2015 Film Guide

Becoming Bulletproof

Dir. Michael Barnett

82 min

This film tells the moving and inspiring story of a group of people with disabilities from across America who together take part in an ambitious indie film production. This riveting film within a film immerses us in a dynamic, inclusive world of discipline and play, raising questions about why we so rarely see real disabled actors on the big screen. Bulletproof is a Western, complete with authentic wardrobe, saloon brawls, showdowns at the poker table, and evil villains. For them Bulletproof isn’t about actors’ limitations, “It’s all about making an awesome movie, not a statement.”

 

Ghost Empire Singapore

Dir. Susan Thomson

59 min

This documentary film looks at the anti-homosexuality law in Singapore, which criminalizes male homosexuality. A British colonial law, it is based on the Victorian era Labouchere amendment, the same law which criminalized Oscar Wilde in England a century ago. This film examines the impact of British colonialism on laws around the world. Half of the countries that currently criminalize homosexuality use British colonial laws or revised versions of these laws. The film also explores state censorship, Christianity and other colonial legacies including the death penalty.

 

I Learn America

Dir. Jean-Michel Dissard & Gitte Peng

90 min

The children of immigration, here to stay, are the new Americans. How we fare in welcoming them will determine the nature of this country in the 21st century and beyond. The International High School is a New York City public school dedicated to serving newly arrived immigrant teenagers. The students strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, confront the universal trials of adolescence, and search for a future they can claim as their own. In this film, five resilient immigrant teenagers come together and struggle to learn in their new land. Through these vibrant young people, their stories and struggles, and their willingness to open their lives and share them with us, we can all begin to “learn America.”

  

In the Image: Palestinian Women Capture the Occupation

Dir. Emmy Scharlatt

60 min

This film strives to make the invisible, visible by examining Palestinian women living under occupation in the West Bank and changing the conversation by using video cameras as a form of non-violent activism. The film shows their daily struggles in a personal and compassionate way, while also exposing the harsh reality of their lives as they endure tear gas and harassment all while shooting video of human rights violations and settler violence. 
Their videos, uploaded raw to YouTube, provides shocking evidence of endemic human rights abuse. The footage has gone viral; it has swayed public opinion, has been admitted as evidence in Israeli courts, and resulted in the convictions of abusive soldiers and their superiors.

 

India’s Daughter

Dir. Leslee Udwin

62 min

This documentary film pays tribute to the remarkable and inspiring short life of Jyoti Singh and documents the brutality of her gang rape and murder in Delhi in December 2012. It also examines the mindset of the men who committed the rape, and perhaps most importantly, demonstrates a wider in-depth investigation of the patriarchal society and culture, which not only seeds but also may be said even to encourage violence against women. The focus of the film’s exploration is on the compelling human stories behind the incident in the context of a culture in which brutality against women is commonplace. Ultimately, the film is optimistic. The case has been a catalyst for change, and the massive public response to the incident bears witness to an attitudinal change on the horizon, which the film seeks to amplify.

 

The Last Tear

Dir. Christopher H.K. Lee

53 min

Sexual violence against women has accompanied almost every large-scale conflict, yet most of its victims are silenced. One such sad episode is that of the ‘comfort women,’ or more accurately, the estimated 200,000 women who were recruited to sexually serve the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. As part of this immense system, many young women from all over Japan’s occupied territories in Asia were forced into service where they faced rape, torture and extreme violence at military camps, euphemistically termed ‘comfort stations.’

 

Life Under Siege

Dir. Miriam Abu Sharkh

70 min

This documentary film tells the story of a father trapped in Gaza and the journey of his western-born daughter who is struggling to reunite with him. As she investigates controversial questions, and uncovers mysteries of a city with five thousand years of history, she has no alternative but to descend into the depths of Gaza and trudge through the clandestine tunnels that are the lifeline of besieged millions, and too often the tomb of those who work in them.

 

Manislam – Islam and Masculinity

Dir. Nefise zkal Lorentzen

58 min

Ever since Nefise was a little girl she has been aware of the fact that boys had more privileges than girls. However, although these privileges keep the wheels of patriarchy churning, they have not made men or women happy.  After 9/11, Nefise decided to make a trilogy about progressive Islam. Her intention was not to defend or explain Islam, but rather to show the different sub-cultures within various interpretations of Islam. This film examines the burdens of manhood within Islamic cultures. The main characters, bravely and frankly, share deeply personal memories and experiences in their effort to highlight and question the role of men in contemporary Islam. This is a film that both provokes and provides hope for a better world.

 

Maria of Many

Dir. Alexandra Liveris

4 min

Meet Maria; Mexican immigrant, domestic worker, committed mom and activist. After being mistreated as a part-time hire, María finds her voice, a community, and dignity within the San Francisco Women’s Collective—an all women worker-run group that provides cleaning jobs in exchange for activism on behalf of the rights of domestic laborers. María is proud of her work, yet her deepest motivation for putting in long hours is to provide a better life for her children.

 

Midtown Utica Community Center

Marisa Wong

3 min

The Midtown Utica Community Center is a multi-cultural community center in the heart of Utica, N.Y. at a former Episcopal Church. This short film showcases the efforts of the MUCC and shows that the center is a warm, welcoming, and inclusive home for so many of Utica’s residents, both new and old. Hundreds of families utilize this facility on a weekly basis. The mission of the MUCC is to foster inclusive community participation by providing an environmentally sound facility for arts, recreation, celebration, and locally based human services in order to increase opportunity for personal and collective growth in our community.

  

Persecution of Falun Gong

Dir. Mathias Magnason

10 min

In the late 1990s, the Chinese government said that up to 70 million people were practicing the meditational practice of Falun Gong daily. Crime rates were falling, health bills were decreasing, and morality was rising. 

But when the communist leader decided to target these meditators and everyone connected to them, fearful memories of the student massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989, and the killings of millions during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s were rekindled nationwide. 

Seen through the eyes of witnesses, survivors, and experts, this film documents the tragic history of those who have persisted in their peaceful beliefs despite brutal persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

 

Right Footed

Dir. Nick Spark

82 min

Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a birth defect, but managed to overcome many physical and emotional challenges to become fully independent.  She learned to type with her toes, drive a car with her feet, and amazingly — fly an airplane with her feet.  Right Footed follows Jessica as she transforms from a motivational speaker to a mentor, and eventually into an inspirational leader for people with disabilities.