Melissa Sage Fadim and Eda Davidman will co-chair The Gene Siskel Film Center at The School of The Art Institute’s annual fundraising gala on June 7. This year’s gala will honor Oscar winning and well respected actor Morgan Freeman in a “Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman.” Before the gala we decided to have a candid conversation with Eda and Melissa.
How did you come up with the theme “A Candid Conversation?”
Eda: I was driving home one day and was thinking about Morgan Freeman and when you think Morgan Freeman what comes to mind? Integrity, openness, real and I came up with the word candid and that’s what we did.
How did you get involved with the Siskel Film Center?
Melissa: I first became involved when they were building the site and also through Ellen Sandor and I love it. I don’t get involved in very many groups. I recently became more immersed in film through this idea I had about Mackinac Island. I’ve gone there for so many years and stayed with friends, so I thought to do something that shows the behind the scenes. The things we all take for granted, how it works and who are those people. Then the idea expanded to researching other islands that are only animal driven. There are islands without cars. That’s how the “Islands Lost in Time” documentary series came about and it has been accepted and will be distributed by American Public Television to air in the fall and my foray into film began.
The reason I love it here is it feels like family.
Eda: I got involved through Ellen Sandor. Ellen’s moto is the siskel center is all about tough art. Siskel became a home for me. It’s very interesting and rewarding to work with aspiring filmmakers who you get to meet and work with to raise funds. Over the last couple of years with our board’s involvement we’ve raised the bar, we’ve gone from a hippie board set to glamorous one (laughs). It’s a great place and this is one place I put a lot of energy outside of my family time. I like being able to come here and watch films that don’t exist in mainstream and to be exposed to that and then share with my peers.
As we move forward in digital age, philanthropy is taking a different face and form. It’s shifting from the traditional to kickstarter type. What is your vision for philanthropy for the Siskel Film Center moving forward?
I think our vision will stay the same. I don’t see much of it changing since we are also part of the School of Art Institute. It’s getting away from multiple larger events and start focusing more on our film festivals. The philanthropic community will back festivals that aligns with their mission or target and interest and will be better served raising money for that.
A lot of people do not know that we are part of the School of The Art Institute which predates the Museum itself.
How do you hope to reach that next generation of people that want to get involved with the Siskel Film Center?
We are at a point where we have grown from where we started and we are now in the process of doing outreach and we are still evolving. Our board consists of many individuals who share love for film but I don’t think we are ready to form a junior board quite yet.
The importance of the Siskel is not the board but more in the selection of films and the education we provide.
What we would like to see from the younger generation is for them to become members, be a part of the organization that way, invite your friends.
Philanthropy in 3 words:
Melissa: Melissa.Sage.Fadim (laughs no no I’m kidding) People think philanthropy is all about the money but it’s not necessarily. This is a caring organization, thats what makes us different. This group is not about the ego and we have fun.
Eda: Caring. Giving. Helping.You have to care about your organization, give back to the organization to give it purpose and you have to help your organization by spreading the word. It’s not just about writing a check its about being involved. We have a good time
A Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman will take place Saturday June 7 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. For tickets and sponsorship contact Dionne Smith.