2009 PATOIS film festival

2009 PATOIS film festival

2009 FESTIVAL SUMMARY
This year's festival was a huge success!  From our Opening Night screening of the powerful film American Violet to the World Premiere of Justice for All at our Closing Night, Patois is proud of the dynamic eleven days of films, performers, speakers, and actions we've shared with our community.

On Friday of our opening weekend we celebrated the sounds of liberation from New Orleans to Detroit to Brooklyn to Gaza at our Liberation HipHop show, featuring Wise Intelligent of the Poor Righteous Teachers, Invincible, Sabreena da Witch, Mohammed Al-Farra, Truth Universal, and Dee-1.

The next night, director Barry Jenkins joined us for the sold-out regional premiere of his award-winning film Medicine for Melancholy, which featured a beautiful performance by GaBrilla Ballard.

On Sunday, we hosted a protest, as scores of New Orleanians rose bright and early to commemorate Palestinian Land Day and to tell the American-Israel Public Affairs Committe (AIPAC) that our community stands against the murder of innocent Palestinians and demands liberation and self-determination for all people.

Later on Sunday, Fyre Youth Squad and Hot 8 Brass Band led a packed house into the streets with a Blowout Consciousness secondline, which featured the films I Am Sean Bell and Moral Panic: More Heat Than Light.  

Sunday evening, 2-Cent Entertainment presented an hour of new grassroots videos as part of a benefit for Positive Image Entertainment, which also featured a performance by Slangston Hughes.  After their show, 2-Cent introduced Crips and Bloods: Made in America, a benefit screening for Black Men United for Change that packed the house.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Patois proudly presented a two-day series on the role of individuals and small business owners in the reconstruction of New Orleans with the US Premiere of Independent America: Rising from Ruins, directed by Hanson Hosein, and the World Premiere of The New Orleans Tea Party, directed by New Orleanians Marline Otte and Laszlo Fullop. As the Tea Party audience walked out of Stern Auditorium at the New Orleans Museum of Art they were met by TBC Brass Band, who treated them to some of the best music New Orleans has to offer.

On Friday, Patois partnered with The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparation in America (N'COBRA) to present the special free program Reparations for Africans in America: Possible? Justifiable? Desirable? at the Craige Cultural Center.  This intense and inspiring event featured the films Welcome to Batey 6 and The Untold Story: Slavery in the Twentieth Century. The screenings were followed by a panel featuring Untold Story director Antoinette Harrell, Ukali Mwendo of N'Cobra, and Walter Umrani of the Nation of Islam.

On Saturday, Patois teamed up with the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) to present the free program Housing is a Right, which featured St Joe, an experimental film by Luisa Dantas about the demolition of public housing in New Orleans; Locusts, a documusicmentary about housing and development in Detroit featuring Patois performer Invincible; and Some Place Like Home: The Fight Against Gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn, Executive Produced by the phenomenal women at Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE).  The screenings were followed by a dynamic housing panel featuring Miami's Max Rameau of Take Back the Land, Valery Jean and Maisha Morales of FUREE, and Ursula Price of Safe Streets Strong Communities.

Saturday evening, a snowed-in James Spooner joined us via video chat for our screening of his provocative film White Lies Black Sheep.  Patois was thrilled to present James' film alongside People Not Places, a stunning documusicmentary about the racism of the Birthright Israel concept featuring Invincible, and the World Premiere of Robot + Girl, by Erin K. Wilson, for a packed crowd.

Later on Saturday evening, Patois collaborated with the Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership to present AIDS Chronicles: Here to Represent, by Bailey Barash.  Bailey joined local AIDS activists for a powerful and informative panel following the film.

On our closing day, Max Rameau treated us to a free workshop on direct housing action based on his experience in Miami with Take Back the Land.  Students, activists, and community members sat spellbound for over an hour during Max's phenomenal workshop.  Later that week, Max and Take Back the Land were featured on the front page of the New York Times.  

On Sunday evening, Patois proudly presented the World Premiere of Justice for All, a powerful film about the juvenile injustice system and the cradle-to-prison pipeline, directed by Sherry Dorsey.  Following the World Premiere, Patois announced this year's award-winning films and filmmakers and offered a beautiful festival Naming Ceremony put together for the festival by Patois board member Broderick Webb and Fyre Youth Squad member Knowledge is Born. The Naming Ceremony was followed by a screening of NO Cross NO Crown, an elegant film about the struggles and triumphs of great New Orleanians, directed by AM Peters, and an appearance by Big Chief Alfred Doucette of the Flaming Arrow Warriors.

This year at Patois, we heard from great speakers and activists like Brother Jesse Muhammad of Houston, Stacey Muhammad and Wise Intelligent of Brooklyn, Miami's Max Rameau, and New Orleans' own James Williams.  In addition to the phenomenal lineup at our Liberation HipHop show, we also heard show-stopping performances from TBC Brass Band, Slangston Hughes, Hot 8 Brass Band, GaBrilla Ballard, and Kourtney Heart.  

This year's festival also featured three phenomenal art exhibitions: Expressions of Nakba, a haunting multimedia commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the catastrophe of occupation and expulsion Palestinians continue to suffer; Through the Youth Lens, a stunning curation of photographs by youth activists fromFyre Youth Squad, the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA), Rethink, and Youthanasia; and Crowns of Glory, a fantastic display of decorated church hats that honor African American women struggling with HIV and AIDS.

This year, Patois audiences generously donated more than $1,000 for great local social justice organizations such as Women With a Vision, Welfare Rights Organization, Black Men United for Change and Equity and The New Orleans Afrikan Film and Arts Festival.

2009 Award Winners

Audience Choice Award: Best Feature Film
Medicine for Melancholy
Directed by Barry Jenkins

Audience ChoiceAward: Best Short Film
Robot + Girl
Directed by Erin K. Wilson

Audience ChoiceAward: Best New Orleans Film
The Untold Story: Slavery in the 20th Century
Directed by Antoinette Harrell and Josh Johnston

Jury Award: Best Feature Film
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
Directed by Sarah Kunstler and Emily Kunstler

Jury Award: Best Short Film
St. Joe
Directed by Luisa Dantas

Jury Award: Best New Orleans Film
Free Stylaz
Directed by Hasina B. Ashé

Patois Award: Best Feature Film
Independent America: Rising from Ruins
Directed by Hanson Hosein

Patois Award: Best Short Film
I Am Sean Bell: Black Boys Speak
Directed by Stacey Muhammad

The Patois Award celebrates filmmakers who use the medium of film to promote community dialogue about social justice issues.

Rise Up! Award
Some Place Like Home
Directed by Kelly Anderson, Co-directed by Allison Lirish Dean, Executive Produced by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)

The Rise Up! Award celebrates filmmakers who use the medium of film to incite audiences to action around social justice issues.

2009 FILMS

AIDS Chronicles: Here to Represent
94m, documentary, directed by Bailey Barash, Regional Premiere.
Saturday, April 4, 9:15pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
The AIDS Chronicles: Here to Represent is a feature-length documentary about the social and cultural impact of HIV/AIDS on the urban African American population, addressing why the disease continues to have such a death grip on the Black community. Black churches are split on how to react to their HIV positive members; U.S. HIV/AIDS infection rates are highest in African American men who have sex with men; African American women are dying of AIDS in alarming numbers. The AIDS Chronicles: Here to Represent goes inside the lives of African American AIDS activists, victims and experts to reveal the current state of the disease and the fight against it.


American Violet
102m, fiction, directed by Tim Disney, Regional Premiere.
Thursday, March 26, 7pm, Canal Place Cinemas. Filmmaker present
Based on true events in the midst of the 2000 election, American Violet tells the astonishing story of Dee Roberts (critically hailed newcomer Nicole Beharie), a 24-year-old African American single mother of four young girls living in a small Texas town who is barely making ends meet. On an early November morning, the powerful local district attorney (Academy Award nominee Michael O’Keefe) leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping Dee’s Arlington Springs housing project. Indicted based on the uncorroborated word of a single and dubious police informant, Dee soon discovers she has been charged as a drug dealer. Dee is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted feln or remain in prison and fight the charges. Despite the urgings of her mother (Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodard), and with her freedom at stake, she chooses to fight the district attorney and the unyielding criminal justice system he represents. Joined in an unlikely alliance with an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer (Will Patton), Dee risks everything in a battle that forever changes her life and the Texas justice system. American Violet also stars Emmy Award winner Charles S. Dutton and Xzibit.


Arafat & I

15m, comedy, directed by Mahdi Fleifel, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29th, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
A young Palestinian man believes he’s found the woman he wants to marry, a British soulmate who shares her birthday with Chairman Arafat. 15m, comedy, directed by Mahdi Fleifel

Ard As-Sawad
9m, documentary, directed by Tish Stringer, Regional Premiere
Friday, March 27, 8pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room. Filmmaker present
A beautiful film about the life of an Iraqi artist living in exile.

Beyond the Wall: Inside the Sadr Movement in Iraq
Friday, March 27, 8pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
22m, documentary, directed by Big Noise Films, Regional Premiere. Filmmaker present
Moqtada al Sadr and his militia, the Mehdi Army, have been America's most intractable opponents in Iraq. But after recent attacks launched by the US and Iraqi military against Sadr strongholds, cease-fires were negotiated and the Mehdi Army melted away from the streets. Has the Mehdi Army finally been defeated, and is this the end of the armed Shiite resistance to the occupation?

Body and Soul: Diana & Kathy
56m, documentary, directed by Alice Elliot, Regional Premiere
Two of the country's most remarkable advocates for people with disabilities, Diana Braun, who has Down Syndrome, and Kathy Conour, who has cerebral palsy, met three decades ago and vowed to fight to live independent lives. Told in an intimate, vérité style, the film is a story of a compelling, creative friendship, as Diana and Kathy model a grand experiment in independent living.

The Cajun New Wave
13m, documentary, directed by Philip Cartelli, World Premiere
Sunday, April 5, 9pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Amid the hurricanes that devastated Louisiana’s coastline and the simultaneous commercialization of local cultures, a new generation of young Cajun musicians have been defending and re-popularizing their unique identity.

Featuring performances and interviews with Feufollet, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson, and Steve Riley, The Cajun New Wavc interrogates musicians’ perspectives on the current cultural climate in Acadiana. With an emphasis on the constant physical threat posed to this environmentally fragile region, The Cajun New Wave provides an apt introduction to recent creative efforts at safeguarding Southern Louisiana’s historic cultures.

Corazón del Tiempo (Heart of Time)
90m, fiction, directed by Alberto Cortéz, Regional Premiere
Friday, April 3, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
It is a time of revolution and Sonia’s rebellious heart causes further commotion in her village. Recently betrothed to a young community leader, Miguel, she is walking along a path in the Selva Lacandona one day when she locks eyes with those of Julio, a rebel fighter; their passion puts the security of her community and the Zapatista rebels in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Alicia, Sonia’s youngest sister, learns to interpret reality (as government forces surround the rebels on land and in the air) through a mirror in her game-playing. Her grandmother Zoraida is the one to bring the little girls’ visions back down to the earth. Together, Zoraida and Alicia discover in Sonia’s decision a test of wills and traditions. In a world where everything changes, in a land of free Indians who have decided to take a stand and resist, Sonia takes on the struggles of love in the Heart of Time.

Crips and Bloods: Made in America
93m, documentary, directed by Stacy Peralta, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Directed by critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta and Executive Produced by New Orleans Hornets star Baron Davis and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Stephen Luczo, CRIPS AND BLOODS: MADE IN AMERICA tells the story of South Los Angeles’ two most infamous African American gangs. Combining unprecedented access into the worlds of active gangs, CRIPS AND BLOODS: MADE IN AMERICA offers a compelling, character-driven documentary narrative which chronicles the decades-long cycle of destruction and despair that defines modern gang culture.
From the genesis of LA’s gang culture to the shocking, war-zone reality of daily life in South L.A., the film chronicles the rise of the Crips and Bloods, tracing the origins of their bloody four-decades long feud. Contemporary and former gang members offer their street-level testimony that provides the film with a stark portrait of modern-day gang life: the turf wars and territorialism, the inter-gang hierarchy and family structure, the rules of behavior, the culture of guns, death and dishonor. Throughout the film ex-gang members, gang intervention experts, writers, activists and academics analyze many of the issues that contribute to South LA’s malaise: the erosion of identity that fuels the self-perpetuating legacy of black self-hatred, the disappearance of the African-American father and an almost pervasive prison culture in which today one out of every four black men will be imprisoned at some point in his life. Finally the gang members themselves articulate their enduring dream of a better life. They provide CRIPS AND BLOODS: MADE IN AMERICA with its ultimate statement: A message of hope and a cautionary tale of redemption aimed at saving the lives of a new generation of kids, not just in South LA but anywhere in the world that gang violence exists.

A Day in Palestine
6m, experimental, directed by Mary-Ellen Davis, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Scenes of everyday life in Occupied Palestine, with a dream-like feeling, reminiscent of home movies of the 1960s. But instead of a day at the beach, or in the backyard: an olive tree, a wall, a bulldozer, soldiers harassing grandmothers. Filmed in Super 8 Kodachrome in Occupied Palestine. Locations: Jayyus, Abu Dis, Beit Duqqu

The Detention Imperative: An Inside Look at the US Detention System in Iraq
22m, documentary, directed by Big Noise Films, Regional Premiere
Friday, March 27, 8pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room. Filmmaker present
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been detained by the US, one and a half million Iraqis have had an immediate family-member detained, and almost every Iraqi knows someone who has been through the US detention system. Few American institutions affect the lives of ordinary Iraqis more directly and profoundly than the US detention system. But once Iraqis are swept up in the system, there is no clear way out.

Differences & Disabilities
7m, documentary, directed Gabrielle Turner, Festival Premiere
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
Students discuss the discrimination they face because people perceive them as disabled.

Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath
90m, documentary, directed by Sharat Raju & Valarie Kaur
Saturday, April 4, 1pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Valarie Kaur was a 20-year-old Sikh college student when she set out across America in the aftermath of 9/11, camera in hand, to document hate violence against her community. From the still-shocked streets of Ground Zero to the desert towns of the American west, her epic journey confronts the forces unleashed in a time of national crisis – racism and religion, fear and forgiveness – until she finds the heart of America… halfway around the world.

Dos Americas: The Reconstruction of New Orleans
47m, documentary, directed by David Zlutnick
Sunday, April 5, 4:30pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Post-Katrina reconstruction is still in progress throughout the Gulf Coast, with much of the City of New Orleans still in ruins. This documentary focuses on those rebuilding this city through interviews with some of the estimated 100,000 Latino migrant laborers who have converged in this area over the past three and a half years. Despite terrible working conditions, massive fraud, a housing crisis, severe harassment by law enforcement, and very limited resources, New Orleans’ Latino community has mushroomed since the storm and is establishing an infrastructure proportional to its size. Take a look at how this community is organizing to defend itself against numerous injustices and the attempts to bridge the gap between themselves as new residents and the pre-Katrina population, all within the unique and tragic context of post-Katrina New Orleans. Presentado en inglés y español.

Exodus
110m, science fiction, directed by Penny Woolcock, Regional Premiere
Tuesday, March 31, 9pm, Canal Place Cinemas
In this nightmare vision of the future, a neo-fascist politician (Bernard Hill) clears the streets of immigrants, confining them to a ghetto called Dreamland. But when his adopted son (Daniel Percival) discovers that his real parents are imprisoned refugees, his attempts to help them escape result in a catastrophic war in which the brutally oppressed resort to brutal means to win their freedom.
Leading actor Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings, Titanic) takes the part of Pharoah and Ger Ryan (Queer as Folk, Fat Friends, and The Street) plays Pharoah’s wife, Batya. RADA-trained actor Daniel Percival (Vital Signs, Sinchronicity) plays Moses and rising newcomer Clare-Hope Ashitey (Children of Men, Shooting Dogs) plays Zipporah, Dreamland resident and eventual wife of Moses. Moses’ brother Aaron is played by first-time actor Anthony Johnson and Delroy Moore, a foster care giver plays wise school teacher Jethro. Other speaking parts and the several hundred extras are all non-actors from Margate and the Isle of Thanet.

Free Stylaz
8m, documentary, directed by Hasina B. Ashé, Festival Premiere
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room

Students and teachers show off their lyrical skills and talk about the art of freestyle.

Grissi Siknis: The Magic Sickness of the Jungle
Winner, Best Feature: Stone Center Latin American Environmental Media Festival
94m, documentary, directed by Enrique Ruiz-Skipey, US Premiere. Filmmaker present
Tuesday, March 31, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
A film about a mysterious sickness among the Miskito people, a large tribal group of linguistically similar people inhabiting eastern Central America between Rio Tinto in Honduras and Pearl Lagoon in Nicaragua. The Miskito are descended from a mix of European, Creole, Chinese, African and Native American peoples, making them racially diverse. Symptons of grissi siknis vary, but has a distinct set of central characteristics. Most of the victims are young girls from 15 to 18 years old. The attacks are prefaced by headaches, dizziness, anxiety, nausea, irrational anger and/or fear. During the attack the victim loses consciousness and falls to the ground, subsequently running away. The victim may view other people as devils, feel no pain for bodily injuries and have absolute amnesia regarding the physical circumstances. Some grab machetes or broken bottles to wave off unseen assailants. Miskito tradition holds that grissi siknis is caused by possession by evil spirits, believed to be caused by an evil sorcerer. According to western medicine these trance-like disturbances occur with unusual frequencies in certain societies. Grissi siknis is related to emotional upset, worry, fear and general anxiety, and has become a local way for expressing misfortune.

Hartos Evos Aquí Hay: The Coca Growers of Chaparé
52m, documentary, directed by Manueal Ruiz Montealegre and Héctor Ulloque, Regional Premiere
Monday, March 30, 8pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
This documentary was filmed during the last presidential elections in Bolivia. The film offers a picture of the coca growers’ labor union organization, that gives a panoramic of the symbolic and cultural value of the coca leaf, contemporary social movements, traditional Indian organizations and political participation in Bolivia.
On December 18, 2005, an indigenous man was elected president of Bolivia for the first time in history. Evo Morales Ayma was supported by 36 native groups, social movements, academic and intellectual circles, and a massive popular backing. The coca growers from the Tropic of Cochabamba, better known as Chapare, played a leading role in this process. In defense of the coca leaf, which is a sacred plant and of great importance in cultural and economic terms, the coca growers of the Cochabamba Tropic have consolidated a solid labor union organization. It was in this process that Evo Morales became a leader. Ever since the creation of their own political party (the “Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the People” (IPSP)) in 1995, the coca growers have actively participated in the national political scope, and they bring together the values of the traditional indigenous culture and the demands and necessities of the native peasants before the State.

Homeless Power
12m, documentary, directed by Big Noise Films,
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room. Filmmaker present
While the economy unravels and the gap widens between rich and poor, Homeless Power looks at the rise of a new poor people's movement in the US. A homeless mother when she was in her teens, Cheri Honkala is the founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, an organization dedicated to empowering the poor and homeless in Philadelphia. Cheri argues that the poor are being made invisible by the urban redevelopment programs of the last 20 years, and the prosperity of shiny new urban centers is an illusion that simply forces hunger and homelessness out of site.
With the erosion of US manufacturing jobs, Americans are filing for bankruptcy in record numbers and credit card debt is soaring - leaving more workers just a paycheck away from homelessness. Homeless POWER is the story of a true American rebel.

The House that Herman Built (trailer)
5m, documentary trailer, directed by Angad Bhalla, Regional Premiere
Sunday, April 5, 6pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Artist Jackie Summel has dedicated her life to building a home for imprisoned New Orleans Black Panther Herman Wallace.

Hunger
96m, fiction, directed by Steve McQueen, Regional Premiere
Tuesday, March 31, 7pm, Canal Place Cinemas
HUNGER follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland, with an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike led by Bobby Sands. With an epic eye for detail, the film provides a timely exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit. This highly acclaimed film was winner of the Camera D’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

I am Sean Bell: Black Boys Speak
11m, documentary, directed by Stacey Muhammad, Regional Premiere, filmmaker present
I am Sean Bell: Black Boys Speak is a short-form documentary in honor of the life of Sean Bell, an unarmed 23 year old African American man gunned down on the night before his wedding by New York Police Department Officers - all of whom were found not guilty - in a hail of 50 bullets. This film features the candid voices of young black men who share their hopes and fears as they approach manhood in a city where the lives of young black men are often cut short, too often and too soon.

Independent America: Rising from Ruins
70m, documentary, directed by Hanson Hosein, US Premiere, filmmaker present
Independent America: Rising from Ruins is a feature documentary that takes a hard yet hopeful look at the risks and rewards of small business ownership in post-Katrina New Orleans. It depicts the locals coming home to resurrect their businesses and neighborhoods and the challenges they now face from all sides including their own city government and big box retail.
More than three years after Hurricane Katrina’s onslaught, New Orleans is at a tipping point. Parts of the city still look like a war zone, the recovery further slowed by a bad economy and high energy prices. Some neighborhoods remain half- populated, former residents scared away by a lack of essential services – particularly retail. As “The Shock Doctrine” author Naomi Klein told us, “New Orleans is still being destroyed.” However, even as chain retailers are reluctant to return to the city in the aftermath of the storm, independent Mom & Pop stores immediately stepped into the breach. Independent America: Rising from Ruins, from Emmy Award winning director Hanson Hosein and Executive Producer/Producer Tom Powers, is the inspirational story of the small businesses that have risked everything to resurrect their neighborhoods, their homes. From the city’s top chef (and former marine) John Besh who manned a soup kitchen to the hardware store owner who provided vital supplies, this documentary shows how neighborhood Mom & Pops are crucial to community vitality – especially during times of disaster.

Intensive Care Unit
4m, experimental, directed by youth of Voices Beyond Walls
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
An artistic interpretation of the poem by the same title by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Justice for All: The Documentary
98m, documentary, directed by Sherry Dorsey, World Premiere
Sunday, April 5, 6pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
The purpose of Justice For All is to delve into the minds of juvenile offenders who commit minor crimes and then endure abuse from those charged to care for them. Some youth matriculate from the juvenile justice system into adult prisons. An adolescent who could be given community service for violation of probation may find him/herself thrown into a Juvenile Detention Center for four years or more because the child could not afford adequate legal counsel. In one instance, a minor school-yard fight landed a young person in the system for four years, where he was beaten severely by prison guards. Some youth are unable to vote or get financial aid to further their education due to the charges they acquired as juveniles. Additionally, this film makes a concerted effort to find programs that actually rehabilitate young people who are placed in the juvenile justice system, which proves to be a daunting task.

Katrina: Man-made Disaster
28m, documentary, directed by Big Noise Films, Regional Premiere
Saturday, March 28, 5pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
Katrina was called the worst natural disaster in America in 100 years. . . but the thousands who died here were not killed by the storm - they were left for days to drown as flood waters rose around them. And today, the storm isn't what's keeping most of the city's former residents from returning home. A richer, whiter New Orleans is being built in which the city's poor and black majority have no place. While the city moves ahead with its plans to destroy public housing, scattered former residents fight a desperate battle for their right to return home. The outcome will have far-reaching consequences. New Orleans is the front line of a national struggle to save public housing and to end the privatization of government services. New Orleans is the model that, if successful, will be reproduced across the country.

The Least of These
62m, documentary, directed by Clark Lyda and Jesse Lyda, Regional Premiere
Saturday, March 28, 3pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
The Least of These explores one of the most controversial aspects of American immigration policy: family detention. As part of the Bush administration policy to end what they termed the "catch and release" of undocumented immigrants, the U.S. government opened the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in May 2006 as a prototype family detention facility. The facility is a former medium-security prison in central Texas operated by CCA, the largest private prison operator in the country. It houses immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who are awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. The facility was initially activated with little media attention or public knowledge. Soon, however, immigration attorney Barbara Hines was contacted by detainees seeking representation, and she became increasingly concerned about the troubling conditions there. She joined forces with Vanita Gupta of the ACLU and Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission to investigate conditions and seek changes. Their efforts were initially hampered by a lack of openness and oversight within the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) organization. Undeterred, the three attorneys attempted to bring about changes in both policy and conditions, by making their findings public, encouraging involvement by activists and the media, and ultimately by filing a historic lawsuit. As these events unfold, the film explores the government rationale for family detention, conditions at the facility, collateral damage, and the role (and limits) of community activism in bringing change. The film leads viewers to consider how core American rights and values – due process, presumption of innocence, upholding the family structure as the basic unit of civil society, and America as a refuge of last resort – should apply to immigrants, particularly children.

Locusts
11m, documusicvideo, Regional Premiere
Saturday, April 4, 5pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
The struggle for housing in Detroit, featuring Invincible and Finale, Detroit hiphop artists and community activists.

Made in L.A.
70m, documentary, directed by Almudena Carracedo, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29, 4pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
María, Lupe and Maura are three Latina immigrants struggling to survive in Los Angeles sweatshops. But one day, determined to win basic labor protections, they embark on a three-year odyssey that will transform their lives forever. Compelling, humorous, deeply human, Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

Media Advocates for Prevention Series: Stressin’
5m, documentary, directed by Media Advocates for Prevention, World Premiere, filmmaker present
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
The Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) Series is a set of three films created by New Orleans youth to spread the word about HIV & AIDS, and safer sex decision-making, in our community. We encourage our peers to talk about and practice safer sex, and to get tested for HIV. Stressin” is a piece about a young woman in a new relationship, who finds out an ex has been infected with HIV.

Media Advocates for Prevention Series: What is MAP?
11m, documentary, directed by Media Advocates for Prevention, World Premiere, filmmaker present
Friday, March 27, 6pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
The Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) Series is a set of three films created by New Orleans youth to spread the word about HIV & AIDS, and safer sex decision-making, in our community. We encourage our peers to talk about and practice safer sex, and to get tested for HIV. This film is an introduction to the MAP youth and our work.

Medicine for Melancholy
88m, fiction, directed by Barry Jenkins, Regional Premiere
Saturday, March 28, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
A love story of bikes and one-night stands told through two African American twenty-somethings dealing with issues of class, identity, and the evolving conundrum of being a minority in rapidly gentrifying San Francisco—a city with the smallest proportional black population of any other major American city.

Mofetas (Skunks)
10m, comedy, directed by Inés Enciso, Regional Premiere
Monday, March 30, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Night falls at Tangier´s port. Karim and Aziz wait in silence. Or at least they try to...

Moral Panic: More Heat Than Light
32m, documentary, directed by Akintola Hanif, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29, 1pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
An inside look into the minds of gang members and ex-prisoners in the hope of creating some genuine understanding about the choices made by the film’s subjects. A well-rounded mix of the voices of gang members, policy makers, social scientists and law enforcement.

The New Orleans Tea Party
56 m, documentary, directed by Marline Otte and Laszlo Fulop, World Premiere
Thursday, April 2, 6pm, New Orleans Museum of Art. Filmmaker present
This documentary sheds light on the challenging reconstruction of post-Katrina New Orleans. Interviews with volunteers and civic leaders probe the limitations of a recovery process built entirely upon the shoulders of individuals. The film examines larger themes relevant to American society today: individual versus government, civic responsibility, and trust in democratic processes.

Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)
96m, documentary, directed by Ellen Kuras, co-directed by Thavisouk Phrasavath, Regional Premiere
Friday, April 3, 9pm, Zeitgeist
Filmed over 23 years, Nerakhoon is the directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras in a remarkable collaboration with the film’s subject and co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath. During the Vietnam War, the United States government waged its own secret war in the neighboring country of Laos. When the US withdrew, thousands of Laotians who fought alongside American forces were left behind to face imprisonment or execution. One family, the Phrasavaths, made the courageous decision to escape to America. Hoping to find safety, they discovered a different kind of war. Epic in scope yet devastatingly intimate, featuring an exquisite score by Academy Award winning composer Howard Shore, Nerakhoon is a testament to the resilient bonds of family and an astonishing tale of survival.

NO Cross, NO Crown
53m, documentary, directed by AMPeters, Regional Premiere
Sunday, April 5, 9pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
NO Cross, NO Crown documents how New Orleans has been a fundamental element of American music since its inception, embracing the unique artists and underdogs that make up her inhabitants. And while New Orleans was entrenched in a rich history of struggle and the blending of European and African cultural streams, America’s identity and culture flourished to the soundtracks of blues, jazz, hip-hop, rock n’ roll, gospel and R&B—all of which have their origins in New Orleans. Featuring DJ Soul Sister, Kermit Ruffins, author Tom Piazza, and Mardi Gras Indian Chief Alfred Doucette. NO Cross, NO Crown dissects the cultural significance of the Hurricane Katrina and the resultant flood through the voices of musicians and other artists and shows that if we let New Orleans wither on the vine post-Katrina, we’ll be lesser of a country for it.

People Not Places
11m, documusicmentary, Regional Premiere
Friday, March 27, 9pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room
Featuring Abeer, Suhell Nafar (DAM), and Shadia Mansour, People Not Places takes the listener on an Israeli "birthright" tour where the buried Palestinian significance of each location comes to light. Along the route the video exposes the process of historic and continued colonization as being even deeper than land seizure and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but one that is invested in erasing the indigenous language, culture, and memory. Intertwined between verses are interviews from various perspectives exposing the myth of a "Jewish birthright" to a land to which Palestinians are denied the Right of Return. These insightful voices break down the importance of Palestinian Right of Return, how it can be actualized, and how it connects to the resistance of displaced communities from Iraq to New Orleans.

PitStop
3m, animated blaxploitation parody, LaRon Williams, World Premiere
PitStop is a crude parody of Dr. Seuss and the 1970s blaxploitation film genre. Despite the ticklers’ and sticklers’ hostile coexistence, one female tickler desperately attempts to sneak into a stickler-exclusive gas station to use the restroom.

Promise vs Practice
28m, documentary, directed by Pandwe Gibson, Festival Premiere, filmmaker present
Saturday, April 4, 3pm, Zeitgeist
Promise vs Practice is a documentary about the perceptions and experience of students receiving special education services in a Los Angeles public high school. As a special education teacher in an urban context, the use of media is extremely important because these students often experienced a lack agency, feel voiceless, lack social responsibility, feel ostracized, and lack experiences of success. Students participated in the making of this documentary to confront these issues. The title Promise vs. Practice was developed with the students to highlight the recurring misconceptions held by educators, administrators, and students alike. This project aims to address both external and internal perceptions about behavior and how these factors inform discipline and academic achievement. It aims to attach actual student voices to the powerful data collected on these same issues and from these same students the previous year.

Re-awakening Saddam’s Tribal Strategy
22m, documentary, directed by Big Noise Films, Regional Premiere
Friday, March 27, 8pm, Ray’s Boom Boom Room. Filmmaker present
After four years of bloody insurgency, the war changed abruptly when America began allying with Sunni militias called 'The Awakening movement.’ The US is reconstituting the tribal elite Saddam used to control the country, but it is a delicate balance between the Sunni Awakening militias and the Shiite central government. Will this balance hold, or is the United States arming both sides of future sectarian battles?

Roaming Around
53m, documentary, directed by Brigitte Maria Bertele, US Premiere
Monday, March 30, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
A documentary portraying the lives of street children trying to make their way in the Ghanaian capital. These children each have their own story as to how they’ve ended up living in Accra and scavenging the waste dumps. Through the director’s watchful eye, we see them playing football on the beach, going to school, laughing and desperately trying to be children. We also meet Amma Darko, an older woman who has written a book comparing the children’s situation in Accra to the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorra. The faces of these children are astounding and the camera captures their innocence, their desperation, their suffering and their beauty. Members of the community try to help them and help salvage what they can to give these children a decent life. This is a strong, sincere and emotionally charged film about survival and childhood not to be missed.

Robot + Girl
5m, animated science fiction, directed by Erin K. Wilson, World Premiere
Saturday, April 4, 7pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
After accidentally leaving her heart behind her, a tardy librarian revives a defective and damaged robot. The robot finds himself on a journey to find his librarian, bringing her heart back with him. Animated completely in Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Final Cut Express on a personal desktop Apple computer, this short piece about love between woman and machine explores the relevance of what lies beneath the color of our skin (or our hard metal casing).

Shadi and the Beautiful Well
10m, fiction, directed by Mahdi Fleifel
Saturday, April 4, 3pm
An autistic Palestinian youth living in a refugee camp struggles with the cruelty of a local bully.

Some Place Like Home: The Fight Against Gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn
40m, documentary, directed by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), Regional Premiere
Sunday, April 4, 5pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Filmmakers present
Narrated by writer and activist Kevin Powell, Some Place Like Home depicts the fight against the exclusion of low-income families and small businesses from the “new vision” for developing Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn. Real estate developers close down supermarkets and low-income housing while construction for housing that the current residents cannot afford begins almost overnight. Eviction notices are distributed to businesses and residents that were rooted in the community for over three decades. A few blocks down, the city announces that Albee Square Mall, what residents consider the epicenter of young Brooklyn culture, will be torn down to build 800 units of almost all luxury housing. Also threatened are 19th century homes documented to house fugitive slaves as part of the Underground Railroad movement. Their fate: to be turned into an underground parking lot to serve a luxury hotel being constructed across the street.
Some Place Like Home goes through the charged monologue of the affected members of the community to the passive, sometimes smug and ultimately useless empathy of the public officials and developers. It reveals the linear relationship between government and real estate developers in the effort to remove a people from their home. Long-time residents give oral histories of the area. Small business owners bring you into a world with rapidly closing mom and pop business in the name of development. Experts reveal the coding behind language and policies used in what is termed “the economic phase of the Civil Rights movement.”

St. Joe
10m, experimental, directed by Luisa Dantas
Saturday, April 4, 5pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Filmmaker present
St. Joe is visual dirge for “the bricks”—the new deal-era public housing buildings that were at the center of a two-year contentious battle over the right of return for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
St. Joe is a memorial tribute to the architectural achievement that the structures represented, and the families and communities that occupied them. In ten minutes, it traces the buildings in their silent waiting period until Spring 2008, when bulldozers arrived to reduce them to rubble. Former residents and housing advocates alike acknowledge that life in the bricks was not perfect, but as is the case for any community, it was home.

A Summer Not to Forget
27m, documentary, directed by Carol Mansour, Regional Premiere
Sunday, April 5, 2:30pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
For 33 days beginning in July of 2006, Lebanon witnessed continuous Israeli bombardment. This documentary takes you beyond the news headlines into the harsh realities of war. It explores the devastation of a nation and a people caught under siege. A Summer Not to Forget is an important and revealing chronicle of the brutalities of war and the plight of people as they deal with loss and destruction.

Una Vida Mejor
13m, fiction, directed by Luis Fernández Reneo, Regional Premiere
Saturday, March 28, 3:30pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Based on a true story, A Better Life is the faithful account of 3 Mexican children who got lost in the Sonoran desert while trying to cross the U.S. border. This fictional film highlights a history that repeats itself every week in the border towns of Mexico, feeding one of the most profitable illegal businesses: Immigrant smuggling. Based on the true story of three Mexican children: Lucia (5), Angela (17), and Fabian (15). They took a trip that many Mexican kids are taking every day, into the desert in the hands of a stranger who promise to take them to across the border to a better life. When the expedition is attacked by a gang of border thieves, Lucia, Angela, and Fabian run away and get lost in the night. Alone and disoriented, they wander in the Sonoran desert for three days without water or food with the sole support of their vision of life in America. A realistic view at what has become a profitable business, through the eyes of three children with a dream.

Under the Bombs
98m, fiction, directed by Philippe Aractingi, Regional Premiere
Saturday March 28, 9:30pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
Lebanon’s official selection for best foreign film for the 2008 Academy Awards, Under The Bombs begins during a cease-fire in the Lebanon-Israel conflict of 2006. A Christian taxi driver brings a Shiite woman from Beirut to the heart of the conflict in the country’s south. While they scour the rubble of local towns for her son, who was sent to live with her family while she was staying with her husband in Dubai, they discover that despite their very different backgrounds, they have much in common. And during their trip through the desolate countryside, the two travelers develop a deep bond as a response to the death striking all around them. The film was shot entirely on location during the summer of 2006, in the middle of the ruins of war-torn Lebanon. Aractingi only hired two professional actors, the rest are refugees, journalists, soldiers, and others, playing themselves.

The Untold Story: Slavery in the 20th Century
30m, documentary, directed by Josh Johnston and Antoinette Harrell
Friday, April 3, 7pm, Craige Cultural Center
This documentary is based on research conducted by Antoinette Harrell, including documents located in the National Archives in Washington, DC, FBI reports, NAACP reports, newspaper articles, and letters written to five US Presidents and complaints from American citizens. This documentary clearly outlines that slavery didn’t end for hundreds of African Americans in sixteen counties throughout Mississippi. Former slave Mae Louis Miller shares her life experience as a slave in Mississippi during the 20th century.

Welcome to Batey 6
20m, documentary, directed by Emmanuel “Mano” Alexandre, Regional Premiere
Friday, April 3, 7pm, Craige Cultural Center
A rare look into the lives of the Haitian sugarcane cutters of the Domincan Republic.

White Lies Black Sheep
88m, fictional documentary, directed by James Spooner, Regional Premiere, filmmaker present
A.J.'s real name is Ajamu Talib. His dislike for his African name is the least of his problems, but it says a lot about him. Brooklyn born and bred, yet outcast by his peers, his only escape was music. A.J. found freedom in rock n roll. Tight clothes, straightened hair, popular with girls and partying every night, he is fully entrenched in the debaucherous New York rock n roll scene. For once he feels like everyone else. Well, almost. He begins to find that his chosen community, the white rock world, only seems to run smoothly for white rockers. A series of events force him to recognize that his friends both exotify him and are in denial of his Blackness. Black, but not "really" Black. What's a young Black rocker to do?

William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
documentary, 90m, directed by Sarah Kunstler and Emily Kunstler, Regional Premiere
Sunday, March 29, 9pm, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center
In William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler explore the life of their father, the late radical civil rights lawyer. In the 1960s and 70s, Kunstler fought for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr., and represented activists protesting the Vietnam War. When the inmates took over Attica prison, or Native Americans stood up to the federal government at Wounded Knee, they asked Kunstler to be their lawyer.
To his daughters, it seemed that he was at the center of everything important that had ever happened. But when they were growing up, Kunstler represented some of the most unpopular members of society: people accused of rape, terrorism, organized crime and cop killing. Who was William Kunstler? Why did he choose the life he did? And where do his daughters fit into that choice?

Young Freud in Gaza
58m, documentary, directed by Pea Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian, Regional Premiere
Life has been difficult for Palestinians under Israeli Occupation in the Gaza Strip since the Six Day War in 1967. Since the January 2006 blockade of Gaza's border by the Israelis, with unemployment soaring to 60% and food, water and medicine in short supply, the psychological needs of its traumatized population have never been greater. Professional psychologists, however, are in desperately short supply. Young Freud in Gaza profiles Ayed, a young psychotherapist for the Palestinian Authority's Clinic for Mental Health, and shows his consultations with a variety of patients, both male and female, adults and children, in his office and during house calls, providing therapy or prescribing medication for depression, stress, anxiety attacks and suicidal tendencies. Filmed during 2006-2008, against the violent backdrop of armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah factions, Israeli missile attacks and the constant overhead presence of a surveillance dirigible, the film shows Ayed training young wives and mothers in deep-breathing exercises to calm anxiety, counseling maimed Hamas and Fatah militants in meditation techniques, and leading children in group therapy sessions in which they discuss their reaction to the death of siblings and draw pictures to cope with their emotions. Young Freud in Gaza also shows Ayed at home, relating to his parents and other family members and friends, in the process revealing that this young mental-health doctor is struggling with some personal issues of his own, including serious doubts that he is able to help his patients. As he acknowledges, "Gaza needs a million psychologists."

Get your tickets to the 2017 Patois Film Festival