Children’s' Festival Film Selections: Kindergarten and Elementary School Films: Khumba (Narrative Feature/Animation/85min) A wondrous story about animals embracing their differences. The titular young hero is a South African zebra who is born with only half of his stripes. The superstitious zebras conclude that Khumba is the cause of the drought that follows his birth. For them, no stripes means no rain. After a wise mantis gives him a map to a magic watering hole, Khumba heads out to find it. He is joined by a pair of wandering outcasts: the lonely and loving wildebeest Mama V and the flamboyant ostrich Bradley. A key musical number has Bradley singing a campfire version of “I Will Survive” with new lyrics: “I am ostracized.” Along the way, these misfits encounter various other isolated cults, from a family of meerkats living in a human-made animal sanctuary to a group of rock-dwelling rodents, known as dassies, on a mountain convinced that doomsday is nigh. A cruel and half-blind leopard also crosses their path. The voice acting from talented American, British and South African performers, including Jake T. Austin, Loretta Devine, Laurence Fishburne, Richard E. Grant, Liam Neeson, Steve Buscemi and Sindiwe Magona, is zany and emotionally charged. Zarafa (France/English Narrative Feature/78min) Dir: Rémi Bezançon & Jean-Christophe Lie - Under a baobab tree, an old man tells a story to the children around him: The story of the everlasting friendship between 10-year-old Maki and Zarafa, an orphaned giraffe, a gift from the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France. Charles X. Hassan, Prince of the Desert, is instructed by the Pasha to deliver Zarafa to France. But Maki has made up his mind to do everything in his power to stop Hassan from fulfilling his mission and to bring the giraffe back to its native land – even if it means risking his own life – because he must fulfill his promise to Zarafa's late mother. During an epic journey that takes them from Sudan to Paris, passing on the way through Alexandria, Marseille and the snow-capped Alps, they have many adventures, crossing paths with the aviator Malaterre, a pair of unusual twin cows called Mounh and Sounh, and the pirate queen Bouboulina. Loosely based on the tale of the very first giraffe to set foot in France, “Zarafa” (giraffe in Arabic) is a beautifully crafted hand-drawn animation that takes the spirit of classic Disney and adds a splash of contemporary humor and social comment making it appealing for the entire family. Student’s Festival Film Selections: Middle School & Junior High School Short Film Series: Nehemiah, (US/Narrative Short/22min) Dir: Tiisetso Dladla - Inspired by the courage of his favorite cartoon character, an autistic teenager embarks on a journey to reconnect with his father. Sketch (US/Narrative Short/28min) Dir: Stephen T. Barton - An autistic boy has a gift for drawing detailed images of scenes he sees in his impoverished world. He uses his gift to help a detective solve a murder. High School Short Film Series: KanyeKanye (The Line) (South Africa/Narrative Short/26min) Dir: Miklas Manneke - In a township divided by an age-old feud, a boy falls in love with a girl from the other side of town. Desi Holiday (US/Narrative Short/20min) Dir: Sharmaine Starks - Desi Holiday is 17 and pregnant, growing up in a Watts housing project. She's convinced that words are meaningless. Desi takes a vow of silence and imagines a beautiful place where she can escape in order to understand love, why boys lie and what it all means to her and her unborn child. Culture Over Everything (US/Short Documentary/17min) Dir: Charlie Cook & Ravi Lloyd - In the shadow of the money-driven giant rap music industry, North Carolina rapper Marlanna Evans (Rapsody) takes hip-hop back to its community-based roots while striving to be a good role model for little girls. Love Thy Neighbor (US/Narrative Short/21min) Dir: Minho Ha - Leading up to the Rodney King verdict that triggered the L.A. rebellion, Jinsook, a Korean shopkeeper and Ben, young boy help each other fill their life’s voids and form a friendship when Jinsook hires Ben as a helper in her liquor store. But Ben's strict father disapproves of Ben's new job. Elementary School Narrative Features: Felix (South Africa/Narrative Feature/97min) Dir: Roberta Durrant - After getting a scholarship to an exclusive ("white") private school, 13-year-old Felix is immediately treated like an outsider by his fellow students and faculty. Attempting to prove himself, Felix auditions for the school’s jazz concert. But he soon finds that his affinity for jazz and his talent on the penny-whistle are not enough. He must learn to read music and play a “real” instrument if he is to participate. But learning to read music and perform is a problem since his mother has refused to allow him to learn how to play. She hates jazz, believing it to be the “devil’s music” ever since Felix’s musician-father drank himself to death. But when Felix finds photos of his infamous father along with his father’s old saxophone in a hidden trunk, he defies his mother and begins to secretly meet with two of his father’s aging band mates who not only help him prepare for the school jazz concert by giving him a crash course on the saxophone but teach him about his father and his musical roots. A heartwarming and witty crowd-pleaser that the entire family will enjoy. Stars Hlayani Junior Mabasa, Linda Sokhulu and Janet Suzman. High & Middle School Features: Against the Grain, (US/Narrative/87min) Dir: Elias G. Mael - An inner-city kid goes to college in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon one day. Isaiah Johnson, an inner-city kid from Oakland, California, has an opportunity to attend an elite university. In his first year of college, he struggles to maintain his grades, attempts to remain loyal to his troubled childhood friends, and valiantly tries to capture the heart of his dream-girl. But when he arrives at a crossroad, he’s forced to choose between his past and his future. Curators Volume 1, (US/Documentary/80min) Dir: Jermaine Fletcher - The Curators of Hip Hop (COHH) bill themselves as the keepers of an online museum of auditory and visual stimulation, who constantly change the world of Hip Hop. COHH is the art, the culture, the politics, the fun, the honesty – the movement. Where Creativity meets Connectivity. Inspired by the motivation to preserve hip hop culture and its artists, COHH highlights the lives of five “dreamers” looking to make a mark in the hip-hop world. The artists are coast-to-coast -- and even across water. Seamlessly interwoven with poetic narration by SK (Shayla Mason), “The Curators” chronicles MC’s Ahmad Lewis, Matt Reeves, Prie, and Dee-1's independent journeys as they develop their art and promote their talent and captures the infancy-to-stardom of Def Jam recording artist, Logic. Through extensive dialogue with these up-and-coming as well as established artists and everyday professionals, The Curators verifies that hip-hop isn't dead, or even close to it, as some may suggest. Four years in the making, The Curators confirms that Hip-Hop has now larger than ever. Lost & Found in China (US/New Zealand/Documentary/75min) Dir: James Brown - Twenty South L.A. teens gain a better understanding of themselves as they journey through ancient and modern China, battling future Olympians on the rugby field while making new friends and connections off the field. A closer look at four of the team members in their home environment and on tour highlights how they persevere and succeed. As inspiring as it is entertaining. Lessons of Hayti, The (US/Documentary/61min) Dir: Byron C. Hunter & Edward J. Harris, Jr. - An analysis of the unique history of Black self-sufficiency and political power in the United States from it's origins just following President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 up to the second inauguration of America's first Black President 150 years later, and how that power has eroded since the Civil Rights era, leaving Black America in a current state of economic turmoil. As told by prominent historians, scholars, former Durham residents, and a survivor of the Tulsa Riots of 1921, the film details a history of Black success in America, including the creation of over 100 independent Black communities, nearly 100 Black Colleges and Universities, and the wielding of massive political power in the former Confederate States, all within 50 years of the end of slavery. The film also examines the demise of these historic Black communities over the last 100 years due to both racial violence and racist politics triggered by pivotal historic events including the landmark case Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1898, the end of World War I in 1918, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Black and Cuba (US/Documentary/82min) Dir: Robin J. Hayes - Black and Cuba follows street-smart Ivy League students who are outcasts at their elite university as they band together and adventure to Cuba to see if revolution is truly possible. With cutting-edge style and humor, this inspiring documentary illuminates how racial equality is an international human rights issue. The film also reveals a fresh perspective on the US-Cuba conflict. Due in part to the US government's ban on travel and trade with socialist Cuba since 1962, many Americans are unaware the island's population is 60% Black. Human rights activists assert this embargo violates the human rights of Cubans and Americans. Intent on sharing their experiences, the students film their journey. Through the streets of Havana and Santiago, they observe the literal signs of revolution— "Venceremos! We Will Overcome!"—as well as moving hip-hop performances. A stirring block party at a racially integrated housing project impacts the travelers in surprising ways. Candid, spontaneous encounters with Afro Cubans highlight similarities between African-American, Latino and Cuban experiences. Although Cuba declared racism illegal after 1959, the travelers' new friends describe recent experiences of racial profiling, police misconduct and employment discrimination. The students also see the positive benefits of Cuba's social safety net. Afro Cubans enjoy access to public education, health care and homeownership in a manner that remains out of reach for many of the students' neighbors and family members in the US. Despite seeing the realities behind the myths of color-blindness and social mobility, the students return home empowered with renewed hope. A Lovely Day (US/Documentary/73min) Dir: Kerri Gawryn - Set in the backdrop of Oakland, California, nine young people embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-empowerment when they are immersed in a six-month Hip-Hop music therapy workshop. Unlike many Hip-Hop documentaries that showcase competition among artists, this documentary highlights collaborative efforts among the youth as they work towards the common goals of creating a full-length album and performing a live concert at the Oakland Metro Opera House. The film provides a touching reminder of the issues that many youth face every single day in urban settings across the country while demonstrating the potential of youth to examine and give voice to their experiences. Their voluntary participation and commitment to the program and each other, exemplifies their willingness to construct their futures and create social change as they transition into adulthood. American Beatboxer (US/Documentary/85min) Dir: Manauvaskar Kublall - On July 31, 2010, the first ever American Beatbox Championship took place. Beatboxers and beatbox fans from all over the world converged at Littlefield Performance +Art Space in Brooklyn, New York to witness and participate in this historical event. Contestants of all races, from the north, south, east and west of the United States competed. Now it's down to the eight finalists! This documentary honors the evolution of Beatboxing juxtaposed against the final day of competition to crown the first American beatboxing champion. Directed by Manauvaskar Kublall and produced by Richard McKeown, this film documents one of the most neglected genres of Hip-Hop culture and places it in its rightful place in Hip-Hop history as well as an American art form. The awesome soundtrack is provided by the multi-talented finalist, Maximillion and Fullee Loaded Productions. On the judging panel are Hip-Hop Legends Rahzel the 'Godfather of Noyze,' Masai Electro, Parrish Smith of EPMD, as well as Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest! Featured appearances include Kenny Muhammad, The Human Orchestra, World Beatboxing Association co-founder Chesney Snow, Hobbit from the U.K., 2009 Spanish beatboxing champion Lytos from France, Ezra and L.O.S. KRNFX from Canada and many more. Brothers Hypnotic (Netherlands/US/Documentary/87min) Dir: Reuben Atlas - With a fusion of jazz, funk, Afrobeat and more than a smidge of hip-hop, the group’s horn-dominated arrangements are magical. Lively, funny and at times philosophical, “Brothers Hypnotic” tackles the challenges of maintaining an independent music career, as well as some knotted generational conflicts. The sons of Chicago jazz sage and Black Consciousness figure Phil Cohran (who played with the Sun Ra Arkestra), the brothers all grew up under one roof, in a huge, unconventional family of 24 siblings (from the same father but three different mothers, two of whom helped raise the communal brood side-by-side). Music practice started at 5am every day with the group of siblings performing in the Phil Cohran Youth Ensemble. In forming Hypnotic, the group made a partial break from their father, and struggled to re-evaluate and reinterpret patriarch’s uncompromising musical and political ideals for a modern era. This dilemma becomes ever more acute as the group’s profile rises, highlighting an intriguing microcosm of the tensions between the hip-hop generation and its civil-rights-era forebears. Retaining their father’s antiestablishment spirit we first see Hypnotic playing on the streets of Manhattan (where they reason they can make just as much money as playing in clubs). The group eventually graduates to venues like Lincoln Center and major European festivals. They turn down an early contract offer from Atlantic Records, and when they’re given opportunities to play with the likes of Mos Def, Damon Albarn and Prince, they first thoughtfully debate whether the gigs are worth the tradeoff of being seen as someone else’s backing band. African Cypher, (South Africa/Documentary/88min) Dir: Bryan Little - This is the physicality of the dance--the awe of a body flowing through space, flipping, spinning, and snaking as if giving birth to a new means of self-expression. Across South African cities and townships, dance has long been a mirror of the community, replaying allegorical stories that both educate and entertain. Director Bryan Little harnesses the energy of the unique and diverse performance styles of isiPantsula and sBhujwa to Krump and B-boy. Crime and poverty may be a challenging reality in township life, but the dancers featured describe how their art has enriched their lives with new avenues, and pay it forward by engaging with youth through mentorship and dance training that breaks the cycle of crime and offers hope. Little's survey of dancers and styles returns often to an extraordinary duo, the Movers & Shakers, eventually following them to the expected narrative trope of the "Big Dance Competition." But, life is not a movie, and reality turns the audience's gaze beyond the stage. At times breathless and others profound, The African Cypher is a cinematic experience that explores the emotional journey of a performer. Freedom Summer (US/Documentary/113min) Dir: Stanley Nelson - During the summer of 1964 more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in an historic voter registration effort that would shatter the foundations of white supremacy in Mississippi, the nation’s most segregated state. Now known as "Freedom Summer," this 10-week period was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of thirty-five churches, and the bombing of seventy homes and community centers. In response to the unrelenting challenges to registering Black voters directly within hostile Mississippi, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was born. It registered its own voters outside of the discriminatory system, and ultimately sent a delegation of 68 members to attend the 1964 Democratic National Convention to confront and unseat the all-white delegation. The summer of 2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder decision, which struck down key protections afforded by the landmark civil rights legislation — The Voting Rights Act of 1965, borne of the political momentum generated by this historical movement. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker and MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), Freedom Summer highlights an overlooked but essential element of the Civil Rights Movement: the patient and long-term efforts by both outside activists and local citizens in Mississippi to organize communities and register black voters — even in the face of intimidation, physical violence and death. With archival footage, rare photographs and insightful interviews of participants, Nelson chronicles the struggles of a diverse coalition of Americans that lead directly to the election of America's first African American President. RasTa: A Soul's Journey (Canada/Documentary/95min) Dir: Stuart Samuels - Canada, Jamaica and Ethiopia -- to explore the roots, evolution and impact of Rastafari. Donisha acts as the irrepressible and charming guide, educating viewers about a way of life that many know little about beyond the dreadlocks, ganja, and the red, gold, and green. Along the way, she encounters Rastafarian elders, musicians, poets, professors and individuals who share personal stories of the influence of Donisha’s iconic grandfather, Bob Marley, on their lives. Moving away from the standing approaches to Rastafari and Jamaica, the film focuses on the international presence of Rastafari and the friendly people and places where the uplifting spirit of the movement can be found. In wanting to carry the torch of her famous family, Donisha uses this film to re-affirm the classic statement of her grandfather that indeed ‘Rasta is the future,’ At its heart, Rasta: A Soul’s Journey is a film that follows and celebrates a young woman’s quest as she comes into her own as a Rasta empress. With appearances by Rita Marley, Damien Marley, Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah, and Ras Levi Roots. The Magic City (US/Narrative Feature/90min) Told mainly through the voice of Tiana, viewers are given an honest and riveting first-hand account of her journey. Abandoned by their drug-addicted mother, Tiana and her sister Nia have become part of the Florida foster care system, which initially places them in separate foster homes. When they are reunited and placed in the care of their Aunt Georgia, they vow to each other never to be separated again. At Aunt Georgia’s, the girls finally seem to have a place they can call home and with Aunt Georgia’s love and guidance, the girls begin to blossom and trust again. Next door to their new home is Amiya, a well-to-do teenager from Tampa spending the summer in Liberty City. Amiya is timid and afraid of the neighborhood and the people who live there. Initially, Tiana and Amiya do not see eye to eye, but obvious differences take a back seat and friendship grows because Amiya is also neglected by her mother and left in the care of her Aunt Jennifer who keeps a strict and watchful eye over her. Amiya’s Cousin Tru, a war veteran quietly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, also lives with Aunt Jennifer and becomes a source of inspiration and knowledge for Amiya. Soon Tiana, Nia and Amiya become best friends. The girls spend the summer sharing nights at the local skating rink and days at the mall. They also share their secrets as things begin to look up. But as fate would have it, tragedy enters their lives once more. Aunt Georgia suddenly dies, leaving Tiana and Nia alone and afraid of being returned to the foster care system. So, together the three girls plot to conceal the death by deception and clever misdirection. They turn to the streets of Liberty City and their street smarts to survive while at the same time dodging Mr. Daniels, Aunt Georgia’s relentless boyfriend. Stars Jenifer Lewis, Keith David and Jamie Hector and introducing Latrice Jackson, LaShay Jackson and Amiya Thomas.
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