4100 Redwood Rd #406
Oakland, CA 94619

Moms Living Clean

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Four of the moms and their children




Health: Narcotics
Human Development: Children, Shelter & Housing, Youth
Human Rights: Civil Rights, Gender, Social Exclusion
Information & Media: Media
Politics: Ethics & Value Systems, Justice and Crime

Project Geography

US: National, California
International: North America

Identity Niches

African American, Caucasian, Children, Women


Raised to date: $27,345.00
Estimate to complete: $146,947.00
Total Estimated Budget: $174,292.00
The budget numbers above are accurate as of 07/13/2009


Post Production

Media Type


Project End Use

Other: film festivals, public television, educational institutions

Key Personnel

Sheila Ganz

SHEILA GANZ was director/producer/editor of her first documentary “Unlocking the Heart of Adoption” which bridges the gap between birth and adoptive families in same race and transracial adoptions with fascinating historical background (2003). This 56 minute film had a NETA public television launch (2005). Ganz wrote a Discussion Guide and three hour curriculum “Loss and Identity in Relation to the Lifelong Process of Adoption” for educational purposes. Ganz is a recipient of Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption Award. The film is in distribution to adoption agencies and educational institutions worldwide. This film has changed people’s lives.
Additionally, Ganz taught “Making Your First Documentary” and “Visualizing Your Documentary” at Film Arts Foundation (2004-20007) and has guest lectured in film classes at City College of San Francisco and Academy of Art.
Previously, Ganz wrote two stage plays “Pretend It Didn’t Happen” about her experience of unwillingly relinquishing her daughter for adoption (1984), and “Leaving Joe” about domestic violence (1986). Both plays have had performances in the San Francisco Bay Area. A monologue from “Leaving Joe” was published in “Competition Monologues II” University Press of America, Inc., Grand Valley State University, Michigan (1989). Ganz holds degrees in Sculpture (BA) and Interdisciplinary Arts (MA) from San Francisco State University.
When asked about “Moms Living Clean” Ganz says, “I was in a home for unwed mothers and I always wondered ‘Why can’t there be homes to help mothers keep their children?’ When I began research for a film that does this, I discovered draconian drug laws aimed at pregnant and parenting mothers and I had to tell their story.”


Vivien Hillgrove
Consulting Editor

She began her career editing industrials and low-budget features, and then specialized in dialogue editing, working as the dialogue editor on The Right Stuff, Never Cry Wolf, and One from the Heart, and as dialogue supervisor on Amadeus, The Mosquito Coast, and Blue Velvet.  As picture editor, she cut Emiko Omori’s Hot Summer Winds and Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Henry and June.  She edited several documentaries, including The Forest through the Trees, Yakoana, The Indigenous People’s Earth Summit, Heart of the Sea and First Person Plural with Deanne Borshay-Liem, as well as documentaries by Lourdes Portillo, including The Devil Never Sleeps and Senorita Extraviada, which won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival.  She is working again with Deanne Borshay-Liem on her documentary Precious Objects of Desire.

Michele Turnure-Salleo
Film Advisor

She has produced and directed projects for film and television for more than 15 years around the world, including in Sydney, Berlin, Vancouver, and Marseille.  She was Associate Producer of Regret to Inform, an Oscar-Nominated documentary about the effect of the Vietnam War on war widows.  Her work includes Double Vision, an hour-length documentary about an innovative French opera company, feature narratives, short documentaries and narratives, artist profiles, PSA’s and aboriginal dance videos.  During her two-years as In-House Producer at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, Turnure-Salleo produced documentary series for national broadcast, which included more than twenty half-hour episodes.  She is co-producing Free China Junk a feature documentary by Robin Greenberg.  Turnure-Salleo is the Fiscal Sponsorship Manager for San Francisco Film Society.

Outreach/Engagement Plan(s)

The goal for “Moms Living Clean” is to use the film as a tool for social change by creating greater understanding and a national dialogue around the issues of mothers with addiction, validate and inspire women and men in recovery, educate law enforcement and judges, and be part of lobby efforts to policy makers and legislators to fund more women and children substance abuse treatment programs. To date there are only 88 programs in 36 states.
Our most strategic audience is direct service providers. They deal with the women through child protective services, treatment programs, criminal justice system and we can plug into their needs for direct action. They will help us reach our secondary audience: the people with addictions. Our tertiary audience is state and government legislators. We will work with direct service providers such as Center Point, Inc. to develop best possible uses for the film by mapping out their needs for the next 9 to 12 months, including fundraisers and policy pushes to lobby for funding for existing and new residential treatment programs. We will also work with organizations to promote ballot measures for treatment rather than incarceration.
“Moms Living Clean” will reach a broad audience through major US and worldwide film festivals and public television. Further outreach will be through community-based screenings and panel discussions. I have established relationships with Center Point, Inc., Rebecca Project for Human Rights, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU


Individual donors - ongoing$9,698.0007/15/2009
Personal contribution - ongoing$5,177.0007/15/2009
Penny Harvest Roundtable$250.0005/11/2009
Pacific Pioneer Fund$6,000.0006/01/2008
Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund$5,000.0005/01/2007
Open Meadows Foundation$1,200.0011/01/2006


1546 Great Highway #44
San Francisco, 94122

Short Synopsis

Childhood exposure to drugs and domestic violence propelled six women into addiction. Over three years the feature-length documentary "Moms Living Clean" follows the women’s struggles and triumphs in an innovative residential substance abuse treatment program, and exposes drug laws dehumanizing mothers and removing their children.


America’s “war on drugs” has become a household phrase, but what most people don’t know is that pregnant and parenting women with substance abuse issues have been swept up by these harsh laws. Since 1986, incarceration of women has skyrocketed 400% and 800% for African American women. 80% of women in prison have substance abuse problems. 66% of incarcerated women have minor children. One of the most dehumanizing widespread practices in prisons is to shackle women during labor and delivery. Mothers who seek drug rehab, face a ‘Sophie’s choice’ dilemma with few options for treatment that includes childcare. When a child is removed to foster care, they become unintended victims bouncing from foster home to foster home and may age out as legal orphans. 20% of mothers reunify with their children.
Over three years, the feature documentary “Moms Living Clean” follows six women in an innovative residential substance abuse treatment program where they can have their children with them, up to the age of five. The moms strive to overcome hurdles of past abuse, domestic violence and addiction in order to keep or regain custody of their children. Filmed on location in San Rafael, California, Center Point, Inc. teaches the women skills for recovery, parenting and self-sufficiency. After the six month residency, the women move into the transition house and begin a new life in the community. With fewer restrictions the women must rise to the challenges of a new job, being a single mom and fending off temptation. As their stories unfold, the film takes an unflinching look at America’s war on drugs aimed at pregnant and parenting women with addictions, and the legacy of imprisonment and foster care on their children.
Through extraordinary relationships with the women, family members and staff at Center Point, filmmaker Sheila Ganz captures the roots of addiction and the women’s struggles to break the cycle of abuse, and fulfill their desire to be good mothers and self-sufficient. Intertwined with this character-driven story “Moms Living Clean” traces the progression of punitive and dehumanizing laws and policies directed at pregnant and parenting women raising the question: What is in the best interest of mothers, their children and society?
“Moms Living Clean” interweaves intimate interviews, cinema vérité, group sequences and drug policy narrative to tell a complex story about mothers with addiction and societal condemnation. The film blends natural lighting, haunting black and white images of the women’s past, and blue-tinted archival footage to tell this complex story. Original music adds emotion and tempo.
The Women:
Lisa S, 41, has spent 7 of the past 9 years in prison for drug possession and sales. She petitioned to go to treatment and give birth outside of prison. “I envision the future with a good job and me and my boyfriend probably getting married and raising our daughter in a clean environment.”
Leslie, 31, left Hawaii after pressing charges against her violent boyfriend who beat the crap out of her with her baby in her arms. She did online prostitution before entering the residency. After she was arrested, her mother took temporary custody of her 3 ½ year old daughter. She loves being a mom and “wants to be there for every part of her life.”
Rachel, 22, hid to avoid abuse as a child. She began drinking at 11 and using meth at age 13. Her daughters are 1 ½ and ten months. When her abusive boyfriend is arrested for selling drugs, she escapes to the residency. She wants to stop the cycle of abuse and get a good job.
Lisa R, 38, relapsed after three years. She was living at her mother’s house with her two daughters, 7 ½ and 3 ½. It hurts her to see how her addiction is affecting her children. “I caused those issues. They didn’t have to be there.” This time she is determined to stay in recovery.
Krista, 27, her father was physically abusive to her mother. Her boyfriend gave her meth and marijuana on her 16th birthday. Her infant son tested positive for drugs and is in foster care. She wants to regain custody of him and learn to be a better mom to him and her 8 year old daughter.
Julia, 24, almost lost custody of her newborn son when he tested positive for drugs. This is her first contact with the law. Two men could be his father, but neither one is willing to take the DNA test. She is looking forward to learning new skills and hopes her son won’t do drugs.
Harriett Gaines, Program Manager, is African American. She describes the six month residential program. Through group work and writing assignments the women confront their past, learn from concepts such as completion and integrity, acquire recovery and parenting skills, get their GED and find a job. She reveals she used drugs for many years and that her mom raised her son.
The impact of substance abuse is broadened through a multigenerational lens. LISA R’s mom, SYLVIA, talks about how drugs disrupted the family, her 8 year old daughter, CASEY, loves her mom very much. TREVOR, father of LISA S’s daughter, describes his struggle with recovery and desire to be a good parent.
Drug policy highlights include: two landmark cases convicting mothers who used drugs while pregnant, the impact on the fetus from paternal drug use, outcomes of studies in US and Europe on depression for pregnant women, and lifetime ban on anyone who serves time from receiving food stamps and temporary assistance to needy families In 2008, in the US there were only 88 women and children’s treatment programs in 36 states.
Scenes of the women include: Rachel goes to drug court, Lisa S moves in with her boyfriend and they have money problems, Krista wants to move out of transition and regain custody of her daughter, Rachel and Leslie graduate from Center Point and Julia enrolls in a community college.
Interweaving personal stories of addiction and recovery with drug laws “Moms Living Clean” explores the repercussions of incarceration in human terms and puts a new face on the methamphetamine epidemic ~ recovery and hope.

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