Ovarian Psycos

Riding at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color. The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence. The film Ovarian Psycos rides along with the Ova’s, exploring the impact of the group’s activism, born of feminist ideals, Indigenous understanding and an urban/hood mentality, on neighborhood women and communities as they confront injustice, racism, and violence, and take back their streets one ride at a time.
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Sonita

Two-time Sundance Film Festival award winner SONITA tells the inspiring story of Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee in Iran, who thinks of Michael Jackson and Rihanna as her spiritual parents and dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. For the time being, her only fans are the other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter. And her family has a very different future planned for her: as a bride she's worth $9,000. Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami (GOING UP THE STAIRS) poignantly shifts from observer to participant altering expectations, as Sonita's story unfolds in this personal and joyful portrait. An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, SONITA highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.
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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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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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Ni Aquí, Ni Allá (Neither Here, Nor There)

NI AQUI, NI ALLA illuminates the challenges facing an undocumented college student and her family. Blanca, a second-year student at the University of California, Berkeley, crossed the border from Mexico into the United States with her parents when she was a child. As a student under the California DREAM Act who possess DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Blanca qualifies for financial aid and has temporary protection from deportation, though her undocumented parents, who live and work in California's agricultural Central Valley, do not. NI AQUI, NI ALLA paints an intimate portrait of an undocumented family as they support each other during a turning point in their lives and stay together through the distance. At a time in this country’s history where the debate around immigration is highly contested and demands to close the border are in the daily news, NEITHER HERE, NOR THERE paints a very human face on an issue that many use simply as partisan, political fodder. Essential viewing for Anthropology, Sociology and Multicultural and Immigration Studies.
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Sound of Torture

Since 2006 when Europe closed its borders, human trafficking has burgeoned in Egypt’s Sinai Desert, where Eritrean asylum seekers and refugees heading north to Israel are kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured by Bedouin smugglers demanding exorbitant ransoms for their freedom. Fleeing an oppressive military dictatorship at home, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy at the border and where only pregnant women are exempted from service, over 300,000 Eritreans have fled their homeland in North Africa. Many of these men, women and children die in Sinai’s torture camps. This powerful documentary intimately follows Swedish-Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos and her efforts to aid the hostages and their families. From Stockholm she runs a popular online radio show, fielding calls for help from Eritrean victims and their relatives. Her activism takes her to Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Desert to seek the release of a badly abused young woman held captive with her baby and to search for another who disappeared along the Egyptian-Israeli border after her ransom had been paid. Both eloquent and harrowing, SOUND OF TORTURE spotlights one of today’s most underreported human rights violations and the one woman who is making it her mission to create change.
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Las Marthas

Unlike any other, the annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas is part of a lucrative month-long festival honoring George Washington’s birthday. LAS MARTHAS follows two young women as they prepare for this elaborate rite of passage: Laurita, a 13th-generation debutante descended from Laredo’s original Spanish land grantees who questions debutante society’s class system geared toward girls like herself; and Rosario, a high-achieving, Mexican-raised and U.S.-schooled outsider struggling to understand the elite society’s unspoken rules. Tracing the event’s origins back to 1898, the film works to unravel why a town like Laredo – with a population that is 98% Mexican – feels such affinity for America’s Founding Father. Despite history and all odds, the celebration perseveres and flourishes thanks to the Mexican American girls who wear this gilded tradition in the form of elaborate colonial gowns. LAS MARTHAS is a beautifully drawn and sometimes humorous, coming of age portrait of these two young women as they navigate this complex tradition in a time of economic uncertainty and political tension over immigration and border relations between the US and Mexico.
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My Stolen Revolution

A student activist in Iran’s 1979 revolution that overthrew the dictatorial Shah, Nahid Persson Sarvestani fled to Sweden with her baby after Islamists seized power and began persecuting leftists who had been their revolutionary allies. Three decades later, events in Iran inspire Nahid to revisit that part of her life. Prompted by brutal crackdowns on anti-government protests in 2009 and long-suppressed guilt for abandoning a younger brother to imprisonment and death, the internationally acclaimed filmmaker locates and reunites with five female activists who survived torture and terror in the Islamist regime’s jails. Now living in exile, the women share gripping accounts of how their jailers tried to break them physically and spiritually, and describe what sustained them during these horrible ordeals. With the support of these stalwart survivors, Sarvestani finds answers to haunting questions about her brother’s last days. Shifting skillfully between past and present, this deeply personal documentary is an essential resource for understanding Iran today.
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Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer

Their voices are suppressed, prohibited and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi are unafraid of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women represent a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly, putting them at great risk. This film accompanies these brave young cyberfeminists on perilous journeys. Eyewitness reports and clandestine footage show Sánchez's brutal beating by Cuban police for criticizing her country's regime; Chinese human rights activist Jinyan under house arrest for four years; and Iranian journalist and women's advocate Seifi forced into exile, where she blogs under a pseudonym. Tracing each woman's use of social media to denounce and combat violations of human rights and free speech in her home country, FORBIDDEN VOICES attests to the Internet's potential for building international awareness and political pressure.
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Children of Memory (Niños de la Memoria)

Hundreds of children disappeared without a trace during the Salvadoran civil war. Many were survivors of massacres carried out by the U.S.-trained Salvadoran army. Taken away from the massacre sites by soldiers, some grew up in orphanages or were "sold" into adoption abroad, not knowing their true history or identity. The film follows Margarita Zamora, an investigator with human rights organization Pro-Búsqueda as she traverses the Salvadoran countryside probing memory, swabbing DNA samples, and searching for disappeared children - including her own four siblings. In the United States, Jamie Harvey, adopted from El Salvador in 1980, dreams of locating her birth family; but with no information, no contacts and no access to the Salvadoran military war archives, she is losing hope. CHILDREN OF MEMORY weaves together separate yet intertwined journeys in the search for family, identity and justice in El Salvador.
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Maria in Nobody's Land

MARIA IN NOBODY'S LAND is an unprecedented and intimate look at the illegal and extremely dangerous journey of three Salvadoran women to the US.
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Helen Lee Compilation

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. (40 mins) MY NIAGARA - Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (22 mins) SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact.
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The Learning

One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. THE LEARNING, from award-winning filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz (IMELDA), is the story of four Filipina women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. With their increased salaries, they hope to transform their families' lives back in their impoverished country. This absorbing, beautifully crafted film follows these teachers as they take their place on the frontline of the No Child Left Behind Act. Across the school year's changing seasons, the film chronicles the sacrifices they make as they try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their children and families, and begin a new one with the mostly African-American students whose schooling is now entrusted to them. Their story is intensely personal, as each woman deals with the implications of her decision to come to the US, and fundamentally public, as they become part of the machinery of American education reform policy.
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Pushing the Elephant

In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation’s search for peace. When war came to Rose’s village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her ten children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Over a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the US where they must face the past and build a new future. As mother and daughter get to know one another, they must come to terms with a painful past, and define what it means to be a survivor, a woman, a refugee and an American. Through this intimate family portrait unfolding against the wider drama of war, we explore the long-term and often hidden effects of war on women and families, particularly those in traditional societies—financial despair, increased susceptibility to rape, and social ostracism. PUSHING THE ELEPHANT captures one of the most important stories of our age, a time when genocidal violence is challenged by the moral fortitude and grace of one woman’s mission for peace. This is a powerful first-person portrait of an indomitable woman dedicated to peace and the healing power of forgiveness. A moving, joyful and hopeful chronicle of refugee experience and acculturation in the U.S. today, PUSHING THE ELEPHANT is also an insightful portrait of the changing face of immigration in our increasingly diverse society.
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Sweatshop Cinderella: A Portrait of Anzia Yezierska

In the forefront of early twentieth-century American literature about immigrant women’s lives, Anzia Yezierska’s work includes short fiction, novels, and essays, and her output spans 50 years. SWEATSHOP CINDERELLA, by award-winning filmmaker/historian Suzanne Wasserman, vividly depicts this Jewish immigrant writer’s amazing story. Arriving from Poland around 1890, Yezierska’s family settled on the Lower East Side, where she toiled in sweatshops and laundries, studying English at night. Defying her parents, she pursued her education and became a teacher. Twice married and divorced, she also had a daughter. At the urging of philosopher John Dewey, with whom she fell in and out of love, Yezierska devoted herself full-time to writing stories and novels in Yiddish-English dialect that won awards and rave reviews. Soon Hollywood, which turned two of her works into movies, beckoned her to write screenplays. When disenchantment with that world set in, she returned to New York, writing and publishing her best work between 1922 and 1950. Using archival stills and footage, silent film excerpts, letters, newspaper clippings, and interviews, this is a major contribution to our understanding and appreciation of Yezierska and her work.
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She Wants to Talk to You

In October 1999 filmmaker Anita Chang befriended three 13-year-old girls – Monika Rasali, Sushma Sada and Vinita Shrestha – while living in Kathmandu, Nepal. Honestly presenting themselves in front of the camera, these girls share with the filmmaker their ideas on marriage, friendship and spirituality. Their recordings provide a complex and poignant framework for three Nepali women living in the U.S. to reflect on their own struggle, exile and quest for liberation. Through verite documentary, the film offers rare insight into the lives of girls and women from a society steeped in patriarchy, tradition and caste. SHE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU speaks closely to young girls and women, as well as provokes universal introspection about the nature of happiness and oppression, and human relations and intimacy.
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Mrs. Goundo's Daughter

Mrs. Goundo is fighting to remain in the United States. But it’s not just because of the ethnic conflict and drought that has plagued her native Mali. Threatened with deportation, her two-year-old daughter could be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), like 85 percent of women and girls in Mali. Using rarely cited grounds for political asylum, Goundo must convince an immigration judge that her daughter is in danger. Sensitive and moving, this important film reveals how women are profoundly affected by the legal struggles surrounding immigration. As issues of asylum, international law and human rights collide with FGM and its devastating health consequences, filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater travel between an FGM ceremony in a Malian village, where dozens of girls are involved, to the West African expatriate community of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Goundo challenges beliefs and battles the American legal system for her child’s future.
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Salata Baladi (An Egyptian Salad)

Award-winning Egyptian filmmaker Nadia Kamel’s heritage is a complex blend of religions and cultures. Her mother is a half-Jewish, half-Italian Christian who converted to Islam when she married Nadia’s half-Turkish, half-Ukrainian father. Prompted by the realization that her 10-year-old nephew Nabeel is growing up in an Egyptian society where talk of culture clashes is all too common, she urges her feminist, pacifist, activist mother, Mary Rosenthal, to share their diverse family history. But, as she and Mary weave their way through the family’s multiethnic fairytales, they bump unexpectedly into the silence around old prejudices concerning the estranged Egyptian-Jewish branch of their family living in Israel since 1948. Bravely inspired to further challenge the boundaries between cultures, religions, and nationalities that are used to divide people, Kamel embarks on an amazing personal journey with her mother and nephew to Israel and Italy, confronting with an open heart, fears and prejudices along the way.
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Motherland

How do we decide where is home? Feeling increasingly isolated in her adopted homeland, accomplished documentarian Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (SILENCE BROKEN: KOREAN COMFORT WOMEN) travels to Cuba to unearth stories from a relatively unknown group in the Asian diaspora. On the island, she meets Martha, a woman of Korean descent who identifies herself as Cuban. Like many of her contemporary countrymen and women, Martha possesses family ties that span multiple nations, cultures and politics. Her story inspires Kim-Gibson to travel to Miami to meet Martha's émigré sister and the rest of their mulitcultural family, in a journey that reveals how very different worldviews can co-exist in one family separated by place and ideology. Asking probing questions about identity and economic and social justice, Kim-Gibson explores the ways in which we determine our ethnic, national, and cultural loyalties. The compelling stories in Motherland Cuba Korea USA weave a complex web and illuminate the search for an understanding of "motherland" in a globalized society.
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3 Times Divorced

How does a Palestinian woman in Israel survive an abusive husband? When Gaza-born Khitam’s abusive Arab Israeli husband divorces her and gains custody of her six children, she suddenly finds herself fighting two heart-breaking battles: against the Sharia Muslim court to get her children back, and against the state of Israel, which considers her an illegal resident and denies her protection in a shelter for battered women. 3 TIMES DIVORCED is a fascinating and disturbing look at a civil and religious legal system that denies women the right to get a divorce independent of their husbands. It highlights the bind that abused women find themselves in when their immigration status is contingent upon marriage. With remarkable access and an unflinching lens that never sensationalizes, award-winning filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana captures Khitam’s astonishing courage as she faces an impossible situation with no country or court to protect her.
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The Grace Lee Project

When award-winning Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. As an adult, however, she moved to New York and then California, where everyone she met seemed to know "another Grace Lee." But why did they assume that all Grace Lees were nice, dutiful, piano-playing bookworms? Pursuing the moving target of Asian American female identity, the filmmaker plunges into a clever, highly unscientific investigation of all those Grace Lees who break the mold, including the fiery social activist Grace Lee Boggs, the rebel Grace Lee who tried to burn down her high school, and the Silicon Valley teenager Grace Lee who spends evenings doing homework, playing piano, and painting graphic pictures of death and destruction. This refreshing film reveals the intriguing contradiction of the “Grace Lee” persona—simultaneously impressive and forgettable, special and generic, an emblem of a subculture and an individual who defies categorization. With wit and charm, THE GRACE LEE PROJECT challenges the cultural investments made in the idea of Grace Lee, all the while sending her a love letter.
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I Wonder What You Will Remember of September

Cecilia Cornejo presents a haunting personal response to the events of September 11, 2001, informed and complicated by her status as a Chilean citizen living in the U.S. With evocative imagery from both past and present, Cornejo weaves together her own fading childhood memories, her parents vivid recollections of the September 11, 1973 coup in Chile that brought the notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet to power; and post-9/11 conversations with her own young daughter. The resulting montage thoughtfully explores how personal and collective histories intersect, as well as how trauma is lived, supposedly erased, and passed on from one generation to the next. The filmmaker also alludes to what she believes is a deep contradiction within the American consciousness, one that makes it possible to view the 9/11/01 attacks as tragedy, while failing to interpret “outside” events such as the Chilean coup or the invasion of Iraq as such. Cornejo’s mesmerizing experimental film provides a striking new context with which to view the World Trade Center attacks— from the point of view of an immigrant whose home country has endured its own tragedies.
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Search for Freedom

SEARCH FOR FREEDOM traces the dramatic social and political history of Afghanistan from the 1920s to the present through the stories of four remarkable women: Princess Shafiqa Saroj, sister of the beloved progressive King Amanullah (1919-1929); Mairman Parveen, the first woman to sing on Afghan radio; Moshina, a war widow and survivor of a Taliban massacre; and Sohaila, an exiled medical student who ran underground schools for RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women) during the Taliban regime. Through their personal stories, a surprising portrait of Afghanistan’s history emerges. Stunning archival footage from the early 20th century captures a time of remarkable progress and freedom for women that belies most Western perceptions. Other historical footage and Jahnagir’s incisive commentary reveal women’s realities and resilience under near constant occupation, first with the Soviet invasion, then under the mujahadeen and more recently under the repressive Taliban. Defying and clarifying the image of Afghan women as mere victims, SEARCH FOR FREEDOM offers a nuanced portrait of women who find choices where none are offered, who continue to find hope in the face of exile and isolation.
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Paradise Lost

Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana grew up in Paradise (Fureidis in Arabic), a small fishing village overlooking the Mediterranean. One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression. This thought-provoking and intimate film diary follows the director’s attempt to recreate the village’s lost history, including the story of her childhood hero Suuad, the legendary local “bad girl” who was imprisoned as a PLO activist in the 1970’s and banished from the community. The director’s frustration builds as her questions are resisted, and her hopes soar when she finally meets Suuad, now a Doctor of Law living in the UK. Stunning cinematography and evocative music underscore the power of Mara’ana’s film, whose lyrical, emotionally charged tone is strikingly honest and straightforward. Presenting the rarely heard voice of an Arab Israeli, this important film offers valuable insight into the contradictions and complexities of modern womanhood and national identity in the Middle East.
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Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love)

Distinguished Anthropologist Ruth Behar (recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship) returns to her native Cuba to profile the island’s remaining Sephardic Jews and chronicle her family’s journey to the U.S. as Cuban-Jewish exiles. Highlighting themes of expulsion and departure that are at the crux of the Sephardic legacy, Behar seeks reconciliation with Cubans on the island and advocates for the possibility of return and renewal. She debunks myths about the country’s Jewish community and unravels the influence of interfaith marriage, Afro-Cuban santería, tourism and the embargo on contemporary Cuban-Sephardic cultural identity. The result is a bittersweet, lyrical, and often humorous portrait of modern-day Cuba that few know exists today. Narrated by Elizabeth Peña.
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Children of the Crocodile

This documentary tells the story of two young Timorese-Australian activists – one a high profile human rights worker, the other a performance artist and lesbian – and their personal journey to further the cause of peace in the homeland they were forced to flee. Although merely infants when their families left East Timor to seek political asylum in Australia, Cidalia Pires and Elizabeth Exposto carry on their parents’ human rights work promoting the Timorese struggle. Their tireless activist efforts are documented through two amazing years in East Timor’s history - from the joy of voting for freedom in August 1999 to the rage at the destruction that followed and time of renewed commitment and hope. Their country’s independence fulfills their lifetime dream, but it also brings hard choices and painful returns for them both. Cidalia, in particular, faces the additional challenge of being an openly gay Timorese woman in a culture heavily steeped in tradition and conservative gender roles. CHILDREN OF THE CROCODILE tells a story which is personal yet universal - about ideals, identity, and the strength of an exile community that is committed to furthering the cause of peace in their native land.
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Escuela

There are over 800,000 students enrolled in migrant education programs in the United States and, of those, only 45-50% ever finish high school. ESCUELA, the sequel to Hannah Weyer’s critically acclaimed documentary LA BODA, personalizes these glaring statistics through the honest portrait of a teenage Mexican-American farm worker, Liliana Luis. ESCUELA is a clear-eyed view into the lives of contemporary Mexican American migrants and their struggles to educate their children while obtaining employment. Centered around the life of Liliana, a daughter entering her first year of high school, Hannah Weyer follows the back-and-forth movement of the family between their home in Texas near the borderlands and the California agricultural fields. Despite the best efforts of the school systems to accommodate students like Liliana, the social and emotional life of this young woman is constantly in flux. This is an important work revealing the difficulties of girl life on the border in a way that no textbook could. - Joe Austin, Popular Culture Studies, Bowling Green University
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Africa, Africas

A rare collection from the emerging voices of African documentary filmmaking, this unique series daringly explores the social and cultural realities experienced in Africa today – including the infiltration of Western beauty standards, territorial displacement and high unemployment. FANTACOCA by Agnes Ndibi (23 minutes) presents the disturbing cultural phenomenon of skin bleaching in Cameroon and the challenge it is now posing on notions of black pride and identity. THE RIVER BETWEEN US by Maji-da Abdi (18 minutes) documents the alarming effects of war on a community of Ethiopian women and children who were forcibly relocated into refugee camps. LAAFI BALA by Fanta Regina Nacro (20 minutes) demonstrates the glaring causes of wide-spread unemployment and poverty in Burkina Faso, where few institutional resources and government support are available, and the debilitating effects this is having on women and youth.
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Between the Lines: Asian American Women's Poetry

BETWEEN THE LINES offers rare interviews with over 15 major Asian-Pacific American women poets. Organized in interwoven sections such as Immigration, Language, Family, Memory, and Spirituality, it is a sophisticated merging of Asian-American history and identity with the questions of performance, voice, and image. This engaging documentary serves as poetry reading, virtual anthology, and, perhaps most importantly, moving testimony about gender, ethnicity, aesthetics, and creative choice. The carefully edited interviews and poems read reflect the filmmaker's desire to show both individual voice and diversity within the Asian-American women’s community. Theoretically as rich as the images and poems provided, there is also an implicit conversation in the film about the possibility and usefulness of an Asian-American women’s aesthetic/poetic. Using carefully selected archival images, historical footage, and brilliant photography as the scrim through which we hear the poets, BETWEEN THE LINES provides important and lively viewing for literature, history, ethnic and women’s studies classes.” - Joseph Boles, Visiting Scholar, Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr
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Subrosa

SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact. Originally shot on digital video, the film captures the grit and garishness of an alien urban landscape while plumbing the melancholy dream space where the character retreats even as she searches for her very life. Brimming with surreal, breathtaking, elegiac imagery, this sensuously rendered tale of loss, love and longing resonates long after its shocking conclusion.
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Seven Hours To Burn

"A visually expressive personal documentary that explores a family's history. Filmmaker Thakur mixes richly abstract filmmaking with disturbing archival war footage to narrate the story of her Danish mother's and Indian father's experiences. Her mother survives Nazi-occupied Denmark while her father experiences the devastating civil war in India between Hindus and Muslims. Both émigrés to Canada, they meet and marry, linking two parallel wars. Their daughter lyrically turns these two separate histories into a visually rich poem linking past and present in a new singular identity." Doubletake Documentary Film Festival Catalogue
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La Boda

In an intimate portrait of migrant life along the U.S.-Mexican border, Hannah Weyer’s new film LA BODA delves into the challenges faced by a community striving to maintain their roots in Mexico, while pursuing the “American Dream” across the border. Weyer’s camera follows Elizabeth Luis during the weeks before her marriage to Artemio Guerrero, interweaving the anticipation of the upcoming wedding with candid stories that explore the architecture of the Luis family. For 22-year-old Elizabeth, migrant life has meant shouldering responsibilities beyond those of an average young adult. Along with her seven siblings, she has contributed to the family income throughout her adolescence and young adulthood, often forced to sacrifice school for fieldwork and social life for travel as she and her family move between Texas, California and Mexico. LA BODA tells the timeless story of a young woman’s coming of age, while also confronting negative stereotypes of the migrant community with the real life biography of a Mexican-American family bridging the gap between countries and culture.
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The Children We Sacrifice

Shot in India, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United States, and screened in 18 countries, this evocative, visually powerful documentary is about incestuous sexual abuse of the South Asian girl child. By interweaving survivors' narratives, including the producer's own story, with interviews with South Asian mental health professionals, and with statistical information, as well as poetry and art, THE CHILDREN WE SACRIFICE discloses the many layers of a subject traditionally shrouded in secrecy. Insights into the far-reaching psychological, social and cultural consequences of incest are accompanied by thoughtful assessments of strategies that have helped adult women cope with childhood trauma. The film also analyzes social and cultural resistance in South Asia and the Diaspora to dealing with incest's causes and its effects on its victims. This personal and collective letter from South Asian incest survivors and their advocates is both a validation of their struggle and a compelling charge to protect future generations of children better.
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Don't Fence Me In

Against the broader backdrop of modern India's political and social history, this lyrical documentary tells the story of the life of Krishna Sikand, the filmmaker's mother, from childhood to maturity. A rich mosaic of memory and impressions, DON'T FENCE ME IN captures the fragmented way in which we journey back through time. Evoking Krishna's earliest years in pre-independence Bombay as the daughter of a well-to-do Bengali family, the film also traces her post-colonial experiences--from marriage to a Punjabi army officer in the face of fierce family opposition, through the raising of two daughters and successful careers as an academic, small business entrepreneur, media consultant, journalist, and poet. Black-and-white photos of Krishna as a child and young woman are juxtaposed with clips from home movies shot by the filmmaker's father nearly thirty years ago, and recent location footage. Krishna's personal narrative is highlighted by her wonderful letters to her daughter and the poems that serve as milestones in her life.
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A Place Called Home

Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri grew up in pre-Revolution Tehran daydreaming about an ideal life in the West. Nineteen years later, after living and working in the U.S., Persheng explores her controversial decision to move back to Iran, to return to the place she never stopped calling home. In this fascinating and very personal documentary, Persheng's interviews with her family--with her mother and sister in the U.S. and with her father, who chose to remain in Iran--reveal some of the complex layers of expatriate, national and cultural identities. The film features a rare glimpse at women's lives in contemporary Tehran.
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Performing the Border

A video essay set in the Mexican-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, where U.S. multinational corporations assemble electronic and digital equipment just across from El Paso, Texas. This imaginative, experimental work investigates the growing feminization of the global economy and its impact on Mexican women living and working in the area. Looking at the border as both a discursive and material space, the film explores the sexualization of the border region through labor division, prostitution, the expression of female desires in the entertainment industry, and sexual violence in the public sphere. Candid interviews with Mexican women factory and sex workers, as well as activists and journalists, are combined with scripted voiceover analysis, screen text, scenes and sounds recorded on site, and found footage to give new insights into the gendered conditions inscribed by the high-tech industry at its low-wage end.
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Searching for Go-Hyang

A moving personal documentary, SEARCHING FOR GO-HYANG traces the return of twin sisters to their native Korea after a fourteen year absence. Sent away by their parents for the promise of a better life in the US, they instead suffered mental and physical abuse by their adoptive parents, including the erasure of their cultural heritage and language. Reunited with their biological parents and brothers, the young women explore their past in an attempt to reconnect with their “Go-Hyang”, their homeland, which they find they may not have a place in anymore. Thousands of Korean and Chinese girl babies have been brought to the US for adoption in the last twenty years. This beautiful film is a rare feminist look at the issues of cross-cultural adoption and national identity.
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After the Earthquake

This dramatic story follows a young Nicaraguan immigrant, Irene, as she faces the challenges of life in the U.S. and re-evaluates her relationships with her boyfriend and family. AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE explores the immigrant experience, particularly the cultural, political and economic differences between life in North and Latin America. Written with Nina Serrano, Lourdes Portillo was nominated for an Academy Award for her next film, LAS MADRES DE LA PLAZA DE MAYO, produced with Susana Munoz.
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Home is Struggle

Using interviews, photographs and theatrical vignettes, Home is Struggle explores the lives of women who have come to the United States from different Latin American countries-Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina and the Dominican Republic-for very different reasons, economic and political. In sharing stories about their pasts and present and their views on issues such as sexism and personal and political repression, Home is Struggle presents an absorbing picture of the construction of 'Latina' identity and the immigrant experience.
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Memory/all echo

“Based on selections from late Korean-American writer Theresa H.K. Cha’s ‘Dictee’, this work by filmmaker Yun-ah Hong gives primacy to her staccato, patterned prose. Her chosen words--sometimes written across the screen, more often spoken by three voices--deal with Korean cultural and personal identity in a range of ways both confessional and contemplative, concrete and abstract. Hong weds them to images as varied, including historical footage and silent dramatic enactment. Their often incantatory combination--as if echoing Cha’s thought that ‘truth. . . oblivious to parallels other durations. . . oblivious to itself’ –conveys a recurring sense of loss and need. Though at once emotionally intriguing, ‘Memory/all echo’ still demands multiple viewings for fuller appreciation in art and social studies.” -Jeff Clark, James Madison University Library
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The Displaced View

THE DISPLACED VIEW is a film that movingly depicts the odyssey of an American-born Japanese granddaughter in search of her identity through her grandmother who is the last of the family born in Japan. The sense of isolation the granddaughter feels as a Japanese woman who cannot speak Japanese is skillfully evoked in a montage of images gleaned from old photographs, movies, animated puppets, and various experimental film techniques. Onodera focuses almost exclusively on Japanese women as preservers of the old traditions in a country where they have no meaning. By revealing the inconsistency of memory and the cultural erosion of assimilation, the fragile identity of the Japanese in North America is eloquently expressed, and the sense of alienation and displacement heightens as the old voices try to remember the past. The narrative shifts between English and Japanese, as well as between generations. Japanese subtitles are artfully displayed throughout. The focus on women makes this film ideal for women’s studies, but the historical overview would be important in other disciplines such as history and sociology. Highly recommended for academic libraries. -Roxanna Herrick, SUNY at Stony Brook Library
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Knowing Her Place

A moving investigation of the cultural schizophrenia experienced by Vasu, an Indian woman who has spent most of her life in the U.S. Vasu's relationships with her mother and grandmother in India and her husband and teenage sons in New York, reveal profound conflicts between her traditional upbringing and her personal and professional aspirations. The film fuses photographs, vérité sequences and experimental techniques to probe the multilayered experience of immigrant women with rare candor and emotional resonance. Useful for courses on immigration, sex roles and the study of documentary form.
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Halving the Bones

Skeletons in the closet? HALVING THE BONES delivers a surprising twist to this tale. This cleverly-constructed film tells the story of Ruth, a half-Japanese filmmaker living in New York, who has inherited a can of bones that she keeps on a shelf in her closet. The bones are half of the remains of her dead Japanese grandmother, which she is supposed to deliver to her estranged mother. A narrative and visual web of family stories, home movies and documentary footage, HALVING THE BONES provides a spirited exploration of the meaning of family, history and memory, cultural identity and what it means to have been named after Babe Ruth!
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Japanese American Women

The stereotype of the polite, docile, exotic Asian woman is shattered in this documentary in which a dozen women speak about their experiences as part of the “model minority”. JAPANESE AMERICAN WOMEN explores the ambivalent feelings the women have both towards Japan and the United States. The underlying theme is the burden of being different, of being brought up “one of a kind” as opposed to growing up part of an ethnic community. An uneasy feeling prevails of being neither Japanese nor American, and the documentary ultimately becomes the story of Japanese American women and their search for a sense of place.
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What My Mother Told Me

Exquisitely beautiful and profoundly moving, WHAT MY MOTHER TOLD ME is a dramatic journey towards self discovery. The story focuses on Jesse, a young woman from England, who goes to Trinidad to bury her father. Reluctantly she agrees to meet her mother, whom she thought had abandoned her when she was a child. Her mother tells her stories, revealing a troubled and violent marriage, and Jesse is forced to face the truth about her past. WHAT MY MOTHER TOLD ME cleverly evokes complex connections between history, memory, violence and cultural identity.
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Beyond Black and White

BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE is a personal exploration of the filmmaker’s bicultural heritage (Caucasian and Asian/Begali) in which she relates her experiences to those of five other women from various biracial backgrounds. In lively interviews and group discussions these women reveal how they have been influenced by images of women in American media, how racism has affected them, and how their families and environments have shaped their racial identities. Their experiences are placed within the context of history, including miscegenation laws and governmental racial classifications. BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE is a remarkable celebration of diversity in American society.
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Coffee Colored Children

This lyrical, unsettling film conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. Suffering the aggression of racial harassment, a young girl and her brother attempt to wash their skin white with scouring powder. Starkly emotional and visually compelling, this semi-autobiographical testimony to the profound internalized effects of racism and the struggle for self-definition and pride is a powerful catalyst for discussion.
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Dreaming Rivers

From Sankofa Film and Video comes this bittersweet and nostalgic short drama illustrating the spirit of modern families touched by the experience of migration. Miss T., from the Caribbean, lives alone in her one-room apartment, her children and husband having left her to pursue new dreams. When she dies her family and friends gather at her wake. The tapestry of words that interweave the drama convey the fragments of a life lived, but only partly remembered.
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Home Away from Home

A bittersweet drama that unfolds almost without dialogue, this prizewinning short film from Sankofa Film and Video conveys the isolation of immigrant women’s experiences. Miriam lives with her children in a cramped and dreary house near the airport where she works. The planes coming and going overhead remind her of how far removed she is from her rural African roots. Eventually Miriam constructs a beautiful mud hut in her garden, a magical space which takes her away from the loneliness crowding her suburban existence. Although her neighbors are intolerant, her daughter Fumi learns something about the African side of herself.
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Unfinished Diary

In this moving docudrama, Chilean emigre Mallet struggles to make a film about her experience of profound isolation. Her English speaking husband, a prominent filmmaker, criticizes her subjective approach to filmmaking; their young son, raised in Quebec, speaks only French. Interviews with Isabel Allende and other Chilean exiles reveal a deep bond in this powerful, resonant film about language and gender, exile and immigration.
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Canto a la Vida

CANTO A LA VIDA illuminates exile through the remarkable stories of Chilean women, including the assassinated president’s widow Hortensia de Allende, their niece, author Isabel Allende, and folk singer Isabel Parra. In this powerful exploration of cultural displacement, language loss and personal dislocation, seven different women discuss their altered notions of home, work and daily life. Moving testimonies are underscored by archival footage, paintings, songs and memories. Since Pinochet’s ouster in 1989, many Chileans have journeyed back to their birthplace, and are now faced with the difficult decision of whether to remain in Chile or return to their adoptive countries. Filmmaker Briones, who herself left Chile in 1986, presents a beautiful, unforgettable testament to life in exile.
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A Tale of Love

Portraying the Vietnamese immigrant experience through Kieu, A TALE OF LOVE follows the quest of a woman in love with ‘Love’. The film is loosely inspired by THE TALE OF KIEU, the Vietnamese national poem of love which Vietnamese people see as a mythical biography of their ‘motherland,’ marked by internal turbulence and foreign domination. A free-lance writer, Kieu also works as a model for a photographer who idealizes the headless female body and who captures Kieu sheathed by transparent veils. Voyeurism runs through the history of love narratives and voyeurism is here one of the threads that structures the ‘narrative’ of the film. Exposing the fiction of love in love stories and the process of consumption, A TALE OF LOVE marginalizes traditional narrative conventions and opens up a denaturalized space of acting where performed reality, memory and dream constantly pass into one another. Sublimely beautiful to watch, A TALE OF LOVE eloquently evokes an understanding of the allusive and powerful connections between love, sensuality, voyeurism and identity.
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Sidet: Forced Exile

During the past two decades, more than two million refugees have left Ethiopia. Famine, poverty and political strife as well as the religious persecution caused by Eritrea’s annexation have already cost countless lives. Narrated by Salem Mekuria, an Ethiopian filmmaker in the US, this lucid documentary presents the life stories of three women refugees in neighboring Sudan. It traces the attempts of individual women to survive displacement, resettlement camps and ineffectual bureaucracy. An astute, politically sophisticated analysis of social and economic crisis from the perspective of Third World women.
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Conversations Across the Bosphorous

CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS intertwines the stories of two Muslim women from Istanbul - Gokcen, from an orthodox Islamic family who takes off her veil after years of struggle; and Mine, from a secular family, who discovers her faith living as an immigrant in San Francisco. Both women demonstrate how their relationship to their faith has shaped and determined their personal lives. Combining evocative visual imagery with poetic and lively debate, CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHOROUS provides a deeper understanding of Turkish society and the current tensions between fundamentalist and secular forces.
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Measures of Distance

In this resonant work, Palestinian-born video and performance artist Mona Hatoum explores the renewal of friendship between mother and daughter during a brief family reunion in war-torn Lebanon in 1981. Through letters read in voice-over and Arabic script overlaying the images, the viewer experiences the silence and isolation imposed by war. The politics of the family and the exile of the Palestinian people are inseparable in this forceful, moving film.
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Brincando El Charco

Refreshingly sophisticated in both form and content, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO contemplates the notion of “identity” through the experiences of a Puerto Rican woman living in the US. In a wonderful mix of fiction, archival footage, processed interviews and soap opera drama, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO tells the story of Claudia Marin, a middle-class, light-skinned Puerto Rican photographer/videographer who is attempting to construct a sense of community in the US. Confronting the simultaneity of both her privilege and her oppression, BRINCANDO EL CHARCO becomes a meditation on class, race and sexuality as shifting differences. BRINCANDO EL CHARCO was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Susana

In this autobiographical portrait, Susana leaves her native Argentina to live her life outside the strictures of Latin American cultural and family pressures. Susana interweaves cinema vérité interviews of her family and lovers with snapshots, home movies and even a Disney cartoon to render the cultural context in which female, sexual and ethnic identity is shaped.
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