New York, NY (December 16, 2020) -- Today the Ford Foundation announced its overall 2019 and 2020 grant funding for social justice documentary film projects. JustFilms, part of the foundation's Creativity and Free Expression program, provided $8.1 million total in funding to support development, production and post-production for 77 short and feature length documentary projects and series.
JustFilms funds social justice documentary practices and the people, organizations and networks that support them. The 77 film projects funded over the past two years were connected by a commitment to use documentary practices to advance justice and equity and spanned diverse artistic forms, issue areas, and geographies. Key granting criteria included: projects which present singular analyses of vital social justice issues; films which explore new documentary languages to address the concerns of our times; and filmmakers committed to engaging with the ethics and power dynamics inherent to media representation.
“This set of projects and filmmakers exemplify the kind of critical engagement we all must make with the realities facing us today,” said JustFilms Senior Program Officer Chi-hui Yang. “They make visible the larger, structural forces which shape inequality, build cultural power for those in front of and behind the cameras and find artistic frames to help us engage with what might be new or already familiar.”
Filmmakers of color directed 64 percent of the projects and 60 percent were directed by women. Included are works which explore disability aesthetics; offer portraits of individuals such as Gil Scott-Heron, Helen Keller and Nikki Giovanni; assess the urgent dynamics of climate gentrification; and expose the racial bias in facial recognition algorithms. The films span countries and continents, with projects from Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, and the United States.
The projects supported through 2019 and 2020 are:
A Camera On My Lap (South Africa)
Director: Shelley Barry
Producer: Shelley Barry
A CAMERA ON MY LAP is an exploration of the aesthetics of cinematography and the storytelling it evokes, from the perspective of a woman in a wheelchair in South Africa.
Director: Catherine Gund
Producers: Catherine Gund and Tanya Selvaratnam
AGGIE is a feature-length documentary that explores the nexus of art, race, and justice through the story of art collector and philanthropist Agnes “Aggie” Gund’s life.
Director: Jamila Wignot
Producer: Lauren DeFilippo
Alvin Ailey was a visionary artist who found salvation through dance. An immersive portrait told in his own words and through the creation of a new commission inspired by his life, AILEY fully profiles this brilliant and enigmatic man who—when confronted by a world that refused to embrace him—determined to build one that would.
Always in Season (USA)
Director: Jacqueline Olive
Producer: Jessica Devaney
When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins while the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.
An Act of Worship (USA)
Director: Nausheen Dadabhoy
Producers: Sofian Khan, Heba Elorbany and Kristi Jacobson
AN ACT OF WORSHIP is an exploration of the last 20 years of Muslim life in America. The documentary weaves together present-day vérité material of three women activists who came of age after 9/11 with archival footage, home videos and oral histories sourced from Muslim communities across the country. Pivotal moments in U.S. history are retold from the perspective of the Muslim community, opening up a window into their world through collective memory. Guided by their personal experiences as Muslim Americans, the filmmaking team takes charge of the narrative of their community, which has thus far been defined by outsiders. This is what it means to be a Muslim in America.
Asian Americans (USA)
Executive Producers: Jeff Bieber, WETA; Stephen Gong and Donald Young, CAAM; Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS; Jean Tsien
Series Producer: Renee Tajima-Peña
Producer for Flash Cuts: Eurie Chung
Producers: S. Leo Chiang, Geeta Gandbhir and Grace Lee
Consulting Producer: Mark Jonathan Harris
Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that chronicles the contributions and challenges of Asian Americans. The series looks at ways in which the Asian experience in the U.S. illuminates the larger American story and explores the role Asian Americans have played in the evolution of the American identity, in the context of migration, diversity and global connectedness.
Director: Leandro Fabrizi
Producers: Leandro Fabrizi and Patricia Benabe
In a rural town tucked in the mountains of Lares, Puerto Rico, ten families decide to move into an abandoned school building and transform it into their new living quarters.
Blacked out Dreams (USA)
Director: Adeleke Omitowoju
Producers: Steven Pargett and Sabaah Folayan
Blacked Out Dreams is a documentary series that explores the resilience of black youth who are forced to navigate broken education systems. It combines cinema verité and first person footage from young people in communities around the United States - wrapped together with poetry and striking visual sequences that provide a sensory experience of the life and perspective of the subjects.
Director: Pamela Yates
Producer: Paco de Onís
Borderland is an American human rights story that focuses on local heroes who are risking it all to stand up to the inhumane immigration policies that started on the Southwestern U.S./Mexico border but have now spread to the whole country through a border-industrial complex. The feature-length documentary interrogates questions of America’s humanitarian values and who we are as a nation.
Cairo, IL Project (USA)
Directors: Little Egypt Productions Team
Producers: Karin Chien, Nick Davis, Wynne Hannan, Harold S. Jones, Lisa Malloy, JP Sniadecki, Steve Tarver, Robin Thornquist, Ray Whitaker, Marcella Woodson
CAIRO, IL PROJECT offers a collectively-authored portrait of Cairo, Illinois, a former industrial and agricultural empire at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers that was a nexus for civil rights in the 1960s. Through intimate depictions created collaboratively, the film celebrates Cairo's vitality and rich history while advancing efforts for environmental, artistic and economic well-being in defiance of systemic injustices.
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters (USA)
Directors: Rosalynde LeBlanc, Tom Hurwitz, ASC
Producers: Rosalynde LeBlanc and Duana C. Butler
CAN YOU BRING IT: BILL T. JONES AND D-MAN IN THE WATERS traces the remarkable story of how one of the most celebrated works of art to come out of the age of AIDS revitalized two disparate communities, 30 years apart, both struggling to make sense of the plagues of their generations.
Director: Lucrecia Martel
Producers: Benjamin Domenech, Joslyn Barnes, Santiago Gallelli, Matías Roveda
Javier Chocobar was shot dead fighting the removal of his indigenous community from their ancestral land in Argentina. His death appeared in a video on YouTube. This documentary unravels the 500 years of “reason” that led to this shooting, both with a gun and a camera, and contextualizes it in the system of land tenure that emerged across Latin America.
City Hall (USA)
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Producers: Frederick Wiseman and Karen Konicek
City government touches many aspects of our lives and yet most of us are unaware of or take for granted the services that are performed. CITY HALL, by Frederick Wiseman, shows the efforts by the Boston city government, led by Mayor Martin Walsh, to address racial justice, affordable housing, climate action, homelessness, and support for seniors, immigrants, and veterans.
Coded Bias (USA)
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Producer: Shalini Kantayya
CODED BIAS explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all.
Dear Evanston (USA)
Directors: Erika Alexander and Whitney Dow
Producers: Ben Arnon, Xan Parker, Erika Alexander, Whitney Dow
Imagine if there were cameras on Rosa Parks from the earliest days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. DEAR EVANSTON trains the cameras on the next Rosa Parks - Evanston, Illinois Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons - as she attempts to do what the U.S. Congress, past presidents, and all of American society have been unable to accomplish for over 150 years - make reparations for Black Americans.
Director: Sam Feder
Producers: Amy Scholder and Sam Feder
Throughout film and TV, DISCLOSURE shows how the fabled stories of Hollywood have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how trans people have been taught to feel about themselves.
Down a Dark Stairwell (USA)
Director: Ursula Liang
Producers: Ursula Liang and Rajal Pitroda
When a Chinese-American police officer kills an unarmed black man in a darkened stairwell of a New York City housing project, it sets off a firestorm of emotion and fractured calls for justice. When he becomes the first NYPD officer convicted of an on duty shooting in over a decade, the fight for justice becomes complicated, igniting one of the largest Asian-American protests in history and disrupting a legacy of solidarity.
Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility (USA)
Directors Gretchen Sorkin and Ric Burns
Producers: Emily Pfeil, Emir Lewis, Kathryn Clinard and Steven Bennett,
Co-producer: Greg Sorin
Chronicling the riveting history and personal experiences – at once liberating and challenging, harrowing and inspiring, deeply revealing and profoundly transforming – of African Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and beyond – "Driving While Black" explores the deep background of a recent phrase rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African American experience for hundreds of years – told in large part through the stories of the men, women and children who lived through it.
Director: Kenny Leon
Producers: Robe Imbriano, Innbo Shim
ESSENTIAL is a short documentary musical based on the calls and letters from prisoners in Houston’s Harris County Jail during its Covid-19 outbreak. Almost 90% of its prisoners are locked up pre-trial because they can’t afford bail. Through the musical narration of Stew and Heidi Rodewald, these prisoners ask if race and poverty should be a death sentence.
Exception to the Rulers: The Story of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! (USA)
Directors: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
Producers: Karen Ranucci and Caren Spruch
This personal documentary will tell the story of Amy Goodman’s life and work while also presenting a chronicle of our modern history. The news that she presents does not highlight the usual TV pundits who, as she says, “know so little about so much,” but the voices of those who actually live the realities on the ground and fight back against injustice. The film looks behind the scenes at how, out of the ashes of 9/11, Goodman and a team of dedicated journalists built the world's only live, daily simultaneous radio, TV, and internet news program, bringing non-commercial independent news to millions around the globe. Goodman’s is a story that shows the power that is in all of us when we stand up to giants.
Fandango at the Wall (USA)
Director: Varda Bar-Kar
Producers: Kabir Sehgal, Doug Davis
Executive Producers: Quincy Jones, Andrew Young, Carlos Santana
Co-Producers: Marietta Ulacia
FANDANGO AT THE WALL follows Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra founder Maestro Arturo O’Farrill and Grammy Award winning music producer Kabir Sehgal to Veracruz, Mexico. Together they recruit son jarocho (“Veracruz Sound”) masters Wendy Cao, Fernando Guadarrama, Ramón Gutiérrez, Patricio Hidalgo, and Tacho Utrera for a live album recording at Fandango Fronterizo, a festival founded by Jorge Francisco Castillo taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border.
First Vote (USA)
Director: Yi Chen
Producer: Yi Chen
FIRST VOTE is a feature length documentary exploring the intersection of immigration, racial justice and voting rights through the diverse experiences and perspectives of four Asian American voters’ civic participation from 2016 to 2018 in Ohio and North Carolina.
Director: Colin Tilley
Producers: Misty Copeland, Leyla Fayyaz, Nelson George
FLOWER is a dance film experience that incorporates art-activism and social justice components to highlight the nation's growing homelessness crisis, specifically in the Bay Area city of Oakland, California.
For the Love of Rutland (USA)
Director: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Producer: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
In a hardscrabble Vermont town, partisan rancor breaks open in the middle of a mayoral race, touched off by a thwarted attempt to bring new life to the community through refugee resettlement. After a lifetime of being invalidated and shamed for her poverty and addiction, Stacie Griffin emerges as an unlikely and resilient leader in a town divided.
Fruits of Labor (USA)
Director: Emily Cohen Ibañez
Producer: Emily Cohen Ibañez
A teenage farmworker dreams of graduating high school, when increased ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family and force her to become her family's breadwinner. Set in an agricultural town on the central coast of California, this feature documentary film is a lyrical meditation on adolescence, nature and ancestral forces.
Free Renty: Lainier v Harvard (USA)
Directors: David Grubin
Producer: David Grubin
FREE RENTY: LANIER V HARVARD tells the story of one African-American woman's struggle to reclaim her heritage. Tamara Lanier's lawsuit against Harvard makes the explosive issues of white supremacy and reparations vividly personal.
Director: Sanjay Rawal
Producers: Tanya Meillier, Sterlin Harjo
GATHER is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (USA)
Directors: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster
Producers: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster
GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators. Juxtaposing intimate vérité footage with visually innovative treatments of her poetry and rich archival footage, along with Giovanni’s own captivating contemporary performances, GOING TO MARS recounts the story of the artist and her works of resistance through the tumultuous historical periods in which she lived. From the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Arts Movement, to present-day Black Lives Matter, Nikki provokes and inspires.
Hamtramck, USA (USA)
Directors: Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman
Producers: Razi Jafri, Justin Feltman, Doug Blush
Through the exploration of daily life and democracy in America's first Muslim-majority city, HAMTRAMCK, USA examines the benefits and tensions of multiculturalism.
Hard To Swallow (USA)
Directors: Tunde Wey, Ruth Gebreyesus, Theo Schear
Producers: Tunde Wey, Ruth Gebreyesus, Theo Schear
HARD TO SWALLOW follows Nigerian immigrant, chef, and writer Tunde Wey as he explores the social and political implications of food consumption and production across the United States.
Her Socialist Smile (USA)
Director: John Gianvito
Producer: John Gianvito
An experimental documentary essay on the political imagination of iconic humanitarian, author, and advocate for the blind Helen Keller.
How To Fix A Primary (USA)
Director: Brittany Huckabee
Producers: Brittany Huckabee, Joshua Seftel
An inside account of an outsider campaign in the 2018 midterm elections, HOW TO FIX A PRIMARY digs into a story that is roiling Democratic Party politics nationwide, highlighting the role of power and money in a system many believe is broken – but can be fixed.
I Called For You In Silence (Mexico)
Director: Jose Maria Espinosa de los Monteros
Producers: Paloma Cabrera Yañez, Juan Pablo Espinosa de los Monteros
Facing a lack of support from the authorities amid mounting forced disappearances, a group of mothers from Sinaloa go out with pickaxes and shovels in search of their disappeared children. This is the story of Las Rastreadoras de El Fuerte, a collective of women who go on daily searches under a blistering sun with one objective: to find their loved ones.
In Balanchine's Classroom (USA)
Director: Connie Hochman
Producers: Connie and Mark Hochman
Balanchine’s former dancers reveal startling new facets of the legendary choreographer as they open the door to his private classroom - his laboratory, set against their present-day efforts to keep his legacy alive.
In Plain Sight (USA)
Director: PJ Raval
Producer: Farihah Zaman
IN PLAIN SIGHT is an anthology docuseries radically reframing the immigrant experience, in support of the abolition of US migrant detention. The film chronicles a coalition of artists and activists who collaborated on a trans-national, trans-media artwork targeted at immigrant detention facilities, many of which are operating in communities without taxpayers knowing at all.
In Search of Bengali Harlem (USA)
Directors: Vivek Bald & Alaudin Ullah
Producer: Susannah Ludwig
Alaudin Ullah, an actor and playwright from Spanish Harlem, searches for answers about his Muslim immigrant parents. As he travels from the streets of New York City to the villages of Bangladesh, we discover a lost history of undocumented migrants from colonized India who became part of African American and Puerto Rican communities in the 1920s-40s - and uncover a hidden story of trauma in his mother's past.
John Lewis: Good Trouble (USA)
Director: Dawn Porter
Producers: Laura Michalchyshyn, Dawn Porter, Erika Alexander, Ben Arnon
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE is an intimate account of legendary U.S. Representative John Lewis’ life, legacy and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism — from the bold teenager on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement to the legislative powerhouse he was throughout his career.
LakeHouse Films' Gil Scott-Heron Documentary (USA)
Director: Orlando Bagwell
Producers: Orlando Bagwell and Yvonne M. Shirley
LakeHouse Films' Gil Scott-Heron Documentary explores the artist Gil Scott-Heron -- his life, work, and the times in which he lived.
Latino Vote: Dispatches from the Battleground (USA)
Director: Bernardo Ruiz
Producers: Bernardo Ruiz, Andrea Cordoba
In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, national news media outlets have scrambled to cover the impact of the "Latino vote," acknowledging that there has never been a monolithic "Latino" electorate, much less a "sleeping giant" (the term used by major news outlets to describe Latino voters in past election cycles). LATINO VOTE: DISPATCHES FROM THE BATTLEGROUND follows the efforts of grassroots organizers, community leaders and political operatives working to ensure high Latino voter turnout.
Director: David J. Petersen
Producers: Mary Recine, Martha Southgate
Executive Producer: Sam Pollard
Through the eyes of young, underprivileged ballet dancers, LIFT shines a light on the invisible story of homelessness in America. Guided by their mentor who grew up in a shelter, these children follow an extraordinary, eight-year journey to step from a shelter into the spotlight to express their own story, one rarely seen on a ballet stage.
Manzanar, Diverted (USA)
Director: Ann Kaneko
Producers: Ann Kaneko, Jin Yoo-Kim
MANZANAR, DIVERTED tells the story of intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American World War II incarceree and local environmentalist communities who lead the fight to defend Payahuunadü (the Owens Valley) from the insatiable thirst of Los Angeles, owner of 90 percent of the land. They form an unexpected alliance to fight for dignity, their home and for future generations.
Memories From The Forest (Paraguay)
Director: Paz Encina
Producers: SILENCIO CINE & SABATÉ FILMS (Paraguay) / BLACK FOREST (Germany) / REVOLVER & FORTUNA FILMS (Holland) / MPM & EAUX VIVES PRODUCTIONS (France)
The Asojá flies, the bird-god-woman of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode indigenous culture, and brings the memories. The Asojá flies and tells us that Ayoreo means man, human being. MEMORIES FROM THE FOREST, is a film about deforestation and clearing of the forest, a film about immigration, a film about remembering, and especially all that makes us happy.
Mississippi Red (USA)
Director: Kelly Duane de la Vega
Co-Director: Zandashé Brown
Producer: Jessica Anthony
An intimate set of portraits offer a window into the experience of growing up female in the Deep South through the lens of race, religion and the political establishment.
Murders that Matter (USA)
Directors: Marco Williams
Producers: Marco Williams
MURDERS THAT MATTER documents Movita Johnson-Harrell, an African-American Muslim mother who, in the aftermath of her youngest son’s murder, vows to save all Black sons on both sides of the gun.
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (USA)
Director: Ric Burns
Producers: Leigh Howell; Kathryn Clinard; Bonnie Lafave
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE explores the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller.
Oscar’s Comeback (USA)
Director: Lisa Collins
Co-Director: Mark Schwartzburt
Producers: Lisa Collins, Mark Schwartzburt
Co-Producer: Anthony Jamison
In Association With: PJ Bowser Productions LLC; C-Hundred Film Corp (Jim McKay, Michael Stipe); Cinema Conservancy (Jake Perlin)
Gregory, South Dakota. Farmbelt, USA. Behind-the-scenes, an epic melodrama slyly unfolds across 12 years around a motley band of volunteers struggling to put on an annual mom-and-pop film festival, in their skeptical all-white small-town, to champion their unlikely Black ‘native son’: overlooked early 1900s film pioneer Oscar Micheaux (a.k.a. the "Godfather of Independent Cinema"). Amid the expanding festival, which draws people of color to Main Street, a cautionary modern-day Race Movie emerges -- echoing Micheaux’s controversial works -- that illuminates the thorny crossroads of racial panic, economic inequity, gender imbalance, and rural strife, as Gregory confronts its buried Black and Lakotan ‘roots.’
Outta The Muck (USA)
Directors: Ira Mckinley & Bhawin Suchak
Producers: Ira Mckinley, Bhawin Suchak, Tracy Rector, Sam Pollard, Darian Henry
Told through stories that transcend space and time, OUTTA THE MUCK presents an intimate portrait of a family and community that resists despair with love, and remains fiercely self-determined while forging its own unique narrative of Black achievement.
Papers: An American Tragedy (USA)
Director: Frank Chi
Producer: Kica Matos
In PAPERS, filmmaker Frank Chi will retell the story of modern American immigration in the structure of a Shakespearean tragedy. Focused on one of the most consequential but least talked-about laws in American history, the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, Chi will trace the actions of seven presidents over 50 years that led to three momentous events: the creation of a “legal” immigration system that’s led to dramatic demographic change, the creation of an “undocumented” immigration wave born from poorly written laws, and the nativist backlash to both that has shaken our politics and culture.
Philly D.A. (USA)
Directors: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook
Producers: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald, Dawn Porter
A groundbreaking documentary series embedded inside the shocking election and tumultuous first term of the most controversial District Attorney in the nation, and his experiment to upend the criminal justice system from the inside out.
Director: Vee Bravo
Producers: Vee Bravo, Kevin Lopez, Catherine Gund
PRIMERA tells the story of Felipe and Angie, two parents-turned activists, immersed in Chile’s revolutionary path to a new constitution. They become part of a national uprising that demands equity and dignity for millions of Chileans living in poverty. Feeling the pressure of continuous protests, the government reluctantly agrees to hold a referendum on the existing constitution. Felipe and Angie fend off a fierce government repression that sought to put fear into the millions of Chileans who cast their vote on October 25, 2020.
Razing Liberty Square (USA)
Director: Katja Esson
Producers: Katja Esson, Ann Bennett
RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE follows the redevelopment of Liberty Square, a historic African American public housing project in Miami and its impact on long-time residents. As Miami's beachfront real estate is threatened by rising seas, the high ground of Liberty Square, ten miles inland, has become the frontline for the newest manifestation of racial injustice - climate gentrification.
Run With It (USA)
Directors: Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman
Producers: Dee Hibbert-Jones, Nomi Talisman, Amilca Palmer
RUN WITH IT is an animated documentary feature film that explores the crisis in the criminal justice system and the U.S. racial divide through the eyes of De’Jaun Correia, a young Black man on the Dean’s List at Morehouse College guided by the memory of his uncle Troy Davis who mentored him from death row.
Director: Brittany Shyne
Producer: Danielle Varga
Executive Producer: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
SEEDS is a portrait of a centennial African-American farm in Thomasville, Georgia. Using lyrical black and white imagery, this meditative film examines the decline of generational Black farmers and the significance of owning land.
Simple As Water (USA)
Director: Megan Mylan
Producers: Robin Hessman, Megan Mylan
SIMPLE AS WATER is a meditation on parental love from Academy Award-winner Megan Mylan. Portraits of Syrian families fractured by war and now living in Turkey, Greece, Germany, Syria and the U.S. form a finely rendered illustration of the human cost of war, and the elemental bonds of family.
Slave Rebellion Reenactment (USA)
Directors: Dread Scott and John Akomfrah
Producers: Antenna.works and Smoking Dogs Films
SLAVE REBELLION REENACTMENT is a community-engaged artist performance and film that reimagines the German Coast Uprising of 1811, the largest revolt in U.S. history.
Sounds Like Thunder (USA)
Director: Dara Kell
Producers: Dara Kell, Sabrina S. Gordon, Sheila Shirazi
SOUNDS LIKE THUNDER follows civil rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber, as he revives Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. Battling death threats and disability, Reverend Barber’s message of hope touches people from many walks of life. Told through song, prayer and testimony, this is the story of the birth of a new movement to help heal the United States.
Storm Lake (USA)
Directors: Jerry Risius, Beth Levison
Producer, co-director: Beth Levison
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Art Cullen and his family fight to protect their rural Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper, The Storm Lake Times, even as the paper hangs on by a thread. Twice a week, they work as civic watchdogs to protect their hometown and the legacy of credible journalism—come hell or pandemic.
Storming Caesars Palace (USA)
Director: Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Producer: Hazel Gurland-Pooler
Consulting Producer: Jamila Wignot
STORMING CAESARS PALACE is the untold story of Black women who took on presidents, the mob, and everyday Americans, challenging the pernicious lie of the “Welfare Queen.” The film introduces activist Ruby Duncan and a band of ordinary mothers who launched one of the most extraordinary yet forgotten feminist, anti-poverty movements in our history.
Director: Emma Francis-Snyder
Producer: Tony Gerber
Consulting Producer: Miguel Melendez
Executive Producer: Lynn Nottage
On July 14, 1970 a radical Puerto Rican organization, The Young Lords, took over the condemned Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, demanding New York City take seriously the healthcare needs of their community and build a new hospital. The occupation lasted twelve hours, and the minute-by-minute events will serve as the narrative motor propelling this film. TAKEOVER! will weave in and out of "The Lincoln Offensive," always returning to the day’s events as the spine of the story. Interwoven scenes will explore the actions that led to the takeover and the history of Lincoln Hospital, originally built in 1889. The film will also dive into personal character portraits, highlighting what drove these teenagers to put their lives on the line, not just for the betterment of their community, but to continue the fight for community control and universal healthcare.
The 8th (Ireland)
Directors: Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy & Maeve O'Boyle
Producers: Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O'Boyle & Alan Maher
THE 8th tells the story of how Ireland overturned one of the world’s most restrictive laws on abortion, framed by an exploration of the political and cultural history that charts the transformation of a country.
The In Between (USA)
Director: Robie Flores
Producers: Alejandro Flores, Kellen Quinn
THE IN BETWEEN is a lyrical coming-of-age story of growing up on the border. Told collectively through a wide cast of characters, it follows a chronology of formative moments from early childhood into young adulthood on the Mexican-American border, taking audiences beyond the headlines into the ordinary and extraordinary moments of daily life.
The Memory of Butterflies (Peru)
Director: Tatiana Fuentes Sadowski
Producer: Isabel Madueno Medina
THE MEMORY OF BUTTERFLIES submerges viewers in the period when rubber fever exterminated the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon. Following the traces of Omarino, Aredomi, and Julia, three indigenous characters who are the protagonists of the propaganda images of La Casa Arana, the film takes us on an evocative journey between archival material and present day.
The Neutral Ground (USA)
Director: CJ Hunt
Producer: Darcy McKinnon
THE NEUTRAL GROUND is a feature length documentary about New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s centuries-long relationship with the Lost Cause. THE NEUTRAL GROUND follows writer and comedian CJ Hunt as he documents the struggle to remove and the struggle to preserve New Orleans’ confederate monuments.
The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (USA)
Director: Yoruba Richen
Producers: Valerie Thomas, Joan Walsh
Co-producers: Joy Reid, Peter Saraf, Leah Holzer
THE SIT IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW captures the historic week in February 1968 when Johnny Carson handed his desk over to Belafonte, the singer, actor and activist. With the country unraveling over war and civil rights, Belafonte and his multiracial band of guests projected a universal vision of the United States the country still hasn't lived up to.
The Tuba Thieves (USA)
Director: Alison O'Daniel
Producer: Rachel Nederveld
From 2011-2013 a rash of tuba thefts occurred in high schools across Southern California. THE TUBA THIEVES does not tell the story of the thieves or the missing tubas. Instead, it asks what it means to listen.
This Land (USA)
Director: Sara Terry
Producers: Alysa Nahmias, Sara Terry
When housing on the lowest rung of the American Dream is being devoured by the wealthiest of the wealthy, whose dream are we serving? THIS LAND examines the wealth gap through the lives of mobile home parks residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads, as it explores the urgent question—when are the rich, rich enough?
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (USA)
Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Producers: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson, Tommy Walker
TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM, explores the extraordinary life and artistry of the legendary Nobel laureate. The film covers her remarkable journey from Lorain, Ohio to Stockholm, Sweden, and beyond. Her 11 novels include The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which was made into a feature film by Oprah Winfrey. Her career also includes non-fiction books and plays, her role as editor of iconic African American figures and as an educator at Princeton University. Interviewees include Morrison, Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez, and Winfrey among others.
Troubled Water (USA)
Director: Will Parrinello
Senior Producer: Stephen Talbot
Producers: Will Parrinello, Rick Tejada-Flores
When mining and hydroelectric projects threaten vulnerable water supplies in Chile, El Salvador, and Honduras, native people who live on the land take action. TROUBLED WATER follows their fight as they face death threats and murder while defending their precious resources from exploitation by multinational corporations. Their struggle for environmental justice reveals a troubling pattern of corruption throughout Latin America.
Director: Ashley O'Shay
Producers: Ashley O'Shay, Morgan Elise Johnson
After two Black Chicagoans are killed, millennial organizers challenge an administration complicit in state violence against its residents. Told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders, UNAPOLOGETIC offers a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Director: Natalia Almada
Producers: Josh Penn, Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Natalia Almada
Is technology an expression of our humanity or is technology destroying our humanity? As our society moves increasingly towards a “technopoly” civilization, this visual essay documentary will explore the unintended and often dehumanizing consequences of our society's embedded belief that technological progress will lead to the betterment of humanity.
Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain (USA)
Director: Dawn Porter
Producer: Dawn Porter
VERNON JORDAN: MAKE IT PLAIN explores Vernon Jordan’s rise from the segregated South, his tenure as the head of several civil rights organizations, and his current position as a partner at a corporate law firm and financial behemoth Lazard. Jordan is one of the most influential African American thought leaders in America. And yet, he is one of the least well known of the civil rights icons.
Voice of the People: The Battle for Free Press in Indian Country (USA)
Directors: Rebecca Landsberry, Joe Peeler
Producers: Garrett Baker, Conrad Beilharz, Tyler Graim
In 2015, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was only the fifth Native American tribe to establish a free and independent press. But after three years of hard-hitting journalism, a small faction of politicians conspired to dismantle it overnight. Forced to report censored news, tribal journalists join forces with citizen activists and elected officials to expose the corruption and bring their free press back.
Waging Change (USA)
Director: Abby Ginzberg
Producer: Abby Ginzberg
WAGING CHANGE shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by restaurant servers and bartenders who are forced to rely on tips to feed themselves and their families. The film reveals an American workers’ struggle hidden in plain sight: the effort to end the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 per hour and the #MeToo movement's effort to end sexual harassment.
Wake Up on Mars (France/Switzerland)
Director: Dea Gjinovci
Producers: Dea Gjinovci,Sophie Faudel, Britta Rindelaub, Jasmin Basic, Heidi Fleisher
In a small Swedish village, a 10-year-old boy attempts to come to terms with the mysterious illness of his two sisters. While the entire future of his family hangs in the balance of a pending asylum request, he dreams of building a spaceship to leave it all behind.
Welcome to Chechnya (USA)
Director: David France
Producers: Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov, David France
With searing urgency, WELCOME TO CHECHNYA shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access and a remarkable approach to protecting anonymity exposes this under-reported atrocity -- and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.
What We Leave Behind (USA)
Director: Iliana Sosa
For the past twenty years, my 89-year-old grandfather, Julian Moreno, has embarked on a monthly 17-hour bus ride across the US-Mexico Border in order to visit my family that now lives in the U.S. As a first-generation Mexican American, I explore my relationship with my grandfather and how this film has allowed me to examine my privilege and complicated relationship with a land and family that I never really knew. I explore how immigration, intergenerational trauma, class and citizenship has impacted my family using his bus ride as a way to discuss these different themes.
When They Walk (USA)
Director: Jason DaSilva
15 years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare and relentless form of Multiple Sclerosis. Now quadriplegic, my biggest struggle is living in a world not made with people like me in mind. Faced with the issue of global inaccessibility, I created AXS Map: an online database of accessible places. As I attempt to map accessibility around the globe, I hear the stories that often go unheard: the stories of a community of people like me. When They Walk is the final film in my trilogy, but it’s not only my story - it’s ours.