TWO Great Films to Screen in April: 13th, with Speaker Melina Abdullah, on 4/21; and Homestretch on 4/26 & 29.

First, about 13th: The Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP) and the Appreciating Diversity Film Series (ADFS) join in screening the Oscar-nominated documentary 13th in Piedmont on April 21. The post-movie discussion will feature Black Lives Matter Leader, Activist and Scholar Melina Abdullah, Ph.D.

“How did we get from abolishing slavery with the 13th Amendment, to imprisoning way more people than any other country in the world?” asks Ava DuVernay. 13th is her riveting response. The film explores the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in America. It’s titled after the US Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, “except as punishment for a crime.” The film shows how that exception portended a series of laws and actions that have perpetuated slavery’s devastating effects to the present day. DuVernay makes the case that the justice system has been driven by racism from the days of slavery to today’s era of mass incarceration. The United States accounts for 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. In 2014, more than 2 million people were incarcerated in the United States; of those, 40% were African-American men.

In an interview with Amy Goodman, Director Ava DuVernay explains that 13th makes clear “the history from 1865 and the abolition of slavery with the 13thAmendment all the way to now and the Black Lives Matter movement. The film traces, decade by decade, generation by generation, politician by politician, president by president, each decision and how it has led to this moment.” October 3, 2016 “Democracy Now!”, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.

Our guest speaker, Melina Abdullah, is featured in 13th. She is a Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. The evening’s conversation will be facilitated by teachers with the Bay Area Writing Project.

The evening’s program has been organized to combine viewing the film with facilitated community conversation and teacher professional development. It’s open to the public, and ALL are welcome.

What: FREE Screening & Discussion of 2017 Oscar-nominated Documentary 13th, with post-film discussion by Dr. Melina Abdullah

When:  Friday, April 21, 2017

6:00 – 6:30 PM free reception, open to the public

 6:30 – 9 PM screening and discussion

Where: Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Ave.  (near Oakland Ave.) in Piedmont

(street parking available) (See tab for directions)

The screening is also the first part of a two-day BAWP Professional Development Program for Teachers, aimed at helping the participants find approaches to steering these delicate conversations in meaningful and powerful ways. The Program continues with teacher professional development workshops at UC Berkeley the following morning, April 22nd from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm.  The registration fee for the workshops is $30; they will be led by Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultants. Registration is now available online at https://bayareawritingproject.org/bawp13th/

The Bay Area Writing Project is a non-profit organization affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.


More about the Homestretch Screening and Panel Discussion:

Did you know that there were more than 20,000 students who are homeless in the Bay Area? Over 300 in Berkeley alone?  Here’s a film about how homeless students somehow make it through — come see for yourself, and hear from our panel of local students and their advocates.

An “authentic, no-frills portrayal of what it means to be young and homeless in America.” Terrance F. Ross, The Atlantic.

The Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Film Series will present the award-winning documentary film, The Homestretch on April 26 and 29. The film follows three homeless teens – Roque, Kasey and Anthony – as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future. Roque was separated from his family due to immigration issues and was forced to fend for himself on and off, beginning his sophomore year of high school. Anthony spent his childhood in foster homes and went out on his own at the age of 14. Kasey spent over a year bouncing around between friends, family members and sleeping on the street, ultimately dropping out of high school her senior year. We meet Kasey in the film just as she enters a new transitional home and is re-enrolled in school. Kasey is a poet, a painter and a tremendous source of support for her huge network of friends.

Although the film is set in Chicago, homeless youth here in the Bay Area face precisely the same challenges. In 2014, the Bay Area had over 20,000 homeless students. (KCBS Cover Story Series: Our Homeless School Kids, Dec. 15, 2014). Berkeley alone currently has over 300 homeless high school students.

A panel discussion featuring local school administrators and teens with experience being homeless will take place following each screening. Among the panelists will be Darius Aikens, the eldest of 5 children. His father died when he was 9; his mother suffers from bipolar disease. Despite these obstacles, he has stayed in high school and hopes to study politics at UC Berkeley.

This film connects us deeply with issues of poverty, race, juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBTQ rights. “In the end, Homestretch is story of a broken system, not broken people. After watching, one can’t help but wonder if a small tweak in policy could make a world of difference for thousands of youth.”  Matt Pollock, Chicago Magazine.

2 FREE Screenings
In Piedmont: Wednesday, April 26:

Ellen Driscoll Playhouse 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611
6:30 PM Free reception | 7 – 9 PM screening followed by discussion

In Oakland: Saturday, April 29: 3 PM Screening, 4-5 PM Panel (check website to be sure about time — Warriors’ playoff schedule may force time change).
The New Parkway, 474 24th Street near Telegraph, Oakland, CA 94612
3 – 5 PM screening followed by discussion

 

Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw to screen 3/15 & 19 — Filmmaker to speak

Mind/Game intimately chronicles the struggle with depression and bipolar disease experienced by star basketball player, Chamique Holdsclaw. She was hailed as the “female Michael Jordan” and seemed destined for a spectacular professional career as a 3-time NCAA champion and number one draft pick in the WNBA.

chamique-holdsclaw-1

When her long-suppressed battle with mental disorders became apparent and began to affect her playing, she decided to go public with her condition, and in the process became a mental health advocate. She went on to face dramatic, unexpected challenges to her own recovery.

Mind/Game, produced by Rick Goldsmith and narrated by Glenn Close, tells her powerful story of courage, struggle, and redemption. Goldsmith will speak about the film at the Piedmont screening.

As unique as Chamique’s journey is, it reflects the challenges faced by millions of individuals and families who are dealing with similar issues. The Appreciating Diversity Film Series presents this important documentary that explores the intersection of athletic stardom and mental health.

FREE screenings in both Piedmont and Oakland:

Wednesday, March 15

Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Ave, Piedmont

Reception at 6:30 PM, screening 7 – 8 PM

followed by community discussion with filmmaker Rick Goldsmith

Sunday, March 19

New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland

Screening 3 PM, followed by community discussion

A New Color to Screen in January

PAINTS and ADFS offer a film to honor East Bay artists

Edythe Boone was a young mother living in low-income housing in Harlem when she organized her first mural project — her goal: to build a sense of community among her neighbors. The now seventy-something artist moved to the East Bay a short time later, and has been creating community-building murals here ever since.

mural05

In the Appreciating Diversity Film Series’ next film, A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone, filmmaker Mo Morris follows the tireless Boone as she guides current East Bay students and seniors through the mural-making process. The film not only demystifies how the huge, complex art works are made; it also demonstrates how the process of working together to produce a piece of public art reinforces important community values like long-term thinking, self-esteem, and teamwork.

The Bay Area is alight with literally thousands of murals. They dot, and in some cases define our neighborhoods. They are as rich and diverse as our population. Through these screenings, we hope to open a wider discussion about the value of the East Bay’s murals. Each film will be followed by a panel discussion about our local mural scene.

At a time when the Ghost Ship fire makes the challenges artists face to stay and work in the Bay Area heartbreakingly clear, Boone’s work, and that of all Bay Area muralists, are a tangible testament to the critical importance of art here. Join us in learning more.

2015 Audience Favorite at the Mill Valley Film Festival

ADFS is co-presenting this film with PAINTS (Promote Arts in the Schools, Inc). PAINTS supports visual arts, literary arts, music and the performing arts and has funded all of the ceramic mosaic murals at the Piedmont elementary schools. Currently, PAINTS is collaborating on a painted mural at the Piedmont Middle School. ADFS is supported by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, Piedmont Adult School, City of Piedmont and the Piedmont League of Women Voters.

Two FREE screenings, in two locations:

In Piedmont:

WHEN: Thursday, January 12. Doors open 6:30 PM; screening 7 PM, Panel 8-9PM

WHERE: Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave, Piedmont

 In Oakland:

WHEN: Saturday, January 14, 3 PM screening, 4 PM panel

WHERE: The New Parkway, 474 24th Street (between Telegraph & Broadway), Oakland

 

For more information, contact maude@diversityfilmseries.org or 510 655 5552.

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series proudly presents our first documentary film of the 2016-2017 series: “3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets”, directed by Marc Silver.

On November 23, 2012, four boys in a red SUV pull into a gas station, after spending time at a mall buying sneakers and talking to girls. With music blaring, one boy exits the car and enters the store, a quick stop, for a soda and a pack of gum.  A man and a woman pull up next to the boys in the station, making a stop for a bottle of wine. The woman enters the store, and an argument breaks out when the driver of the second car asks the boys to turn the music down. 3 1/2 minutes and ten bullets later, one of the boys is dead.

This riveting documentary is one story of the devastating effects of racial bias and the search for justice. Negative portrayals of black men and boys in the media lead to irrational fears; these implicit biases can prove deadly. The film dissects the aftermath of this fatal encounter using powerful footage which shows intimate scenes with the boy’s parents, the police interrogation footage, and interviews with others at the scene that night. You are on the edge of your seat during the trial testimonies.

We chose this film to bring audiences into the discussion of racial bias and gun violence.

This documentary won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Social Impact: “If you have paid any attention to the news, you know that we are a nation in crisis. As jury, we feel that, it is important to recognize a film that, because of the close collaboration between the filmmakers and their subjects, lets the audience examine that crisis, lets the audience consider the consequences of that crisis, and invites us all to consider this very difficult question: why are young black men so often the objects of fear?  This documentary matters”.

2 free screenings:
Wednesday, September 28
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont
  Free reception at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00 pm, 8:30 pm facilitated community discussion

Sunday, October 2, at 3 – 4:30PM
New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland

appropriate for ages 12 and up

F R E E

Love dance? Come see the power for young people of participating in a performance troupe, featured in the Appreciating Diversity film for May.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series, in association with CHIME, a Piedmont parent support group for arts in the schools, is proud to present the film F R E E, a feature documentary which follows five of the teens in the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company in Oakland.

Each year the students of Destiny Arts co-create a performance piece that asks them to dig deeply into their lives. Candid discussions of poverty, alienation, HIV status, sexual abuse, and gang violence arise as dauntingly complex, if not insurmountable, obstacles to happiness. Destiny Arts provides a safe haven for the teens to share their stories, to build community, and to express themselves artistically.

Despite the challenges the students face, under the careful guidance of Destiny’s artistic director Sarah Crowell, F R E E reveals how collaborative performance art can be a foundation for personal strength, liberation and hope.

Academy award nominated director David Collier and first-time director Suzanne LaFetra recognized the transformational power of Destiny’s programs when they happened to see one of the performances in 2010. “Not only was the show visually dazzling, but the youth artfully tackled issues of social justice and personal identity. These teenagers’ whole-body, whole-heart dedication to conveying truth was not just powerful, it was good,” said LaFetra.

2 free screenings:
Wednesday, May 4
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont
 Reception at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00 pm, followed by a discussion.

Saturday, May 7, at 3 PM
(time may change, depending on Warriors schedule).
New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland

At the River I Stand

Produced and directed by David Appleby, Allison Graham and Steven Ross

At the River I Stand is a poignant documentary set in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1960s, At the River I Stand, is a narrative about mobilization, determination and tragedy during the civil rights movement. It covers two very eventful months in 1968 that culminate with the success of the unionization of sanitation workers and the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.

Narrated by Paul Winfield, At The River I Stand tells the story of how, after integration, African Americans were pushed to the bottom of society. With extremely low wages and poor working conditions it was only a matter of time before emotions strained towards the breaking point. In February 1968, the atrocious working conditions for African Americans came to a head with the death of two sanitation workers. With no insurance or worker’s compensation, their families were left with nothing but heartache and more desperate times. As a result, 1300 sanitation workers walked off the job in a strike that lasted 65 days. With the simple statement “I am a Man” the worker’s movement gained momentum and determination. The strike then received national attention as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought his Poor People’s Campaign to Memphis.

The documentary uses authentic black and white newsreel footage and still photos intertwined with poignant interviews of individuals, 30 years later, who had played a part in this movement. Although predominately from the African American perspective of the civil rights movement, there is interview footage of those who were opposed to unionizing African American workers in the 1960s. The interview of Jared Blanchard, who was a City Council member in 1968, was courageous, as he reminisces honestly about what he thought back then, showing a glimpse into what he was experiencing on the other side of the conflict. – “We believed we knew best for the black man – for at least a few weeks”.

An eloquent and powerful film, “At the River I Stand” is a very moving and inspirational film. It is a simple film with a lot to say about a complex issue. *

The Piedmont Diversity Film Committee chose this film because it’s an important historical film that informs us about today’s challenges in the labor movement; still struggling to earn a living wage and decent working conditions.

*Commentary by Jennifer Ceconni Education/film Consultant from F & H Film & History, An Interdisciplinary Journal.

There will be a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy on January 18 at the Piedmont Community Center.

2 FREE Screenings
In Piedmont: Thursday, January 21, 2016
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

6:30 PM Reception w/light refreshments | 7 – 8:00 PM Screening, followed by community discussion

In Oakland: Saturday, January 23, 2016
The New Parkway, 474 24th Street near Telegraph, Oakland, CA 94612

Screening 3:00 – 4:00 pm, followed by community discussion

Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders

Are there only two genders?  What does it mean to be gender fluid?  Do you know someone who identifies  as agender? Gender-queer? Cisgender? Transgender? What do these terms mean?  The Appreciating Diversity Film Series has chosen a thought provoking and fascinating documentary on the topic of gender identity. Local Berkeley director Lonny Shavelson spotlights individuals and their loved ones, as they share their lives. “Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders” explores the world where gender is a spectrum of possibilities.

This is the first feature length documentary on the topic of genders outside the binary male/female choice. According to director Lonny Shavelson, “… There is a wealth of gender variations: effeminate men, masculine women, men sexually attracted to men, women to women, and some to both.” In the past, “invariably individuals were forced to decide: male or female. And although some transpeople switched from one gender to the other, it was still: Two genders.” Over time, Shavelson noticed that people who do not identify as male or female (non-binary gender) are becoming increasingly common.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series chose this film because it challenges assumptions and offers opportunities to walk in another person’s shoes.  “New ideas bounced around my brain while seeing this film,” commented member Ilene Wagner. “My mind was blown. I saw many things I hadn’t  realized before,” added member Julie Chang. This film  immerses viewers in a world where gender is more than two possibilities.

For example, Sasha F. was set on fire while sleeping on a public bus in San Francisco because he was wearing a skirt. Sasha said, “Some people have a file in their brain that says, ‘gender, male or female.’ I don’t see that file.” We also hear from the parents of gender fluid individuals as they come to understand their children’s identities.

The film was voted the best feature documentary of “The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival”, May 2015.

2 FREE Screenings
In Piedmont: Wednesday, September 30
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611

6:30 PM Free reception | 7 – 8:20 PM screening followed by discussion

In Oakland: Saturday, October 3
The New Parkway , 474 24th Street near Telegraph, Oakland, CA 94612
3:00 pm