Films for the 2009 Council on Foundations Film & Video Festival Announced

2009 Film & Video Festival

The Film and Video Festival Committee of the Council on Foundations and GFEM have selected an unprecedented number of films to premiere in May at the 2009 Council on Foundations Annual conference in Atlanta.

Henry Hampton Award Winners

Banished; by Marco Williams
SUMMARY: From 1864 well into the 1920s, in dozens of towns and counties, white Americans drove out entire African American communities. Many of these towns remain all white to this day. Doc investigates the ongoing impact of the expulsions on families and communities, Black and White. The film asks us to consider our responsibility for past wrongs and our role in righting them.
KEYWORDS: African-American, Reparations, reconciliation, race relations.
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai; by Lisa Merton & Alan Dater
TAKING ROOT tells the story of Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The film presents an awe-inspiring profile of Maathai's thirty-year journey of courage to protect the environment, defend human rights, and promote democracy.
KEYWORDS: Environment, Social & economic justice, Human rights, Women, Political activism RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes

Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy; by Alice Elliott & Simone Pero Audi
SUMMARY: Kathy has cerebral palsy and speaks through an electronically generated voice, and her friend and caregiver, Diana, has Down Syndrome and works to heal from her abusive childhood. Refusing to live in the institutions that would claim to serve them, Diana and Kathy fight tenaciously not only for their own independence but for the rights of all people with disabilities.
KEYWORDS: Disability, disabled rights, Independent living, self-advocacy, friendship, Down’s Syndrome
RUNNING TIME: 40 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Illinois, Washington, DC

Trouble the Water; by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
SUMMARY: This film features a young African American couple who record the flooding of New Orleans in a chilling video diary which threads through the film. It’s a story about a young couple living on the margins who are surviving not only deadly floodwaters, armed soldiers, and bungling bureaucrats, but also a social system that has failed them.
KEYWORDS: Hurricane Katrina, African-American, Poverty, Racism, Music, Racial Justice, Faith and Spirituality, Politics, Disenfranchisement, Survival, Empowerment, Community
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

SUMMARY: The series investigates startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, healthcare or unlucky genes - the social conditions in which we are born, live and work actually get under our skin and affect our risk for disease as surely as germs and viruses.
KEYWORDS: Health care, Socio-economic status, Poverty, Racism, Economic/political Inequality
RUNNING TIME: 56 minutes

Traces of the Trade; by Katrina Browne
SUMMARY: Filmmaker Katrina Browne discovers her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She and nine fellow descendants set off to retrace the Triangle Trade: from their old hometown in Rhode Island to slave forts in Ghana to sugar plantation ruins in Cuba
KEYWORDS: International, African-American, Slavery, Activism, Religion, human rights, reparations, class struggles.
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Rhode Island, Ghana, Cuba, Washington

Other Festival Selections

America's Next Top Immigrant; by Global Action Project
SUMMARY: America’s Next Top Immigrant (A.N.T.I.) follows seven immigrants as they battle it out for the American Dream. A satire of reality TV, this piece brings to light what the Dream means to these young immigrants.
KEYWORDS: Immigration, Americana, Youth, Community Activism.
RUNNING TIME: 20 minutes

The Last Conquistador; by John Valadez and Cristina Ibarra
SUMMARY: Renowned sculptor John Houser is building a monument to Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate in El Paso, TX that will honor the contributions Hispanics made to the American West. But Native Americans are outraged — they remember Oñate as the man who brought genocide to their land. As El Paso divides along lines of race and class, the artist must face the moral implications of his work.
KEYWORDS: Race, Genocide, Art, Politics, Mexican-American, Native American
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

Critical Condition; by Roger Weisberg
SUMMARY: What happens when you’re sick and uninsured in America? CRITICAL CONDITON puts an intimate human face on America’s growing health care crisis by chronicling the struggles of a diverse group of uninsured Americans as they battle critical illness over a two-year period.
KEYWORDS: Health Care, Poverty, Unemployment, Disabilities, Immigration
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita; by Maria Finitzo
SUMMARY: Dr. Jack Kessler re-focused his research to seek a cure for spinal cord injury using stem cells after his daughter, Allison, became paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident at age 15. This film follows the interplay between the promise of new discoveries and the controversy of modern science.
KEYWORDS: Physical disability, Religion, Science, Bio-ethics, Family Relationships
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Illinois, Massachusetts

Scaredycat; by Andrew Blubaugh
SUMMARY: Scaredycat is an experimental documentary examining the desire to manage fear of factors out of our control. The narrative examines the events leading up to and following the beating and mugging of the filmmaker at the hands of five young men in September 2004.
KEYWORDS: Psychology; Violence; Forgiveness, Mental health, Race relations
RUNNING TIME: 15 minutes

AIR: America's Investigative Reports “Blame Somebody Else”; by Jon Shenk
SUMMARY: When the Chicago Tribune’s Cam Simpson heard a report about 12 Nepalese men who were kidnapped and brutally executed by an extremist Islamic group in Iraq, he traced each step of the Nepalese men's journey from the foothills of the Himalayas to their brutal murder in Iraq, and in the process illustrated a vast international human trafficking network with ties to American corporations.
KEYWORDS: human rights, military and government corruption, journalism, international affairs
RUNNING TIME: 27 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Chicago, Nepal, Iraq, Himalayas

Greensboro: Closer to the Truth; by Adam Zucker
SUMMARY: This film chronicles 1979’s Greensboro Massacre, in which the Ku Klux Klan murdered five members of the Communist Workers Party. The film reconnects 25 years later with the players in this tragedy—widowed and wounded survivors, along with their attackers all converge for the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission ever held in the United States.
KEYWORDS: Social injustice. Reconciliation and healing. Civil rights. Judicial abuse. Labor.
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

9 Star Hotel; by Ido Haar
SUMMARY: "9 Star Hotel" documents the lives of a group of young Palestinian men working illegally as construction laborers in the Israeli city of Modi'in. Caught between Israeli security laws and a Palestinian Authority they see as having failed them, they work for Israeli contractors by day while hiding from police by night. Like youths everywhere, they pass their idle hours talking about love, marriage and future hopes.
KEYWORDS: Israeli/Palestinian conflict, immigration, family, friendship, war
RUNNING TIME: 56 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Israel, Palestine

Calavera Highway; by Renee Tajima Pena
SUMMARY: When brothers Armando and Carlos Pena set off to carry their mother's ashes to south Texas, their road trip turns into a quest for answers about a strangely veiled past. As they reunite with five other brothers, the two men try to piece together their family's shattered history.
KEYWORDS: Male identity, Fatherhood, Family relationships, Mexican American, Multi-culturalism, Immigration, Poverty, Labor Activism.
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: California, Arizona, Texas, Mexico

Election Day; by Katy Chevigny
SUMMARY: "Election Day" combines 11 stories — shot simultaneously on November 2, 2004, where factory workers, ex-felons, harried moms, Native American activists and diligent poll watchers, from South Dakota to Florida, take the process of democracy into their own hands.
KEYWORDS: Politics, Elections, Immigration, Community, History
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, South Dakota, New York

Including Samuel; by Dan Habib
SUMMARY: This film is built on the efforts of the Habib family to include their physically disabled son, Samuel, 7, in all facets of school and community. Including Samuel also features four other families with varied inclusion experiences, plus interviews with teachers, young people, parents and disability rights experts.
KEYWORDS: Inclusive education, Physical disabilities, Civil rights
RUNNING TIME: 56 minutes

In the Family; by Director: Joanna Rudnick
SUMMARY: At 31, filmmaker Joanna Rudnick faces an impossible decision: remove her breasts and ovaries or risk incredible odds of developing cancer. Armed with a genetic test result that leaves her vulnerable and confused, she balances dreams of having her own children with the unnerving reality that she is risking her life by holding on to her fertility.
KEYWORDS: Cancer, Women, Family relations, genetics, Jewish
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

The Judge and The General; by Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio Lanfranco
SUMMARY: In 1998 Chilean judge Juan Guzman was assigned the first criminal cases against the country's ex-dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. Guzman had supported Pinochet's 1973 coup that left the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, and thousands of others dead or "disappeared." The filmmakers trace the judge's descent into what he calls "the abyss," where he uncovers the past — including his own role in the tragedy.
KEYWORDS: International politics, Law/Justice, Genocide
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans; by Dir/Prod: Dawn Logsdon
SUMMARY: New Orleans’s Faubourg Tremé is arguable the oldest African American neighborhood in the US, the birthplace of the black civil rights struggle in the South and the home of jazz. Its unique, little known past adds a revealing new dimension to black history from slavery to the problems of racial inequality today. Every frame is a tribute to what African American communities have achieved under even the most hostile conditions.
KEYWORDS: History, Civil Rights/Race Relations, Hurricane Katrina
RUNNING TIME: 68 minutes

The Dhamma Brothers; by Jenny Phillips, Andy Kukura, Anne Marie Stein
SUMMARY: The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely documents the stories of 36 prison inmates who enter into an arduous and intensive Vipassana meditation program. It challenges assumptions about the nature of prisons as places of punishment rather than rehabilitation.
KEYWORDS: Prisons, Alternative Treatment, Rehabilitation.
RUNNING TIME: 76 minutes