What defines our identity, our family of origin or the family that raises us?
How do we come to terms with the sins and mistakes of our parents? Lacey Schwartz discovers that answering those questions means understanding her parents’ own stories as well as her own. She pieces together her family history and the story of her dual identity using home videos, archival footage, interviews, and episodes from her own life. Little White Lie is a personal documentary about the legacy of family secrets, denial, and the power of telling the truth.
Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz’s story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity — despite the open questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family’s explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather. But when her parents abruptly split, her gut starts to tell her something different.
At age of 18, she finally confronts her mother and learns the truth: her biological father was not the man who raised her, but a black man named Rodney with whom her mother had had an affair. Afraid of losing her relationship with her parents, Lacey doesn’t openly acknowledge her newly discovered black identity with her white family. When her biological father dies shortly before Lacey’s 30th birthday, the family secret can stay hidden no longer. Following the funeral, Lacey begins a quest to reconcile the hidden pieces of her life and heal her relationship with the only father she ever knew.
Lacey Schwartz is the CEO of Truth Aid. She is a director/producer and outreach strategist who has worked with a variety of production companies, organizations and networks, including MTV, BET, @radical.media, NASCAR and Be'chol Lashon. She also Executive Produced the narrative film DIFRET which won audience awards at the 2014 Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. Lacey has a BA from Georgetown University and a JD from Harvard Law School. She is a member of the NYS Bar.
Mehret Mandefro is President of Truth Aid. She is a producer/ writer that draws on her experience as a physician and anthropologist to make films about the social determinants of health. She produced the film DIFRET which won audience awards at the 2014 Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. Mehret received a BA & MD from Harvard University, and a MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as Fulbright Scholar. She was also a White House Fellow.
James Adolphus makes motion picture films about social, cultural and political issues of global relevance. A cinematography alumnus from the American Film Institute Conservatory and winner of their prestigious Fisher Fellow Award, Adolphus cut his teeth in television on Sundance Channel's provocative documentary series "Brick City", winner of a 2010 Peabody Award. Other cinematography credits include "Mother of Murder" for Lifetime Television, "Poisoned Passions" for Investigation Discovery Channel and "Second Coming" for BET.
Toby Shimin began editing in 1988 when she cut The Children’s Storefront, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary. Since then, she has cut numerous films that have been been screened at many prestigious festivals and aired on PBS including A Leap of Faith, Martha and Ethel, Everything's Cool, Out of the Past, AIDS Warriors for Angle, Miss America, Seabiscuit, Three of Hearts: A Post-Modern Family, Two Square Miles and Buck.
Erik Dugger’s work has explored topics ranging from innovations in stem-cell research, to the UN’s landmine removal mission in Lebanon. Recent projects include “Blood, Sweat & Gears,” featuring a professional American cycling team, and “Adam Blank Gets a Vasectomy,” a first-person documentary dealing with issues of masculinity. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, A&E Biography, the Sundance Channel and PBS’s POV series.
Kathryn Bostic is a prolific composer and singer-songwriter. She has written music for film, TV and theater. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Sundance Fellowship for Feature Film Scoring, Sundance Fellowship for Documentary Film Scoring, BMI Conducting Fellowship, and the ASAP/Disney Musical Theater Workshop Her scores have been heard in many award winning films and on Broadway.
Collier Meyerson is a reporter at Fusion with a focus on race and politics. She lives in Brooklyn. Previously Collier was a contributing writer to Jezebel. In 2012, Meyerson started as a Producer for MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show and later became Web Producer for one of the network’s primetime shows All In with Chris Hayes until January 2015. Meyerson began writing about issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality in 2010 with her satirical blog Carefree White Girl. Her writing has also appeared in Nylon, The Nation, MSNBC, Talking Points Memo, and Alternet.
James Smith got his first experience in the film world as an intern on Lacey Schwartz’s film LITTLE WHITE LIE, on which he eventually served as Associate Producer. After graduating from Harvard College in 2010, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has worked in development at Echo Lake Entertainment and, most recently, co-produced KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, a documentary about the life of Nirvana frontman. Kurt Cobain that aired on HBO in early 2015. He works with documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen.
Michelle Ferrari has been creating innovative, critically acclaimed documentary narratives for over a decade. She is perhaps best known for the highly-rated Seabiscuit, which earned Ferrari a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Writing. Additional credits include the Emmy-nominated PBS series Reporting America at War and Out of the Past, winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award. Ferrari also served as story editor and creative advisor on scores of independent feature documentaries, including Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present.
Stanley Nelson, an Emmy-winning MacArthur “genius” Fellow, is co-founder and Executive Director of Firelight Media, which provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians; and co-founder of the for-profit documentary production company, Firelight Films. His latest films include Freedom Riders, which aired on PBS' American Experience in May 2011 andWounded Knee, which is part of the landmark series on Native Americans We Shall Remain, which aired on PBS in May 2009.
Marco Williams is an award-winning documentary and nominated fiction film director. His directing credits include Undocumented (2013), Banished (2007), Freedom Summer (2006), I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004), MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream (2003), TWO TOWNS OF JASPER (2002), Making Peace; Rebuilding our Communities (1995), The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (1994), Without A Pass (1992), In Search of Our Fathers (1991) and From Harlem To Harvard (1982).
Sam Pollard's documentary and feature film accomplishments span nearly 30 years. He was a producer for Blackside, Inc.'s Eyes On The Prize II, for which he won an Emmy Award, and co-executive producer for Blackside's six-part series I'll Make Me a World: A Century of African American Art. His producing credits include Spike Lee's Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated Four Little Girls; his editing credits include the feature films Clockers, Iron Mike, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Girl 6.
LITTLE WHITE LIE is a feature documentary produced by Truth Aid in association with ITVS. The film had its world premiere as the closing night film at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in July 2014. It had a limited theatrical release in NY, DC, LA and SF November and December 2014. It is currently screening at a variety of festivals and community screenings. The film was broadcast on Independent Lens on PBS on March 23, 2015 and is now available for digital download and rental on iTunes and other places and will be streaming on Netflix starting June 1, 2015.