The fact that in a nation that prides itself on a history of freedom, that extolls the principle of justice, has the largest population of prisoners of any country is reason enough to pause and consider: How did this happen? Why was this allowed to happen? What is the impact? Is this necessary? At what cost of human capital and resources? Is this the best way to spend our country’s treasures? What can we do about it?
The films screened during the ten days of this festival will inspire, and horrify, uplift, and anger . . . as a nation we have allowed our criminal justice system, our laws, our police enforcement and our system of punishment to become the dominant form of “correction.” These films will help answer the questions we posed above, and critically, show us a better way.
Congratulations to the producers, directors, actors, illustrators, and the rest of the teams that created the 32 films that were accepted to be part of the (In)Justice for All Film Festival!
2016 FESTIVAL FILMS
Director: Ted Roach
Family man Miguel Cortes could be forced to leave the country in four months as a result of his immigration status. In exchange for Miguel agreeing to leave the country voluntarily and paying a $5,000 bond, a North Carolina immigration judge offers him 120 days to get his affairs in order before leaving his wife and two daughters in the United States to continue their education. Miguel has 120 Days to work hard, save money and weigh his options about returning to Mexico alone, or risk changing his name and disappearing back into another U.S. city illegally to keep his family together. This film provides us with a very personal, powerful, and poignant story of the painful decisions faced by many immigrants today.
All is Forgiven
Director: Eliot Grigo
A short American drama about a black teenager, subject to a fate beyond his control–an inevitable intervening of police brutality. The film communicates a truth inspired by events that have already happened in The United States. “All Is Forgiven” is about how we currently live in society, and what can be realized, in order to stop it.
Director: Miquel Galofre
Art Connect is a feature length documentary that reveals the impact that art and creativity had in a group of 'at risk' teenagers from Laventille, the most marred by violence community in Trinidad and Tobago. The story is told by these children who had access to different forms of art to express themselves. By talking, painting, singing, dancing and filming they will allow us to come into their world.
Baltimore: A Moment to a Movement
Director: Jonathan Klett
The media called it a riot, but on the streets of Baltimore they call it an uprising. The police murder of Freddie Gray ignited mass protests that have been called Black Spring. But in working class Black communities across the city, the issues go beyond police violence. Over a quarter of Baltimore residents are paying more than half of their income to housing. Nearly 150,000 cases a year are brought to Baltimore City Rent Court because tenants are unable to pay their rent. Over 30% of rental housing in Baltimore is considered so substandard it's uninhabitable. Jobs are gone, schools are underfunded, and money for development only goes to the wealthy communities. The Laura Flanders Show heard all this and more from the people on the front lines of the struggle.
Black Moderates and Black Militants
By: Film Group
Black Moderates and Black Militants documents an unrehearsed conversation between three members of the Chicago Chapter of the Black Panther Party, including future congressman Bobby Rush, and the principal of an African American high school.
Directors: Nikoloz Bezhanishvili
When Ana left prison, the country she knew was gone. Georgia has changed, her friends and family have grown distant, but government's indifference and public contempt toward female drug addicts like herself remained. She finds her old friend Tamazi incapacitated by drug abuse and makes it her goal to help him get unemployment benefits.
Divestment Victory at Columbia University
Directors: Jonathan Klett
Behind the scenes with the student campaign that forced Columbia University to divest $10 million from private prisons.
Director: Nick Quested
Dramatic Escape transports the viewer into the lives of a group of maximum security inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York, as they attempt to mount a behind-the-bars stage production of A Few Good Men.
Director: Kim Longinotto
For twenty-five years Brenda Myers-Powell called herself 'Breezy' and she dominated her world, or that's what she thought. It was a world that had turned her into a teenage, drug-addicted prostitute. After a violent encounter with a 'john,' Brenda woke up in the hospital and decided to change her life. Today she is a beacon of hope and a pillar of strength for hundreds of women and girls as young as fourteen who want to change their own lives.
Director: Yasmin Mistry
Charell, age 6, woke up to find herself alone. She made breakfast, dropped her baby sister off with a neighbor, and walked to school. With a dad incarcerated for murder, a mom on drugs & a childhood in foster care, Charell knew it was time to break the cycle.
Director: Saman Hosseinpuor
An old couple are living in an apartment, the man is sleeping and the woman is doing housework. The lady wants to change the fish tank’s water but it slips out of her hand and falls on the ground. They've ran out of water and there’s no water for the fish. But with the help of the man they find water for it.
Director: Harriet Croucher
Based on personal experiences and insights, this film explores one of the last great taboos: mental illness. It examines the realities of mania and psychosis, and the way in which society defines and denigrates people by their disabilities.
Hymns of Three Cities
Director: S. Kramer Herzog
S. Kramer Herzog's Eye of the Storm takes a harshly real view of the media and the circus that it can create. The documentary was shot during the hours leading up to the 2005 execution of Crips founder, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, at San Quentin State Prison. During that fracas which was caught on film, anti-execution demonstrators tried to shout down a Fox News broadcast. When the news team tried to re-establish its position, the demonstrators shouted louder, claiming Fox was interfering with their freedom of speech. The showdown escalated from just a shouting match to shoving and hitting.
I, You, WE
Director: ali erfan farhadi
This really short film lets a class of kindergartners explain the benfits of environmentally sustainability through an interesting game they play. Fun and educational.
If I See You I'll Say Hi
Director: Robin Brinster
What does in mean to "restore justice?" In If I See You I'll Say Hi filmmaker Julia Roeselers was employed at the neighborhood-cafe when she was threatened with a butch knife during a robbery. The perpetrator turned out to be her 14 year old neighbor. Justice, youth care, detention, victim assistance, the right to speak and the right to remain silent all part of the criminal justice system. But, what about the victim's fears and doubts, the grief of the boy's mother, the future, stereo typing, and life in the tiny neighborhood on the island? The film follows Julia's thoughts and doubts in a gentle quest for perceptions of and experiences with criminal law, victimization, youth crime and restorative justice.
In Lorton's Darkroom
Directors: Karen Ruckman
In Lorton's Darkroom is the story of a group of inmates in DC's infamous Lorton Correctional Facility during the 1980's who transform their prison experience, and themselves, while participating in a photography program.
The Road to Reform
Director: Evan Glass
It was a turbulent spring of 2015 as protesters and rioters took to the streets of Baltimore expressing their frustration with the justice system. Fifty miles away seven high school students watched the scene unfold and asked themselves why it happened. What were the factors that lead to this situation, and more importantly, what could be done to make our youth safer in the communities where they live? This documentary was conceived and produced by the members of Gandhi Brigade Youth Media.
Director: Sara Farnsworth
Inspired by actual events, Katie is the story of an adolescent girl caught in the web of domestic sex trafficking.
Ketchup and Blood
Director: Ryan Nanni
Four black college freshman walk into a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi. Their mission is to defy the sign proclaiming, ‘Whites Only.’ Their tactic is non-violence and they are prepared for the worst. But even they are surprised by the brutality of the white community’s defense of the racist status quo.
Director: Susan Mullen
Letters Home revolves around the letters that an incarcerated father sent to his young daughter over a ten-year period. It makes known the power of his words and the deep impact that detention has on children and families. The project includes the spoken and written word, the letters, along with artwork and animations by Hector Duarte, Melissa Garcia, Susan Mullen and Claudia Rangel. Susan Mullen directed and over saw the creation and production of the film. It is Melissa Garcia’s story. The words are hers and those of her father.
Director: Catherine van Campen
Over the past decade schools have become concerned with protecting their students from the threat of an armed gunman. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, most elementary schools are now conducting safety drills that would prepare teachers and students for such a threat. “Lockdown” explores this chilling new reality through the voices of students, a teacher, and a parent. It provokes us to contemplate the emotional weight of this new normal.
Love and Capitalism
Director: Bret Hamilton
Love and Capitalism is an ongoing series of street interviews that aim to learn about the intersections of class and ideology in neighborhoods of different socioeconomic makeup. In this edition we visited the Chicago neighborhoods of Little Village, Lake View, and Wicker Park.
Directors: Nich Perez
The Clients of the several homeless shelters of Wards Island in the borough of Manhattan speak up. They are asking for a better and free transportation system for them to improve their lives as they go in and out of New York City. This problem is a small part of a bigger issue. The question is, what are we doing about it?
Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA
From: Brave New Films
The film connects the dots on how gun companies and the gun lobby profit from gun violence, by telling the stories of
5 families affected by gun violence: 1) Domestic Violence -
a mother and her father shot (survived) by her estranged husband in front of their 4 year old 2) Unintentional
Shooting - mother of a 13 year old killed when classmates accidentally shot him looking at a parent's gun 3) Mass Shooting - family of one of the victims of the Aurora, CO theatre shooting 4) Suicide - family of a young man, a month out of marriage, who committed suicide by gun 5) Trafficking - family of a young man killed by stray fire at his church (you may know the family.
More Harm Than Good
Director: Jonathan Klett
Alaskan lawmakers passed a law against sex trafficking, but who does it really affect?
Director: Brian Lindstrom
Mothering Inside provides us with an intimate look into an intensive program, launched in 2010, that rekindled bonds between female inmates and their children by teaching mothers parenting skills and by regularly bringing the children to Coffee Creek Correctional Center. Families of incarcerated women often have plenty of reasons not to want to visit, including tight budgets, limited time and unaddressed anger. The program worked with families as well as inmates to clear these hurdles so children could spend time with their mothers.
Director: Eric Romero
A mockumentary about a new shocking phenomenon named by the experts as Native Immigration. We will put a face to people like Manuel, Olamilekan and Chen Lee, whose life took a 180 degree turn when they discovered that . . . they are immigrants.
Off The Pig
From: San Francisco Newsreel
This is the film the Black Panthers used to promote their cause. Shot in 1969 in Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento, this exemplar of 1960s activist filmmaking traces the development of the Black Panther organization. In an interview from jail, Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton describes the origins of the Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver explains the Panthers' appeal to the Black community, and Chairman Bobby Seale enumerates the Panther 10-Point Program as Panthers march and demonstrate.
Pagdi The Honour
Director: Rajeev Bhatia
An old man looses his respect due to love interest of his son. He is not ready to accept this relation at any cost. Eventually after a lot of efforts he agrees but with a very weird and unbelievable condition to fulfil.
NOTE: English Subtitles
The End of the Night Stick
Directors: Peter Kuttner, Cyndi Moran &
America's eyes were opened to police brutality when officers of the L.A.P.D. were videotaped viciously beating Rodney King. But for 20 years in Chicago, the press and authorities turned deaf ears to allegations of brutal interrogations and torture by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Was this simply an aberration or an extreme example of a system-wide policy of racist abuse? As victims speak out, this film investigates charges of institutional racism, violence, and cover-up. It also tells the story of a resistance movement, as local activist groups, including the Task Force to Confront Police Violence, refuse to let testimonies of police violence remain buried.
Directors: Anne de Mare & Kirsten Kelly
Three homeless teenagers brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future. Against all odds, these kids defy stereotypes as they create new, surprising definitions of home. Can they recover from the traumas of abandonment and homelessness and build the future they dream of?
The Little Match Girl
Director: Kyoko Yamashita
She is just a child who struggles to survive in the concrete jungle. She was born unwanted, survives in the infamous way and she will die rejected being the way she is - Indigent, dirty, and uneducated. This story is not about crime and punishment, nor about winners and losers. And it is not about villains and their little victim. This modern version from the classic tale by Hans C. Andersen is about human nature and its weakness. It is about all of us.
The Other F Word
Director: Isabel Bleim
What does forgiveness really mean? Is it always essential? Or is it sometimes unnecessary, even impossible, to attain?
This documentary explores the meaning of forgiveness and examines its impact on our relationships and our sense of justice. Through personal stories of forgiveness sought, forgiveness found, and forgiveness withheld, the film provides insight into the universal nature of transgressions, and questions whether any of us are truly able to “turn the other cheek.”
The Price of Honor
Directors: Xoel Pamos & Neena Nejad
This documentary is about the murders of Amina and Sarah Said, teenage sisters from Lewisville, Texas, who were killed in a premeditated “honor killing” in 2008. The film shows the lives of the sisters and the path to their eventual murders by their own father, Yaser Said, who fled the crime scene and remains on the FBI's Most Wanted List.
Director: Meryl Goldsmith
Audrey Edmunds, mother of three, spent 11 years in prison for killing a baby she never harmed. And she is not alone. What happens when widely-held beliefs based on junk science lead to the convictions of innocent people? The Syndrome is an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists, and legal scholars who have uncovered that “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the U.S., is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist.
Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with award-winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith to document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused, and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted. The Syndrome uncovers the origins of the myth of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” It unflinchingly identifies those who have built careers and profited from this theory along with revealing their shocking pasts. Shaken baby proponents are determined to silence their critics while an unthinkable number of lives are ruined.
Umudugudu! Rwanda 20 years on
Director: Giordano Cossu
Rwanda, twenty years on: former genocide killers and survivors live together once again in former or newly built umudugudus (villages). Haunted by their past and fearing an uncertain future, how is life together, when your neighbor is the one who killed your family?
A thought-provoking and enlightening documentary about the struggle to rebuild life in the hills of Rwanda.
Producer: California Newsreel
This acclaimed documentary series is used by thousands of organizations around the country to tackle the root causes of our alarming socio-economic and racial inequities in health. The series crisscrosses the nation, uncovering startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social circumstances in which we are born, live, and work can actually get under our skin and disrupt our physiology as much as germs and viruses.
But why? How can class and racism disrupt our physiology? Through what channels might inequities in housing, wealthy, jobs, and education, along with a lack of power and control over one's life, translate into bad health? What is it about our poor neighborhoods, especially neglected neighborhoods of color that is so deadly? How are the behavioral choices we make (such as diet and exercise) constrained by the choices we have?
What World Do You Live In?
Director: Rebecca Garrett
A collaborative video and activism project between long-time community filmmaker Rebecca Garrett and Sanctuary, a church community drop-in, evolves into an unflinching documentary immersion into the world of police and security guard violence against people who are poor, homeless, and racialized in Toronto.
“We have to stop calling the police,” says activist, Anna Willats. And the message resonates in dozens of stories collected by street pastor Doug Johnson Hatlem. Stunning testimony, images, and commentary are woven together with unique video of police assaults and previously unreleased footage from inside the 2010 G20 detention centre.
Conflict erupts over nonviolent responses to overwhelming police impunity. Meanwhile, the increasing militarization of public spaces forces us all to ask: What World Do You Live In?
Director: Llew Smith
PTSD isn’t only about combat vets and survivors of natural disasters. Too many of our children, especially children of color living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, show the effects of unrelenting structural racism, street violence, domestic instability, and other adversities. And their symptoms look a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder. Except, for many, there is no “post.”
Director: Gary Sherman
In the cavernous basement of Cook County Jail, the largest jail in the U.S., a 25,000 sq. ft. commercial kitchen is being born. Inspired and spearheaded by Italian Chef Bruno Abate, in this space a groundbreaking project, that is changing lives and will continue to blossom outside these barbed-wire topped walls, is taking place. Abate generously instills dignity and pride in these inmates as he teaches them the finer skills of culinary arts, including preparation, production, and service of food and gives them a reason and a chance not to come back here.
Serving Time is an amazing canvas for portraits of inmates who are gaining skills that could guarantee good jobs and a new beginning, with new attitudes, upon their release.
We will be showing portions of the not yet completed project.