Suppressed 2020 to screen virtually September 17th!

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is proud to present a virtual screening of Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote, on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 4:30 P.M., followed by a talk with voting rights advocate Valerie Morishige.  Director Robert Greenwald’s urgent and timely film focuses on the Stacy Abrams gubernatorial campaign in Georgia, revealing the rampant voter suppression that affected the outcome of the 2018 midterm election.  The film exposes the threat those techniques pose to our elections all across the nation in 2020.

The gripping 40-minute documentary illustrates the problems of long voting lines and uncounted absentee ballots, and how Brian Kemp, who was both a candidate for governor and the Secretary of State in charge of the Georgia election, put more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold until after the election. Eighty percent of those registrations were filed by black residents.  Not surprisingly, Kemp won the election and is now the Georgia Governor.

Stacey Abrams, founded of voting rights advocacy organization, Fair Fight, is featured.

The state of Georgia has been quietly –and illegally– purging hundreds of thousands of valid registered voters from the state rolls for the better half of a decade, according to a blockbuster report from the American Civil Liberties Union just published on September 2. Of the more than 300,000 names that were purged from the rolls, the study discovered that “198,351 Georgia voters who supposedly moved from their registration addresses who, in fact, have not moved at all, and therefore were wrongly purged, a 63.3% error rate.” This is a conservative estimate, however, because the report “left out of this list those voters whose addresses we were unable to confirm,” the ACLU explains.

Valerie Morishege, voting rights activist, will speak and answer questions after the 40-minute film.

Poll workers, who are overwhelmingly seniors and highly vulnerable to the coronavirus, are underpaid and undertrained­ on the electronic equipment used in some precincts. Many businesses and public facilities can’t or won’t provide pace for polling places because of the stringent regulations and the added burden of the patchwork of local public health guidelines for COVID-19. These conditions lead to a scarcity in the in-person voting locations, resulting in long lines and missed opportunities to vote. “Pull back the veneer and you see something really rotten happening. It’s almost like termites,” Carol Anderson, professor of African American Studies at Emory University, declares in the film. “We’ve got to understand: this stuff is very bureaucratic. It’s mundane. It’s routine. But it is lethal.”

These voter suppression efforts and failures in the voting process are not confined to Georgia or other “red” states.  As Morishige says, “We might have all of the fancy policies and politicians saying all the right things about voting in California, but in practice we fail.” We need to make voting accessible for all.

 Please join us for this fascinating (and frustrating) film and learn how to prevent voter suppression right here in California. 

REGISTER for this FREE SCREENING and discussion here!

Gatherings Suspended / Viewings Not!

As we suspect most of you anticipated, we are suspending our community screenings for the time being. 

Nevertheless, we are living in a golden age of documentaries, and we’ve been proud to show many great ones over the years. Our group has also viewed many others that we highly recommend, but could not show for reasons of availability, length, or number of programs we are able to present. Now you can watch some of them while you’re safely at home, during the Coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

We don’t want to overwhelm you — so we’re including just 3 films here — this time all on Amazon Prime, one also on Kanopy (more about that further on). We plan to keep sending you ideas — even after we’re all out and about again, to supplement our regular program!

HONEYLAND (Amazon Prime) It’s a strange and curious thing: part fly-on-the-wall anthropology, part ecological fable, the film sneaks up on you in a quiet yet powerful way. Oscar-nominated for 2019 Best Documentary and Best International film; Winner, Sundance Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary.

LIFE, ANIMATED (Amazon Prime) The inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man with autism who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (Amazon Prime / Kanopy*) A thrilling introduction to James Baldwin’s work, a remedial course in American history, and an advanced seminar in racial politics — a concise, roughly 90-minute movie with the scope and impact of a 10-hour mini-series. It is not an easy or a consoling movie, but it is the opposite of bitter or despairing. “I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive,” Baldwin said. “I’m forced to be an optimist.”

*If you’ve not used Kanopy before, you’re in for a treat, because at kanopy.com you can stream many films FREE by using your library card. Simply go to the appropriate link below, input your library information, and you will get a certain number of FREE downloads every month at kanopy.com. It’s a terrific resource!
If you have an Oakland Public Library card: https://oaklandlibrary.kanopy.com/
a Berkeley Public Library card: https://cityofberkeley.kanopy.com/

We hope that these films help you get through the next week or two. We’ll let you know when we’re hosting screenings once again, and keep sending you films we love in the meantime. 

Equal Rights Advocates to Speak at RBG Screenings

You may have seen this film, but this is a chance to share it with women who are fighting for these issues every day. Bring your friends — your sons and daughters — this is a chance to cheer for meaningful leadership!

ADFS is bringing two outstanding women advocates to speak at the March screenings of RBG. Both work for Equal Rights Advocates, the premier non-profit in San Francisco that fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country.

Jennifer Reisch, Legal Director for Equal Rights Advocates, will speak in Piedmont 3/5. Jennifer has dedicated her legal career to advocating for economic justice and the civil rights of students and workers from under-represented communities.

Jennifer helped pass the strongest equal pay law in the country, the California Fair Pay Act of 2015, and has represented many women in significant class-action lawsuits. She also co-founded the Ya Basta! Coalition to support janitorial workers in their fight to end sexual violence and harassment.

At The New Parkway on 3/8, our speaker will be Equal Rights Advocates’ Deputy Director Delia Coleman. A skilled policy advocate, speechwriter, and policy communicator, Delia strives to make ERA’s vision of gender justice accessible – and actionable.

Delia has served the nonprofit sector for over 14 years as an advocate, lobbyist, and strategic communications professional focused on charitable nonprofits with missions affecting women and communities of color. 

Thursday 3/5 @ 7pm
6:30 Doors Open
7 – 9 Film & Discussion
NB: Piedmont Veterans’ Hall – 1/2 block from our usual spot!
401 Highland Ave
Piedmont, CA

Sunday 3/8 @ 12:30pm
12:30 – 2:30 Film & Discussion
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street
Oakland, CA
Food available for purchase Come for brunch!

Hit Documentary RBG to be Shown Free in March

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series will present the hit documentary RBG, which focuses on the extraordinary personal and professional journey of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, on Thursday, March 5th in Piedmont at the Veteran’s Hall (note change from our usual venue) at 7:00 pm, and on Sunday, March 8th in Oakland at The New Parkway Theater at 12:30 pm.

“All rise for a true heroine! A fantastic, flat-out fierce film.” – Mara Reinstein, US Weekly

RBG is an inspiring feature documentary about the life and work of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  This engaging portrait reveals the complex history of her life, culminating in a seat on the country’s highest court.

At the age of 86, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a lengthy legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon, known for her progressive opinions and her colorful collars. But the unique personal journey of her rise to the nation’s highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until this film.

In portraying Ginsberg’s extraordinary ability to juggle marriage and motherhood with a rising legal career as a pioneer of gender discrimination cases, filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen reveal a disciplined, deep thinker. Her hard work continues today as a Supreme Court Justice who lives up to her star billing.

“In Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s wide-ranging RBG, Ginsburg’s life — and its many lessons, both learned and taught — come to entertaining and energetic life. It’s a fist-pumping, crowd-pleasing documentary that makes one heck of a play to remind people of Ginsburg’s vitality and importance, now more than ever.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Loving and informative…The movie’s touch is light and its spirit buoyant, but there is no mistaking its seriousness or its passion.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
Piedmont Veterans Hall
(NB: Change of venue – less than one block from our usual location)
401 Highland Ave, Piedmont
Reception 6:30 pm , Screening 7 pm

Sunday, March 8th, 2020
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street, Oakland
Screening 12:30 pm
Food available for purchase

Producer, Filmmaker to speak at Long Shadow screenings

Good news! We expect The Long Shadow‘s producer, Jed Riffe, and filmmaker, Maureen Gosling, to speak at the January 16 and 19 screenings of The Long Shadow.

Gosling has been a documentary filmmaker for more than thirty years and is best known for her twenty-year collaboration with acclaimed independent filmmaker, Les Blank. Her work has often focused on on themes of people and their cultural values and the changing roles of men and women. Her films have been seen in countless film festivals around the world, on national public and cable television and on television around the world.

Riffe is an award-winning independent filmmaker and new media producer. He is best known as the director and producer of Ishi, the Last Yahi, the true story of the man known as the Last Wild Indian in North America.

Between them, Riffe and Gosling have been involved in numerous films screened by ADFS, including A New Color, Boys Will be Men, and The Way Home.

The Long Shadow: The Legacy of 400 Years of Slavery in the U.S.

In January, ADFS will screen The Long Shadow, an uncompromising look at slavery, America’s original sin, and how politics and policy have extended its effect to the present day — told by a filmmaker whose family owned slaves for generations.

“Of all the divisions in America, none is as insidious and destructive as racism. In this powerful documentary, the filmmakers, both privileged daughters of the South, who were haunted by their families slave owning pasts, passionately seek the hidden truth and the untold stories of how America—guided by the South’s powerful political influence—steadily, deliberately and at times secretly, established white privilege in our institutions, laws, culture and economy.

William Faulkner once said, “The past is never dead. The past is not even past.” …This echoes one scholar’s warning in the film: “We’re still fighting the Civil War, and the South is winning.” Anti-black racism has survived like “an infection”, rigging the game against African-Americans and denying them full access to the American dream.

By telling individual stories—of free, enterprising blacks in Canada; of a modern, racially motivated shooting—the filmmakers movingly personalize the costs and the stakes of our continued inaction. The Long Shadow presents a startling, unrecognized history that provides much needed context when considering the major issues impacting black/white relations in the United States today.

In Piedmont 1 / 16 / 20
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse
325 Highland Avenue
Piedmont (near Oakland Ave)
6:30 pm Reception
7 pm Screening
8:30 pm Discussion

In Oakland 1 / 19 / 20
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street
Oakland (btw Telegraph & Broadway)
12:30 pm Screening & Discussion
Food available for purchase — Come for brunch!

Finally, The Long Shadow is a masterful film that captures the disturbing story of the enduring human cost of prejudice and ignorance in the US that continues to cast a long shadow over our national identity and values and ultimately, our celebrated democracy.” — thelongshadowfilm.com

December’s screening: “This film is a winner by a landslide”

So says Leslie Felperin of the Hollywood Reporter about Knock Down the House, ADFS’s December offering. And she wasn’t alone: Knock won both the 2019 Sundance Audience Award and the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, along with many other honors.

When tragedy struck her family in the midst of the financial crisis, Bronx-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to work double shifts in a restaurant to save her home from foreclosure. Amy Vilela in Nevada, after losing a loved one to a preventable medical condition, didn’t know what to do with the anger she felt about America’s broken health care system. Cori Bush of Missouri was drawn into the streets when the police shooting of an unarmed black man brought protests and tanks into her neighborhood. In West Virginia, Paula Jean Swearegin was fed up with watching her friends and family suffer and die from the environmental effects of the coal industry.

Four intrepid women (clockwise from upper left): Paula Jean Swearegin, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, , Amy Vilela, Cori Bush

At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, these four women decide to fight back, setting themselves on a journey that will change their lives and their country forever. Without political experience or corporate money, these women, and a vast army of political volunteers, build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful Congressional incumbents. Their efforts result in a legendary upset.

NB: Oakland’s screening will be followed by a conversation with Oakland City Council Member Nikki Fortunato-Bas, sho will discuss her nontraditional path from political activism to elective politics.

In Piedmont 1 / 16 / 20
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse
325 Highland Avenue
Piedmont (near Oakland Ave)
6:30 pm Reception
7 pm Screening
8:30 pm Discussion

In Oakland 1 / 19 / 20
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street
Oakland (btw Telegraph & Broadway)
12:30 pm Screening & Discussion
Food available for purchase — Come for brunch!

Documentary Celebrating Humanity, Diversity of Appalachia to Screen 10/17, 11/3

Throughout American history, there has been an undeniable divide between urban and rural America. People from certain regions are viewed as “the other,” and blamed for America’s social ills. Since the 2016 presidential election, that cultural divide has only expanded and deepened. With their documentary Hillbilly, co-directors Ashley York and Sally Rubin — both natives of Appalachia— have made a complex film about complex people.  Hillbilly is an entertaining, informative, and sobering look at Appalachia: its diversity, the consequences of stereotyping its people, and an examination of why so many there voted for Donald Trump.

Hillbilly goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American “hillbilly,” and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype.

Billy Redden, the banjo-playing boy featured in Deliverance, now a grown man — holds a picture of himself from the film.

Filmed in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, Hillbilly uncovers communities of artists, activists, queer musicians, “Affrilachian” poets, and feminists — all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region.  Hillbilly introduces audiences to a nuanced, authentic Appalachia that is quite conscious of how it has been portrayed and the impacts of those portrayals. The film deconstructs such famous characterizations of the region as Deliverance, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Simpsons, and MTV’s Buckwild,” while asking crucial questions: Where did the hillbilly archetype come from and why has it endured on-screen for more than a hundred years? How does it relate to the exploitation of the land and people who live there? How do Appalachian and rural people view themselves as a result of these negative portrayals, and what is the impact on the rest of America?

The Appreciating Diversity Film Committee chose this surprising, valuable documentary in order to have Bay Area viewers ask, “How do we get beyond the typical hillbilly caricature and learn more about today’s real Appalachian people?” Program organizers found themselves eager to challenge their own prejudices and find out more about the rural South, and they invite audiences to view and discuss the film. Hillbilly is a timely and urgent exploration of how we see and think about poverty and rural identity in contemporary America, offering a call for dialogue.

“I’m happy to see somebody trying to cover us as we really are and not what some people think we are. It’s wonderful the attention you’ve paid to so many areas that are so important to all of us. I’m proud to have been mentioned in the film a time or two.” —Dolly Parton 

Los Angeles Film Festival Jury Prize for Best Documentary

NB: Documentary filmmaker Rick Goldsmith, whose films have been nominated for Academy Awards and featured in our Series before will facilitate 10/17’s conversation about Hillbilly!

TWO FREE SCREENINGS!

Piedmont Thursday 10/17
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse
325 Highland Avenue
Piedmont, CA
6:30 pm Reception
7 – 8:30 pm Screening
8:30 – 9 pm Facilitated Discussion

Oakland Sunday 11/3
New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
12:30 – 2:30 pm
Food available for purchase
Come for Brunch!


Sundance Audience Favorite Science Fair coming September 12 & 29!

Science Fair melts your heart almost as soon as it begins.” RogerEbert.com

“Utterly winning. Like Hoop Dreams for test tubes and genomes.” — Entertainment Weekly

The International Science and Engineering Fair draws more than 1,500 high schoolers from over 70 countries to compete with everything from proposed engineering feats, to computer projects and ideas to cure cancer. The documentary — by turns hilarious, heartbreaking and exciting —  follows hopefuls including quirky nerds, semi-popular kids and slick presenters with practiced elevator pitches, on their journey to the competition. 

These are some of the most brilliant young minds in the world, and their personalities turn out to be as big as their minds. These kids are picking up the mantle of science at a time when there’s a feeling that our country is turning its back on science. State budgets for science fairs are being slashed, meaning an important platform for fostering these kids’ interest in and enthusiasm for science might disappear, and with it the innovation and intelligence capital the future of our country needs. 

But the film’s beautiful, beating heart is these kids. Co-director Cristina Constantini, herself a former ISEF competitor, says, “I was weeping,” while shooting the film. And so will you.

Science Fair is a celebration of intellect and kids who want to improve the world. Turns out science is pretty cool, after all.”  Detroitnews.com

Piedmont: THURS 9/12/19
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse
325 Highland Avenue
6:30 pm Reception
7-9 pm Screening & Discussion

Oakland: SUNDAY 9/29/19
New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street
12:30pm Screening & Discussion
Food available for purchase