Eight documentary projects were selected out of hundreds of applications. The selected filmmakers and their projects are:
Dir. Dawn Porter Gideon’s Army is the story of new public defenders working in the South. With long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads, many will not last. But now they have an advocate. Super-lawyer Jonathan Rapping, founder of the Southern Public Defender Training Center, is revolutionizing criminal defense by mentoring and supporting those who represent the people society would rather forget.
We The People
Dir. Soniya Kirpalani
United Arab Emirates, 2010: 17 Indians are given the death penalty for murdering 1 Pakistani. Further investigation reveals 1,785 more Indians languishing behind bars, 200 of whom face capital punishment. As Arab defense teams and India’s Lawyers for Human Rights challenge the Sharia Law Processes, We The People highlights the plight of migrant workers in repressive environments.
Who Is Dayani Cristal?
Dir. Marc Silver
An anonymous body is discovered in the Arizona desert. The only identifying feature is a tattoo reading ‘Dayani Cristal’. To unravel the mystery we must go on an epic journey beginning in a tiny Honduran village and ending in the corridors of power in Washington. Who Is Dayani Cristal? is a groundbreaking fusion of drama and documentary, starring Gael García Bernal, one of the most exciting actors of his generation.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Dir. Alison Klayman Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is an intimate portrait of an international art star during two tumultuous years of his life. A “dissident artist” in the headlines, an online god to liberal Chinese netizens, Ai Weiwei blurs the boundaries of art and politics. But can an artist change China?
Untitled Partners In Health Documentary
Dir. Kief Davidson
Partners In Health is a remarkable global public health organization, insisting on quality health care as a basic right. This film delves deeply into their methods and beliefs, exploring the controversial characters that refuse to ‘choose one life over another, when there is all this wealth in the world.’
Dir. Katie Dellamaggiore
Amidst financial crisis and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, New York, has assembled the best junior high chess team in the nation. Brooklyn Castle follows five young teens for one school year as they struggle, grow and challenge themselves both on and off the chessboard.
Not In Our Town III: Light in the Darkness
Dir. Patrice O’Neill Not In Our Town III: Light In The Darkness follows a community in crisis after the fatal attack of a local immigrant resident. Stunned by the violence, diverse community stakeholders openly confront the crime and the divisive atmosphere, and commit to ongoing actions to prevent future hate crimes and intolerance.
Crime After Crime
Dir. Yoav Potash Crime After Crime is the exclusive documentary on the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler from prison two decades after her connection to the murder of the man who abused her. The film premiered at Sundance 2011 and has been acquired by OWN. Debbie’s Campaign is the accompanying campaign designed to spark public awareness and changes in domestic violence law.
Check out the activity that happened on twitter during the Good Pitch:
We may not be holding a rally like Jon Stewart did, but we do hope that our newly revised curriculum New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina will bring more sanity to conversations about culture, identity, immigration and globalization in classrooms and communities across North Carolina. With laws like the one passed this spring in Arizona and politicians running ads saying things like “This is Alabama; we speak English. If you want to live here, learn it,” it’s clear that anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States certainly isn’t diminishing. There is clearly a lot of education that we need to do.
New Faces Video: From Latin America to North Carolina
Here’s a sample of one of the videos from the New Faces curriculum explaining why a diverse range of Latinos have moved to North Craolina from Latin America.
Unfortunately Latinos are the primary targets of this backlash. When I listen to media reports or even participate in conversations with friends and acquaintances I realize that often this sentiment is fueled by a lack of factual information related to Latino communities and to the subset of Latino immigrants. We need more opportunities to get the facts and to have civil dialogues about these important issues. Our multimedia curriculum, New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina uses documentary film clips, discussion and engaging learning activities to help learners understand more about themselves and about the Latino community in North Carolina. Ithas been re-designed to spark meaningful conversations and consciousness-raising on issues such as the roots causes of migration, the immigration system, the breakdown of stereotypes and prejudice, characteristics of Latino cultures, and struggles for workers rights. New Faces is a multimedia curriculum for use in middle and high schools classroom and for adults in professional development or popular education settings.
We’ve worked hard to revamp New Faces so that it encourages learners of all backgrounds to reflect on their own cultural identities and immigration histories, giving them important context for learning more about North Carolina’s multifaceted Latino communities. The curriculum was first released in 2007 and well received by educators, human service professionals, and community groups alike. We’ve expanded the curriculum to include 5 units and better indexed the lesson plans so that teachers and community leaders can pick lessons that will be most useful for their particular purposes. We’ve also added new content and shifted the framing of some of the original content to make it more approachable for learners from all walks of life. All the New Faces lesson plans and documentary films clips are available for free at www.workingfilms.org/newfaces, and a DVD of the films clips is available at no charge for teachers and non-profits in North Carolina
The Campaign follows the daily efforts and emotional rollercoaster of the community of people working to stop Prop 8, the 2008 Constitutional Amendment to end gay marriage in California. The film offers extraordinary behind-the-scene access and compelling evidence that what unfolded in this California campaign was a focused and cynical push to eliminate the fundamental rights of a “despised” minority.
As the trial heads into its third week in a U.S. District Court, Christie’s film and the story she is telling takes on new significance. The daily proceedings in the courtroom are astonishing; the plaintiffs case is that there is and was no bias against gays in this effort, a viewpoint which Christie’s film clearly undoes. As the defense began its case this week I asked Christie for her perceptions about this case, an update for her film and how folks can get involved and support her documentary. Here’s her response:
Hey Robert, I also have been following the case by tweet and blog. It touches on so many issues that affect me and people I love – airing out the ugliness of homophobia (last week’s testimony included a “Yes on Prop 8” leader claiming that homosexuality has been linked to pedophilia), the trauma that the ex-gay movement inflicts on us and our loved ones, the long term effects of internalized homophobia, and the reality of our lukewarm political support. It’s upsetting and infuriating.
The court fight is focused on a national / federal approach to LGBT rights and specifically marriage equality. This is a departure from the state-by-state strategy that’s been the focus of much of the movement thus far. The Campaign explores these strategies through Proposition 8, which has spanned both. In California, Proposition 8 stripped same gender couples of the right to marry, a fundamental right recognized and protected by the California Supreme Court just months before the 2004 election. By documenting the dedication and struggle inside the No On 8 campaign, my film makes clear how precious marriage equality is to LGBT families and how hard so many people fought to protect the equality and dignity that was ours for a just a moment. The Perry case will take this issue to the Federal Courts and eventually challenge the US Supreme Court to rule on the quality and validity of the families we form. The stakes are high, and there has been some disagreement among LGBT leaders about whether the Perry case is the right strategy and at the right time. But this is a disagreement about strategy, not values or direction. The common denominator is that marriage equality is precious and worth fighting for.
The Banished post-broadcast outreach campaign is in full swing! DVDs and event resources are available for community groups, civil rights institutions, and activists. Since its broadcast in February 2008, there has been overwhelming interest in intersecting Banished with on-going activism around reparations, displacement and gentrification. In June a New York-based youth program, Cultural Connections used Banished as part of its leadership development series for high school students from all over the City.
LDF attorney, Damon Hewitt explained in greater detail the difficulty with “adverse possession” cases. Other attorneys present volunteered to do more research. Most of the discussion focused on strategies for organizing communities and faith-based institutions to support the families portrayed in the film. Participants agreed to contact institutions in their networks. Ultimately, the groups present decided to host a major screening and panel discussion in NYC bringing out people featured in the film as well as the filmmaker.
“But first it will make you miserable.” Typically, people know the first part of that quote, but rarely do they understand the meaning of the second. Recently, Working Films organized a summit that brought together grassroots activists, organizers, peace-builders and others who have been involved in truth and reconciliation efforts and racial justice around the film, Greensboro: Closer to the Truth. The summit, which was also attended by Greensboro filmmaker Adam Zucker, proved to be a ground-breaking discussion for people to talk about the many meanings behind the nature of what we do when we work on issues of racial and social justice. We talked about the nature of truth and how dominant institutions are often invested in a narrative that trivializes the need for racial dignity. We talked about the power of the people to reclaim their own democracies by setting up their own unofficial truth and reconciliation projects. We talked about the differences between truth and reconciliation when it comes to events of racial violence, and how standing up to racism often doesn’t start with a commission and definitely doesn’t end with a report; they are part of a process that continues every day. But most of all we talked about who we need to get “Greensboro” closer to, because none of us have gotten to the truth yet, and the sooner we get there…the freer we’ll be.
North Carolina made headlines this week in the national immigration debate. The state’s community colleges will no longer admit undocumented immigrants. At least until federal officials determine whether or not it is legal to do so. This reverses a decision made by the college system last year that permitted the 58 individual campuses across the state to make their own individual enrollment decisions.
For those who do not know, Working Films is based on the coast of North Carolina. I remember being inspired and moved by the stand our local community college took this past winter, admist intense anti-immigrant criticism, pledging to continue to allow undocumented students to enroll in degree programs so long as they were 18 and had graduated from high school. It seems now they have no choice but to renege.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, has released a number of reports on the educational and economic challenges facing Latino youth. They have found that by the time the average immigrant reaches the age 25, due to lack of access to higher education, their earnings fall far below their native born counterparts. Undocumented students are already prohibited from advancing their education through the four year University and College system because of their “illegal” status. Associates degrees have offered an opportunity for education and training that enable immigrants a better likelihood of economic livelihood as they enter adulthood.
What’s especially saddening to me is that the decisions being made by the state and federal government which are blocking the opportunities for immigrant youth to advance are resulting from anti-immigrant public pressure. It makes me question the perspective of these people, which I know is driven by fear, fueled by slanted media coverage and conservative radio shows.
So what do we do? Part of the solution has to lie in debunking negative stereotypes. Public schools are an important place to start since they still allow immigrants and non-immigrants to participate in the learning experience together.
That’s the intent of New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina, the curriculum unit developed by Working Films to teach students about the economic and cultural contributions of Latin American citizens living in the state. The New Faces educational materials utilize film clips and lesson plans to spark learning and discussion. The curriculum’s release in more than 500 classrooms across the state has caused interest from many schools outside the state, businesses, and organizations searching for resources to bridge the cultural and economic divide. We’re now exploring how to expand the curriculum to meet the demand outside of North Carolina schools.
The fact that there is a demand leaves me hopeful that we can dispel the myths and scare tactics feeding the anti-immigrant movement and eventually we can send this issue to its grave.