The Way Up

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


Meet the real innovators. Follow low-income families and communities as they take power collectively, building real-world solutions to poverty in America.


Americans think poverty is intractable.

Mauricio Miller thinks Americans are wrong. He sees poverty being solved every day by dedicated teams of innovators – low-income families and communities. These families, and Miller’s simple, disruptive strategy, are creating a movement. 

The Way Up will follow revolutionary anti-poverty thinker Mauricio Miller and the families and communities that are involved with his Family Independent Initiative (FII).  Their stories can change the way low-income Americans understand their power and their communities, the way policy makers and social service leaders view social mobility, and the way middle- and upper-income Americans view people in poverty.


We will follow the journeys of three individuals and their families and Mauricio Miller over the course of 18 months. Our observational, verté approach will be immersive and intimate; we want audiences to identify and empathize with our subjects and the choices that they make.

We hope to dramatize themes of opportunity and the American dream.  But rather than perpetuate the myth associated with these themes - one of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps - we want to show the truth: individuals and families rely on each other to pull themselves out of poverty and into the middle class.


Andrew Simonet - Producer/Writer

Andrew is a community artist and activist from Philadelphia. His performances challenged the boundaries of urban experience. In This Town is a Mystery, Simonet created performances with four Philadelphia demographically and culturally diverse households. Audience members traveled to the homes, watched the household perform, and then shared a potluck dinner. Simonet founded Artists U in 2006, a grassroots empowerment program for artists in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and South Carolina. Simonet’s book “Making Your Life as an Life as an Artist,” has been read by more than 80,000 artists since its release in 2014. His work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Creative Capital, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Surdna Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. His artwork has been presented by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Dance Theater Workshop (NYC), PS 122 (NYC), and Central Park Summerstage.

Byron Karabatsos - Director/Cinematographer/Editor

Byron Karabatsos is a community-based filmmaker whose films have screened at over 70 film festivals including the Dallas International Film Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival, the Denver International Film festival, and the Maryland Film Festival. The Exchange (2005), 4821 Parkside Avenue (2007), and SBC (2008) were broadcast on public television. He was commissioned by Microsoft to make a documentary about its School of the Future, and by the Knight Foundation for projects about the impact of arts and culture on neighborhoods. Byron received a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Film from Temple University, and teaches as a full-time faculty member at the University of the Arts. 


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