The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is capping off its 26th year with some strategic planning for the future.

After more than 25 years of hosting free screenings of diversity-related documentaries in Piedmont and Oakland, we are working with a consultant to update our approach. 

PLEASE HELP US by filling out this 3-minute SURVEY about what you’d like to see. 

We need your input to help us determine how we move forward to best serve our community.

Join Us for a Screening of Five Short Documentary Films

Appreciating Diversity Film Series free documentary screening Piedmont


The Appreciating Diversity Film Series Presents an Evening of Short Films in advance of the Piedmont Food Fest!

FREE Screening

Thursday, April 20th, 7 pm

Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, Piedmont, CA

The Appreciating Diversity Fim Series will kick-off the Piedmont Food Fest’s celebration of Bay Area diversity by exploring the many flavors of families with five short documentary films on Thursday, April 20. 

Please bring your own family and friends to more fully experience the range of family diversity through themes such as adoption, homelessness, women’s issues, education, and gender identity. The films are appropriate for children ages 10 and up. As always, ADFS films are FREE.

Join ADFS for one or all five of these documentary films which will be screened starting at 7:00pm, in the following order. The five films have a total running time of about one hour.

Absolutely No Spitting. A Jewish mother and her multiracial 4-year-old adopted daughter explore their DNA profiles and what it means to have many identities and cultures in your genetic heritage. From Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand.

A Concerto Is a Conversation. A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer traces his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short Film.

“In its compact 13 minutes, ‘A Concerto Is a Conversation’ manages to say more about race relations than a film that runs 10 times as long.”

Roger Ebert

Almost Famous: The Silent Pulse of the Universe. In 1967, a young astronomer, Jocelyn Bell, made a breakthrough discovery in astronomy, but as a woman in the sciences her role was overlooked and unfairly ignored.

What You’ll Remember.  The story of young Bay Area parents determined to give their four children a good life despite moving in and out of homelessness over a period of fifteen years.

what you'll remember short documentary film

Texas Strong. Kai Shappley, a 6-year old trans child in Texas, fights to be recognized and accepted by her devout Christian family. Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Short Documentary.

Thursday, April 20th, 7 PM (doors open 6:30 PM)
Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave, Piedmont
(Easy street parking)


“Wow” film from the Tribecca Film Fest Screened

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series returned to the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse Thursday, January 19, 2023, to screen the engaging and powerful documentary, Through the Night. The film was followed by a remarkable and informative talk and Q & A.

Through the Night, a NYT Critics Pick 2020 by Lori Limbal, showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work”—paid, underpaid, and unpaid—through a tender portrait of strength, love, and selflessness. This film is an intimate cinema verite portrait of working mothers whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center: a mother working the overnight shift as an essential worker at a pediatric hospital, another holding 3 jobs to support her family, and an inspirational woman delivering exemplary 24-hour care and education for over 2 decades.

Support for working mothers remains very limited across the country. The costs of daycare for a 3-year old rivals the cost of rent in most U.S. cities. Childcare providers themselves are often struggling in a mountain of expensive bureaucracy and minimum wages.

The audience warmly received the three speakers who followed the screening and presented both local and California state data regarding the status of childcare and early education. Kym Johnson, Director of the acclaimed East Bay childcare referral and family resources center, Bananas, summarized local childcare needs and new state bills bringing some increased and sorely needed funding to Oakland. Nancy Harvey and Tasha Jordan, both Oakland childcare providers, were also able to explain the hardworking, caring network of childcare/early education first line workers who support families, especially when no other support exists. Kym and Nancy announced that AB 378: Building a Better Early Care & Education Act, was signed by Governor Newsom and gives providers the right to form a union. Subsequently CCPU (Child Care Providers United) was formed and currently represents over 30,000 child care providers in California.

For more information about the history of childcare and how to get involved in a more just system, see the website from UC Berkeley’s Early Childhood History Organizing project here.

Through the Night: Childcare in America


Through the Night

FREE Screening & Discussion

with Kym Johnson


Thursday, January 19, 2023, 7 PM

Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, Piedmont, CA

Through the Night is an intimate cinema verite portrait of working mothers whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center:

  • a mother working the overnight shift at a pediatric hospital,
  • another holding 3 jobs to support her family and
  • the woman who cares for the children whose parents have nowhere else to turn.


NYT Critics Pick 2020

Hollywood Critics Top 10 from Tribeca and South by Southwest Film Festival

“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

Los Angeles Times

ADFS is proud to present Through the Night as the MLK Day inspirational film on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 7 PM, in the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA.

As always, FREE.

This 76 minute film will be followed by a discussion of current East Bay childcare services led by BANANAS Child Care and Family Resources Program CEO, Kym Johnson.

Reopening in person with Award-Winning Shorts touching on Title IX

Title IX, enacted 50 years ago, is a 37-word snippet tucked into the Educational Amendments of 1972: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  It is no exaggeration to say that those 37 words led to a revolution in women’s education – from middle school shop to graduate school admissions — nowhere more visible than in women’s sports.

Lucy Harris won two national championships in college and a silver medal in the Olympics.
She would not have played past high school had Title IX not been the law.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series will return to in-person screenings this November with two award-winning short films that trace both the drama of the law’s passage, and the effect it had on athletes: Mink! and Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball. Both films were directed by Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot, a multiple Oscar nominee for his documentary shorts, who won in 2022 for The Queen of Basketball.

Mink! focuses on Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress, who faces racial and gender discrimination at every stage of her career. The film begins with Mink’s daughter’s words: “The future of equality in some large way was on the table that day when the personal and political collided,” setting up the drama that is the film’s centerpiece. Director Proudfoot recounts learning about the history of Title IX, and the formidable campaign to dilute or erode the law. The film portrays Mink’s compelling fight to save the crucial language, and how it almost lost for lack of a single vote – her own.

Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball is a similarly inspiring short film, about a remarkable athlete who came of age just after Title IX was passed. Lucy Harris was arguably the greatest women’s basketball player: she won three national trophies; she played in the ‘76 Olympics; and she was drafted to the NBA. None of that would have happened without Title IX. But have you ever heard of her? Her story is told in her own endearing words. Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball was executive produced by Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal. Both short films will be shown IN-PERSON on November 3 in Piedmont. Following the films, Chelle Putzer and Eva Phalen, from Piedmont’s Recreation Department, will speak about their personal experiences, their efforts to bring equality to girls’ sports, and the effect of Title IX on women’s sports today.

As ever, the screening and discussion are FREE. Masks will be required to help ensure the safety of our audiences.

  • What: FREE Screening of The Queen of Basketball & Mink! and conversation with Chelle Putzer and Eva Phalen from Piedmont’s Recreation Department about the effect of Title IX on girls’ sports today.
  • When: Thursday, November 3, from 7 – 9 PM
  • Where: Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave, Piedmont (masks required)

Eye-Opening and Timely Film documents History of Medicare and Civil Rights

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is proud to present The Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution, with guest speaker, acclaimed Dr. Neil Powe on Zoom May 5, from 6-7 pm.

The documentary remains shockingly timely nearly sixty years after Medicare was signed into law. Two years into the current pandemic, for example, CDC data reveals that African Americans and Hispanic people are at higher risk for illness and death than White people.

“A moving story of the twin fights for racial justice and health care, and how they intersect. This is an important film because the struggles for racial justice and access to health care continue.”

Alan Goodman, Past President, American Anthropological Association

The hour-long documentary moves briskly from the history of segregated hospitals and a brief summary of civil rights activism to the internal workings of the federal government that led to integrated hospitals and African American access to health care. It narrates the early days of health inequity, powerfully demonstrating how race and poverty denied African Americans equal access to healthcare. Moving interviews reveal personal experiences of African Americans’ struggles with illness and death without adequate healthcare. The film transitions from these individual stories to a broader review of disparities in hospital care throughout the United States. Physicians, civil rights leaders, and historians recount the dangerous tasks of documenting egregious incidents, tracking down patients, and the risks of blacks and whites working together to put desegregated structures in place.

Public healthcare professionals agree: “Power to Heal has a critically important yet previously untold story to tell. And it does so in a way that is both painstakingly accurate and profoundly moving. The range of historical film footage and interviews is remarkable.”

Paula Braveman, Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Director, Center on Social Disparities in Health, UCSF

After the virtual screening, viewers will hear from Dr. Neil Powe, an acclaimed leader in Public Health and the ongoing effort to correct healthcare disparities. Dr. Powe is a Harvard-trained physician, Professor of Medicine and Vice-Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, and Chief of Medicine at the Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Viewers will be fortunate to hear from him about the history and current day status of healthcare, and be able to ask him questions as well.

“This is a must see. It’s riveting from start to finish.”

Michele Goodwin, U.c. Irvine

Register for a link to stream The Power to Heal FREE, and for the conversation on zoom with Dr. Neil Powe from 6-7 PM on Thursday, May 5. The streaming link for The Power to Heal will be active from May 2-5.

ACLU’s Matt Cagle Speaks on Coded Bias

On March 24, the Appreciating Diversity Film Series hosted a discussion with attorney Matt Cagle, a Technology and Civil Liberties specialist with the Northern California ACLU. Cagle and ADFS’s Denise Bostrom discussed Coded Bias, the acclaimed documentary film directed by Shalini Kantayya.

You can see a recording of their conversation here:

And learn more about the issues presented from the ACLU Northern California website here:, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation here:

ADFS to stream and discuss CODED BIAS in March

“The Most Important Film About AI You Can Watch Today”

Janus Rose, Vice

Computer scientist Joy Buolamwini opens the Sundance-acclaimed documentary Coded Bias by describing her excitement in working inside MIT’s Media Lab and having the opportunity to experiment with facial-recognition technology. In particular, she was looking for ways it might inspire users. One playful idea she had was to install the technology into a mirror, enabling it to reshape a reflected image back to the viewer.

FREE stream of Coded Bias March 18-27 plus
Conversation with ACLU Tech and Civil Liberties Attorney Matt Cagle 5-6 PM Thursday, March 24, on zoom.

However, when Ms. Buolamwini began working with the software, testing how it overlaid an image onto her face, she found it didn’t work well. The software wasn’t detecting her face in the computer’s camera. After running dozens of experiments with different images, Joy hit upon the idea of placing a white mask over her face. As a Black woman, she wondered if her skin color was not being recognized by the software. It turns out, she was correct. Moreover, the technology didn’t track women’s faces in general, no matter what skin-tone.

As programmed by primarily white, male computer scientists, artificial intelligence technology has been embedded with the bias of its programmers. The software is now used worldwide and is replacing millions of jobs once performed by humans. Now AI evaluates us in school admissions, job applications, loans and medical insurance. Despite its defects, facial recognition software is now used in surveillance programs by police, governments and private companies. AI’s automated decision-making has the unprecedented power disseminate bias at scale, as it becomes a powerful tool of social control.

ACLU Tech and Civil Rights Attorney

Matt Cagle to speak on Coded Bias on Zoom

5-6 pm March 24

Matt Cagle has spoken widely on ensuring that modern digital systems — be they private platforms or public projects — are publicly debated and implemented with equality and justice in mind. His work includes the use of surveillance technology by local police and the promotion of best practices for online platforms. He will speak and answers questions from 5-6 PM on Thursday, March 24, through Zoom.

  • Stream Coded Bias on Netflix, or FREE with link from March 18-27
  • Free Conversation with Matt Cagle on Zoom from 5-6 PM on Thursday, March 24.

The film reminds us that the algorithms themselves are a type of black box. Even computer scientists don’t know exactly how AI technology sifts through all its copious data, or makes decisions. Chillingly, no one knows exactly where these black boxes may lead.

“Coded Bias serves as both a wake-up call to invasive practices the public doesn’t yet realize are being implemented, and a call to action.”

— Variety, 5/17/2021