This Film, dedicated to my loving mother, Donna, whose bravery, sacrifice, smile, and heart have shaped the man I am today, was realized to be used as a tool to inspire and empower other families to try to break free of negative conditioning, stereotypes, patterns, and cycles. It honors the strength of women all over the world and hopefully it will also encourage men to acknowledge and share their emotions with the women and children who love them.
May we unite in solidarity and collective spirit to spread love in the face of adversity and shift to a global consciousness that propels movement towards helping undo thousands of years of damage.
It is also dedicated, in loving memory, to all of the beautiful souls who have lost their lives due to domestic violence.
A young mother's "American Dream" turns into a living nightmare, until she finds the inner strength to listen to a voice she hadn't heard before: her own.
Jaret Martino and Love Wins Productions is committed to hiring female crew
Donna with a panel of survivors at an industry pre screening event at Guild Hall
Jaret and Donna with
Co-Writer Pat Branch
Starring Kate Amundsen as Donna. (Shameless, Westworld, The Mindy Project, Stitchers)
“My first words to Donna were, "I'm not here to judge your choices. I just want to tell your story as authentically as I can." She allowed me into the deepest, darkest, most intimate corners of her psyche & I tried to exploit that privilege without sensationalizing it. I'm from West Philly and Harlem; such different worlds from Long Island, but the Martinos welcomed me like I always belonged and then they let me stay. I was even able to weave a little of my own family's narrative into the film about this family that has *adopted* me and assured me that just like my blood family, they, too, are home. It's a journey, a family, and a home that I am quite proud to be a part of.” - Pat Branch (co-writer)
Kate Amundsen met the real Donna in 2014 at our staged reading
Making “Donna: Stronger Than Pretty” has been the experience of a lifetime. Playing the lead in a feature length film shooting on location in New York is every actor’s dream come true! However more importantly, I got to help tell a timely story that is all too common and yet mostly ignored. “Donna”, based on a true story, follows a woman who risks her life walking away from a dangerous relationship. She is her own hero. Playing “Donna” was an extraordinary honor and one I will never forget. I am so grateful to the Martino family for trusting me to help tell their deeply personal story. Our hope is to continue shining a light on domestic violence for women and men like Donna. We can’t wait to share our film with you! - Kate Amundsen
Click photos to listen to interviews!
Rotten Tomato's critic Debbie Lynn Elias
The Making of DONNA:
Seven years ago, what started as a journal entry morphed into a screenplay filled with touching and important moments. Actors were cast for a staged reading; actors who, we're proud to say, went on to perform in our short film, Stronger Than Pretty.
We began to build an audience, cross marketing with hundreds of organizations that aligned with our message. Themes of vulnerability, social conditioning, and how to break cycles of abuse emerged and created so many healing conversations for my family and for our audiences. The short also created what became an extended family of cast and crew who reunited to realize our feature film, DONNA.
The shoot included two hundred actors and fifty vintage cars, as well as fifty locations throughout Long Island and Brooklyn. The story spans forty years, 1966-2006, and it was important for us to juxtapose the beauty of Long Island against the grittiness of this particular narrative. We utilized original lenses from each decade to help simulate time capsules of some of the greatest history of the Island. Filmmakers live in a unique world where we can make and take opportunities that will create ripple effects of change. DONNA is a film that can help start conversations that often begin with shame but end with hope.