An explosive video goes viral, showing a white school resource officer in South Carolina pull a Black teenager from her school desk and throw her across the floor. An outraged nation divides over who is at fault and what role race played in the incident. Healer-Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life in NYC and moves to South Carolina to help the girl and dismantle the system behind the “Assault at Spring Valley,” including facing the police officer.
To contextualize this incident, geographer Janae Davis treks the surrounding swamps to unearth the overgrown and neglected homes of formerly enslaved people of African descent, drawing a throughline connecting trauma from the past to the present. Against the backdrop of racial reckoning and its deep historical roots, one incident illuminates a persistent American power structure.
Much like the nation at large, the arresting officer and the girl thrown from the desk have starkly different perspectives of what happened. Through intimate verité footage and extensive interviews with both, a hidden truth is unearthed about what actually happened that day. Throughout the film, select scholars, historians, and experts provide further context to the story, as well as an examination of race, school discipline, and police accountability.
This compilation of four films has multiple, thought-provoking topics to think about, and hopefully after, talk about. They include the struggles of young, Afghani women being musicians in a time when it looks like the Taliban will be coming back to power. Other films from the Netherlands and Argentina follow families who are dealing with children on gender journeys unfamiliar to them. The last film, 2nd Class, is quite relevant to what is happening here in our own country when it comes to reacting to white supremacists. The reel includes the following films…
SOMETHING ABOUT ALEX – A young teenager develops a close friendship with his older sister’s boyfriend, and must confront the depth of his feelings when the couple announces that they will be moving away. (2017 / 18 mins / Netherlands / dir Reinout Hellenthal / live-action / Dutch w/English subtitles)
ORCHESTRA FROM THE LAND OF SILENCE – You’ll defeat the beast with the power of music. Zohra – the first female orchestra of Afghanistan. Girls are preparing for their journey to play a concert in Europe. We see their everyday reality in contemporary Afghanistan through the eyes of 16-year-old girl Marzia. After arriving in Europe unexpected thing happens and four members of the orchestra decide to run away… (2020 / 30 mins / Afghanistan, Slovakia / dir Lucia Kasova / documentary / English, Persian and Slovak w/English subtitles)
THE NAME OF THE SON (El Nombre del Hijo) Lucho, a 13-year-old trans boy, doesn’t usually share much time with his father. When he goes on vacation with him and his younger sister, the new closeness puts their relationship to the test. (2020 / 13 mins / Argentina / dir Martina Matzkin / live-action / Spanish w/English subtitles)
2ND CLASS (2ND CLASS – 2021 Special Jury Award Best Short Live-Action Film!) This is a story about an elementary school teacher who is violently attacked one night by a neo-Nazi. After healing enough to return to the classroom she finds out that the man who attacked her is one of her student’s fathers. What does she do? And why? This film demands a conversation after viewing. WARNING: Graphic scene with profanity. Recommended age 13+ (2018 / 13 mins / Sweden / dir Martina Matzkin / live-action / Swedish w/English subtitles)
France was the number two country from which we received submissions this year. (U.S. was #1, can you guess #3? The answer is at the end of the film synopsis!) With so many good ones to choose from we NEEDED to have a French film reel this year. The language is common between them but the styles run the gamut. Some highlights include two eight-year-olds who decide to embark on their own Montreal adventure, earthworms singing about their role in what could be your backyard, and a kingdom where “fashion rules the day”…until Ridicule arrives! Film on this reel include…
SONG OF AUTUMN (CHANSON D’AUTOMNE) is one of a series of animated shorts that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers who have just graduated from French animation schools interpret Verlaine’s poems in film. PCFF is showing three of these films this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir. Jean-Baptiste Marchand / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
WEDNESDAY (MERCREDI) Iris and Leo are waiting for their school bus, just like any other day. This morning, however, it does not arrive. Facing no rules but their own, the two eight-year-olds embark on an urban adventure, one they shall never forget, roaming the streets of Montreal. (2020 / 10 mins / Canada / dir. Lisa Delhom & Jérémy Paquet / live-action / in French w/English subtitles)
DOLIUM PÉPLUM – Recreating battle is one of the oldest games children play. In this short film from France, a vineyard is the setting for two epic forces to fight to the bitter end. (A little irony for U.S. viewers with the red vs. blue costumes.) A super creative short film with make-it-yourself costumes, weapons and battle accoutrements, you will sense the influences of classic battles depicted from Braveheart, Henry V, Kurosawa and even a little Monty Python. 🙂 (2020 / 9 mins / France / dir. Théo Nodet / live-action / in French w/English subtitles)
THE JELLYFISH (LA MEDUSE) – In an ocean infested by plastic, a little being leaves his reef and goes on an adventure on a jellyfish… (2019 / 4 mins / France / dir. Mélanie Peltier / animation / no dialogue)
THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS (L’ORDRE DES CHOSES) -An unintelligent insect, at the lower level of the food chain, survives its position as prey in the forest. But suddenly, the established order is overthrown. The insect provokes a sequence of accidents that build upon the other. (2019 / 4 mins / France / dir Luce Grosjean / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
WORMS OF EARTH (TERRE DE VERS) – Naked, slimy and rampant bros; No legs, no teeth, and no toes; We dig with no mischief, your burden we relief; We’re at your service, there is no artifice; The Earthworm team is here, as tight as musketeers. The lyrics say it all! (2019 / 8 mins / France / dir Hélène Ducrocq / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
LUPIN – A young wolf ventures out of his burrow for the first time, while his mother is busy hunting. Lost and frightened, he finds shelter in a garden. Jeanne, Gaston and Louis, the hunters’ children, find him and decide to bring him back to his home in the woods. (2020 / 11 mins / France / dir Hélène Ducrocq / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
CONQUISTADOR is one of a series of animated films that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers that have just graduated from French animation schools interpret the poems into their visions on film. PCFF is showing three of them this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir Jérémie Cousin / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
THE FAITHFUL FISH (LE POISSON FIDÈLE) – What would you do with a sculpin (a non-edible fish) that keeps biting on to your hook? Three children on vacation near a lake in Maine try and try and try to catch another fish. (2019 / 8 mins / Belgium / dir Atelier Collectif / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
PROMENADE SENTIMENTAL is one of a series of animated films that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers that have just graduated from French animation schools interpret the poems into their visions on “film”. PCFF is showing three this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir Emily Tronche / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
À LA MODE – In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. But with the arrival of a disarmingly natural cowboy, this nation of fashion victims laughs, and a simple question arises: what if the Ridicule isn’t what we think? (2020 / 9 mins / France / dir Jean Lecointre / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
ATHLETICUS: One Rink for Two – Flamingoes are rehearsing their figure skating number when the ice rink is invaded by a troop of elephant hockey players. The winner of this power play will find their time on the ice trunk-ated! (Ouch!) (2019 / 3 mins / France / dir Nicolas Deveaux / animation / no dialogue)
VANILLE – Vanille, a young Parisian girl who recently arrived in Guadeloupe, dives into an adventure tinged with mystery, meeting picturesque characters and a magic flower. These are holidays that promise to be rich in twists and turns! PCFF’s first film ever from Guadeloupe! And it’s soooo good! (2020 / 30 mins / France & Guadaloupe / dir Guillaume Lorin / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
Reading the title might make you clap hands with your neighbor in time to the well-known chant. This wonderful documentary explores this rhythmic rite of passage, usually between young girls, in the US and around the world. Contemporary and historical footage are intertwined creating what some admiringly refer to as “hand graffiti,” “jazz of the streets” and “percussive poetry.” As it swings between games and interviews with young girls, LET’S GET THE RHYTHM has a beat; its incandescent musicality brings this hand-clapping universe to life!
ALMOST FRIENDS is a documentary about two Israeli girls—an Arab and a Jew—who live only 40 miles away but in many ways live worlds apart. Participating in an online program that fosters educational exchange and friendship, the two girls correspond with caution and eventually meet face-to-face. The experience is profoundly moving for them, their families, and the audiences who see this touching film. But when conflict spans generations, change is slow and “almost” anything might be a start…
“Louder than a Bomb” is a film 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. It also happens to be about poetry.
Every year, more than 600 teenagers from more than 60 Chicago-area schools gather for the world’s largest youth poetry slam, a competition called “Louder Than a Bomb.” Founded in 2001, Louder Than a Bomb is the only event of its kind in the country—a youth poetry slam built from the beginning around teams. Rather than emphasize individual poets and performances, the structure demands that kids collaborate: presenting, critiquing and rewriting their peers’ 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 fifth-grade chorus of PS22 on Staten Island, N.Y., became a YouTube sensation when their teacher started posting videos of them singing. Their rousing renditions of pop songs soon earned them a national legion of fans, as well as the attention of Academy Awards producers. This joyous documentary follows the talented and diverse group of kids and their energetic instructor, as together they tackle creative differences, lost voices, and homesickness on their way to appearing in the finale of the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony. The transformative power of music shines throughout.