2017 NAME Film Festival
Sculpture at Fabrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba; photo by Aminah Cunningham
FILM FESTIVAL KICKOFF FILM
CUBA: In the NAME of Social Justice,
Produced and Directed by Mary E. Parks, American Spirit/PBS
For a third consecutive year, NAME has led a group of nearly two dozen educators on a cultural and professional exchange to Cuba. This summer's trip was captured on film for an American Spirit documentary. It shows NAME members traveling deep inside a biosphere community, dining with Cubans in their home, and engaging with students, educators, artists and musicians to experience culture, cuisine, and sustainability. This important documentary is airing on PBS and at this year's NAME conference. It will make you laugh, cry, enjoy and above all, help you understand how NAME educators are collaborating with Cuba to advance mutual understanding and hopefully, help bring down the blockade that has separated the two nations for more than half a century.
MULTICULTURAL FILM FESTIVAL DESCRIPTIONS -- Films shown November 2-4, 2017
Produced and directed by Jennifer Castillo and Saray Deiseil. Indigo Project Media. www.tugginc.com. 2015. 85 minutes.
This film tells the story behind the Campaign for an American DREAM (CAD), a group of six undocumented youth and an ally who risk their freedom when they publicly come out as undocumented and walk 3,000 miles to the nation's capital to organize for immigrant rights. These are college students, young professionals, activists, and community leaders. Follow their journey as they come out of the shadows, share their stories, empower communities, and put everything on the line to fight in what they believe is their civil rights movement. They are undocumented and unafraid. And some are UndocuQueer, too.
Black Girl in Suburbia.
Produced and Directed by Melissa Lowery. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 2016. 54 minutes.
For many Black girls raised in the suburbs, the experiences of going to school, playing on the playground and living day-to-day life can be uniquely alienating. Black Girl in Suburbia looks at the suburbs of America from the perspective of women of color. Filmmaker Melissa Lowery shares her own childhood memories of navigating racial expectations both subtle and over-including questions like, “Hey, I just saw a Black guy walking down the street; is that your cousin?” Through conversations with her own daughters, with teachers and scholars who are experts in the personal impacts of growing up a person of color in a predominately white place, this film explores the conflicts that many Black girls in homogeneous hometowns have in relating to both white and Black communities.
Beyond Standing Rock.
Produced and directed by Brian Malone. Fast Forward Films. www.tugginc.com. 2017. 71 minutes.
Beyond Standing Rock is a timely new documentary that shines a spotlight on the conflict surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline and the struggle for Native American rights against the backdrop of a new Trump administration. Over the course of this past fall thousands of tribal and non-Indian protesters traveled from all corners of the country and the globe to push back against the pipeline project. Dramatic confrontations between Native American protesters and riot-clad law enforcement became an international symbol for Native Americans' fight for sovereignty and self-determination over its own lands.
El Canto Del Colibri.
Produced and Directed by Marco Castro-Bojorquez. Frameline Films. www.frameline.org. 2015. 53 minutes.
Much like the seldom-heard song of the hummingbird, the voices of Latino fathers are rarely heard addressing LGBTQ issues. But in Marco Castro-Bojorquez’s El Canto del Colibrí, made in participation with Somos Familia and BAYCAT, these voices are amplified in a groundbreaking documentary—the first of its kind. Through raw, heartfelt testimonies, El Canto del Colibrí delves deeply into issues of immigration, prejudice, and isolation, while thoughtfully asking questions of these men’s communities, culture, and even their religious beliefs. The result is a powerful lesson on solidarity and humility in a film that both heals and inspires, ultimately building bridges of hope and solidarity among Latino fathers, their families, and community activists.
Dalya’s Other Country.
Produced and directed by Julia Meltzer. Good Docs. www.dalyasothercountry.com. 2017. 58 minutes.
In 2012 Dalya and her mother Rudayna fled Aleppo for Los Angeles as war took over. Months before, Rudayna learns a secret that destroys her marriage, leaving her single at midlife. Arriving in LA, Dalya enrolls as the only Muslim at Holy Family Catholic High School. Can mother and daughter remake themselves while holding on to their Islamic traditions? Come find out the results.
Gaucho del Norte’.
Produced and directed by Sofian Khan and Andres Caballero. Capital K Pictures. New Day Films. www.newdayfilms.com. 2015.
In the quiet, bucolic Patagonian countryside in the town of Bahia Murta with 587 inhabitants we meet Eraldo Pacheco, a thoughtful man who has recently arrived at a momentous decision. “Things are worse here than ever,” Eraldo tells his father as he announces his plan to move to the United States to fulfill a three-year contract tending sheep almost 6,000 miles away in rural Idaho. In this observational documentary, the imbalance of economic forces is seen in high relief. Once in the U.S., Eraldo encounters Johnny from Peru, a young man who has also made the difficult decision to leave his family behind. Both face the struggles ahead with characteristic strength, as well as moments of deep uncertainty. Did they make the right decision? Ultimately, their paths diverge as each faces the tension between being providers for their families and being present in their lives.
Produced and Directed by Vicky Du. Frameline Films. www.frameline.org. 2015. 13 minutes.
This film explores family, immigration and language through the voices of five queer and trans Asian-Americans from New York City. The subjects share stories about their families, and in doing so, shed light on the complicated histories that have shaped these intimate and personal relationships. This moving short is an illuminating patchwork documentary exploring family and culture through the personal stories of a diverse panoply of LGBTQ individuals.
Heather Booth: Changing the World.
Produced and Directed by Lilly Rivlin. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 2016. 62 minutes.
Heather Booth is the most influential person you have never heard of. The film profiles the renowned organizer and activist, whose remarkable career helped to impact the most pivotal moments in progressive movements over the last fifty years: from her involvement with Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Summer Project, to her founding of the JANE Underground in 1964 to her personal relationships with respected leaders such as Julian Bond and Senator Elizabeth Warren. This documentary is a compelling look at how social change happens.
I Know a Man ... Ashley Bryan.
Produced and Directed by Richard Kane and Robert Shetterly. www.ashleybryanfilms.org. 2016.
Meet this amazing 93-year-old creative wonder who skips and jumps in his heart like a child. He served in a World War II all-Black battalion and experienced the racism of a separatist Army and the carnage of D-Day. As a result he dedicated his life to creating beauty and joy, spreading love and awe through his art. He's a poet/illustrator of over 50 children's books, makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. Ashley lives on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. He spreads beauty through his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go”. His life story and the art he makes are an inspiration to people of all ages.
Inside the Chinese Closet.
Produced and Directed by Sophia Luvara. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 2016. 70 minutes.
In a nondescript lounge somewhere in Shanghai, men and women giggle, eyeing prospective partners, visibly nervous about making the first move. This isn’t your average matchmaking event—it’s a “fake-marriage fair,” where gay men and women meet to make matrimonial deals with members of the opposite sex in order to satisfy social and familial expectations of heterosexual unions. Inside the Chinese Closet is the intricate tale of Andy and Cherry looking for love and happiness in vibrant Shanghai. They are both homosexual but their families demand a (heterosexual) marriage and a baby from them. Because being single and childless would mean an unacceptable loss of face for their rural families. Will Andy and Cherry deny their happiness and sexual orientation to satisfy their parents’ wishes? The stories of Andy and Cherry mirror the legal and cultural progress that is happening in China against the backdrop of a nation coming to terms with new moral values.
My So-Called Enemy.
Directed by Lisa Gossels. Produced by Lisa Gossels & Eden Wurmfeld. New Day Films. www.newday.com. 2010. 89 minutes
Follow six courageous Palestinian and Israeli teenage girls who participated in a 10-day cross-cultural young women’s leadership program in the US. The film then documents how the transformative experience of knowing their “enemies” as human beings meets with the realities of their lives back home in the Middle East over the next seven years. Through the coming-of-age narratives of Adi, Gal, Hanin, Inas, Rawan and Rezan, audiences see how creating relationships across political, religious, cultural and physical divides are first steps towards resolving conflict. “My So-Called Enemy” presents the complexities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through a human lens – and the possibility and hope that come from listening to each other’s stories. Celebrating diversity and inclusion, while addressing issues of identity and “othering,” this film provides a platform for multi-faith and multicultural understanding.
Never Give Up: Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice.
Produced and Directed by Holly Yasui and Will Doolittle. www.minoruyasuifilm.org. 2016. 55 minutes.
This film relates the life history of an American hero. Minoru (Min) Yasui was born in Hood River, Oregon in 1916. He was the first Japanese American attorney in Oregon and during World War II, he initiated a legal test case by deliberately violating military orders that lead to the incarceration of over 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in U.S. concentration camps. He spent 9 months in solitary confinement awaiting his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him. After the war, he moved to Denver and continued to defend the human and civil rights not only of Japanese Americans but for Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, religious minorities, children and youth, the aged, low income people, etc. In the 1970s and 80s, he spearheaded the redress movement to win reparations and a formal apology from the government for the injustices against Japanese Americans during World War II.
Ohero:kon Under the Husk.
Produced and directed by Katisitsionni Fox. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 2016. 27 minutes.
Kaienkwinehtha and Kasennakohe are childhood friends on a journey to womanhood. From traditional families living in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne that straddles the US/Canada border, they choose to take part in an adolescent rites of passage ceremony called Ohero:kon, or Under the Husk. The girls prepare for a year in advance, learning necessary teachings and survival skills. The “Under the Husk” ceremony can be an arduous one, and once the spring arrives, the girls must face the spiritual, emotional and physical challenges that will shape the women they will become.
The Revival: Women and the Word.
Produced and directed by Sekiya Dorsett. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 2106. 62 minutes.
The Revival: Women and the Word chronicles the US tour of a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color. As the group tours the country, the film reveals their aspirations and triumphs, as well as the unique identity challenges they face encompassing gender, race and sexuality.
Revolucion!: Five Visions.
Produced and Directed by Nicole Cattell. El Sueno Pictures. email@example.com. 2006. 53 minutes.
Through their own words and images, this film frames the Cuban revolution through the art of photography, telling the personal stories of five photographers whose lives span nearly five decades of Cuban history. REVOLUCION offers a multi-faceted vision of the rise and fall of the revolutionary dream in Cuba. The beautiful film also offers a study in the role of artists in revolutions. Since the triumph of Fidel Castro’s revolution, Cuba has dared to dream of realizing a utopian society. Yet despite the revolution’s many achievements, (including health care, food, housing and education to nearly all Cubans) the cost has been severe—a matter of exile, life and death for thousands of Cubans. Those who remain on the island have suffered limits to their individual freedoms and effects of crippling economic sanctions. To some, the revolution is a celebrated success. To others, it is a dictatorship. And to many more, it falls somewhere in between. With Cuba on the brink of transformation and the clearly outdated U.S., it is necessary to form a new way of understanding the Cuban revolution which transcends the overly simplistic pro-Castro versus anti-Castro dialogue.
Produced and Directed by Zach Igngrasci and Chris Temple. Living On One. 1001 Media. Livingonone.org/Salaam neighbor. 2015. 75 minutes.
Two Americans deliberately head to the edge of war, just seven miles from the Syrian border, to live among 80,000 uprooted refugees in Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp. As the first filmmakers allowed by the United Nations to register and set-up a tent inside a refugee camp, Zach and Chris plunge into the heart of the world's most pressing humanitarian crisis. From meeting Um Ali, a woman struggling to overcome personal loss and cultural barriers, to the street smart, 10-year-old Raouf, whose trauma hides just beneath his everpresent smile, Zach and Chris uncover inspiring stories of individuals rallying, against all odds, to rebuild their lives and those of their neighbors.
70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green.
Produced and Directed by Ronit Bezalel. New Day Films. www.newdayfilms.com. 2015. 58 minutes.
For 70 years, on 70 acres stood a Chicago public housing community known as Cabrini Green. Home to thousands, misunderstood by millions, Cabrini Green once towered over Chicago’s most valuable neighborhoods. A looming reminder of inequality and poverty, Cabrini’s high rises were demolished and an African-American community cleared to make room for another social experiment: mixed-income neighborhoods. The film documents this upheaval: from the razing of the first buildings in 1996, through the mixed-income clashes, to a rally the night before the last high rise was demolished in 2011.
The Uncomfortable Truth.
Produced and Directed by Loki Mulholland. Taylor St. Films. www.Uncomfortabletruthmovie.com. 2017. 1 hour 25 minutes.
Loki Mulholland, the son of famous Civil Rights Activist, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, grapples with his family’s deep roots in racism as he unearths his family’s history and the truth behind their slave-owning past. Together with Luvaghn Brown, a Freedom Rider, Loki explores, through his very personal history, the United States’ institutions of racism that continue to haunt our country today. It is an unapologetic film that lays bare what we all need to understand about each other with an open and honest dialogue on race and society.