Capitol Alert

Nicole Boxer, filmmaker, continues tradition of political offspring

Sen. Barbara Boxer and her daughter Nicole Boxer (left) celebrate her win in San Francisco on Nov. 2, 2004.
Sen. Barbara Boxer and her daughter Nicole Boxer (left) celebrate her win in San Francisco on Nov. 2, 2004. The Sacramento Bee

What’s with the relatives of politicians going into documentary filmmaking?

Sascha Rice co-wrote, directed and produced a movie about her great-grandfather, called “California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown.”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, married to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, is an actor and made “Miss Representation,” about the scarcity of women in influential positions.

Maria Cuomo Cole, also a producer, is the daughter of the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and sister of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And Alexandra Pelosi, the journalist and writer-director of “Journeys with George” about former President George W. Bush, is the daughter of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“People confuse me with her all the time,” said Nicole Boxer, a filmmaker and producer – and the daughter of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

“It’s like, ‘You made Journey’s with George,’” she said. “It’s funny because people always confuse my mom with Nancy.”

Boxer was an executive producer on a pair of documentaries by Kirby Dick: “The Invisible War,” an Oscar-nominated investigation into sexual assault in the U.S. military, and “The Hunting Ground,” which probes rape crimes on college campuses and premiers at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, then on CNN.

Boxer’s directorial debut is “How I Got Over,” which follows 15 previously homeless women as they create an original play based on their life stories. It was an official selection and screened Monday at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. More showings are being scheduled with plans for a digital release.

“Art is free, and in the case of our movie, as the women got to tell their stories, it really lifted them up and gave them value,” Boxer said. “It’s kind of a touchy-feely thing, but it’s a tangible thing.”

She’s talked with U.S. senators as well as judges about ways to enlist art as a tool for recovery. And she suggested California and other states explore how to further support community projects like the one featured in the movie though small grants.

As for her preferred medium, Boxer said documentaries are helping fill a void caused by shrinking newsrooms. Newsom and Cole also worked on “The Invisible War.”

“This is a place where we can affect change or a conversation in a way maybe our parents did in a new, more modern way,” Boxer said of filmmaking.

“But also we’ve watched our parents go though these gnarly campaigns of fundraising and exhaustion. It’s a crazy life. But I do think that you get to have that same impact – if you’re lucky. And you get to tell a great story.”

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago.