At America’s largest documentary film festival, director Emily Abt’s new project ‘Daddy Don’t Go’ screened its world premiere for an invigorated audience at DOC NYC. The film, seeking to breach stereotypes of disadvantaged fathers, follows four New York City men over two years who strive to give their children a better outcome than they feel they had themselves.
The film introduces us to Alex, Omar, Nelson, and Roy as they work to improve their circumstances while battling the roadblocks that haunt to define them and a large percentage of other men facing the same situation: unemployment, incarceration, homelessness and the shelter system, family court, child care and the threat of foster care, mental healthcare, extended family strain, and access to education or vocational training.
‘Daddy Don’t Go’ is a compassionate testament to the challenges of parenting while these four fathers fight to keep their children safe, healthy, on track for a bright future, or to keep custody at all. Abt was inspired to make this film because of her own father, saying at the post-screening Q&A that “my dad was an amazing father to me without having a dad himself,” knowing full well the devotion fathers have for their children despite elements that test that.
November 14 was the first time the four men saw the film and also met each other. Their situations with their children are continuing to improve. Nelson, who is also raising other children of his wife Rebecca’s, said of parenting someone else kids, “I’m not a punk. I’ve never run from nothing.” Taking responsibility for their children is one of the greatest lessons and gifts that these fathers have come to know.
‘Daddy Don’t Go’ has plans for wide distribution and to also take it into communities that would particularly benefit. In their campaign to raise awareness, executive producer Malik Yoba says, “It’s not a movie, it’s a mission” that will offer knowledge for the possibilities and services available to fathers all over. And for the film subjects’ children, trust funds have been set up by the filmmakers and production company to aid in their education once they turn eighteen. The film is also executive produced by actor Omar Epps and Jennifer Fox.
“What are the real obstacles that these guys face?” asks Abt in response to the honesty she wanted to emit in her film. ‘Daddy Don’t Go’ gives not one, but four clear and beautiful accounts of fatherhood as these men must experience it in society today.
For more information on DOC NYC visit their website.