Raise Your Hand

Gia and her best friend Lila survived a rough childhood in a neighborhood where every kid has a sad story to tell. Now, as teenagers, Gia struggles to use her gift of writing to reclaim what the world has brutally taken away.

  • Jessica Rae
    Director
  • Jessica Rae
    Writer
  • Jessica Rae (Executive Producer / Producer)
    Producer
  • Evan Allen-Gessesee (Executive Producer / Producer)
    Producer
  • Margarita Reyes (Executive Producer / Producer)
    Producer
  • Adam Dick (Co-Executive Producer)
    Producer
  • Chanda Dancy (Co-Producer)
    Producer
  • Ambika Leigh (Co-Producer)
    Producer
  • Eileen Kennedy (Co-Producer)
    Producer
  • Jearnest Corchado
    Key Cast
    "Gia Rodriguez"
  • Hanani Taylor
    Key Cast
    "Lila "
  • Joel Steingold
    Key Cast
    "Amaris Bell"
  • Jess Nurse
    Key Cast
    "Ms. Ramsey "
  • DaJuan Johnson
    Key Cast
    "Chris "
  • Officer McCance
    Key Cast
    "Gregory Scott Cummins"
  • Officer Young
    Key Cast
    "Jeffrey Larson"
  • Kenny Vibert
    Key Cast
    "Marcus"
  • Micah Tarver
    Key Cast
    "Justin"
  • Nelcie Souffrant
    Key Cast
    "India"
  • Lyric
    Key Cast
    "Gracie Marie Bradley"
  • Shawn Turner
    Key Cast
    "Wish"
  • Pat Skipper
    Key Cast
    "Officer James "
  • Isabella Day
    Key Cast
    "Young Gia "
  • Sade Kimora Young
    Key Cast
    "Young Lila "
  • Gia's Mom (Leticia)
    Key Cast
    "Fenix Lazzaroni"
  • Judy Phu
    Cinematographer
  • Ambika Leigh
    Editor
  • Chanda Dancy
    Composer
  • Project Type:
    Feature, Student
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 31 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 2, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    199,082 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Social Justice Now Film Festival - 2020
    Los Angeles
    United States
    October 21, 2020
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Studio City International Film & TV Film Festival - 2021

    Winner - Best Director, Best Actress, Social Justice Award
  • La Femme International Film Festival - 2021
    Los Angeles
    Finalist - Best Feature
  • Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival - 2022
    Minneapolis
  • American Black Film Festival (ABFF) - 2021

    Finalist - Best Narrative Feature Film
  • Katra Film Series -2022

    Best Narrative Feature Film
  • SR Socially Relevant Film Festival - 2022
    New York
    IndiePix Vision Award, Finalist - Best Screenplay
  • Harlem International Film Festival - 2022
  • Miami Film Awards - 2021

    Best Narrative Feature
  • LA Sun Film Fest - 2021

    Best Narrative Feature Film
  • Toronto International Women Film Festival - 2021
  • Seattle Latino Film Festival

    Official Selection
Director Biography - Jessica Rae

Jessica's first feature film, Raise Your Hand, is an inner-city high school drama set in the 90s, where two young women fight to find their voice in the face of tragedy. The film has been featured in the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), the Social Justice Now Film Festival (SJNFF), La Femme International Film Festival, The Seattle Latino Film Festival, and the Studio City International Film & TV Festival, where Raise Your Hand won Best Director, Best Actress, and The Social Justice Award.

Jessica grew up mixed-race in a minority, working-class neighborhood in Minneapolis. Expression through storytelling has always been Jessica's preferred form of communication, whether it was directing neighborhood shows on her front lawn as a kid or directing self-written main stage productions in college because it created a necessary conversation. As a filmmaker, Jessica loves to bring fresh voices to both her comedic and dramatic works that are as diverse and diversely talented as the global impact of narrative film and television themselves.

Jessica has staffed on numerous feature films and television shows such as "Star Trek - Into Darkness" "Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day," "American Horror Story," "True Blood," "Bosch," and "Get Shorty" among others. She currently works with the Los Angeles Dodgers DodgerVision Team as the Game Day Producer for the in-stadium content. She was privileged to teach a course in Theatre Directing in Mexico City and has taught film courses at UCLA. She holds an MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television and a BFA in Theater Directing from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

While working as the Content Producer for Cuéntame, Jessica directed and produced the highly successful LGBT Latino Youth series An Honest Conversation, which aired as a feature-length documentary on Hulu. Her short film, Soleil, aired on KCET and was honored with the DGA Latino Film Jury Prize Award. She was the first recipient of the Bad Robot Diversity Fellowship, a program sponsored by J.J. Abram's production company. She serves as an Advisory Board Member of the Creating Creators Foundation as well as a board member of BEN, the UCLA Bruin Entertainment Network, and is a member of the Director's Guild of America. Finally, she and her dog Indi are both small and scrappy.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Greetings,

Thank you for taking the time to view our film Raise Your Hand. This film is deeply personal to me, the collection of stories represented are those based on my own memories growing up and those of my close friends and family.

The motivation to make this film came after attending a class lecture where the instructor carelessly, with excitement, exploited the concept of rape for a superficial discussion topic. As a survivor myself, I made the decision to take a personal risk and share my story, because I didn’t want those precious and painful biographical memories to be told without the honesty and truth they deserve. Being able to make a film about perseverance over police brutality, rape, underserved communities and their lack of opportunities, and friendship is a privilege in itself, but to be able to tell the stories of young people conquering their challenges through the arts is what makes this film so special to me, because that was me and my friends in high school.

It’s because of my real-life champions, some who are represented in this film, that I am now able to share his story, and all the stories represented in this movie. Not only are the character’s lives based in truth, but as the cast and crew joined together to make the film, they began sharing their own personal connections with the material, their stories of assault, of family struggles, of confrontations with the police. Our co-lead playing Lila, Hanani Taylor (The Orville, Criminal Minds), shared with us that her mother had an experience with sexual assault by a police officer when in school, and her mother talked her through the difficulties of the role to create the performance you see today.

The Raise Your Hand team is an eclectic mix of diverse members with mostly women in leading roles, including those of Director of Photography, Producer, Costume Designer, Production Designer, Editor, Composer, and Sound Designer just to name a few. Many of these crew members donated time, energy, and resources to the film, and lifelong friendships have been formed and strengthened through the process.

It is important to credit Miss Jearnest Corchado as our lead in the film, portraying the character of Gia, with grit and truth at its highest caliber. You can also see Jearnest in the recent Netflix release of Sneakerheads and Apple TV’s Little America to name a few. Also important to recognize are Joel Steingold (How to Get Away with Murder, Hawaii Five-0, and Shameless) who plays Amaris, Gregory Scott Cummins (Bosch, it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who plays Officer McCance, and DaJuan Johnson (Bosch, Grey’s Anatomy, and Agent Carter), who plays Gia’s stepdad.

We’ve put everything we have into this film, and it’s been a long five years of blood, sweat, and tears to make sure we did everything we possibly could to do justice for every frame seen on screen. From losing four days of production sound and having to ADR without a guide track, to endless sleepless nights from working sometimes three jobs a day to pay for the film costs almost all out of pocket, to setback after setback after setback. From the tragic loss of our incredibly talented composer’s husband to the birth of new babies, we have seen it all and then some, but the perseverance of this film speaks for itself. No one ever gave up on it because every single person involved believed in these stories and believed in our team. I’ll always be forever grateful to them. In the words of our lead character Gia, “No one will hear our stories unless we tell them”.

Thank you so much for your consideration,
Jessica Rae
Writer/Director Raise Your Hand