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2014 MC Film Fest

The following films were screened at the 20th Annual
NAME Multicultural Film Festival–2014, Tucson AZ

  • Abuelas: Grandmothers on a Mission.
    Directed by Noemi Weis. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 28 minutes.

In 1985 the important film, Las Madres: The Mothers Of Plaza De Mayo, was nominated for an Oscar. It profiled the Argentinian mothers’ movement that demanded to know the fate of 30,000 “disappeared” sons and daughters. Now, 30 years later, Argentina’s courageous Grandmothers, or “Abuelas”, have been searching for their grandchildren: the children of their sons and daughters who disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war.” The women in Abuelas are seeking answers about their children that nobody else will give — answers about a generation that survived, but were kidnapped and relocated to families linked with the regime that murdered their parents.

  • American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.
    Directed by Grace Lee. Produced by Grace Lee, Caroline Libresco and Austin Wilkin. Transit Media Communications. www.americanrevolutionaryfilm.com. 82 minutes

This documentary film plunges us into Boggs’s lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs’s constantly evolving strategy—her willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around her—drives the story forward. 

  • Cesar’s Last Fast.

Directed by Richard Ray Perez. Produced by Molly O’Brien. www.gooddocs.net. 93 minutes.

Cesar’s Last Fast is a Sundance Festival feature about the private sacrifice and spiritual connection behind Cesar Chavez’s struggle for the humane treatment of American farm workers. A panorama of Mexican American and American history, civil rights, non-violent protest tactics, the environment and labor struggles, this important new documentary gives students unprecedented insight into Chavez’s life and the historic farm worker movement.
 

  • Children of the Light: Desmond Tutu’s South African Story.
    Produced by the PeaceJam Foundation. www.peacejam.org. 91 minutes.

Children of the Light features the life story of 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu and the crucial role he played in bringing about the miracle in South Africa. Searing images from his own life, from the struggle against apartheid, and from the heart breaking yet inspiring truth and reconciliation process in South Africa will move across the screen, as Desmond Tutu leads us on a journey back in time. 

In Deaf Jam, Aneta Brodski seizes the day. She is a deaf teen introduced to American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry, who then boldly enters the spoken word slam scene. In a wondrous twist, Aneta, an Israeli immigrant living in the Queens section of New York City, eventually meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet. The two women embark on a collaboration/performance duet – creating a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the Deaf. 

Defamation is a riveting interactive courtroom drama that explores the highly charged issues of race, religion, gender, class and the law. The premise is a civil suit: A Chicago South Side African American woman sues a Jewish North Shore real estate developer for defamation. Following the viewing of the film the audience will become the jury and vote on the verdict.

  • 40 Years Later: Now Can We Talk?

Produced by Lee Ann Bell. Directed by Markie Hancock. Teachers College Press. www.tcpress.com. 45 minutes.

This resource offers a powerful way to engage students, teachers, and community groups in honest dialogue about the ongoing problems of racism and what we can do to address them. The film tells the story of the first African Americans to integrate the white high school in Batesville, Mississippi in 1967–69. A provocative and moving conversation emerges from separate discussions with African American alumni, white alumni, and a third dialogue that brings the two groups face-to-face. The 45-minute DVD and Discussion Guide can be used to fruitfully explore several issues and related themes, including the impact of desegregation on both students of color and white students, racial bullying, the impact on victims, the responsibility of bystanders, and the role adults play in perpetuating or interrupting racial microaggressions that negatively impact students of color.

  •  Frontiers of Dreams and Fears.

Directed by Mai Masri. Arab Film Distribution. www.arabfilm.com. 56 minutes.

Mona and Manar are two Palestinian girls growing up in refugee camps in Beirut and Bethlehem. Despite the overwhelming barriers that separate them, the girls form a close friendship through letters and a dramatic meeting at the Lebanese border. Shot during the liberation of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation and at the beginning of the Palestinian intifada, frontiers of dreams and fears articulates the feelings, hopes, and growing activism of a generation of young Palestinians living in exile.  

Kumu Hina.
Directors: Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson. itvs.org/films/kumuhina. 75 minutes.

Can you imagine a world where a young boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men? Directed and produced by Emmy-winners Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, Kumu Hina is told through the eyes of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian who is a proud mahu, or transgender woman, and an admired kumu, or teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader. The inspiring documentary captures the struggle to maintain the Pacific Islander’s culture and values amidst the westernized society of modern day Hawaii and reveals a side of the Islands rarely noticed by foreign eyes.

  • LaDonna Harris: Indian 101

Directed by Julianna Brannum (Comanche). Women Make Moves. www.wmm.com. 63 minutes

Using the Verité documentary film style, this film showcases the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream America history since the 1960s. Filmmaker Brannum, the great niece of Harris, celebrates her life and the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for Native people and her contemporary work to strengthen and rebuild indigenous communities, becoming a leader among emerging Native leaders around the world. 

  • Living Thinkers: An Autobiography of Black Women in the Ivory Tower.
    Directed by Roxana Walker-Canton. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 75 minutes.

This film examines the intersection of race, class and gender for Black women professors and administrators working in U.S. colleges and universities today. Through their diverse narratives, from girlhood to the present, Black women from different disciplines share experiences that have shaped them, including segregated schooling as children, and the trials, disappointments and triumphs encountered in Academia.

  •  My Stolen Revolution.

Directed by Nahid Persson Savestani. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 75 minutes.

A student activist in Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew the dictatorial Shah, Nahid Persson Sarvestani fled to Sweden with her baby after Islamists seized power and began persecuting leftists who had been their revolutionary allies. Three decades later, events in Iran inspire Nahid to revisit that part of her life. Prompted by brutal crackdowns on anti-government protests in 2009 and long-suppressed guilt for abandoning a younger brother to imprisonment and death, the filmmaker locates and reunites with 5 female activists who survived torture and terror in the Islamist regime’s jails. Now living in exile, the women share gripping accounts of how their jailers tried to break them physically and spiritually, and describe what sustained them during these horrible ordeals. Screened SATURDAY 3:00-3:50pm

  •  The New Black.

Producers: Yoruba Richen, Yvonne Welbon. Co-Producer: Angela Tucker. Director: Yoruba Richen. California Newsreel. www.newsreel.org. 53 minutes.

The film examines pro and anti-gay rights campaigns over the past 25 years to reveal how outside right-wing religious groups exploit the conservatism in many Black churches to try to make inroads into their communities. Featuring engaging portraits of religious and secular activists on both sides, The New Black culminates with the successful 2012 electoral campaign to preserve marriage equality in Maryland, a state with a significant African American population.

  •  Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience.

Produced and Directed by Audrey Geyer. www.ourfiresstillburn.com. 57 minutes.

This exciting and compelling documentary invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the Midwest.  It dispels the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the American horizon, and reveals how they continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society. Their experiences will deeply touch both Natives and non-Natives and help build bridges of understanding, respect, and communication. 

  • Sheer Good Fortune: Celebrating Toni Morrison.
    Executive Producer: Joanne Gabbin. Producer: Judith McCray. Produced by Furious Flower Poetry Center, James Madison University. California Newsreel. www.newsreel.org. 39 minutes.

This documentary celebrates the literary legacy of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Writers, artists and scholars read her work and talk about the magic of her writing, how it subverts easy assumptions, and how its lyricism and spiritualism take our breath away. 

  • Six Days: Three Activists, Three Wars, One Dream.
    Directed by Nikolina Gillgren. Produced by Johan Sandstrom. Women Make Movies. www.wmm.com. 56 minutes.

This inspiring documentary, which follows three brave human rights defenders in Liberia, Abkhazia, Georgia and Iraq over six days, gives insight into the everyday struggle to improve the situation of women worldwide. Six Days shines a necessary light on some of the most urgent and important human rights issues facing women today: girls education, honor killings, bride kidnappings and women’s health issues. 

  • Tested.                       
    Director/Writer Producer: Curtis Chin. Writer/Producer: Adam Wolman.

Stuyvesant. Bronx Science. Brooklyn Tech: all nationally ranked public high schools are considered among the best in New York City and the nation. Each year, thousands of 8th graders compete to secure coveted spots at these elite schools by taking the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (the SHSAT). Admission is granted based solely on that single test score. Only one in five will get in. This documentary follows the struggles and challenges of a diverse group of students, many of them immigrants and working class, as they prepare for this all-important test.