Twenty-years in the making, 70 Acres in Chicago tells the story of the Cabrini Green public housing development located on the most hotly contested 70 acres of land in Chicago. With its prime central location, Cabrini Green was initially hailed as a public housing triumph, then later demonized as an urban disaster. It was demolished over a period of 15 years beginning in 1995, and repackaged as a "mixed income" development. Critics contend that the motivation was economic gain, as public housing's prime real estate became too valuable for the low-income Black communities that once lived there. The few Cabrini residents who were able to move into the highly regulated mixed income settlement are negotiating through difficult cultural territory. Encounters between the former Cabrini residents and the new white middle-class homeowners comprise the very real tensions of a newly constructed community in transition. 70 Acres in Chicago tells the volatile story of these 70 acres, while looking unflinchingly at race, class, and who has the right to live in the city. The film uses personal stories, expert commentary, and informative history to celebrate the spirit of a unique community and to mourn its betrayal and destruction.
By Blood chronicles American Indians of African descent as they battle to regain their tribal citizenship. The film explores the impact of this battle, which has manifested into a broader conflict about race, identity, and the sovereign rights of indigenous people. The film demonstrates both sides of the battle, the shared emotional impact of the issue, and the rising urgency of the debate: a Native American and African American history has been overlooked, and a tribal body feels as though their sovereignty is under siege.
The the ups and downs of a girls' soccer team reveal the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. Set in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, Kelly High School on Chicago's south side is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basics for their students, many of whom do not make it to college, either because they cannot compete academically or because their families do not have the financial resources to send them to college. The girls face an uneven playing field - or in the case of the girls at Kelly High School, no soccer field at all - little or no support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination, and poverty, but remain undaunted thanks to their teammates and the dedicated mentoring of their coach.
The year was 1775 in Concord, Massachusetts when colonists fired the infamous 'shot heard round the world' that began the American Revolution. One hundred years later, the work of local resident Henry David Thoreau began the environmental movement. And now, the spirit of revolution has returned to town. Jean Hill, a fiery 84-year-old widow and mother of four, wants to ban the sale of bottled water from Concord. Her path begins when her grandson tells her about the disastrous environmental effects of the empty plastic bottles Jean presents a bylaw to ban the sale of single-serve plastic bottles at the 2010 and 2011 Town Meetings. After losing by seven votes in 2011, she vows to continue the crusade with neighbor and Harvard Law Grad, Jill Appel. If enacted, the law would be the first of its kind in the world. But all are not in agreement with the ban. Merchants are wary of the bylaw. Philanthropist, mother, model and celebrity publicist Adriana Cohen takes the fight to the spotlight, calling the ban an attack on freedom. With billions of dollars at stake, The International Bottled Water Association sends in the cavalry. The town is abuzz as Patriot's Day celebrations begin. War re-enactors take the field, cannons fire at dawn, and the parades commence. April's Town Meeting provides the stage for Concord's latest battle. From the town that began America and Environmentalism, springs a new Revolution.
9-Man is a story about streetball battle in the heart of Chinatown featuring a chaotic, Chinese-only game played competitively in parking lots and alleys since 1938. Through revealing verite scenes, archival material and primary source interviews, the film broaches conversations about Chinatown's Bachelor Society, the Chinese Exclusion Act, cultural belonging and loss, masculinity, genetic disparity in sports, immigrant culture, the Chinatown diaspora, microaggressions, reverse racism, Asian-American identity politics, self-doubt and social isolation.
Director Ken Eng documents his father's first trip back to the rural Chinese village where he was raised since immigrating to the US in the 1970s. Father and son visit various family members who stayed through communism and who are now part of the "new middle class." A film about a father's journey back home and a son's journey into his own heritage.
For 80-year-old Sonia Sanchez, writing is both a personal and political act. She emerged as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, raising her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women's liberation, and peace as a poet, playwright, teacher, activist and early champion of the spoken word. She is among the earliest poets to have incorporated urban black English into her poetry; she was one of the first activists to secure the inclusion of African American studies in university curricula. Deemed "a lion in literature's forest" by poet Maya Angelou and winner of major literary awards including the American Book Award, Sonia Sanchez is best known for 17 books of poetry that explore a wide range of global and humanist themes, particularly the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color. In BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, Sanchez's life unfolds in a documentary rich with readings and jazz-accompanied performances of her work. With appearances by Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Jessica Care Moore, Ruby Dee, Yasiin Bey, Ayana Mathis, Imani Uzuri and Bryonn Bain, the documentary examines Sanchez's contribution to the world of poetry, her singular place in the Black Arts Movement and her leadership role in African American culture over the last half century.
Long before Black Lives Matter became a rallying cry, Edythe Boone embodied that truth as an activist, an educator, a great-grandmother, and foremost an artist. When a deeply personal tragedy ignites a national outcry, everything that Edy has worked so tirelessly for comes into question. From humble Harlem beginnings herself, the indefatigable "Edy" has for decades introduced underserved youth and seniors to the transformative power of art. Having helped her students use mural making to grapple with the disproportional shootings of young black men, the issue hits home when her nephew Eric Garner dies in police custody, his last words: "I can't breathe." The tragedy evokes the powerful and deep questions that many artists and activists face: has her nearly eight decades of social justice work meant something? Has it been worth the sacrifice? Can building multicultural bridges through art bring about positive change? Edy's reaction shows the depth of her clear-eyed, compassionate commitment to building a just and peaceful community. A New Color illuminates the social issues of our time and shows how the work of one woman reverberates throughout a community to inspire a powerful chorus: "Our lives matter and we will not be disempowered by those who judge us for our age, gender, or the color of their skin."