Photos by Eileen Casey

East Hampton - The Ross School played host to a sneak preview of the film "A Passion For Giving," on Thursday, Sept. 4. Directed by Robin Baker Leacock, the film explores people's passion for giving through a series of interviews, art and musical interpretations with a diverse group - some famous high-profile philanthropists - and some who simply believe giving back, both locally and globally, as simply being a part of the human race. Through candid conversations and commentary about life, obligation, generosity and awareness, the importance and impact of giving are revealed by those who have been helped by others and those who have offered that help.

Missy Hargraves (featured in the film) with Robin Baker Leacock, producer and director of "A Passsion For Giving."

"A Passion For Giving" is about the simple gesture of giving," said Baker Leacock. "My hope is that this film will encourage people to act - whether giving of time or money, helping people, animals or the environment. That is the coolest thing, the most fun thing people can do right now or ever is to help other people."

Among those that Baker Leacock features in the film are Ross Bleckner and Bob Collacello, Board members of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America [ACRIA] (with Donna Karan); Henry Buhl (founder of the SoHo and Tribeca Partnerships), which enables New York City's homeless men and women to re-enter the workforce and achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency; Missy Hargraves (Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons), which is dedicated to the rehabilitation of wild animals accidentally injured or impacted; Count Alexandre de Lesseps (founder of The Blue Orchid orphanage in Burma), Gael Greene (founder of City Meals on Wheels), Louise Stephaich (Albert Schweitzer Hospital - Haiti), John Sykes (on behalf of VH1's Save the Music), whose mission is to restore instrumental music education programs in schools, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC (founder of The Felix Organization), whose goals are to provide opportunities and new experiences that will enrich the lives of children who are growing up without parents; as well as commentary from Dan Aykroyd, Richard Branson, and representatives from the UN Millennium Project and Habitat for Humanity.

Eric Freeman, Ross Bleckner (featured in film) and Ralph Gibson attend screening.

As an established filmmaker, Baker Leacock has previously directed "It Girls," (a one hour documentary broadcast on WE network), as well as "I'll Take Manhattan," which was selected for the Montreal, Berlin and Hamptons International Film Festivals. Additionally, Baker Leacock has contributed to segments on cable television featuring East Enders April Gornik, Donald Sultan, Ralph Gibson, Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan.

Donna Karan (featured in film) is all smiles at Thursday's event.

"A Passion For Giving" was mostly shot by Emmy award-winning director and cinematographer Robert Leacock, who is well known for his work on Madonna's "Truth or Dare," Al Pacino's "Looking for Richard," and directing Christy Turlington's "Catwalk." A second generation documentary film director, Leacock is the son of legendary filmmaker Richard Leacock - a pioneer of Cinema Verite.

The evening began with an informal cocktail party in the Upper School at Ross, where many featured in the film gathered with guests. Speaking with Henry Buhl who relayed that his organization is 99 percent privately funded. "We have to raise money all the time, and thankfully even in this economy, we have managed to keep our programs in effect and have seen an increase of up to 38 percent in those who have completed the program." As to the ratio of men versus women who go through the programs, Buhl commented, "We are down by about 30 percent on women who are much better workers than men, which is probably related to their desire to be successful in order to keep their children out of foster care."

Catching a moment with Ross Bleckner in the almost filled to capacity crowd, his response on the current economy and its impact on charitable organizations was a heartfelt and emphatic, "We must all simply continue to give until it hurts."

Watching this film, aided by the accoutrements of warm buttered popcorn, an open bar and in the company of its many participants, accompanied by a beautiful, and thought-provoking soundtrack, attendees were assured that "A Passion For Giving" will be remembered as a profound reminder to all of us of the shared benefits of generosity, kindness and hope we can and should extend to others.

"A Passion For Giving" will be airing PBS in the New York area some time in November, and is currently being considered for wider PBS release.

The film's editor Jeff Oppenheim with daugther Stephanie and son Sebastian.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.


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Guest (Guest) from hamden ct says::
would love to share this w/ my middle school students this week. need to know its length.
Dec 19, 2010 7:35 am

Guest (Marc Berner) from Miami, Fl says::
I tuned in about halfway through and LOVED this film!
Apr 5, 2010 4:22 am

Guest (Camille Hughes) from NYC says::
Sebastian is HOTT
Feb 3, 2010 5:06 am

Guest (Audra Platz, www.goosecreekenterprises.com) from Los Angeles, CA says::
I love this article and can't wait to see the film! I've been working in non-profit for over 10 yrs. and was laid-off this May. We need to keep giving b/c as we all know it's a ripple effect - all of us who love giving back as a career - who do not come from money - truly want to continue to work in the non-profit sector. I'm a single parent living in LA and looking at the big picture can seem very bleak, but with films like, "A Passion For Giving" it gives me hope and renews my faith, thank you!
Sep 8, 2009 6:48 pm


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