Portraits of a Search

More than 20,000 people disappeared in Mexico during the horrifically violent war on drugs waged by former President Calderon. With each missing person, a family is left behind in a desperate search to get answers from a government that is suspiciously ambivalent. Putting a human face on the most harrowing of statistics, director Alicia Calderon courageously captures the stories of three mothers - Natividad, Guadalupe, and Margarita - as they search for their children who have gone missing. One mother constantly retraces the last steps of her son, combing empty fields for his body; another travels all the way to Washington, DC, to plead for US intervention; and the last simply tries to forget the emptiness and raise her now-motherless grandson. In one of the most powerful documentaries about the human casualties of the Mexican narco-wars, these women’s stories are among the many that stand for truth and justice for the 26,000 missing people in Mexico today. With their lives now completely devoted to seeking out the truth, they pursue any avenue possible, in the face of an indifferent government which considers their loved ones to be "collateral casualties" of the drug war.
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Absences (Ausencias)

ABSENCES, by award winning filmmaker Tatiana Huezo (The Tiniest Place), exposes the ever-intensifying phenomenon of enforced disappearance in Mexico. A boy and his father disappear one morning, snatched off the road by armed men. Left behind, alone with her daughter, Lulu, a victim who refuses to give in, decides to tell the unacceptable story: the unfillable void, the absence of loved ones, the unanswered questions and the suffocating silence. After 5 years, absence has her living in a limbo that gives way to desire, hope and the struggle to find her 9-year old son Brandon and her husband, alive. This hauntingly beautiful short film illuminates the way disappearance affects women, and broadens our awareness on disappearance and its social consequences in Mexico and Central America.
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Voices of Muslim Women from the US South

When one thinks of the American Deep South, the image of veiled Muslim students strolling the University of Alabama campus is the last thing that comes to mind. VOICES OF MUSLIM WOMEN FROM THE US SOUTH is a documentary that explores the Muslim culture through the lens of five University of Alabama Muslim students. The film tackles how Muslim women carve a space for self-expression in the Deep South and how they negotiate their identities in a predominantly Christian society that often has unflattering views about Islam and Muslims. Through interviews with students and faculty at Alabama, this film examines representations and issues of agency by asking: How do Muslim female students carve a space in a culture that thinks of Muslims as terrorists and Muslim women as backward?
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The Same Difference

THE SAME DIFFERENCE is a compelling documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians based on gender roles. Director Nneka Onuorah takes an in-depth look at the internalized hetero-normative gender roles that have become all too familiar within the African American lesbian and bisexual community. Onuorah shows how these behaviors reproduce the homophobic oppression and masculine privilege of the straight world, while looking for solutions in compelling discussions with community members. Self-identified studs—and the women who love them—discuss hypocrisy in terms of gender roles, performative expectations, and the silent disciplining that occurs between community members. This film features many queer celebrities, including actress Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from the critically acclaimed HBO drama The Wire, and Lea DeLaria from Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, living daily with opinions about how identity should be portrayed. Onuorah's engaging documentary shines a light on the relationships and experiences within the queer black female community, intersecting race, gender and sexuality. Required viewing for Women’s, Gender and Queer Studies.
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The Room of Bones (El Cuarto de los Huesos)

THE ROOM OF BONES follows the passage of four mothers in the Institute for Legal Medicine as they search for their children’s remains in the midst of three decades of social violence in El Salvador. Across Mexico and Central America, the last twenty years have been plagued by a meteoric and troubling rise in desaparecidos, or missing persons. Mass murder has become all too common, and the identity of the perpetrators remains unknown as the relationship between governments, gangs, and other criminal organizations is shrouded in mystery. As civil and legal systems have failed to thoroughly investigate the crisis, families of victims are left to seek closure and justice on their own. Salvadoran filmmaker Marcela Zamora profiles a group of forensic anthropologists in her home country tasked with the noble but gruesome work of unearthing human remains and matching them with names of desaparecidos. The result is a harrowing portrait of a region in crisis.
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People Are the Sky

Director Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (MOTHERLAND CUBA KOREA USA) is the first Korean American filmmaker to be given official permission by the North Korean government to film inside its borders. In PEOPLE ARE THE SKY, Kim-Gibson’s eighth and most personal film, the filmmaker makes a pilgrimage to her place of birth in North Korea for the first time in nearly 70 years, to explore if it is still home. Kim-Gibson seamlessly weaves her own personal story as a native born North Korean, with the fractious history of the North/South division and pinpoints the roots of North Korean’s hatred of the United States, giving Americans a much better understanding of the conflict. A mix of interviews epic images and graceful musings, PEOPLE ARE THE SKY offers some of the best political and social history of the relations between North and South Korea, and also a contemplative exploration of the meaning of home. The result is unprecedented, at times startling, for hers is an up close look of the hurts and desires, beauty and contradiction, pride and aspirations of the long held demonized nation.
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Southern Rites

Broadcast nationally on HBO, SOUTHERN RITES is a powerful portrayal of how perceptions and politics have divided two towns in southeast Georgia along racial lines for years. In 2009, The New York Times Magazine published filmmaker and acclaimed photographer Gillian Laub’s controversial images of Montgomery County High School’s racially segregated proms. A media furor ensued and under extreme pressure, the Georgian town was forced to finally integrate the proms in 2010. Laub returned camera in hand to document the changes, only to stumble upon a series of events far more indicative of race relations in the Deep South: old wounds are reopened following the murder of an unarmed young black man by an elderly white town patriarch. Against the backdrop of an historic campaign to elect its first African-American sheriff, the case divides locals along well-worn racial lines and threatens to drag the town back to darker days. SOUTHERN RITES documents one town's painful struggle to progress while confronting longstanding issues of race, equality and justice. Through her hauntingly intimate portrait, Laub reveals the horror and humanity of these complex, intertwined narratives, a chronicle of their courage in the face of injustice. Laub’s film captures a world caught between eras and values with extraordinary candor and immediacy— and ultimately asks whether a new generation can make a different future for itself from a difficult past.
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Don't Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie)

Since the age of 4, Angy Rivera has lived in the United States with a secret that threatens to upend her life: She is undocumented. Angy arrived with her mother, fleeing violence, poverty, and civil war in their native Colombia. For 20 years they live in the shadows, struggling to stay afloat financially and avoid deportation while battling a complex and inequitable immigration system. "Don’t tell anyone" is a phrase whispered often and branded deeply on the consciousness of all who are undocumented. Now 24, unable to pay tuition for college and facing an uncertain future, Angy joins the youth-led New York State Youth Leadership Council (YLC) with whom she dons a bullhorn at pro-immigration rallies, telling all who will listen that she is "undocumented and proud." Rivera becomes an activist for undocumented youth with a popular advice blog "Ask Angy" and a YouTube channel boasting more than 27,000 views. She steps out of the shadows a second time to share her story of sexual abuse, an experience all too common among undocumented women. DON’T TELL ANYONE (NO LE DIGAS A NADIE) follows Rivera’s remarkable journey from poverty in rural Colombia to the front page of The New York Times
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Forgetting Vietnam

One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving S-shaped coastline. Influential feminist theorist and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s lyrical film essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war draws inspiration from ancient legend and from water as a force evoked in every aspect of Vietnamese culture. Minh-ha’s classic Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) used no original footage shot in the country; in Forgetting Vietnam images of contemporary life unfold as a dialogue between land and water—the elements that form the term "country." Fragments of text and song evoke the echoes and traces of a trauma of international proportions. The encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization, creates a third space of historical and cultural re-memory—what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events.
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Too Black to be French

In this documentary film, Isabelle Boni-Claverie explores the role of race and the persistence of racism in France, as well as the impact of the French colonial past. Through an exploration of her personal family history, and interviews with historians and academics, TOO BLACK TO BE FRENCH peels back the layers of race relations in supposedly institutionally colorblind France. Boni-Claverie, a French-Ivorian, who grew up in upper class French society, unpacks how socio-economic privilege doesn’t mean protection from racial discrimination. Boni-Claverie solicits anonymous individuals to speak on their daily experiences with race, class, discrimination and micro-aggressions. TOO BLACK TO BE FRENCH also features interviews with acclaimed sociologists and historians including Pap Ndiaye, Eric Fassin, Achille Mbembe, and Patrick Simon to help contextualize racial history in France. Boni-Claverie’s film starts an urgent discussion on French society's inequalities and discrimination.
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Feed the Green: Feminist Voices for the Earth

FEED THE GREEN: FEMINIST VOICES FOR THE EARTH challenges the cultural imagination surrounding the destruction of the environment and its impact on femicide and genocide. This informative documentary, by Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies professor and scholar Jane Caputi, highlights an active global resistance movement and an alternative imagery communicating resistant green consciousness. FEED THE GREEN features a variety of feminist thinkers, including ecological and social justice advocates Vandana Shiva, Starhawk and Andrea Smith, ecosexual activists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens; ecofeminist theorist and disability rights activist Ynestra King, poet Camille Dungy, scholars and bloggers Janell Hobson and Jill Schneiderman and grass roots activist La Loba Loca. Their voices are powerfully juxtaposed with images from popular culture, including advertising, myth, art, and the news, pointing to the ways that an environmentally destructive worldview is embedded in popular discourses, both contemporary and historical. Discussions include the parallels between men’s violence against women and violence against Earth, the disastrous and continuing impacts of European colonization, and the ways that the ill effects of environmental damage are felt disproportionately by those who face racial and socioeconomic inequalities. Required viewing for Women’s and Environmental Studies as well as Pop Culture.
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Love Between the Covers

LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS was selected as the #1 choice of all 2015 videos by the American Library Association's Booklist Review. Romance fiction outsells all other genres of writing, from crime to science fiction, combined. So why is the genre so often dismissed as frivolous "scribble"? Could it be that it's because the overwhelming majority of writers and readers are women? This funny and inspiring look into a billion dollar industry turns up trailblazers who push the discussion on gender, race, sexuality and diversity at the front lines of the biggest power shift in publishing. In LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS Emmy Award® Winning director Laurie Kahn (TUPPERWARE!, A MIDWIFE'S TALE) turns her insightful eye towards another American pop culture phenomenon: the romance industry. Creating online empires and inventing new markets are authors like Beverly Jenkins, a pioneer of African American romance, Len Barot (aka Radclyffe, L.L. Raand), a surgeon and lesbian-romance legend who started her own publishing house, and the incomparable Nora Roberts. This documentary offers fascinating insights into the history and popularity of this female-centric literary world.

Book LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS filmmaker Laurie Kahn to speak at your university
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Wilhemina's War

In much of America, progress in HIV/AIDS treatment suggests the worst is behind us, but every year 50,000 Americans are still diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS. Astonishingly, it’s one of the leading causes of death of African American women. And nearly half of the Americans with HIV live in the South, where the AIDS epidemic has taken root in rural communities. WILHEMINA’S WAR is an intimate, personal narrative that tells the story of one family’s struggle with HIV over the course of five years. Despite facing institutional and personal obstacles every step of the way, 62-year-old Wilhemina Dixon works tirelessly to combat the stigma and care for her daughter and granddaughter, both HIV-positive. Emmy award winning journalist and Professor June Cross finds Wilhemina, a one woman army fighting against a systemic dehumanization that’s the result of centuries of racism, and lack of access to drugs and treatment. Her story touches upon many of the structural issues that contribute to the alarming rising trend of HIV-positive women in the South: lack of education, lack of access to quality healthcare, lack of transportation, and silence and stigma in the local church congregations. This urgent documentary lays bare the intersection of poverty, race and politics with women’s health and security in the rural south, while showing determination in the face of adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit. Essential viewing for African-American Studies and Public Health courses.
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Deep Run

Executive produced by Susan Sarandon, DEEP RUN is a powerful verité portrait of trans life in rural North Carolina. Exiled by her family and rejected by an ex-partner, 17-year-old Spazz has no one to lean on for support. But when Spazz falls in love again and summons up the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed trans-man, his candid humor and steadfast, all-inclusive Christian beliefs counter the bigotry he experiences daily. This deeply personal documentary reveals rebirth and courage within America’s deeply conservative Bible Belt as Cole struggles to find a church that will affirm his identity and the couple's relationship. With a small group of supportive friends, relatives, and his girlfriend, Ashley, Cole's search for love and belonging leads him to a radical revision of what faith and church can be. An intimate study of young outsiders in an insular Christian community, DEEP RUN explores the intersection of modern identity and faith in the American South. Essential viewing for LGBTQIA Audiences, Queer and Gender studies classes.
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Drawing the Tiger

Shot over seven years, Drawing the Tiger takes a sweeping view of one Nepalese family’s daily struggle to survive off of subsistence farming. Eat, pay their debts, stay alive—that’s their day-to-day reality. But when their bright daughter receives a scholarship to study in Kathmandu, the family’s prospects suddenly improve by leaps and bounds overnight. They rest their hopes and dreams on her narrow shoulders, but will the weight of their expectations crush her? Can she really break the cycle of poverty and redefine their collective destiny? She seems eager to try, promising to return and free her family from their hand-to-mouth existence. But when she doesn’t come home, the family is forced to face their fate. Is their future set in stone or sand; is it solid or ever-shifting? Drawing The Tiger is a powerful portrait of pressure and the price one family pays for their golden opportunity that reminds us of what we can and cannot change.
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Suzy Lake: Playing with Time

Photographer Suzy Lake is one of the formative feminist artists to evolve out of the heyday of the 1960’s and the Second Wave. A master of the art of self-portraiture, Lake influenced Cindy Sherman as well as a host of other female artists. Lake makes art that address politics, gender, youth, beauty and aging while reflecting on her own journey through time. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME tells the story of how much has changed in the worlds of feminism and art, and yet how much things remain the same. Filming for almost 4 years, filmmaker Annette Mangaard weaves a powerful portrait of the complex artist by juxtaposing powerful archival footage, still photography and interviews with Lucy Lippard, Mary Beth Edelson and Martha Wilson among others. SUZY LAKE: PLAYING WITH TIME delves into Lake’s legacy as she continues to explore the politics of gender with work that deals with the aging woman, countering notions of consumer beauty with a different and real image, celebrating stamina, maturity and experience. An essential companion piece to any discussion on the Second Wave, feminism and art.
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Unafraid: Voices From the Crime Victims Treatment Center

A deeply personal documentary, UNAFRAID gives voice to four, diverse rape survivors and takes a historic look back at the pioneering treatment center where they now receive counseling. In her directorial debut, Karin Venegas highlights the work of two unsung feminist heroes in the movement for victims’ rights at the height of 1970s feminism and the Women’s Movement. From breaking victims’ silence to the revolutionary invention of the rape kit, this powerful film intimately explores the impact of rape and the capacity of ordinary individuals to effect change. Although frequently referenced in popular culture, few audiences know of the rape kit’s feminist origins. UNAFRAID is the first film to address the grassroots genesis of this important tool, which not only made it easier to convict in the criminal justice system but which helped shape our very cultural acceptance of rape as a serious crime, worthy of prosecution and compassionate treatment. Together, UNAFRAID’s collage of voices aims to lift the stigma that traps victims in silence – and to remind its audience that social change is indeed possible. Essential viewing for Criminal Justice, Law and Women’s Studies Classrooms.
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Private Violence

Emmy-nominated PRIVATE VIOLENCE explores a simple but deeply disturbing fact of American life: the most dangerous place for a woman in America is her own home.
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LaDonna Harris: Indian 101

LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101 from Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum, chronicles the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream America history since the 1960s. In this new verite style documentary, Brannum, the great niece of Harris, celebrates her life and the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for Native people and her contemporary work to strengthen and rebuild indigenous communities and train emerging Native leaders around the world. Harris’s activism began in Oklahoma, fighting segregation and assisting grassroots Native and women’s groups. In Washington LaDonna introduced landmark programs and legislation returning territory to tribes, improving education and healthcare for Native Americans, ending job discrimination against women, and targeting other pressing issues of the time. For over three decades, “Indian 101,” her course for legislators, combatted ignorance about America’s most marginalized population. Using interviews, archival footage and photographs, this film justly celebrates one of the most important women leaders in Native American and U.S. history.
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Golden Gate Girls

In GOLDEN GATE GIRLS author and professor S. Louisa Wei tells the story of filmmaker Esther Eng, the first woman to direct Chinese-language film in the US, and the most prominent woman director in Hong Kong in the 1930’s. A San Francisco native and open lesbian, her contribution to film history is sadly overlooked – her 11 feature films mostly lost. After the retirement of director Dorothy Arzner in 1943 and before Ida Lupino began directing in 1949, Eng was the only woman directing feature length films in the US. Wei’s documentary paints a fascinating picture of how Eng’s career in filmmaking broke through gender and racial boundaries in Hollywood and Hong Kong, at a time when opportunities for Chinese women in the industry were few and far between. With a captivating archive of newly discovered images and interviews with those who knew her, Wei uncovers a rich chapter of film history that challenges both gender hierarchies and national narratives. Essential viewing for Cinema Studies and Asian American Studies.
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Life After Manson

Life After Manson is an intimate portrait of one of the world’s most infamous crimes and notorious killers. At 21 years old, Patricia Krenwinkel callously murdered three people at the command of Charles Manson. Now 66 years old, she continues to be demonized by the public and haunted by the suffering she caused over four decades ago. Through an exclusive interview with and never before seen footage of Krenwinkel, filmmaker Olivia Klaus (SIN BY SILENCE), frames a historically irreconcilable story through a complex emotional lens, offering insight into what led a suburban girl to commit crimes the world will never forget. A provocative and powerful character study, LIFE AFTER MANSON reveals a broken woman struggling with her past, her arduous effort to evaluate the cost of her choices, and the possibility of self-forgiveness.
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