Zero Weeks

The U.S. is the only developed nation without paid leave. ZERO WEEKS is the first documentary to explore America’s paid leave crisis and the cost of doing nothing. By following workers who are forced to choose between keeping their job or beating cancer, tending to an aging parent or being with a new baby, the film makes an economic, medical, business and social case for paid family leave. Paid leave is one of the few magic bullets that can help neutralize gender, racial and social disparity in the United States. ZERO WEEKS uses vintage imagery and playful animations along with compelling human stories to dismantle one of the most important issues of our time. It is the fourth film by award-winning director, Ky Dickens, a female director with a track-record for using her work to distill complex issues and shift public opinion.

  • Ky Dickens
    Sole Survivor, Fish Out of Water, The City that Sold America
  • Alexis Jaworski
    Sole Survivor
  • Amy McIntyre
    Sole Survivor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Social Justice
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    540,423 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Arri Alexa Mini & Sony FS7
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Camden International Film Festival
    United States
    September 16, 2017
    World Premiere
    New York City
    United States
    November 12, 2017
    New York
  • Colorado International Film Festival

    WINNER, Best Editing for a feature documentary
  • International Women's Film Festival
    Chicago, IL
    United States
  • Spotlight Film Awards

  • Cleveland International Film Festival
    United States
  • Bonita Springs International Film Festival
    Bonita Springs
Distribution Information
  • Freestyle Releasing
    Rights: All Rights, Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Hotel, Airline, Ship, Theatrical, Video / Disc, Paid TV
  • The Video Project
Director Biography - Ky Dickens

Ky’s first film, FISH OUT OF WATER, was a success on the festival circuit, winning four juror prizes and securing international distribution by First Run Features and Netflix. The film has been hailed as a "tool for reconciliation between the church and LGBTQ community." It was translated into Spanish, Russian, Italian and French Creole and has screened at over 500 churches and universities. Her second film, SOLE SURVIVOR, was acquired by CNN Films for broadcast and theatrical release, and was named the "Best Feature Film" at the 2013 BMA Awards. In addition to ZERO WEEKS, she is also in post-production on THE CITY THAT SOLD AMERICA about Chicago’s crucial place in American consumer culture. Ky received a Focus Award for “Achievement in Directing” from Women in Film and is a member of Film Fatales and the Gene Siskel Film Center Community Council. She lives in Chicago with her wife, daughter, dog and three chickens.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Artist Statement | Ky Dickens

When I was on the festival circuit with my last film, SOLE SURVIVOR, I was pregnant. I promised my wife that I'd take a few years off from independent film to focus on our new family. At the time, I was on staff at a production company - a place that I'd help build for eleven years. When I told them that I was pregnant, they told me that because they were a small company, "they didn't have to do anything." That's where ZERO WEEKS starts.

Paid leave is something that I never thought about until I needed it. It's something most of us don't think about unless we become ill, have an aging parent, a child or an injured spouse. But my run-in with paid leave, made me realize that the economic security and health of our nation faces a crisis without paid leave. My favorite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, says that art should spring from necessity. ZERO WEEKS sprang out of necessity. I did not take time off after having my baby - I plunged into making this film about America's paid leave crisis and the cost of doing nothing.

The absence of paid leave in this country is a personal and public health catastrophe that leaves nobody untouched. Everyone is going to grow old and many of us will have children, become ill, and have a sick spouse or loved one. Being able to take
time off is critical to early childhood development, and to personal and public health. But far too many Americans do not have access to paid leave and are unclear what they can do to about it.

My purpose as a filmmaker lies within the ability to tell stories that haven’t been told before. I’m interested in digging beneath headlines and common perspectives, into stories that have been buried by time, injustice, ignorance or lack of interest. If history is commonly written by those with privilege, power, access and
prominence, I want to tell the stories of those who have been forgotten, lost or left out. ZERO WEEKS is one of these.

It illuminates how our country’s lack of paid family leave hurts businesses and families alike. The time for ZERO WEEKS is now. Hundreds of businesses are considering paid leave and more than
20 states have policies in play that could allow for it. We want to leverage this moment and position the film as a critical resource for institutions and advocates committed to bringing paid leave about. Among business leaders.