2008 FESTIVAL SUMMARY
Twelve days, more than fifty films, more than twenty directors presenting their films, five world premieres, plus workshops, performances, parties, and more.
The Fifth Annual New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival, April 9 – 20, 2008
This year, we were proud to welcome Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, who presented his film Right To Return: New Home Movies From the Lower Ninth Ward on April 9 at John McDonogh High School. We also hosted an afterparty for the screening at the Mother-In-Law Lounge, featuring Al “Carnival Time” Johnson.
The next night, Thursday, April 10, at 7 pm, we presented the New Orleans premiere of Taxi To The Dark Side, the 2008 Academy Award-winner for best documentary feature.
Also on Thursday, at 9:30 pm, we premiered Caramel, a new romantic comedy from Lebanon. The film is the most highly acclaimed film in Lebanon’s history, was selected for Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, and was Lebanon’s official submission to the 2008 Academy Awards for best foreign language film.
This year featured comedies, action films, science fiction, and more. In addition to Caramel, Driving to Zigzigland, a comedy about a Palestinian cab driver in Los Angeles; Eréndira Ikikunari, an action film about indigenous resistance to Spanish colonization; and the world premiere of The Fullness of Time, an experimental science fiction film from the director of Drylongso and the producers who brought Waiting For Godot to the Lower Ninth Ward.
This year’s festival was filled with music and performances. In addition to our opening night performances, we hosted a concert featuring New Orleans best bounce music on Saturday, April 19 at 11:30 pm. We also programmed some incredible musical films, including Ya Heard Me, a film about New Orleans bounce; From the Mouthpiece on Back, a film about To Be Continued Brass Band; Finding Our Folk, which features performances by Hot 8 Brass Band, among other musicians; War/Dance, a portrayal of breathtaking and inspiring music and dancing from Uganda; profiles of young breakdancers from Texas in Inside the Circle; and stunning hip-hop performances from Senegal in Democracy in Dakar.
This year we continue to showcase the best films from New Orleans and around the world. We have incredible filmmaking from almost every continent, exemplified by the film Arabs And Terrorism – a fresh new documentary exploring differing perspectives on this issue, filmed in 40 countries. We present strong artistic visions from Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, including The Birthday, a film about sex changes in Iran; When The Clouds Clear, about a an Ecuadorian village’s resistance to a copper mine; In The Name of the Son, about a prisoner of war coming from Bosnia to the US; and Intimadad, an intimate portrait of a couple from rural Mexico. See an exclusive look at the Iraqi resistance in Meeting Resistance; experience a lyrical and beautifully poetic view of the economic collapse in Argentina in Maybe Buenos Aires; and experience The Truth From Palestine, a special series of new short films from Palestine, highlighting grassroots voices not generally heard in the US.
We always prioritize showcasing youth, and especially young people from New Orleans. This year featured new films from the New Orleans program Students at the Center (SAC). Among the student-directed films this year were A Jazz Journey, and Moving On, both by students from SAC; and the world premiere screening of Wade in the Water, which was made in collaboration with New Orleans students in Central City. For other youth programming, there was Digital Resistance, made in collaboration with Palestinian youth from refugee camps, and In Solidarity, a film about a trip that six Black high school students from Baltimore took to Nicaragua.
Our festival celebrates the best of New Orleans filmmaking, bringing you the first chance to see local filmmaking at its best. In addition to the premieres of Wade in the Water and The Fullness of Time; we were proud to present the world premieres of Vows of Silence, New Orleans writer Jason Berry’s new film about corruption and sexual abuse in the Catholic church; Cut Off, Broderick Webb and Edward Holub’s new film about public housing in New Orleans; and the first New Orleans festival screening of Glory at Sea, a new fiction film from New Orleans filmmaker Benh Zeitlin.
We also brought some Hollywood to the festival this year. In addition to director Jonathan Demme, we had Chicago 10, an exciting new film from Academy Award-nominated director Brett Morgen, featuring Jeffrey Wright, Roy Scheider, Nick Nolte, and Mark Ruffalo. And the year’s Academy Award-winner for best documentary feature, Taxi to the Dark Side, a stunning exploration of the dark side of the Bush administrations’ war on human rights; the Academy Award-nominated War/Dance, an uplifting and beautiful film about a dance competition in Uganda; and Shock Doctrine, a breathtaking film from writer Naomi Klein and Academy Award-nominated director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá Tambien).
Our festival exists to support movements for social justice – not to just show problems, but to show solutions, to celebrate hope and resistance. On April 20, we had the New Orleans premiere of the most thorough, up-close perspective on the struggle of the Jena Six, from a journalist who was there long before the corporate media showed up –Big Noise Tactical Media’s The Jena Six. And we had a snapshot from New Orleans’ activist past in Rudy Mills’ Neo-Black Leaders and Politics. When the people of Oaxaca, México led an uprising and the corporate media demonized them, they seized the media. We showed the story in Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad (A Little Bit of so Much Truth). For an unforgettable story of struggle against all odds, we screened Bilin My Love, a story of one Palestinian village’s inspiring resistance to displacement and dispossession.
In addition to beautiful and inspiring films, incredible performances, and fabulous parties, we had a wide range of other special events, including workshops and discussions with filmmakers, activists, and human rights workers. Katrina Browne, director of the thought-provoking and powerful film about the legacy of racism and slavery, Traces of the Trade, hosted a discussion on the issues raised by her film. New Orleans grassroots and activist filmmakers talked about their films and social justice in New Orleans in Straight Out of New Orleans, a two-part series, Monday, April 14 at the Craige Cultural Center, and Tuesday, April 15 at Southern University of New Orleans. Each evening featured different filmmakers.
What do human rights internationally have to do with the issues we face in New Orleans? How can we build links with international struggles? What lessons can we learn from movements in other countries? How can the framework of international human rights support the struggle for justice in New Orleans? We hosted discussions of these questions and much more from local and international experts at the festival workshop Our Struggle Is Your Struggle: A Discussion on Human Rights in New Orleans and Around the World on Sunday April 13.
On April 21-22, US President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Harper, and Mexican President Calderón gathered in New Orleans for the North American Leaders’ Summit to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America – the military arm of NAFTA. We hosted a special festival workshop, NAFTA Gets Militarized: The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America on Sunday April 20, at 12:30 pm.
In support of V to the Tenth, the tenth anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, we highlighted programming by and about women throughout our festival, including the films Against The Grain, about artists facing state repression in Peru; Black Womyn: Conversations With Lesbians of African Descent, featuring powerful voices such as Def Poet Stacyann Chin and filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons; Mississippi Chicken, about Latina poultry workers; and Tunnel Trade, Laila El-Haddad’s exploration of the smuggling tunnels under Gaza. In addition, we offered free admission to our April 11 and 12 programming with ticket stubs from the V to the Tenth programming in the Superdome.
Canal Place Cinema
333 Canal St
Craige Cultural Center
1800 Newton St (Algiers)
John McDonogh High School
2426 Esplanade Ave
1500 N. Claiborne Ave
1943 Pauger St
5339 Prytania St
Southern University of New Orleans
6801 Press Drive
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
Against the Grain
| 64m | Documentary | Directed by Ann Kaneko |
In 1989, Alfredo Márquez used an image of Mao in an artwork. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. For every artist, the need to create and be heard is as basic as food and shelter. But what happens when you live in a country where the state clamps down on free thinkers, forcing artists to censure themselves? Four Peruvian visual artists, including Márquez, defy this tyranny through their work and ignite change, challenging ordinary people to speak out. These struggles and commitments raise the question: Is freedom of expression a right or a privilege?
Saturday, April 19, 1pm – Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere.
American Outrage is the story of Carrie and Mary Dann, feisty heroic Western Shoshone sisters who¹ve been fighting the U.S. government for 35 years. They live and ranch in north central Nevada and have always grazed their livestock on the range outside their ranch. That range is part of sixty million acres recognized by the U.S. as Western Shoshone land in the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. In 1974, ignoring the treaty, the U.S. sued the Dann sisters for trespassing on United States Public Land without a grazing permit. Their dispute swept to the United States Supreme Court and eventually to the United Nations. Contrasting the Danns¹ personal lives and political actions, American Outrage examines why. Why would the United States spend millions of dollars prosecuting and persecuting two elderly women grazing a few hundred horses and cows in a desolate desert?
Arabs and Terrorism
| 135m | Documentary | Directed by Bassam Haddad |
Unique in its breadth and scope: researched in 6 languages and filmed on location in 11 countries, with 120 experts/politicians and hundreds of street interviews in the United States, Europe, and the Arab world. It examines the dominant discourse on terrorism in the United States and Europe and offers critics from multiple perspectives an opportunity to respond to each other.
Friday, April 11, 9pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
Bilin My Love
| 85m | Documentary | Directed by Shai Carmeli-Pollack |
The village of Bil’in is about to lose over a half of its territory to the Apartheid Wall and to the Jewish settlement of Modi’in Elite. The residents of the village decide to embark on a struggle against the construction of the barrier and are joined by international and Israeli activists. The director, Shai Carmeli-Pollak accompanies the village’s struggle for over a year, focusing on two central figures: Mohamed, a member of the village’s local committee against the barrier, and Wagee, farmer and father of ten, who is losing the majority of his land to the barrier and to the settlement.
Saturday, April 12, 6pm – Zeitgeist. Regional premiere
| 72m | Documentary | Directed by Negin Kianfar & Daisy Mohr |
A young man is followed in his process of becoming a woman through a transsexual operation in Iran, up to and beyond his operation.
We meet his boyfriend, other transsexuals (among them, a woman becoming a man), the doctors, a priest and especially his family.
A portrait of schizophrenic lives in a schizophrenic environment.
Sunday, April 20, 2pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
black.womyn.: conversations with lesbians of African descent
| 98m | Documentary | Directed by Tiona. M. |
A feature-length documentary focusing on the lives and views of lesbians of African descent from various backgrounds. The documentary is structured by interviews—“conversations”—the director had with each of the women. It features candid interviews with black lesbian women discussing coming out, sexuality and religion, love and relationships, marriage, patriarchy, visibility in media, discrimination and homophobia, activism, gender identity, Black lesbian youth and elders, balancing gender/race/sexuality, and, finally, what it means to call oneself a Black lesbian today. Black Womyn is a piece that provokes honest, progressive dialogue and critical thinking among people in general—and Black lesbians in particular—about how Black lesbians are viewed and affected by society. Black Womyn features interviews with close to 50 out, Black, lesbians including Poet/Author Cheryl Clarke, Filmmaker/Activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Poet/Author Staceyann Chin, Filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, Artist Hanifah Walidah, Hip-Hop Duo KIN, and Author Fiona Zedde.
Sunday, April 13, 4pm – Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere
| 96m | Fiction | Directed by Nadine Labaki | 35mm |
In Beirut, five women meet regularly in a beauty salon, a colorful and sensual microcosm of the city where several generations come into contact, talk and confide in each other. In the salon, their intimate and liberated conversations revolve around men, sex and motherhood, between haircuts and sugar waxing with caramel.
Thursday, April 10, 9:30pm – Canal Place. New Orleans Premiere
| 100m | Documentary | Directed by Brett Morgan | 35mm |
From his Academy Award-nominated “On the Ropes, to his singular blend of fact and legend in the Robert Evans portrait “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” Brett Morgen has explored increasingly provocative ways to transform documentary materials into new and exhilarating kinds of movies. “Chicago 10” tells the story of the buildup and unraveling of the 1968 Chicago Conspiracy trial not as “history,” but as an electrifying experience felt with up-to-the-moment immediacy. Interweaving footage of the brutal clashes between police and demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic convention with 3-D animated reenactments of the outrageous trial that followed it, Morgen turns the audience into eyewitnesses of violent turmoil and absurdist spectacle. Set to a blazing soundtrack that ranges from Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf to the Beastie Boys and Eminem, “Chicago 10” is a stirring account of young Americans taking a stand in the face of an oppressive government—a story with deep resonance to the world of today.
Co-Presented by The New Orleans Film Society
Thursday, April 17, 7pm – Canal Place. New Orleans Premiere.
Christmas 2007 (New Orleans) aka Can you Feel the Jingle Bells
| 7m | Documentary | Directed by HollyHood Khalioskee Labrome |
Public housing protests and demolitions.
Sunday, April 13, 7pm, Zeitgeist,
Tuesday April 15, 5pm, SUNO
| 30m | Documentary | Directed by Broderick Webb and Edward Holub |
Along with public hospitals and public schools, public housing is being eliminated and radically redefined. CUT OFF passes the mic to a chorus of voices on the frontlines of the global struggle over the vision for the “New City” and who will live there. Caution: This film contains chilling footage of the confrontation that ensued at the gates of New Orleans’ City Hall on December 20, 2007 when citizens sought to stop the demolitions of 4500 public housing units. The visceral imagery moves to a frenetic New Orleans rhythm.
Daughters of Gardeners
| 53m | Documentary | Directed by Karina Marceu |
Thirty-six million women are missing in India. The economic burden of dowries and the ancestral preference for boys make the birth of a daughter a shameful event. Trapped between tradition and progress, many Indians terminate the girls before they are born. Daughters of Gardeners is a one-hour film that follows the journey of a young Canadian journalist, in her quest to understand and document this demographic crisis as well as its disastrous consequences on the entire Indian society; the inability of men to find wives; the increase in prostitution; the worsening AIDS pandemic; the kidnapping and trafficking of women; the advent of illicit marriages, and more.
Saturday, April 12, 12:00pm, Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere
Democracy in Dakar
| 75m | Documentary | Directed by Magee McIlvaine, Ben Herson, Chris Moore |
Democracy in Dakar explores the transformative role of hip-hop on politics in Senegal, West Africa during the February 2007 presidential election campaign. Looking at the election through the eyes of hip-hop artists around Dakar, Senegal’s capital, this documentary mixes interviews, freestyles, and commentary from journalists, artists and politicians. Senegalese society is seen on the brink of democratic change, where hip-hop artists are one of the few groups un-afraid of speaking out, despite real attempts at intimidation. Originally shot as a series of shorts distributed via the internet, African Underground: Democracy In Dakar explores the boundaries of guerrilla-style film production & distribution.
Friday, April 18, 8pm – Zeitgeist.
| 13m | Documentary | Directed by Children from the Ibdaa and Lajee Refugee Camps |
In January 2007, a group of media makers and youth organizers from NYC and the Bay Area traveled to Palestine and joined an intergenerational team of Palestinian facilitators to lead digital storytelling workshops with Ibdaa and Lajee, two youth centers in the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank. The workshop brought new media arts technology and skills to support the existing oral history and youth development work of both organizations. Twelve youth, ages 13-19, participated, six from each center. The young people created digital stories that offer new perspectives on Palestinian history, culture, life under occupation and visions for justice.
Sunday, April 13, 2pm – Zeitgeist, Thursday, April 17, 9pm – Zeitgeist
Driving to Zigzigland
| 93m | Fiction | Directed by Nicole Ballivian |
A chronicle of a day in the life of a Palestinian cab driver in Los Angeles, Driving to Zigzigland portrays the social struggle of the Arab immigrant in post-9/11 America. A film audition typecasts Bashar to play an Al Qaeda terrorist role. The utilities are due and Bashar has twenty-four hours to make the money. For the remaining hours left until tomorrow, an unceasing flow of passengers ride in Bashar’s taxi and give the Arab cabbie the run-around on issues that deal with suicide bombers, George Bush, Cat Stevens, the war in Iraq, music, and world geography. Bashar’s quest to make the money is won until he realizes he has to choose between the Department of Homeland Security and his family. Shot in Los Angeles and Palestine, based on true stories.
Tuesday, April 15, 7pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
Drying Up Palestine
| 28m | Documentary | Directed by Rima Essa and Peter Snowdon |
Since Israel annexed the West Bank in 1967, Palestinians’ access to their traditional water resources has been drastically reduced through a combination of military restrictions, political obstruction, casual sabotage, and massive overpumping by advanced Israeli wells. As a result, today, six million Israelis use 85% of the annual sustainable recharge of the West Bank aquifer – by far the most important source of freshwater in the region. This leaves only 15% for the three million Palestinians who live in the West Bank. And of that, they have to buy half from the Israeli water company. Palestinian film maker Rima Essa and British journalist Peter Snowdon spent over four months living and working in the West Bank to produce this compelling portrait of the impact of military occupation on everyday life, as told in the words of ordinary people.
Sunday, April 13, 2pm – Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere.
| 35mm | Fiction | Directed by Juan Roberto Mora Catlett
Eréndira Ikikunari is an action film about the conquest of Mexico by the Europeans in the XVI century. It is the story of a young Indian woman who stole a horse from the Spanish conquerors and used it against them, defending her people, showing astounding uprightness and courage in face of the invasion of her land. She was a warrior woman, fighting to attain the dignity and respect that her culture only granted men.
It’s a similar legend to that of Joan of Arc, with elements of tragedy, such as the fratricidal struggle for power in a closely related group, amidst apocalyptic chaos. The dialog is spoken in Purhepecha, XVI century Spanish and Latin. The music was made from the sound recordings of the scenes. Human voices, sounds of nature, conches and drums, were used to digitally create the music – all the sound, music and images stem from the same source.
Wednesday, April 16, 9:15pm – Canal Place. New Orleans Premiere.
Finding Our Folk
| 56m | Documentary | Direction – Frank Aveni, Co-Directors George Cox, Omo Moses |
Finding Our Folk tells the story of young people, who after the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, organized themselves, other students, artists and community members from around the country to document and share the stories of Katrina survivors, to connect these stories with the narratives of individuals in marginalized communities across the country, to share the cultural spirit and heritage of the people of New Orleans and offer the work that they and Gulf Coast residents must do to rebuild their communities and lives as an indicator of the work that needs to take place across this country to shift social, political and economic arrangements. The tour – which featured the Hot 8 Brass Band, Danny Glover, Suheir Hammad, and the Black Men of Labor – visited 8 cities from January – February, 2006. Each gathering drew between 150 to 400 people, a combination of displaced hurricane survivors and local supporters and activists.
Friday, April 18, 10pm – Zeitgeist. World Premiere
From the Mouthpiece on Back
| 60m | Documentary | Directed by Colleen O’Halloran and Jason DaSilva |
In the summer of 2005, To Be Continued, the youngest jazz band in New Orleans — and one of the best hopes for survival of New Orleans’ legendary jazz traditions- secondline brass band music — is on the verge of going from The Big Easy to The Big Time. TBC’s future is as bright as the renowned Bourbon Street corner where they wow crowds with their unique blend of jazz, brass, and funk.
But then Hurricane Katrina drowned everything they had — except their spirit. The band members rely on that spirit to persevere in their struggle to reunite and preserve the continuity of New Orleans and its one-of-a-kind music traditions. The band’s name serves as metaphor describing TBC’s quest to help the Crescent City carry on in the face of an epic calamity threatening not only the city’s survival but also survival of the city’s singular musical heritage. TBC’s struggle is, in a sense, the struggle of an entire community and mirrors the struggle faced by anyone trying to overcome grave adversity.
Co-Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee
Sunday, April 13, 9:15pm – Zeitgeist.
The Fullness of Time
| 50m | Fiction | Directed by Cauleen Smith |
Star Date: 2007. Coordinates: New Orleans. A sister from another planet is sent to earth to explore the terrain and learn our ways.
As she wanders the streets of New Orleans we begin to wonder if this solitary creature is indeed an alien, or perhaps just one more
person trying to make sense of the passage of time, the enormity of
loss, and the new landscapes of New Orleans. Shot on location in New Orleans in collaboration with Kalamu Ya Salaam and Students at the Center. Executive produced by Paul Chan and Creativetime.
Co-Presented by The New Orleans Film Society and the Porch
This screening is free of charge. Hosted by the 7th ward Neighborhood Center and the Porch.
Saturday, April 19, 6pm – The Porch. World Premiere.
Glory at Sea!
| 23m | Fiction | Directed by Benh Zeitlin |
Glory at Sea! is the first film project that moves past documenting the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and towards understanding it through the powerful language of storytelling. Glory at Sea! is a short-film about love, loss, and hope cast and shot on the streets of NOLA, and built from the rubble that still blankets its every corner. Using local actors and a local crew, it is a film that through its making will lay the groundwork for lasting independent cinema to exist in a city that desperately needs to tell its stories. This is a place where people without houses have managed to hold onto their voices, their trombones, and above all the spirit that makes it an irreplaceable reservoir of American culture. Glory at Sea! is a shout in its honor.
Friday, April 11, 7pm – Zeitgeist.
In the Name of the Son
| 25m | Fiction | Directed by Harun Mehmedinovic |
After escaping execution, Tarik, a Bosnian prisoner of war, immigrates to the United States looking to leave his past behind. Years later, the man who spared his life shows up on Tarik’s doorstep asking for a favor.
Thursday, April 17, 9pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
| 41m | Documentary | Directed by Aleks Martray |
In Solidarity is the story of six African-American high school students from Baltimore who leave the only home they’ve ever known on a journey to Nicaragua to immerse themselves in a foreign culture through living, working in solidarity with a rural community. Through a two-week program led by their mentor, a Nicaraguan-American Baltimore educator, the youth build homes, create murals and develop relationships with the families of the Palestine Pineapple Cooperative. They are confronted with a new world of limited resources, make-shift innovations, and communal living that challenges, expands, and sometimes reflects the realities of their own world. Living and working in solidarity with a people that have endured years of civil war and natural disasters becomes a source of inspiration for the youth in confronting their own conceptions of poverty, race and their role in the world. Through building a new home and a new family they are given the chance to be who they have always desired to be beyond the pressures of Baltimore. This story of personal struggle and growth reveals the parallels between the many forms and manifestations of race, class, and poverty in the US as well as in the developing world. Told through interviews with the youth, their families, and mentors the documentary follows their journey from its inception as an ambitious concept to its lasting impact as an empowering life experience.
Thursday, April 17, 9pm – Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere
Inside the Circle
| 102m | Documentary | Directed by Marcy Garriott | 35mm |
Capturing the raw power of a grassroots hip-hop movement, the award-winning documentary INSIDE THE CIRCLE tells the story of two strikingly talented b-boys, Josh and Omar, former best friends who become rivals when they join competing dance crews. Immersed in the b-boy culture of defiant creativity, Omar rises to international renown while Josh tangles with the criminal justice system. Both of them struggle to keep dance at the center of their lives, and the “B-Boy City” competitive events thrown by visionary street dancer Romeo Navarro serve as emotional milestones in their journey to adulthood. As Romeo aptly observes: “If you can hold yourself down in battle, you can hold yourself down in life.”
Monday, April 14, 9pm – Prytania. Regional Premiere
| 73m | Documentary | Directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon |
Intimidad is an in-depth portrait of Cecy and Camilo Ramirez, two 21 year olds, whose dream is to buy land and build a house in Reynosa, Mexico so their 2 year-old daughter, Loida can live with them. Loida lives with Cecy’s mother in Santa Maria, Puebla. Intimidad slowly unravels, showing how the everyday politics of living on minimum wage – without a functioning infrastructure – strains their relationship and sacrifices their own intimacy.
One year later they return to Puebla during Christmas vacation to reunite with their daughter. What seems like a satisfying reunion and temporary relief from the harsh environment of Reynosa turns into a confusing dilemma between Cecy and Camilo. The conflict threatens to transform the course of their lives and suspend efforts to improve their living conditions, thereby further straining the family’s ability to live together. Intimidad challenges viewers to understand Cecy and Camilo as people first and interpret their complex lives through a simple story. Intimidad was filmed over the course of 4 years and mixes digital verite with Super 8 and 16mm film stock.
Friday, April 18, 6pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
| 30m | Documentary | Directed by Jacqueline Soohen and Big Noise Tactical Media |
In a small town in Louisiana, six families are fighting for their sons’ lives. Two nooses are left as a warning to black students trying to integrate their playground, fights break out across town, a white man pulls a shotgun on black students, someone burns down most of the school, the DA puts six black students on trial for attempted murder, and the quiet town of Jena becomes the site of the largest civil rights demonstration in the South since the 1960s. The Jena 6 is the story of hidden racial inequality and violence becoming visible. It is a powerful symbol for, and example of, how racial justice works in America – where the lynching noose has been replaced by the DA’s pen.
Sunday, April 20, 7:30pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
Maybe Buenos Aires
| 47m | Documentary | Directed by Xavi Satorra Larriba |
Luís Caro emigrated to Madrid in 2002, where he had to survive without his family, playing music in the underground. A year and a half later, again in Argentina, he remembered and compared this experience with the exile that he suffered with his family during the last dictatorship (1976-83). With his particular sense of humor he takes stock of the last 25 years. The Argentine crisis is couched within the framework of a global crisis of democratic governability that has two important dimensions: the crisis of participation and the crisis of governmental responsibility. We are traveling across a country stunned by the economic crisis, undergoing a great deal of social changes since the popular strikes of December 2001. Together with the well-known philosopher of Argentina Tomás Abraham, the courageous and enduring Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, the self-employed workers of Zanón, the biggest occupied factory in the country, and many other anonymous citizens, we observe the expectations they have for Argentina. As with many Argentines, the story of Luís Caro reflects the hesitation and the loss of faith in the country, which resulted in a great exodus mainly to Europe, and above all to Spain, as their ancestors did when they arrived in Argentina.
Tuesday, April 15, 9pm – Zeitgeist. U.S. Premiere.
| 84m | Documentary | Directed by Steve Connors and Molly Bingham |
Meeting Resistance raises the veil of anonymity surrounding the Iraqi insurgency by meeting face to face with individuals who are passionately engaged in the struggle, and documenting for the very first time, the sentiments experienced and actions taken by a nation’s citizens when their homeland is occupied. Voices that have previously not been heard, male and female, speak candidly about their motivations, hopes and goals, revealing a kaleidoscope of human perspectives. Featuring reflective, yet fervent conversations with active insurgents, Meeting Resistance is the missing puzzle piece in understanding the Iraq war. This daring, eye-opening film provides unique insight into the personal narratives of people involved in the resistance exploding myth after myth about the war in Iraq and the Iraqis who participate. Through its unprecedented access to these clandestine groups, Meeting Resistance focuses the spotlight on the “other side”, clarifying why the violence in Iraq continues to this day and providing a deeper understanding of both the toll of occupation and the human condition of resistance.
Saturday, April 12, 8pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
| 82m | Documentary | Directed by John Fiege |
Questions of race, workers’ rights and exploitation form the crux of this intriguing documentary about Latin American immigrants living in rural Mississippi, where poultry plants promise jobs but little else. In the 1990s, poultry companies in Mississippi and throughout the American South began to heavily recruit Latin American immigrants, most of them undocumented, to work in the poultry plants. A decade later, there are now large immigrant communities in poultry towns all over the South, and the immigrants find themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation, where they are frequent victims of abuse by employers, police officers, landlords, neighbors and even other immigrants.
Mississippi Chicken reveals this perilous, fragile, and yet amazingly hopeful world of Latin American immigrants in a Mississippi trailer park that sits next to a poultry plant. Guillermina is a Mexican immigrant who hears the stories of the other trailer park residents on a daily basis as she serves them traditional Mexican meals out of her trailer. Anita is a workers’ rights advocate working with poultry workers in Mississippi, and she learns about many of the community’s struggles from Guillermina. Together, they guide us through the beauty and the terror of this world, as their friendship grows more intimate. Mississippi Chicken is shot almost entirely on Super 8mm film, which both beautifully captures the light, texture and feel of summer in the Deep South and elicits a connection between the current immigrants’ rights struggle and the Civil Rights Era, when Super 8 was popular.
Saturday, April 12, 4pm, Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
Stuffed into a crammed New Orleans clapboard house is a crew of Central American migrants. Seven days a week, they paint and tile fetid homes drowned by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005.
What does it mean to be an immigrant in a place scrambling to forge a new identity? What are the consequences when immigrants are unable to secure solid footing within a society’s social fabric? Nueva Orleans examines these questions as America’s most unique city braces for the future.
Sunday, April 13, 7pm, Zeitgeist
The Other Side
| 43m | Experimental | Directed by Bill Brown |
A 2000-mile journey along the U.S./Mexico border reveals a geography of aspiration and insecurity. While documenting the efforts of migrant activists to establish a network of water stations in the borderlands of the southwestern U.S., Brown considers the border as a landscape, at once physical, historical, and political.
Friday, April 11, 7pm – Zeitgeist, and Tuesday, April 15, 9pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
Right to Return: New Home Movies From the Lower Ninth Ward
| 108m | Documentary | Directed by Jonathan Demme |
Opening night film.
Beginning in January 2006, Jonathan Demme filmed in and around New Orleans, chronicling the lives of dozens of people—each of whom with a unique story. Post-screening discussion with Academy Award-Winning Director Jonathan Demme.
Wednesday April 9, 6pm reception, 7pm screening. John McDonogh Senior High.
| 17m | Experiemental | Directed by Evan Mather |
Due to the recent unpleasantness, Baton Rouge has eclipsed New Orleans as the largest city in Louisiana. Is the city destined for greatness? Award-winning filmmaker Evan Mather’s Scenic Highway is this trip to the city – and such landmarks as Huey Long’s art deco State Capitol building and Buckminster Fuller’s hidden geodesic dome. This darkly affectionate memoir is also an expose of the city’s colorful history – told through the use of animation and archival footage.
Friday, April 11, 7pm – Zeitgeist, Thursday, April 17, 9pm – Zeitgeist.
| 7m | Documentary | Directed by Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón |
Drawing surprising connections between market methods and CIA torture techniques developed in the 1950s. Based on the book by Naomi Klein.
Thursday April 10, 7pm, Canal Place & Tuesday April 15, 9pm, Zeitgeist
The Sugar Babies
| 99m | Documentary | Directed by Amy Serrano |
While exposing those who continue to profit, the feature-length documentary film “The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers in the Sugar Industry of the Dominican Republic” vividly explores the lives of the descendants of the first Africans delivered to the island of Hispaniola for the bittersweet commodity that once ruled the world. These very same people continue to be trafficked to work in sugar under circumstances that can only be considered modern day slavery… “The Sugar Babies” examines the moral price of sugar — present and past — from the perspective of the conditions surrounding the children of sugar cane cutters of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic, and the continuing denial of their basic human rights.
Saturday, April 19, 4pm – Zeitgeist
Sunlight and Babies
| 12m | Documentary | Directed by Kim Craig |
‘Sunlight and Babies’ wishes to bright light to the fact that although cultures may vary greatly, one truth remains: we are all human. Trucking culture has just as many stereotypes as any other culture. The truth is, a large percentage of all the goods that fill the average American home have been touched in someway to the trucking culture. This documentary ventures into the nightlife of truck stop culture, as told through the voices of a several anonymous truckers via CB radio interviews. By opening up perspective to the greater collective we are more likely to see that we truly are all interconnected.
Saturday, April 19, 2:30pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere
T. Don Hutto: America’s Family Prison
| 10m | Documentary | Directed by Lily Keber and Matthew Gossage|
Since May 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been incarcerating families in a converted medium-security prison north of Austin. Administered by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit corrections company in the US, the T Don Hutto “Residential” Facility holds men, women (some pregnant), children and infants- including nursing babies- in the largest family internment since WWII. Through interviews with former detainees, community members and activists, this short documentary explores how a place like Hutto came to be, the deplorable conditions inside, and what you can do to shut it down.
Tuesday, April 15, 5pm – SUNO, and Sunday, April 20, 7:30 pm – Zeitgeist.
Taxi to the Dark Side
| 106m | Documentary | Directed by Alex Gibney | 35mm |
2008 Academy Award-winner, best documentary.
From the director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into the reckless abuse of power by the Bush Administration. By probing the homicide of an innocent taxi driver at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing and often brutal film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness, in its prosecution of the “war on terror,” to undermine the essence of the rule of law. The film asks and answers a key question: What happens when a few men expand the wartime powers of the executive to undermine the very principles on which the United States was founded.
Incorporating rare and never-before-seen images from inside the Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons, and interviews with former government officials such as John Yoo, Alberto Mora, and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, interrogators, prison guards, New York Times reporters Tim Golden and Carlotta Gall (who wrote the first stories about the homicides in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) and the families of tortured prisoners, the film dissects the progression of the Administration’s policy on torture from the secret role of key administration figures, such as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and others to the soldiers in the field.
In the face of thousands of prisoners passing through the system, an astonishing number of admitted homicides, and a hastily drafted law — the Military Commissions Act — that grants immunity to government officials for crimes against humanity while denying the fundamental right of habeas corpus to others, Taxi to the Dark Side forces us to ask why, in the face of so much evidence of the ineffectiveness of cruelty as a means of obtaining information, we sought to insist on its use? Have we, by pursuing such ruthless means, lost the moral high ground in the war on terror and made ourselves less safe? Even more important, have we compromised our own sense of humanity, our democratic values and our effectiveness as a world leader?
Co-Presented by The New Orleans Film Society
Thursday, April 10, 7pm – Canal Place. New Orleans Premiere.
Third Ward TX
| 57m | Documentary | Directed by Andrew Garrison |
A row of born-again shotgun houses, called “Project Row Houses” is the unlikely home of cutting-edge art and visionary thinking about inner-city renewal and community. THIRD WARD TX introduces artists and neighbors who are breathing new life into their historically black neighborhood in Houston. But art, life, and real estate collide when deep-pocket developers arrive. Project Row Houses’ unexpected response offers new, creative solutions.
Saturday, April 19, 2:30pm – Zeitgeist
Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North
| 86m | Documentary | Directed by Katrina Browne and Alla Kovgan |
This personal documentary tells the story of first-time filmmaker Katrina Browne’s Rhode Island ancestors, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. At Browne’s invitation, nine fellow descendants agree to journey with her to retrace the steps of the Triangle Trade. They soon learn that slavery was business for more than just the DeWolf family—it was a cornerstone of Northern commercial life. The family travels from Bristol, Rhode Island, where the family “business” was based, to slave forts in Ghana where they meet with African-Americans on their own homecoming pilgrimages, to the ruins of a family-owned sugar plantation in Cuba. At each stop, the family grapples with the contemporary legacy of slavery, not only for black Americans, but also for themselves as white Americans.
Sunday, April 20, 4pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
| 22m | Documentary | Directed by Laila El-Haddad and Saeed Taji Farouky |
When Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, the city of Rafah was suddenly split, between Egypt and Gaza, by an immense metal and concrete wall. Families found themselves divided by a high-security international border, though their houses often lay less than 100m apart. Before long, influential families moved their business underground, through dozens of secret tunnels burrowed below the Israeli border fence. Everything moves through Rafah’s tunnels: from cigarettes and drugs to cash and people. It is a vast enterprise, and pays five times an average annual Gaza salary in one month. It is a family business, passed on from father to son and always – for reasons of security as well as economics – kept in the family. During some of Gaza’s worst ever infighting, Tourist With A Typewriter teamed up with Gaza journalist and celebrated blogger Laila El-Haddad for an exclusive investigation into this underground trade from the perspective of the families who run it.
Sunday, April 13, 2pm – Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad (A Little Bit of So Much Truth)
| 93m | Documentary | Directed by Jill Irene Freidberg |
In the summer of 2006, a broad-based, non-violent, popular uprising exploded in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Some compared it to the Paris Commune, while others called it the first Latin American revolution of the 21st century. But it was the people’s use of the media that truly made history in Oaxaca. A 90-minute documentary, A Little Bit of So Much Truth captures the unprecedented media phenomenon that emerged when tens of thousands of school teachers, housewives, indigenous communities, health workers, farmers, and students took 14 radio stations and one TV station into their own hands, using them to organize, mobilize, and ultimately defend their grassroots struggle for social, cultural, and economic justice.
Saturday, April 19, 6pm – Zeitgeist
Untitled Video on Lynn Stewart and Her Conviction, the Law, and Poetry
| 18m | Portrait | Directed by Paul Chan |
On February 10, 2005, Lynne Stewart was convicted of providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy. She is the first lawyer to be convicted of aiding terrorism in the United States. Stewart faces thirty years of prison and will be sentenced in September 2006.
Untitled… is a video portrait of Stewart. The video focuses on the relationship between the language of poetry and the language of the law. Stewart speaks both languages, and employs poetry as a “knotting point” to connect ideas of beauty and justice for juries and judges alike. The film takes Stewart’s understanding of poetry and the law as a departure point to explore the possibilities of a poetics capable of articulating the pressures of terror and justice.
Co-presented by the New Orleans Film Society. This screening is free of charge. Hosted by the 7th ward Neighborhood Center and the Porch.
Saturday, April 19, 6pm – The Porch. Regional Premiere.
Vows of Silence
| 59m | Documentary | Directed by Jason Berry |
VOWS OF SILENCE explores the haunting saga of Father Marcial Maciel, one of the greatest fundraisers in church history. Maciel wins the favor of Pope John Paul II, despite a trail of pedophilia accusations from former seminarians of his religious order, the Legion of Christ. The film follows the journey of a Vatican investigator, taking testimony from Irish, Mexican and American witnesses. Maciel cloaked his sexual abuses and psychological tyranny by swearing Legionaries to secret vows, never to criticize him or the cult-like movement. With location shoots in Rome, Mexico, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Milwaukee and New Orleans, the film follows Maciel’s rise from a war-torn Mexico, gaining support from the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, securing his position in Rome as he turns the Legion into an international movement, building schools and universities. As the Vatican investigator builds his dossier against Maciel and the Legion, Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict XVI, must decide the meaning of Vatican justice.
Monday, April 14, 7pm – Prytania. World Premiere.
Wade in the Water
| 73m | Documentary | Directed and Produced by Elizabeth Wood and Gabriel Nussbaum |
In the struggling neighborhood of Central City, New Orleans, a group of middle-school filmmakers document the complexity of childhood at the heart of an American crisis. No one set out to make a film – the students were part of a visiting documentary film class at the Dryades YMCA, designed to help them creatively express their thoughts in the chaos after Katrina. The kids were given video-cameras to tell their stories on their own terms; the results quickly transcended the classroom. Through the students’ remarkably honest footage we enter shuttered housing projects, flooded homes and dangerous streets. We discover a New Orleans that has been in trouble since long before Katrina, a place where role models are scarce and gun violence is normal. The kids’ reveal what adults are slow to discuss and the media cannot convey.
Friday, April 18, 7pm – Prytania. New Orleans Premiere
| 105m | Documentary | Directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix | 35mm |
2008 Academy Award Nominee—Best Documentary Feature
For the past twenty years, northern Uganda has been at war with a rebel force, the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.), and the country’s children have been the greatest victims of the conflict. But here, the children are not only the victims of the rebels, they are the rebels. The L.R.A. has a chillingly effective process to fill its ranks – abducting innocent children.
But amidst the grief and violence, voices are heard – children’s voices – singing strong, without fear. Their bodies shake and stomp to the rhythms of their ancestors. They dance about their homeland, they dance about their future, they dance to be children…and they dance to win. Across the country, Ugandan children are getting ready for the biggest event of the year, the National Music Competition. Over 20,000 schools will compete, but only one will go home the champion, and no one expects it to be Patongo. Schools in refugee camps don’t win awards.
WAR/DANCE follows the courageous efforts of Patongo’s students as they pour their hearts into winning this year’s music competition. Unlike the wealthier schools from the south, Patongo’s students need everything, from school uniforms to instruments. Despite the obstacles, the children endlessly practice their performances, driven by heart, talent, and the need to rebuild their lives. If their bus can safely make it through rebel territory, they’ll take the stage and give it their all. Win or lose, these children will show what true heart can achieve.
Co-Presented by The New Orleans Film Society
Wednesday, April 16, 7pm – Canal Place. New Orleans premiere.
When Clouds Clear
| 77m | Documentary | Directed by Anne Slick and Danielle Bernstein |
Based on a mining conflict currently taking place in Junín Ecuador, When Clouds Clear has had a profound effect in the small yet illustrative town. The government has recently suspended all mining activites in the area.
The story is narrated by the people in the town and tells of the founding, its rich history and the on-going mining resistance. The people have taken a radical approach, often forced to take extreme action to keep Ascendant from establishing a mine. Ascendant has violated legal and constitutional regulations. They have directly attacked the community, threatening the community and its leaders on numerous accounts. Recently asked to suspend all mining activity, Ascendant has not yet been told to leave these lands.
Shot on a combination of 16MM, super 8, and video.
Saturday April 12, 2pm, Zeitgeist. New Orleans Premiere.
Ya Heard Me?
| 77m | Documentary | Directed by Matt Miller and Stephen Thomas |
Filmmakers Mathew Miller and Stephen Thomas set out to make a feature length, musical documentary about the regional version of hip-hop specific to New Orleans, Louisiana called “Bounce”. Bounce is not just a style of music but a holistic community involving dance, block parties and clubs, which celebrates the unique contemporary story of New Orleans urban lifestyle. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the film evolves into an important look at what New Orleans has lost and where displaced people begin to look for hope.
Saturday, April 19, 10pm – Zeitgeist. Regional Premiere.