Chocolate Milk

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


Chocolate Milk is a food documentary that takes a detailed look at black motherhood, breastfeeding, and the multi-billion dollar business of feeding black babies.


What do race, sex, nutrition and motherhood have in common? They all play a role in the gap between breastfeeding rates for African American women compared to White and Latino women in the U.S. From nutrition to bonding, breastfeeding is fundamental to the physical and emotional development of a healthy child. But if breastfeeding is so crucial, why aren’t more black mothers doing it? Chocolate Milk explores how slavery, economics, and society have influenced the way black Americans view intimacy, health and the right and wrong way to raise a child.


As a filmmaker and public health professional my mission is to highlight social and health issues through narrative and documentary film. Three years ago, I learned about the disparity in breastfeeding among African American women and was struck by the link between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of infant mortality, infection, asthma, obesity, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases that disproportionately affect the black community. With all the benefits of breastmilk, I knew there had to be some compelling reasons for the gap between breastfeeding rates for African American women compared to White, Latino and Asian women in the U.S - and I wasn't disappointed. Interviews with health experts, academics, and mothers revealed a complex web of social and economic pressures, including slavery and wet nursing, biased healthcare settings, inadequate maternity leave, and a $11.5 billion formula industry that targets low income and minority communities. These factors have made it difficult to establish breastfeeding as a social norm in the black community. But there is hope in the numerous women across the country who’ve organized to create culturally relevant breastfeeding support systems in their own communities. My goal is to create a compelling narrative that sheds light on the issue, its origins and the story of some courageous women who are working tirelessly to close the gap. 


Elizabeth Bayne - Director/Producer

Elizabeth Bayne is a producer, director and public health communications strategist. A member of Women in Film Los Angeles, Film Independent and the American Public Health Association, Elizabeth is committed to exploring health and social issues affecting marginalized communities. She has successfully bridged the worlds of public health and film to create over 250 impactful and engaging online videos, 4 public service campaigns, and 4 short films. Her work has been recognized with one Silver and three Bronze Telly Awards, a People’s Bronze Telly, a Gold CASE and CASE Circle of Excellence Silver Award, a Communicator Award, a Gold Davey Award and a Best Shorts Competition Award. Elizabeth is currently submitting her latest narrative work, LAS CHICAS (2016) to film festivals. Her next projects include television and several narrative films.

Sandra Valde - Director of Photography

 Sandra Valde-Hansen is a freelance cinematographer with credits spanning feature films, documentaries, and television. Sandra got her start in documentary, working for an Emmy-award winning documentary cameramen, Tony Foresta, who taught her the beauty of the image is found in simplicity. She attended the American Film Institute’s MFA program in Cinematography where she now serves on the faculty. She had the invaluable opportunity to mentor under Stephen Lighthill, ASC, Steven Poster, ASC, Larry Parker, and Alan Caso, ASC. Since graduating from AFI, Sandra has been able to take her passion of cinematography throughout all mediums of storytelling. Sandra shot Gregg Araki’s last two features, KABOOM and WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD. Her work has screened at film festivals, including Sundance, South by Southwest (SXSW), and Cannes.

Zoanne Clack - Executive Producer

 Zoanne Clack is an American television producer, writer, story editor, actress, and medical consultant. Clack's most notable work has been on the medical drama series Grey's Anatomy, in which she has served as executive story editor for twenty-three episodes, producer for nineteen episodes and writer for fifteen episodes. She has also served as an extra for the show. Her other work includes medical supervisor on ER, writer on Presidio Med and minor acting roles in The District and Philly. Born in Missouri City, Texas, she attended Northwestern University majoring in communication studies with a concentration in neurobiology. She attended medical school at UT Southwestern before doing her residency in Emergency Medicine at Emory University. She has a Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Behavioral Sciences and spent one year working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in international emergency medicine developing emergency medicine programs for Tanzania and Palau.

Mark Harris - Consultant

Professor Mark Jonathan Harris, of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, is an Academy-Award winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and novelist. Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are The Redwoods, a documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a redwood National Park, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 1968. The Long Way Home (1997), a film made for the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the period immediately following the Holocaust won the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (1997). Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport was produced for Warner Bros. and won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary in 2000. In 2014, it was also selected for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry. 


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The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024


UPDATE - March 17, 2019

Last year we recieved the great honor of being awarded a grant from the W.K.Kellogg Foundation to complete our film!

The grant amount of $197,273 will allow us to complete production and post-production with the goal of screening the film later this year for National Breastfeeding Month in August. Many thanks to all of our supporters from 2016 to today who've helped make this film a reality!

>>Read the press release here


UPDATE - July 12, 2017

My production company graybayne film/media was awarded a CCI Creative Economic Development Fund Grant towards the production of Chocolate Milk. The grant amount of $12,500 will cover the purchase of equipment and sotware that will allow us to reduce rental costs and reallocate funds towards crew and travel.

Many thanks to the Center for Cultural Innovation!

>>Read the press release here

UPDATE - November 03, 2016

We have some exciting news! Chocolate Milk now has the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) as a fiscal sponsor, making all donations tax-deductible. We also had our first pledge this summer from Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) for $1,500 and our first official donation of $100 from an anonymous attendee at the Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) Seminar this October! In addition, we have secured partnerships with the following non-profits to provide expertise and help get the word out about the film:

Soul Food for Your Baby
La Leche League USA
National Medical Association

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