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"Daddy Don't Go" Documentary Looks At Disadvantaged Fathers Fighting To Be There For Their Kids

"What these men all have in common is they’ve realized the most revolutionary and powerful thing they can do in their own lives is take care of their children."

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An award-winning filmmaker whose films have appeared on PBS, Showtime and at the Sundance Film Festival is tackling a new project — a look at fathers struggling against poverty and their past to reach their potential as dads.

"I'm basically a public servant in filmmaker clothing,” co-director Emily Abt told BuzzFeed of how her career as a caseworker led her to films, including her latest, Daddy Don't Go.

Daddy Don't Go

Her films have looked at the human impact of welfare reform, the disproportionately high rate of HIV among African-American women, interracial friendships and now fatherhood amidst harsh circumstances.

Abt, right, and her co-director, Andrew Osborne, left, say the film captures a year in the lives of four young men in New York City. The filmmakers didn't want to shy away from the imperfections of their subjects.


"In the beginning of the process people said, 'If you want to make a film about fatherhood, don't you want the best fathers you can find?'" Abt said. "But we wanted men in really difficult situations, who are really committed to their children and to being a good dad. These dads have difficult circumstances — homeless, unemployed, or have major issues with the child’s mother. The average dad will be inspired and say, 'If they can be good dads then I can damn well be as well.'"


The documentary began filming in January and still needs about six more months to finish production, Abt said. But with the filmmakers going through their savings, they've decided to turn to Kickstarter, to raise $80,000 and finish the project.

Daddy Don't Go

"The life of an independent filmmaker nowadays is such that most of us have day jobs to make it work," Abt, who teaches film at Princeton University and does commercial projects on the side, said. The $80,000 will be used to pay off debt and expenses the production has incurred, including $25,000 in equipment, and help finish filming.

The dads include Nelson, 26, (below) a member of the Latin Kings gang, trying to stay away from trouble. He's a full-time father to his toddler son and two girls from his partner’s previous relationships.


The film also follows Alex, 26, a single father who lives with his toddler son in a Harlem shelter; Omar, 36, a single father who rescued his children from their abusive mother; and Roy, 28, an ex-offender who finds a second chance in his son’s loving arms, when a construction accident leaves him permanently disabled.

"What these men all have in common is they’ve realized the most revolutionary and powerful thing they can do in their own lives is take care of their children," Abt said.


"The film tries to celebrate the everyday blessings that go along with parenting and celebrate the critical parent child bond," she added. "You see conflicts and obstacles and you feel for them because you see how they are with their kids and its obvious what they’re fighting for."

If Daddy Don't Go receives its funding, it will finish filming in early to mid-2014.

Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

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