Born in a refugee camp in Cambodia, poet Kosal Khiev was lucky to escape the wartorn country before he was two years old. Granted asylum, Khiev grew up in the U.S. with his mother and siblings. By the age of 16, he was convicted of attempted murder and spent the next 14 years in jail-including 18 months of solitary confinement in the New Folsom State Prison in California. Fatefully, during his time in solitary Khiev experienced a breakthrough that forged his path to freedom. In jail, he found writing and spoken-word mentors and upon release became a student/participant in the inaugural class of "The Actors' Gang" led by Artistic Director and Founder Tim Robbins. As a refugee with no permanent resident status in the U.S., however, Khiev was deported to Cambodia, a country he's never known. "How do you survive when you belong nowhere?" The documentary follows a year in the life of Khiev, while he navigates his new fame as Phnom Penh's premiere poet and receives the most important invitation of his career-to represent the Kingdom of Cambodia at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Later he visits France for the first time where his life comes full circle and he faces a past he never dreamed of.
IF YOU BUILD IT follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what's possible.
A visionary inventor in the Open Source Ecology movement has created a technology that could change the world, but is struggling to inspire his rag tag crew when he is joined by a charismatic and rebellious teacher from New Orleans who challenges him to become a true leader.
At the edge of the world, the Inupiaq people are fighting for survival. Kivalina documents life on this namesake island that teeters on the edge of the North Pacific. Once a nomadic people, the Inupiaq were relocated to Kivalina, Alaska, by the US government more than a century ago. Today, the community struggles to maintain itself in the face of forces largely beyond its control. Climate change threatens to drown the village under rising ocean levels. The neglect of a government thousands of miles away delays repairs to the crumbling sea wall that routinely fails to protect the island from the flooding caused by ever more frequent storms. And, as the melting ice opens up the north to resource extraction and tanker traffic, an oil spill would wipe out the whales and with it the community. The everyday lives of the Inupiaq people carry on under the weight of these impending disasters. Director Gina Abatemarco and her crew document traditional hunting and food preparation, coexisting with the frustrations of teenage boredom and bureaucratic intransigence. Kivalina shows the consequences of colonialism, economic exploitation, and bureaucratic neglect for this community while foregrounding the voices of the people themselves. Intimate and unflinching, the film shows the cultural as well as the environmental consequences of climate change.