Missing Pieces

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812-1865) became arguably the most famous violin virtuoso of his time. His technical virtuosity easily matched Paganinni's while his sense of musical pathos and humor far exceeded the man whose name today has become synonymous with musical greatness. And yet, Ernst's name has virtually vanished from the canon of nineteenth century musicians.

This documentary follows the course of a handful of musicians, scholars and enthusiasts as they try to revive Ernst's music and his reputation for 21st Century audiences. Travelling to the Czech Republic, Ernst's birthplace, and documenting the production of a complete set of Ernst's works, the documentary seeks the causes of Ernst's near-disappearance - atributed variously to his Judaism, his peripatetic lifestyle and shifts in cultural fashion - while exploring the complexity and beauty of his works.


“Closure” is a feature-length documentary examining the issues and events surrounding the closure of a state operated developmental center (SODC) in Illinois.  At the core of the film are the lives of some of the 300 residents – many of whom have lived in state facilities for decades – who have struggled to identify alternative living and support arrangements prior to the June 2010 closure of Howe Developmental Center.  

Once recognized nationally as a state-of-the-art facility with progressive social supports and treatment plans, Howe utilized “cottage” style houses that accommodated 8 to 10 individuals each. The center aspired to nurture home-like environments while providing a range of medical and rehabilitative services.  Three Illinois centers replicated the model in the 'seventies, as state agencies promoted them as more humane alternatives to older institutional settings.

However, a growing number of disability rights advocates and self-advocacy groups began asserting that community integrated settings were the model of choice for the 6,000 individuals with developmental disabilities who relied on Illinois' support. With the force of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision – which mandates that people with disabilities be given the reasonable choice of living in a “least restrictive setting” – many community proponents have asserted that SODCs violate the rights and freedoms of their residents. Advocates of SODCs, on the other hand, assert that these facilities are, in fact, the most appropriate and least restrictive for many individuals who have severe medical and behavioral issues that would put them at risk in the community.

“Closure” explores the complex interplay between individual rights and well-being, definitions of community, and the social dynamics informing the services to this highly diverse population.