Beyond Bars program exposes the flaws and injustices of the prison industrial complex, with two powerful films that shed light on the over-incarceration of black and brown people and the impact of cash bail. Meet two incredible activists who are making change and fighting for justice in their communities. This program will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers, participants, and leaders in the criminal justice reform system, offering an opportunity for dialogue and action toward a more equitable and just society.
“The trip to Mars can only be understood through Black Americans.” Legendary poet Nikki Giovanni’s revelation is a launching pad to an inspiring exploration of her life and legacy. Through a collision of memories, moments in American history, live readings of her poetry, and impressions of space, Giovanni urges us to imagine a future where Black women lead, and equity is a reality. Directors Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson (American Promise, The Changing Same) craft a vision fit for the radical imagination of Nikki Giovanni. Present-day Giovanni reckons with the inevitable passing of time, while an evocative melding of vérité and archival images act as openings into her mindscape, transcending time and place. Brewster and Stephenson’s approach is imaginative and dreamlike, akin to the way Giovanni’s words are hair-raising in their power to summon unrealized ways of seeing. The Afro-futuristic lens honors Giovanni’s complexity and transports us on a journey through Black liberation from the perspective of one of America’s most acclaimed and beloved writers, a profound artist and activist. Next stop, Mars.
The Body Politic is a harbinger for hope in a country plagued by gun violence. Our protagonist is Brandon Scott, a young Mayor who grew up during Baltimore’s most troubling years and sets out, with unyielding idealism, to change the course of his battered and beloved city. Scott is elected Mayor amid the George Floyd uprising, and he introduces an ambitious plan for violence reduction and police reform that he promises will lower the city’s murder rate. Pundits claim Brandon’s political health and the city’s health are tied to the number 348 – the total murders Baltimore had the previous year, more homicides than NYC, a city fifteen times its size. After entering office and barely getting a chance to enact his first safety reforms, violence surges to new highs. As the media and political foes attack his holistic approach, Brandon’s commitment to his principles put his future as a politician at risk.
Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora wanted to do something radical about the white men dominating newsrooms. “70% of policy and politics editors are men, almost all of them are white,” says Emily. “These are the people deciding which stories are told, who is telling them, and whether they will be on the front page or the back page, if they get there at all.” So, Emily and Amanda along with Editor-at-Large Errin Haines and a scrappy group of fearless women and non-binary journalists band together to buck the status quo and launch The 19th*, a digital news start-up. Named after the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote, but with an asterisk to acknowledge the Black women and women of color who were omitted, the 19th’s work is guided everyday by the asterisk – asking who is being omitted from the story, and how can they be included. The film documents the honest discussions at The 19th* around race and gender equity and inclusion, revealing that change doesn’t come easy, and showcasing how one newsroom confronts these challenges both as a workplace and in their journalism.
Out/Spoken explores the diversity, complexity, and vibrancy of queer lives and experiences. Through a dynamic range of stories, this program captures the joys, struggles, and triumphs of queer individuals and communities, highlighting their resilience, creativity, and unwavering spirit.
The remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic, and unexpected players in the history of basketball: Stephen Curry. This feature documentary — blending intimate cinéma vérité, archival footage, and on-camera interviews — documents Curry’s rise from an undersized college player at a small town Division I college to a four-time NBA champion, building one of the most dominant sports dynasties in the world.
Imagine you lived in a world where your only reliable news source became government propaganda overnight. That’s exactly what happened to the citizens of the Muscogee Nation in 2018. Out of almost six hundred federally-recognized Native American tribes, the Muscogee Nation was one of only five to establish a free and independent press – until the tribe’s legislative branch abruptly repealed the landmark Free Press Act in advance of an election. The tribe’s hard-hitting news outlet, Mvskoke Media, would now be subject to direct editorial oversight by the tribal government.
One defiant journalist refuses to accept this flagrant act of oppression. As brave as she is blunt, veracious muckraker Angel Ellis charges headfirst into battle against the corrupt faction of the Muscogee National Council. Angel and her allies rally for press freedoms by inciting a voter-supported constitutional amendment, just in time for the start of a new election cycle. An enthralling, edge-of-your-seat nail biter that unfurls with the energy and suspense of a political thriller, Bad Press is a timely and unprecedented story about the battle for freedom of the press and against state-censored media.
A wildly entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered documentary that passes the mic to four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City – Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell and Dominique Silver – as they hold nothing back while breaking down the walls of their profession.
Uncharted is a candid look at the music industry and a powerful group of women trying to change it. Alicia Keys, Ann Mincieli, Jody Gerson, and Sam Kirby aim to get more women on the charts through their organization, “She Is The Music”. Through the lens of race and gender, the documentary follows emerging artists at a life-changing songwriting camp helmed by Alicia Keys. The film follows their exciting but hard year ahead as they find their footing in a male-dominated industry. An intimate portrait of three rising stars over the course of a year, Uncharted reveals the impossible odds women face in music and how things can change one song at a time.
Unbreakable Spirits showcases powerful stories of individuals who have endured – or are now enduring – the ravages of war, oppression, and other forms of global strife. Through their strength, resilience, and unwavering determination, these individuals face the unimaginable, or have triumphed over adversity, inspiring hope and resilience in themselves and those around them.