Social Justice Film Series 2020

COOKED: Survival by Zip Code (Documentary|US|2018|76 minutes) is Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand‘s searing investigation into the politics of “disaster” – by way of the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave, in which 739 residents perished (mostly Black and living in the city’s poorest neighborhoods).

Asking open-ended questions that push people to deeply consider what it might mean to redefine the term “disaster” and reframe the concept of “resilience,” Helfand forges inextricable connections between the cataclysmic natural disasters we’re willing to see and prepare for and the slow-motion disasters we’re not – that is until an extreme weather event hits and they are made exponentially more deadly and visible. Using a combination of chutzpah, humor and candor, Helfand delves deep into one of our nation’s biggest growth industries: disaster preparedness.

Whether it’s a deadly heat wave in Chicago or Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey or Maria, these disasters reveal the ways in which class, race, and zip code predetermine who lives and dies everyday, regardless of the weather and who gets hurt the worst and first in the wake of an “official disaster.” In COOKED Helfand challenges herself and ultimately all of us to respond to the man-made disasters taking place in towns and cities across the country before the next unprecedented “natural” disaster hits.

Imagining the Indian: The fight Against Native American Mascoting. Work-in-progress film clip plus panel discussion with filmmaker Aviva Kempner and special guests. 4 p.m. The Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation is the Executive Producer of the film. PBS KVIE has joined as a community engagement partner and will provide the online platform for the panel discussion. Click here to register.

Currently in production, Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting (Documentary|US|2020|20 minutes plus program) is a feature-length documentary that examines the movement that is ending the use of Native American names, logos, and mascots in the world of sports and beyond. The film details the current uprising against the misappropriation of Native culture in a national reckoning about racial injustice that has succeeded in the removal of Confederate imagery, toppling statues of Christopher Columbus and forcing corporate sponsors of Washington’s NFL team to demand it change its most-offensive name. It examines the origin and proliferation of the words, images, and gestures that many Native people and their allies find offensive. Imagining the Indian explores the impact that stereotyping and marginalization of Native history have had on Native people. It chronicles the long social movement to eliminate mascoting.

They Ain’t Ready for Me (Documentary|US|2020|89 minutes), is the feature-length documentary about Tamar Manasseh, the African American rabbinical student who is leading the fight against senseless killings on the south side of Chicago. Every day, Tamar, the vivacious, self-assured and magnetic mother of two, sits on the corner of 75th Street and South Stewart Avenue in the Englewood section of Chicago. This is the ghetto, where poverty, unemployment, addiction, and violence are rampant. In 2015, a young mother was shot and killed trying to break up a fight. For Tamar, this was one senseless killing too many. Tired of waiting for politicians to do something, Tamar took the situation into her own hands. She did something simple yet revolutionary – she sat down on the corner and hasn’t left since.

Each day she sits on the corner, barbecuing, playing music and bringing games for kids to play with. In over four years, not one person has been killed on the block. Tamar and the organization she founded, MASK, Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings, are proving that something can be done, the situation is not hopeless. With just her presence on the block – talking, joking and hanging out – she is making the forgotten members of the neighborhood believe that there are people who care whether they live or die. But Tamar Manasseh is more than just a concerned mother – she’s also a rabbinical student. Her unique background and upbringing give her a perspective that few people can claim. Both authentically Jewish and authentically Black, she brings an understanding of both communities, even as she struggles for acceptance in the Jewish world.

RE-WATCH OUR OCTOBER 27TH CHAT ABOUT THE FILM THEY AIN’T READY FOR ME, WITH RABBINICAL STUDENT TAMAR MANASSEH AND FILMMAKER BRAD ROTHSCHILD, MODERATED BY APRIL BASKIN.

They Ain’t Ready For Me explores the challenges and motivations of this fearless community leader as she works to prevent more people from being killed by gun violence. It also highlights how her Judaism influences her activism. Tamar’s complex identity and magnetic personality combine to make her a force to be reckoned with, and she hasn’t even hit her stride yet.

An American Tail (Animation|US|1986|80 minutes) is a 1986 animated musical adventure comedy-drama film that tells the story of a courageous little mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz and his family as they emigrate from Shostka to the United States for freedom. Journeying by ship from Russia to turn-of-the-century America, Fievel is lost at sea during a ferocious storm. Washing ashore in New York Harbor, Fievel braves the perils and wonders of a strange new world in a thrilling quest to find his family. Featuring the voices of Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn and Christopher Plummer, it’s a rousing, heartwarming animated adventure for the entire family! It was the first animated film for executive producer Steven Spielberg and was the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film at the time. An American Tail is still a timely tale for today as it deals with racism, antisemitism, immigration and the vilification of “the other.” West-Wind Drive-In Theater, 9616 Oates Drive, Sacramento (Highway 50 at Bradshaw).

Hair Love (Animation|US|2019|7 minutes), voiced by Issa Rae, follows an African American father’s first attempt to do his daughter’s hair. It stems from director/writer Matthew Cherry’s desire to promote hair love among young people of color.

Hair Love won Best Animated Short Film at the 2020 Academy Awards. During Matthew Cherry’s acceptance speech, he advocated for the passage of the CROWN Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate against individuals for their natural or protective hair styles in the workplace or in schools. California, New York, and New Jersey are currently the only states in the country to pass the CROWN Act.

Marshall (Documentary|US|2017|118 minutes) on the big screen. Film is based on an early trial in the career of Thurgood Marshall, who would go on to become a civil rights icon and U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Starts at 5 PM with two live bands–On The Corner and Bob Jones & Chosen Few-playing the sounds of rhythm & blues while we social distance in and around our cars and celebrate our years of laboring in the fields of civil rights.

Double-Feature of Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote and Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook.
Narrated by Jeffrey Wright, Rigged (Documentary|US|2019|72 minutes) chronicles how our right to vote in the United States is being undercut by a decade of dirty tricks – including the partisan use of gerrymandering and voter purges, Voter ID laws, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. The film captures real-time voter purges in North Carolina and voter intimidation in Texas.

Suppressed 2020: The Fight To Vote (Documentary|US|2019|38 minutes) by Robert Greenwald (Director of Outfoxed, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, and Making A Killing: Guns Greed and the NRA) is a short, powerful documentary about the growing threat of voter suppression to our 2020 election. Deeply personal accounts from voters of color across the state of Georgia reveal deliberate, widespread voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election where Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S. Polling place closures, voter purges, missing absentee ballots, extreme wait times and voter ID issues were in full effect again during the 2020 primaries and are on-going across the country right now, all disproportionately affecting Black Americans and minorities from casting their ballots. Now, amidst a global health crisis, the cruel weaponization of vote-by-mail restrictions has turned the constitutional right to vote into a choice between life and death. Suppressed 2020 is a call to action against the calculated, unconstitutional and racist attacks intended to suppress the right to vote in America.

RosenwaldThe Remarkable Story of a Jewish Partnership with African American Communities
Aviva Kempner’s Rosenwald (Documentary|US|2015|100 minutes) is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who never finished high school, but rose to become the President of Sears. Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African American communities during the Jim Crow South to build over 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century. Rosenwald sheds light on this silent partner of the Pre-Civil Rights Movement. Rosenwald awarded fellowship grants to a who’s who of African American intellectuals and artists of his day so that they could pursue their scholarship and art. They included: Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, the father and uncle of civil rights leader Julian Bond, Ralph Bunche, W. E. B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Ralph Ellison, John Hope Franklin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gordon Parks, Jacob Lawrence and Augusta Savage along with Woody Guthrie. Inspired by the Jewish ideals of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) and a deep concern over racial inequality in America, Julius Rosenwald used his wealth to become one of America’s most effective philanthropists. Rosenwald also built YMCAs and housing for African Americans to address the pressing needs of the Great Migration.

Shared Legacies (Documentary|US|2020|95 minutes) is a moving tribute to the historic partnership between Jews and African Americans during the long history of the civil rights struggle in America. It begins with the founding of the NAACP in 1909 and showcases the bigotry and segregation that both groups have faced. There are narrations and testimonies from Holocaust survivors, leaders, and advocates such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Rev. C.T. Vivian and Dr. Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King’s confidants, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, actor/activist Harry Belafonte and daughter Gina Belafonte, Dr. Susannah Heschel, daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,  members of the King family, and many others.

Shared Legacies contends with profound issues of antisemitism and systemic racism that engulf us in the current national crisis and pursues the aspiration of Dr. King to create a “coalition of conscience.”