“Madonna of the Mills” Opens 7th Annual Artivist Film Festival in New York City

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Documentary Takes On “Puppy Mill” Trade in America Through Personal Story of New York Woman Who Has Rescued More Than 2,000 Dogs

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – November 29, 2010 – “Madonna of the Mills,” a powerful and inspiring documentary about the horrendous “puppy mill” trade in America – and a Staten Island woman’s efforts to change it – will open the 7th Annual Artivist Film Festival in New York City on Thursday, December 9, 2010, at 7:30pm at the Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street at Canal Street.   The first screening sold out within 24 hours; a second screening has been added on Friday, December 10, at 6:30pm in the same theater.   The film was directed by Andy Nibley and produced by Kelly Colbert and their Manhattan-based production company, Umbrella Girl Media.

“Madonna of the Mills” shines an intense light on one of America’s nastiest secrets – that the cute puppies we see and adore in pet stores across the country are virtually all raised in breeding “mills” that condemn their mothers to miserable lives of incarceration in tiny, unsanitary, wire cages and often to brutal, premature deaths when they are no longer able to produce litters.   “These dogs are never allowed outside their cages, never walked, never petted.” explains Nibley, a former journalist and the CEO of a major public relations agency until he left his job to make this documentary.  “They live terrible lives and suffer all kinds of physical and psychological damage, all to profit their owners.  It’s outrageous.   I get angry every time I think about it.”

While “Madonna of the Mills” takes an unflinching look at the animal cruelty that drives this shadowy industry, first-time director Nibley doesn’t dwell on the gruesome.   Rather he tells the story through the eyes and actions of Laura F., the Madonna of the Mills, a New York City office manager who stumbled upon this dark secret four years ago and vowed to save as many of the breeding dogs as she possibly could.   Nibley also follows four dogs from the time their lives are spared until they are nursed back to health by rescue organizations and placed with caring families.

“Laura has now rescued over 2,000 dogs from Amish and Mennonite farmers in Pennsylvania, one of the centers of puppy milling in the country,” says the director, who is married to producer Colbert.  They own Maisy, one of the rescue dogs featured in the film.   “My love of my wife – and her love of Maisy – inspired me to make this movie.   But Laura truly inspired us all.   In the process of rescuing all those dogs, Laura forever changed her own life and the lives of those families fortunate enough to adopt one of these remarkable ‘puppy mill’ survivors.”

With “Madonna of the Mills,” Nibley and Colbert hope to build awareness and create a national movement to legislate “puppy mills” out of existence.  They have won the endorsement of the Humane Society of the United States and will donate 20 percent of the film’s revenues to that organization.  “’Madonna of the Mills’ is a powerful, important documentary that can help blow the lid off of the horrendous practice of puppy mills,” says Jonny Vasic, program director at HSUS’s Animal Content in Entertainment office.  “Everyone should see this film.”  The documentary also features music by Dave Mason, Patti Paige, Moby and other established artists.

For more information about “Madonna of the Mills,” please visit www.madonnaofthemills.com.  For interview requests, contact Scott Busby at scottb@thebusbygroup.com or 310.475.2914.


The Artivist Film Festival, which is sponsored by the Artivist Collective, is in its seventh year and is dedicated to strengthening the voices of advocate artists – “Artivists” – while raising public awareness of human rights, children’s advocacy, environmental preservation and animal advocacy.

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