Week 1: Jun 1 & 3 The Laramie Project
Moisés Kaufman and members of New York's Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie, Wyoming after the murder of Matthew Shepard. This is a film version of the play they wrote based on more than 200 interviews they conducted in Laramie. It follows and in some cases re-enacts the chronology of Shepherd's visit to a local bar, his kidnap and beating, the discovery of him tied to a fence, the vigil at the hospital, his death and funeral, and the trial of his killers. It mixes real news reports with actors portraying friends, family, cops, killers, and other Laramie residents in their own words. It concludes with a Laramie's staging of "Angels in America" a year after Shephard's death.
Week 2: Jun 8 & 10 September 11
Eleven acclaimed directors each make an 11-minute short film in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, bringing their unique points of view and distinct voices to confront this climatic event. The result is a daring and moving global cinematic reply that "forces us to look at the entire event afresh." (The New York Times)
Week 3: Jun 15 & 17 Banished
Banished vividly recounts the forgotten history of racial cleansing in America when thousands of African Americas were driven from their homes and communities by violent racist mobs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fear for their lives, black people left these towns and never returned to reclaim their property. The film places these events in the context of present day race relations, by following three concrete cases of towns that remain all-white to this day. Banished raises the larger questions -- will the United States ever make meaningful reparations for the human rights abuses suffered, then and now, against its African American citizens? Can reconciliation between the races be possible without them?
Week 4: Jun 22 & 24 Paper Clips
Paper Clips is an inspiring 2004 documentary about a consciousness-raising project that blossomed into something beautiful at a rural Tennessee school. When the principal of Whitwell Middle School sought a program that would teach diversity to a predominantly white, Protestant student body, the notion of focusing on the Holocaust--specifically Hitler's extermination of six million Jews--seemed like an obvious way to go. But understanding what "six million" looks like became a challenge. Thus was born the idea of collecting that number of paper clips at Whitwell as a visual reference.
Week 5: Jun 29 & Jul 2 Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices)
Based on the true story of Chava (Carlos Padilla), an eleven year old boy who is trapped in the middle of the civil war of El Salvador in the 80's. He is forced to become the man of the house after they are abandoned by his father. If Chava is lucky, he will survive the one year of innocence left before he is enrolled to fight against the rebels. He watches as his small town is transformed from a playing field to field of war. With the love of its mother as his only armor, Chava finds the courage to maintain his heart open and the hope in his race against time.
Week 6: Jul 6 & Jul 8 The Last of His Tribe
In 1800 there were 300,000 Native Americans living in California; by 1900 only 20,000 remained. Of the thousands who witnessed this slaughter, it was thought that none remained wild, until the day in 1911 when the man they called "Ishi" was captured raiding a slaughterhouse. Dr. Kroeber and his wife discover that Ishi is the last survivor fo the Yahi tribe. In his head, he carries the secrets of his people, how they lived and died. These are the secrets no white man knows -- but Dr. Kroeber makes it his mission to uncover them before the last of the Yahi is gone forever.
Week 7: Jul 13 & 15 Murderball
More than merely a sports documentary or an inspirational profile of triumph over adversity, Murderball offers a refreshing and progressive attitude toward disability while telling unforgettable stories about uniquely admirable people. It's ostensibly a film about quadriplegic rugby in which players with at least some loss of physical function in all four limbs navigate modified wheelchairs in a hardcore, full-contact sport that takes them all the way to the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 2004. But as we get to know paralyzed or amputee players on Team USA we come to understand that quad rugby is a saving grace for these determined competitors.
Week 8: Jul 20 & 22 The Duchess
Swaddled in whalebone and wigs, Keira Knightley steps into the restricted world of the Duchess of Devonshire, a royal lady popular with her subjects but stuck in an unhappy marriage. Knightley's unsuspecting girl is married off to the Duke, a distracted jerk who craves male sons, and obviously has never thought of women as anything other than a means to achieve an heir. When the Duchess launches her procreative career with a couple of daughters, well, the Duke begins to get nervous--and partners outside the marriage become increasingly appealing.
Week 9: Jul 27 & 29 Crossing
Inspired by a true story, the film follows a North Korean father and son who separately cross the border into China, and the difficulties they face trying to find their way back to each other. Leading man Cha In Pyo (Hanbando) and child actor Shin Myung Cheol movingly capture the emotional and physical trials experienced by North Korean refugees. Korea's official foreign-language film submission for the Oscars in 2008, Crossing tells a small story on a sweeping scale, conveying the strength of family and human spirit, and the tragic fallout of poverty and peninsula politics.
Week 10: Aug 3 & 5 Waging A Living
The term "working poor" should be an oxymoron. If you work full time, you should not be poor, but more than 30 million Americans -- one in four workers -- are stuck in jobs that do not pay the basics for a decent life. Waging a Living chronicles the day-to-day battles of four low-wage earners fighting to lift their families out of poverty. Shot over a three-year period in the northeast and California, this observational documentary captures the dreams, frustrations, and accomplishments of a diverse group of people who struggle to live from paycheck to paycheck. By presenting an unvarnished look at the barriers that these workers must overcome to lift their families out of poverty, Waging a Living offers a sobering view of the elusive American Dream.