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2012 Film Selections



Directed by Harry Kakatsakis. 21 minutes, USA.

James Cromwell plays a wise clerk who works in the Admissions Room for the afterlife. He is called on to guide an Israeli couple (Anna Khaja & Anthony Batarse), and a Palestinian (Oren Dayan), who go through Admissions together because they have suffered similar tragic endings. As the details of their deaths and how their fates are intertwined become clear, the Clerk will attempt to teach them the wisdom required to find everlasting peace.




Afghanistan: Between Light and Darkness

Directed by Penelope Price. 22 minutes, USA.

Today, Afghanistan is a hot topic across all worldwide media. Yet, there is another Afghanistan: the Afghanistan of young leaders who want peace. These young leaders do not receive the media attention to broadcast their message for a new Afghanistan. This documentary aims at giving these leaders an open multi-media channel for their voices to be heard across the international community.



The Encounter

Directed by Angela Matemotja. 20 minutes, USA.

A young white woman on a search for inner peace, gets stuck in an elevator with an older African man . Though the residue of apartheid still remains, does he hold the key to her finding inner peace?The Encounter, a subtle comment on post apartheid South Africa, is a story about loss, compassion, and how connected we really are. A dramatic exploration of denying our past, and finding peace in the present, by way of two strangers that get stuck in an elevator. There are unexpected twists and turns that surprise and INSPIRE us all.This piece will be enjoyed by anyone who has left their country, lost a loved one, or cares about the cultural aspects of our world.




Erasing Hate

Directed by Bill Brummel. 93 minutes, USA.

Erasing Hate is a remarkable story of transformation and redemption. In early 2009, Bryon Widner's face, neck and hands were covered with intimidating, racist tattoos. It was then he began a series of painful end extensive laser tattoo removal procedures - twenty-five treatments over the course of more than a year and a half. But the tattoo removal was just the outward sign of an inner transformation. Erasing Hate chronicles both in a film that takes viewers inside the dark world of racist skinheads, yet offers hope in the story of one man's struggle to escape from a life of bigotry, addiction and violence.




From the Ground Up

Directed by Beth & George Gage. 31 minutes, USA.

FROM THE GROUND UP is the story of five NY firefighter's widows ten years after 9/11. It's their journey, taking two steps forward and one step back, through tears, depression and laughter, to triumph through tragedy. This film captures the resilience, courage, and indomitable human spirit embodied by these women who have survived extraordinary loss.FROM THE GROUND UP is a personal and emotional account of how 9/11 permeates their lives. We see how this tragedy has strengthened them, forcing them to dig deeper, to give meaning to their lives and empower their families and communities. They have raised funds to build a library, a playground, homes for autistic children and returning disabled vets. Lifting our spirits, they honor their heroes in the most fitting personal ways they can imagine.Maureen Fanning started the Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, which funds group homes for autistic children and supports many institutions providing services to those with autism.Sally Siller and the Siller Family started the Stephen Siller Foundation, which hosts the annual Tunnel to Towers marathon in memory of his final run to duty.Una McHugh established a foundation in honor of her husband, the first project being the Dennis P. McHugh Library in Piedmont, NY.Andrea Garbarini lost her husband, Lt. Charley Garbarini, on 9/11. Her dream is to tell these stories, of the bravery, resilience and legacy of the FDNY widows of 9/11 and to honor their heroes. The film also features Kate Richardson leading a WTC Memorial tour.




From Nomad to Nobody

Directed by Michael Buckley. 15 minutes, Canada.

This documentary was shot on location in Tibet and in northern India. It concerns the plight of Tibetan nomads, who are being forcibly relocated by Chinese officials‚ shifted off their traditional grazing lands into concrete ghettos, where they are marginalised and have little chance of making a decent living, or finding a new profession. Previously, when grazing yaks, they were self-sufficient and lived in an entirely sustainable way. Now, they are unemployed, and dependent on the Chinese government for hand-outs‚Äîand for food.In an era where sustainability is the mantra, Chinese policy makes no sense. This re-settlement policy is designed to wipe out nomad culture and its strong connections to traditional Tibetan values. Nomads are the stewards of the vast grasslands of Tibet‚Äîthey have been grazing these lands with their yaks for close on 4000 years. Without the nomads, the grasslands (already affected by climate change) will further deteriorate and turn into desert.


The Innocent

Directed by Jose Rodriguez. 3 minutes, USA.

In a rundown area of an inner city, a mentally-handicap man sits next to his apartment window. The man, deprived from exploring the world outside his apartment finds amusement from what he considers to be his only friends in the city‚ the pigeons. He speaks to them and feeds on the hope that they may continue to keep him company, but his joy proves short-lived when they eventually fly away. Spending most of his days awaiting the arrival of these pigeons, he dreams of flying with them to his original home where he was once happy. Unfortunately, the man's mental condition forces his family to have him cared for by the State. In the end the man's mother, through her broken heart, finally understands the healing power of her son's winged friends.



In Your Hands

Directed by Jane Pittman. 59 minutes, USA.

We say we want to re-integrate ex-convicts back into society. But what do they really need? And where does our responsibility end and theirs begin? During the summer of 2010, Jane Pittman and Annette Brieger, two filmmakers from Washington D.C., followed Kim and Xavier as they tried to put their lives back together again after serving prison sentences.Kim walked out of jail with only the clothes on her back. At 25, she had a record for credit card theft and a cocaine habit that was just barely contained. Ready to start over again, Kim plunged into her new-found freedom and ended up in free fall. Shelters were booked, so the park bench became her new home. How to survive alone on the streets?Xavier grew up in the ghettos of Northeast DC, where a gang was his family. At 17, he shot and killed another boy while fighting. When he got out of prison 13 years later, the world was a foreign place. Where does a young black man with a record find a respectable job?Watching Kim and Xavier fight the system and their own inner demons, we are challenged to examine our own lives: what would we have done walking in their shoes? 'In Your Hands' shows how the safety and success of the society we live in is invariably linked to the well being of every one of its citizens. If they fail, we all pay, in human cost as much as in dollars and cents.




L Train

Directed by Anna Musso.11 minutes, USA.

L TRAIN is the story of Sunny, a self-regarding teenager who spends her days fighting an inner city winter. One day, while walking into a train station, she encounters a young girl, aided by forearm crutches, about to descend a long, icy staircase. The girl is far from helpless, yet Sunny can't resist a call to altruistic, if not absurd, action.




Mato Oput

Directed by Tim Guthrie. 22 minutes, USA.

'Mato Oput' chronicles the efforts of the people of Northern Uganda to foster justice, peace, and reconciliation following a twenty-year civil war. Uganda's civil war was characterized by extreme brutality. Many of the combatants were abducted children who were often forced to commit atrocities against their own families as a way to ensure loyalty. Now that peace has been restored, many of these children, who have become young adults, face the difficult challenge of reintegration with their communities.The film features interviews with a Catholic Bishop, several priests, and a woman who advocates radical forgiveness for the former abductees. The film explains the context of the violence and documents the concrete efforts of the community to heal itself.




No Greater Pain

Directed by Students of Villanova's Center for Social Justice Film. 34 minutes, USA.

This film tells the story of Dorothy Johnson-Speight, whose 24-year-old son Khaaliq was gunned down by Ernest Odom over a parking space in front of his own home. Viewers eventually meet four other mothers who also lost sons to violence – including Ruth Donnelly, whose 19-year-old son Justin was stabbed by the same man who killed Khaaliq. Each mother discusses the darkest days of their grief and their desire to end the cycle of violence. All women are members of the nonprofit organization, Mothers in Charge, which Johnson-Speight founded in 2004 to provide support for mothers and families affected by violence and offer violence prevention and education to at-risk youth and young offenders.




Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Directed by Phoebe Hart. 60 minutes, Australia

Documentary filmmaker, Phoebe Hart, comes clean on her journey of self-discovery to embrace her future and reconcile the past shame and family secrecy surrounding her intersex condition. Despite her mother's outright refusal to be in the film, Phoebe decides she must push on with her quest to resolve her life story and connect with other intersex people on camera. With the help of her sister Bonnie and support from her husband James, she hits the open road and reflects on her youth.




A Read on Inside Books

Directed by Lorri Haden & Barbara Koonce.10 minutes, USA

A short film about Inside Books Project, a nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas, that provides free books to people in Texas prisons. The film features volunteers of the organization who explain how the organization works and why its purpose is so important. It also raises the question of who has the most to gain by not allowing an offender the opportunity to educate himself.



The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform:

A Short Film About DC and Its Most Disconnected Youth

20 minutes, USA

The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform: A Short Film about DC and Its Most Disconnected Youth, examines the recent successes and challenges within DC's juvenile justice agency. Prior to 2009, the District sent committed youth to the Oak Hill Youth Detention Center - a dingy, often-overcrowded facility that Judge Hamilton, former chief judge of DC Superior Court, characterizes in the film as 'teaching kids to become worse criminals.' In May 2009, the punitive Oak Hill facility was closed for good and a new, smaller, rehabilitative-focused facility - the New Beginnings Youth Development Center - was opened in its place.The twenty minute film, which includes interviews with judges, attorneys, mental health experts, community advocates, and committed youth, tells the story of how and why Oak Hill was closed and introduces the audience to New Beginnings and the Maya Angelou School at the facility. The film explains how DC's juvenile justice agency has changed its approach, focusing its efforts on practices proven to effectively rehabilitate youth and provided youth with the tools they need to succeed, instead of merely punishing them. As Samantha Simpore, a behavioral management specialist at New Beginnings, states in the video 'If we ignore [the] problems [of committed youth], their problems will become a matter of ours.'