NAME 2022 MCFF Multicultural Film Festival Selections
Adios Amor. Producers: Laurie Coyle and Jane Greenberg. Director: Laurie Coyle. Good Docs. www.gooddocs.net. 2018. 59 min.
In ADIOS AMOR, the discovery of lost photographs sparks the search for a hero that history forgot— Maria Moreno, a migrant mother who sacrificed everything but her twelve kids in the passionate pursuit of justice for farmworkers. Years before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta launched the United Farm Workers, Maria picked up the only weapon she had—her voice—and became an outspoken leader in an era when women were relegated to the background. The first farm worker woman in America to be hired as a union organizer, Maria’s story was silenced and her legacy buried—until now.
Ale Y Jose. Directed by Erin Semini Kokdil. The Video Project. Videoproject.org. 2020. 24 minutes.
Alejandra Matias and Yoselina Bazan are two friends and DREAMers from Oakland, California. Given cameras to self-document their personal experiences, the two share their various hopes and fears over a period of six months, reimagining what it means to be a teenage girl in the United States. Among the everyday issues of balancing a school, home, and work life, they also grapple with the uncertainties surrounding their citizenship in the midst of legal challenges thrown at DACA recipients during the Trump presidency. The film weaves together their personal home videos with interview and observational footage to captures their various struggles with an unknown future. Ale is balancing a four-day work week at a part-time job on top of her senior year of high school. Yose faces a lack of emotional support at home. As they open up to the camera, they also speak about putting up a tough front to protect themselves lest anyone take advantage of them.
Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066. Directed by Jon Osaki. New Day Films. www.newday.com. 2018. 65 min.
ALTERNATIVE FACTS: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 is a documentary feature film about the false information and political influences which led to the World War ll incarceration of Japanese Americans. The film sheds light on the people and politics that influenced the signing of the infamous Executive Order 9066 which authorized the mass incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans. ALTERNATIVE FACTS exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. ALTERNATIVE FACTS also examines the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant and religious communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government. ln today's climate of fear and "fake news" this story is a cautionary tale about this country's democracy and the dire consequences of allowing politics and misguided rhetoric towards targeted groups to drive decisions about public policy.
Black Boys. Directed by Sonia Lowman. The Video Project. Videoproject.org. 2020. 95 min.
Black Boys illuminates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. An intimate, inter-generational exploration, Black Boys strives for insight to black identity and opportunity at the nexus of sports, education, and criminal justice. Speaking with an array of figures — ranging from educators, athletes, journalists, activists, parents, and youth — the documentary explores the body, mind, voice, and heart of Black boys and the double edged sword of having to build up their own self worth while knowing the world is not built for them. As various Black men and boys open themselves up to the camera, the emotional landscape of racism and its effects on them are revealed. Interspersed throughout the documentary is archival footage of police brutality, protesting, and historic lynchings to historically demonstrate the ways in which the voices of Black men have been ignored and devalued for successive generations. When speaking about ways in which to break thee various cycles, several Black men hold up the beauty of a healthy relationship with a caring adult. Though societal fear and negativity exist in reaction to their very existence, the power of love can serve as a healer for a variety of traumas.
Chinatown. Produced and Directed by Yi Chen. Good Docs. www.gooddocs.net. 2016. 26 minutes.
As Chinatowns across the country are experiencing gentrification, just over 300 Chinese American residents remain in Washington, D.C.’s historic Chinatown. Most of them are seniors living in the federally subsidized section 8 project Wah Luck House and have been pushing for the right to remain in the neighborhood as it undergoes development and rising property values since the early 1970s. Through the stories of three senior activists, the documentary takes an intimate look at the past, present and future of a changing neighborhood from the perspective of its underrepresented low-income community. Just like when the 1960s Civil Rights Movement inspired many Chinese Americans into action, today’s D.C. Chinatown community has overcome the political and cultural isolation and reached out to nonprofit and legal organizations for education and representation in their on-going activism for equality and justice. The documentary sparks the important conversation of what the future will hold for Chinatowns across North America.
Coded Bias. Directed by Shalini Kantayya. Women Make Movies. Wmm.com. 2020. 90 min.
When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that many facial recognition technologies misclassify women and darker-skinned faces, she is compelled to investigate further and start the Algorithmic Justice League. It turns out that artificial intelligence, which was defined by a homogeneous group of men, is not neutral. What Buolamwini learns about widespread bias in algorithms drives her to push the U.S. government to create the first-ever legislation to counter the far-reaching dangers of bias in a technology that is steadily encroaching on our lives. Centering on the voices of women leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected, Coded Bias asks two key questions: what is the impact of Artificial Intelligence’s increasing role in governing our liberties? And what are the consequences for people stuck in the crosshairs due to their race, color, and gender?
Creating Gender Inclusive Schools. Jonathan Skurnik, director. New Day Films, www.newdayfilms.com 2016. 20 min.
In Creating Gender Inclusive Schools the Peralta Elementary School in Oakland, CA demonstrates the power of an open and honest conversation about gender.
The school brought in the staff of Gender Spectrum to provide training for teachers and administrators as well as an age-appropriate curriculum for students. During this step, everyone involved was empowered to look at their own personal confusion, bias and feelings around gender. Parents are brought into the mix next and add to the spirited discussion about creating a safe place for all of our children to be themselves. A week of classroom activities helps the students learn about gender, stereotyping, and bullying. Their insightful and intuitive discussions will open your eyes to how comfortable young people can be when given the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about gender. Creating Gender Inclusive Schools demonstrates that it’s not only possible, but that it’s downright fun, to train an entire public elementary school community to be inclusive of transgender and gender expansive youth. The film is being used in schools and school districts throughout North America to train and inspire K12 school communities to be inclusive and welcoming of all students, regardless of where they fall on the spectrums of gender identity and expression. The film is part of a series called the Youth and Gender Media Project that has films and study guides for every constituent in a K12 community. To purchase this or any of the four films for your school, please visit New Day Films.
Cured. Producers: Patrick Sammon, Bennett Singer, Mridu Chandra and Lawanne Jones. Directors: Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer. Good Doc. www.gooddocs.net. 2020. 80 minutes.
CURED takes viewers inside the campaign that led to a pivotal yet largely unknown moment in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Combining eyewitness testimony with newly unearthed archival footage, the film reveals how a small group of impassioned activists achieved this unexpected victory.
Curtain Up. Produced and Directed by Hui Tong and Kelly Ng. Good Docs. www.gooddocs.net. 2020. 68 min.
In America, every child of immigrants has an assimilation story, but not all of them involve being actors in a student adaptation of the hit musical Frozen. In New York City's Chinatown, the elementary school theater club of PS 124 prepares to stage a production of Frozen Kids. As these Asian American students gear up and rehearse for their big musical production with nervous excitement, they also contend with cultural stereotypes, family expectations, post-graduation uncertainties and the pressures that come with being young and bi-cultural. Through rehearsals and time behind the scenes, the students unveil their dilemmas with honesty, humor and insight. CURTAIN UP! shares a kids-eye view of identity, culture and the heartbreaks that come with growing up.
Desmond Tutu: Children of the Light. Producer/Director: Dawn Engle. PeaceJam Productions. www.PeaceJam.org. 2014. 92 min.
'Desmond Tutu: Children of the Light' is the first documentary to tell the life story of Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, one of the fathers of modern-day South Africa. With extensive archival footage, family photos and never before seen interviews with Tutu and family, 'Children of the Light' is a personal look into the legacy of one of the greatest peacemakers of our time. It combines a sweeping view of South African history with perspective on the life of one of its most influential figures, beloved across the world. Born to an uneducated mother, Tutu recalls looking to figures like Americans Jackie Robinson and Cab Calloway as early inspirations in a segregated society where for generations the majority Black population were oppressed by racist laws and violence. Produced by our friends at PeaceJam, this is one film in their wonderful series: The Nobel Legacy Film Series, all available at www.PeaceJam.org/.
Disturbing the Peace. Directed by Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young. Produced by Stephen Apkon and Marcina Hale. Bullfrog Films. 2016. 86 min.
Available on DVD for school and library use: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/dtp.html
In a world torn apart by conflict—in a place where the very idea of peace has been abandoned—a determined sense of optimism has emerged through an unlikely alliance.
DISTURBING THE PEACE follows former enemy combatants—Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison—who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say "enough" through the formation of the nonviolent activist group Combatants For Peace. The film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed conflict to nonviolent peace activists determined to inspire others to become active participants in the re-shaping of our world.
Daughter of a Lost Bird. Directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney. Women Make Movies. Wmm.com. 2021. 66 min.
“Lost birds” – a term for Native children adopted out of their tribal communities. Right after the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 became the law of the land, Kendra Mylnechuk Potter was adopted into a white family and raised with no knowledge of her Native parentage. This beautiful and intimate film follows Kendra on her journey to find her birth mother April, also a Native adoptee, and return to her Lummi homelands in Washington State. With a sensitive yet unflinching lens, director Brooke Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish) documents Kendra and April as they connect with relatives and navigate what it means to be Native, and to belong to a tribe from the outside looking in. Along the way, Kendra uncovers generations of emotional and spiritual beauty and pain and comes to the startling realization that she is a living legacy of U. S. assimilationist policy. By sharing a deeply personal experience of inherited cultural trauma, the film opens the door to broader and more complicated conversations about the erasure of Native culture and questions of identity surrounding adoption.
El Cacao. Produced and Directed by Michelle Aguilar. New Day Films. www.newday.com. 2019. 20 minutes.
In the lush rainforest of Bocas del Toro, Panama, an indigenous cacao farmer, his wife and grandchildren confront environmental and economic complexities as they grow, harvest and sell cacao beans for a global chocolate market. Does Fair Trade Certification really work? Documenting the exceptional wisdom, unconditional devotion and proven ancient farming techniques of one hard-working Ngäbe farmer, Samuel Murillo, El Cacao complicates the question by examining the fairness of his trade. *Companion discussion guide also available.
Far East Deep South. Producers: Baldwin Chiu and LarissaLam. Director: Larissa Lam. New Day Films. 2020. www.newday.com 76 minutes
Far East Deep South is an award-winning documentary that sheds light on the history of Chinese in the American South and the discrimination they faced during the late 1800s to mid-1900s through the emotional journey of Charles Chiu and his family as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. With the help of local residents and historians, the family learns about the interconnected relationship between the Black and Chinese communities in the Jim Crow era and the impact of restrictive immigration policies that kept their family apart for generations. The Chiu family’s unforgettable story offers a poignant perspective on race, immigration, and American identity. The film was previously broadcast on PBS and has been featured on CBS News, USA Today and more. Discussion guide available.
Hunting in Wartime. Directed by Samantha Farinella. New Day Films. Newday.com. 2015. 66 min.
Hunting in Wartime profiles Tlingit veterans from Hoonah, Alaska who saw combat during the Vietnam War. The veterans talk about surviving trauma, relating to Vietnamese civilians, readjusting to civilian life, and serving a government that systematically oppresses native people. Their stories give an important human face to the combat soldier and show the lasting effects of war on individuals, families and communities. Hunting in Wartime premiered on National PBS and won the Big Sky Award at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism in Documentary and the Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking Award at the Inwood Film Festival in NYC. The film has screened in over thirty venues including the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, The National Archives, the American Indian Film Festival, the Hanoi Cinematheque and the Cambodia International Film Festival.
Nice Chinese Girls Don’t: Kitty Tsui. Women Make Movies. Wmm.com. 2019. 20 minutes.
In Nice Chinese Girls Don’t, Kitty Tsui recounts her emergence as a poet, artist, activist, writer, and bodybuilder in the early days of the Women’s Liberation Movement in San Francisco. She narrates her experience of arriving to the States as an immigrant from Hong Kong by way of her own original poetry and stories. Tsui wrote the groundbreaking Words of a Woman Who Breathes Fire, the first book written by an Asian American lesbian. She is considered by many to be one of the foremothers of the API, Asian Pacific Islander, lesbian feminist movement. In 2018, APIQWTC, Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community honored her with the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement. In 2019, her alma mater, San Francisco State University inducted Tsui into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Her forthcoming books include Nice Chinese Girls Don’t, Battle Cry: Poems of Love & Resistance, and Fire Power: Poems of Love & Resilience. Tsui currently lives in Oakland, California, and is writing a screenplay, Unmasked.
No Place to Grow. Produced and directed by Michelle Aguilar. New Day Films. 2020. 27 minutes.
No Place to Grow follows a group of Latinx farmers who find themselves representing a movement to save the last green space centered within a neighborhood facing gentrification in Santa Cruz, Ca. Over time we find out what happens when migrated farming traditions intersect with the “urban growth machine”. Set in a small city known for its liberal ideology, a community becomes conflicted as the fate of the garden is in jeopardy. *Companion discussion guide also available.
Proper Pronouns. A Film by Meg Daniels and Manie Robinson. The Video Project. Videoproject.org. 2021. 65 minutes.
There are 30 transgender, ordained ministers in the United States. Six are in North Carolina. Dawn Flynn, Mykal Shannon, Liam Hooper, and Debra Hopkins fight intolerance and discrimination in the Bible Belt and battle narrow-mindedness within the religious community, fellow state natives, and their own families. In particular, the film follows Dawn, who at 61-years-old was publicly outed by a hairdresser. Being forced to reveal her double life sent Dawn on a downward spiral that cost her pastoral license, ministry, threatened her marriage, and made her wonder if life was still worth living. After therapy and deep self-reflection, Dawn fought back, making to decision to transition and start her journey to reclaim her life, finally finding the courage to embrace her truth and the calling to help others embrace theirs. But her battle for this new life left collateral damage such as her 30-year-marriage to her wife, Pam. Proper Pronouns is an observational film. In order to live as their authentic selves, some of their loved ones experienced personal identity crises. Each minister bravely preaches from a pulpit despite the danger they face not only as a transgender person living in the South, but also as transgender ministers navigating their way through local, state, and national governing bodies who decide what it means to be a human being.
Reparations. Directed by Jon Osaki. New Day Films. www.newday.com. 2021. 30 minutes.
Reparations explores the four-century struggle to seek repair and atonement for slavery in the United States. Black and Asian Americans reflect on the legacy of slavery, the inequities that persists, and the critical role that solidarity between communities has in acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in America. This story is told by Black and Asian Americans who believe that our collective liberation can only be achieved by standing with one another. Reparations seeks to raise awareness of the Black reparations struggle and how vital it is to healing this country.
Soledad. Directed by Lisa Molomot. New Day Films. Newday.com. 2021. 24 minutes. Soledad tells the story of a young woman from Central America who was imprisoned in the Eloy Detention Facility when she sought asylum in the United States in 2017. Soledad set out on a perilous journey from her homeland after enduring horrific persecution where she was kidnapped, sex-trafficked, tortured and nearly killed. Attorney Shefali Milczarek-Desai, who took the case pro bono, mobilized a dream team of professional women, all of whom agreed to work for free on the case. Together, they secured Soledad's release from Eloy and ultimately prevailed on her asylum claim in a rare victory for an asylum seeker in the U.S.
Starting at Zero. A film by Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, Firestarter Interactive and Willa Kammerer. The Video Project. Videoproject.org. 2020 64 minutes.
Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America explores the power of investing in high-quality early childhood education so that all children and families have the opportunity to attain the American Dream. Starting at Zero examines the latest developmental brain science to demonstrate how essential the earliest years of learning are to maximize human potential. Key features of high-quality early childhood learning environments and experiences are outlined and then brought to life as the film delves into the evolution of Alabama's #1 nationally ranked state Pre-K program. The film culminates with a call to governors across America for collective action: to set our nation on the path to future success through significant investments in high quality early childhood education, both to support today's workforce, and to build the workforce of tomorrow.
Stateless. Directed by Michelle Stephenson. Women Make Movies. Wmm.com. 2020. 96 minutes.
In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary Stateless traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests. At a time when extremist ideologies are gaining momentum in the U.S. and around the world, STATELESS is a warning of what can happen in a society when racism runs rampant in the government.
The First Rainbow Coalition. Produced and Directed by: Ray Santisteban. Good Docs. www.gooddocs.net. 2019. 55 min.
The First Rainbow Coalition charts the history and legacy of a groundbreaking multi-ethnic coalition that rocked Chicago in the 1960s. Comprised of activists from the Black Panthers, the Young Patriots (southern whites), and the Young Lords (a former Puerto Rican street gang), Chicago’s Rainbow Coalition (1969-1971) united poor Blacks, Whites, and Latinos to openly challenge police brutality and substandard housing in one of the most segregated cities in America.
The Toxic Reigns of Resentment. Produced and Directed by Jürgen Schaflechner and Tim van den Hoff. Bullfrog Films. 2019. 52 min. Available on DVD for school and library use: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/toro.html
THE TOXIC REIGNS OF RESENTMENT shows how the revival of nationalism paired with xenophobia, an increasing tribalization of politics, and a public sphere oscillating between cruelty and sentimentality mark significant parts of our current political zeitgeist. Politicians, scholars and journalists alike speak of a culture of resentment that defines politics today.Featuring interviews with Wendy Brown, Grayson Hunt, Rahel Jaeggi, Robert Pfalier, Prakash, Alexander Nehamas, Sjoerd van Tuinen, Peter Sloterdijk, this documentary film introduces and critically discusses concepts of resentment and their relation to our current political juncture.
THIRD WARD TX. Produced and Directed by Andrew Garrison. New Day Films. https://www.newday.com/film/third-ward-tx. 2007. 57 minutes.
When fighting neglect and gentrification is also Art, a neighborhood comes back to life... Seven African American artists set Project Row Houses into motion, transforming their inner-city Houston neighborhood using art as the engine of change. With houses for single mothers going to college, after-school programs, international art stars and local artists, Project Row Houses goes from a "drive-by" exhibit to a thriving experiment in community, art, and social change. But when their success attracts deep-pocket real estate developers that threaten the future of the community, Project Row Houses must find an imaginative solution to halt gentrification and displacement. Available for educational sales through New Day Films,
TRASH DANCE. Produced and Directed by Andrew Garrison. New Day Films. trashdancemovie.com. 2012. 68 minues.
Sometimes inspiration can be found in unexpected places. A choreographer finds beauty and grace in the men and women who pick up Austin, TX’s trash. She joins city sanitation workers on their daily routes to listen, learn, and ultimately to convince them to collaborate in a unique dance performance. Hard working, often carrying a second job, their lives are already full with work, family and dreams of their own. But some step forward and, after months of rehearsal, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks perform an extraordinary spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, thousands of people show up to see how in the world a garbage truck can "dance."
Truth Tellers, directed by Richard Kane, U.S., 62 minutes, Kane-Lewis Productions, https://www.truthtellersfilm.com
Truth Tellers is a new documentary film chronicling the lives of courageous Americans fighting for peace, racial equity, environmental justice and indigenous rights through the eyes of Robert Shetterly, a long time activist and artist. The film explores the intersection of these issues stressing the urgency of coming together to confront them and galvanizing our resolve to uphold our country’s founding ideals.
We Are the Radical Monarchs. Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton. Produced by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Katie Flint. Bullfrog Films. 2018. 86 min. Available on DVD for school and library use: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/warm.html
License for academic streaming: https://docuseek2.com/bf-warm
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs, an alternative to the Scout movement for Girls of Color, aged 8-13. Founded in 2014 by Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez, the Radical Monarchs earn badges for completing units on social justice including Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ allyship, climate change, and disability justice.
Ways of Being Home. Directed by Cecilia Cornejo. Women Make Movies. Wmm.com. 2020. 72 minutes.
This intimate cinematic portrait of two small towns - one in Mexico and one in Minnesota - is an evocative audiovisual meditation on the experience of Mexican immigrants living and working in rural America. Vivid cinematography, richly layered soundscapes, short animated sequences, and a constellation of testimonies introduce audiences to Maltrata, an agricultural town nestled in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, and to Northfield, a college town in southern Minnesota where many Maltratans have immigrated and settled. By means of a nonlinear narrative and a camera that thoughtfully yet viscerally meanders between everyday scenes in both towns, Chilean-American director Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo shows the complexities of, and contrasts between, these places.Filmed amidst increasing violence and political unrest in Mexico and the rising anti-immigrant sentiment that took hold during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the voices of fiercely determined and hard-working women coalesce to offer a nuanced portrait of a transnational community. Ultimately, the film is a testament to the resiliency and ingenuity of uprooted people as they craft a life and a home fostered by ritual, relationship, and community rather than solely by geography.
Who’s Next? Produced and Directed by Nancy Cooperstein Charney. Bullfrog Films. 2019. 88 min. Available on DVD for school and library use: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/whon.html
WHO’S NEXT? examines the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the lives of Muslim-Americans over the last 20 years. It focuses on six Muslim families — U.S. citizens and long-time legal residents — from diverse countries and widely different circumstances. In one way or another, all of them have been targeted by federal agencies, hate groups, and even former friends, solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. If one group can be singled out because of their religious beliefs then...who’s next?