American Promise

American Promise is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 13 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who entered a very prestigious–and historically white–private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Dalton School had made a commitment to recruit students of color, and five-year-old best friends Idris and Seun of Brooklyn were admitted. The boys were placed in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges, if little reflection of their cultural identities.

Idris’ parents, Joe, a Harvard- and Stanford-trained psychiatrist, and Michèle, a Columbia Law School graduate and filmmaker, decided to film the boys’ progress starting in 1999. They and their families soon found themselves struggling not only with kids’ typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps. American Promise, which traces the boys’ journey from kindergarten through high school graduation, finds the greatest challenge for the families–and perhaps the country–is to close the black male educational achievement gap.

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival.

This event is a collaboration with POV, the award winning independent nonfiction film series on PBS. Also co-sponsored by Piedmont League of Women Voters, Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and DiversityWorks

2 FREE SCREENINGS:
Piedmont: Wednesday,
 December 3, 2014
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont

6:30 pm: Reception
7:00 pm: Screening
8:00 pm: Facilitated discussion

Oakland: Saturday, November 29, 2014
New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland
3:00 pm

Louder than a Bomb

Our summer film, LOUDER THAN A BOMB, is an inspiring documentary about a diverse group of teenagers working together. It’s about passion, competition, teamwork, and trust.  It’s about the joy of being young, and the pain of growing up. It’s about speaking out, making noise, and finding your voice. And it’s also about poetry.

Every year, more than six hundred teenagers from over sixty Chicago area schools gather for the competition. Rather than emphasize individual poets and performances, the structure of Louder Than a Bomb demands that kids work collaboratively with their peers, presenting, critiquing, and rewriting their pieces. To succeed, teams have to create an environment of mutual trust and support. For many kids, being a part of such an environment—in an academic context—is life-changing.

The film documents four teams confronting stereotypes as they prepare for and compete in the event. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the tempestuous lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. This is not “high school poetry” as we often think of it. This is language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance.  How and why they do it—and the community they create along the way—is the story at the heart of this inspiring film. Directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel.

Ages 12 and up.

2 FREE SCREENINGS:
Piedmont: Thursday,
  July 10, 2014
Ellen Driscoll Playhouse, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont
6:30 pm: Free reception with light refreshments
7:00 pm: Screening of film
8:40 pm: Community discussion

Oakland: Saturday, July 26
New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland
3:00 pm

Linsanity

Linsanity is documentary about the rise of star Asian-American basketball player, Jeremy Lin. Director Evan Jackson Leong wanted to show how Lin dealt with racism in college sports and the NBA. Lin, a high school all-star in Palo Alto, received no college scholarship offers. Despite being a star on his basketball team at Harvard, he was not drafted by the NBA. Nevertheless he broke into the NBA after playing for in the Summer League, and played first for the Golden State Warriors, his home-town team. Lin was the first American of either Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. Lin was waived by the Warriors in late 2011, but was picked up by the New York Knicks. They also were planning to waive him before the contract deadline February 10, 2012. But “because we were playing so badly”, the Knicks coach finally gave Lin a break.

Linsanity is about what led up to that break, and what followed. It’s about an entire nation of basketball fans going “Linsane.” Lin scored more points in his first 5 NBA  starts than any other player in the modern era, and created a legitimate public frenzy.  The film explores his family background, how his parents came from Taiwan and how he was guided by faith, desire, and love of the game.

The film is presented by the Piedmont Asian American Club & Appreciating Diversity Film Series (sponsored by Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, Piedmont League of women Voters & DiversityWorks.)

2 Free Screenings
In Piedmont on March 19
Ellen Driscoll Theater

325 Highland Avenue, Piedmont 94611
6:30 Reception | 7:00 Screening | 8:30 Discussion

In Oakland on March 22
The New Parkway, 474 24th Street, Oakland 94612
3:15 PM: Screening and Discussion

Waiting Room

The Waiting Room  goes behind the doors of Highland Hospital’s over-crowded, under-resourced emergency room as medical staff struggle to care for a community of largely uninsured patients.  Hard choices are made as victims of gun violence take their turn alongside cancer patients and numerous others waiting hours and sometimes days for treatment.  The film weaves the intimate stories of several patients – as well as the dedicated hospital staff carrying for them – as they cope with the complexities and deficiencies of our current health care system.  The filmmaker, Pete Nicks, will field questions after the showing. The showing is co-sponsored by the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee, the Piedmont League of  Women Voters and DiversityWorks.

The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle both declared The Waiting Room one of the top 10 movies of 2012.

“Magnificent… it lifts the veil on a world often described in terms of squalor and despair, finding the inherent dignity and perseverance therein.”  The Washington Post

“Extraordinary access to the people in and around the waiting room of a public hospital in Oakland.”  The San Francisco Chronicle

Free Screenings
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Ellen Driscoll Theater,
325 Highland Ave, Piedmont 94611 (near Oakland Ave.)
6:30 pm Reception | 7:00 pm Screening | 8:20  Community discussion with director of the  film, Pete Nicks

Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 3 pm
New Parkway Theater, 
474 24th Street,  Oakland, 94612 (near Telegraph Ave.)
www.thenewparkway.com 

Poor Kids

Poor Kids – A film by Jezza Neumann
This moving documentary focuses on the children in three American families in the Quad Cities, a great American crossroads along the border of Iowa and Illinois. Told in the words of the children themselves, this one-hour documentary offers a unique perspective on America’s depressed economy after the financial crisis of 2008,  and the impact of unemployment, foreclosure and financial distress.

As Brittany, one of the children, says, “It could happen to you. It only takes one slip up, one thing to go wrong…. And it might be nothing to do with you, nothing to do with the way you’re leading your life. But even a natural disaster can take you down to ground zero”.

Winner of the Robert F Kennedy Award for Television Journalism 2013

Two free Screenings

1.   Thursday, September 26, 2013
@ Ellen Driscoll Theater (Havens Elementary School)
325 Highland Ave / Piedmont 94611
6:30 pm: Reception with light refreshments | 7 pm: Film | 8:00 pm Discussion
____

2. Saturday, September 28, 2013
@ The New Parkway
474  24th Street / Oakland 94612
3:00 pm Film | 4:00 pm Discussion
Food available for purchase

poor kids


Room To Breathe

Room To Breathe is a surprising story of transformation of struggling children in a San Francisco public middle school as they are introduced to the practice of mindfulness meditation.

The film focuses on four troubled children in Marina Middle School in San Francisco: an African American boy trying to cope with his brother’s murder; a highly social Latino girl with no interest in academics; a tough and disruptive Latino girl who is frequently in trouble with school administrators; and a defiant Latino boy who sees himself as unfairly persecuted by his primary teacher and other school officials.  The film shows chaos in the classroom – children fooling around, shoving, pushing, and yelling.  They are disrespectful and uncontrollable.

How can teachers help these children develop the social, emotional, and attention skills they need to succeed in and out of the classroom?  Instead of just forcing the children to listen, the school administrators decide to experiment with “mindfulness,” a new program in self-reflection that is being introduced to a handful of public schools across the nation.

While the mindfulness instructor’s efforts are initially met with defiance, contempt for authority figures, and poor discipline, the teacher from Berkeley helps the four children and their classmates take greater control over themselves.  A new sense of calm begins to permeate their worlds, in class and at home.

The root of the children’s problems may be unique to each person, but the practice of mindfulness meditation has positive influence on all of them. Room To Breathe is an inspiring film that demonstrates a simple method that appears to have the potential to transform the ways in which children relate to their peers, their teachers, and their world, to reduce violence and bullying, and to create marked improvements in academic performance.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
6:30 PM Doors open, reception| 7:00 PM Film screening
8-9pm PM Discussion

Free

Room to Breathe Official Trailer from Sacred Planet Films on Vimeo.

The Loving Story

At a time when the Supreme Court is considering the fate of laws that prohibit gay marriage, this documentary tells the story of the battle fought by an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, to marry in their home state: Virginia. Until their landmark Supreme Court case was decided in 1967, Virginia prohibited interracial marriages. Today, this case seems prehistoric – yet the newlyweds were awakened in their bed in the middle of the night by flashlights shining in their faces. When they explained they were married, “Not here, you’re not”, and taking them to jail was the sheriff’s response.

“In a rich collection of 16-millimeter film, old news clips and still photographs, the Lovings don’t look like two people caught up in a cause; they seem like two people caught up in each other.” The New York Times

The other heroes of this amazing story are the two very young ACLU lawyers who persevered to bring the case from their receipt of Mildred’s modest letter asking if there was anything they could do, to their arguing the case before the highest court in the land.

“It ranks alongside Let Us Not Praise Famous Men in its stark beauty and searing honesty.” A perfect way to celebrate Black History Month, or Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Location: The New Parkway Theater at 474 24th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
Screening: 7pm, with facilitated discussion afterwards form 8:30 – 9.00pm
(food is available for purchase at the Theater)

www.lovingfilm.com

Off and Running

With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean—Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known. She begins staying away from home,starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. Off and Running follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths people must go to become themselves.

“A unique and very American coming-of-age story that delves into the psyche of race through a fresh and careful dissection of a family’s struggle.”
-Tribeca Film Festival

Thursday, May 3, 2012
6:30 PM Doors open, free snacks, coffee and tea | 7:00 PM Film screening
8:20 PM Community discussion facilitated by ADFS

Free

www.OffandRunningtheFilm.com

Salaam Dunk!

Basketball is much more than a game in SF filmmaker David Fine’s stirring documentary about an Iraqi women’s basketball team at the American University of Iraq — Sulaimani (AUIS) in Kurdistan. For the young women on the team, most of whom have never touched a basketball or been allowed to play any sport, it is a blissful release from the realities of a war-torn nation.

They come from all ethnicities and sects — Arab, Kurd, Christian, Sunni, Shiite — but the joy they discover in playing and working with the young American man who coaches them reveals an Iraq united in a way we don’t see in the headlines.

David Fine will attend the screening, and be there to fill you in on how Salaam Dunk was made, and what’s happened since.

Thursday, March 29, 2012
6:30 PM Doors open and informal reception | 7:00 PM Film screening
8:20 PM Discussion with filmmaker David Fine
Free

Piedmont Annual Celebration of the Life and Teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is a special event, please note the different location. All are welcome.

Date and Time
January 16, 2012, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location
Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 (Map)

Event Details
– Music by Oaktown Jazz
– Presentations by Piedmont Unified School District students
– Potluck Lunch: People are encouraged to bring a dish to share that reflects their heritage
(side dish, salad, dessert or bread).
– We will show a new film about Dr King at about 1:30pm: “At the River I Stand”

For more info contact LoisCorrin@gmail.com or call 510-420-1534.

::

AT THE RIVER I STAND
The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

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

This moving documentary recounts the two months leading to Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, after he had come to Memphis to support the strike of 1300 Memphis sanitation workers.

Spring 1968 in Memphis marked the dramatic climax of the Civil Rights movement. At the River I Stand skillfully reconstructs the two eventful months that transformed a strike by Memphis sanitation worker into a national conflagration, and disentangles the complex historical forces that came together with the inevitability of tragedy at the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This 58-minute documentary brings into sharp relief issues that have only become more urgent in the intervening years: the connection between economic and civil rights, debates over strategies for change, the demand for full inclusion of African Americans in American life and the fight for dignity for public employees and all working people.

http://newsreel.org/video/AT-THE-RIVER-I-STAND