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.
The Crocodiles” was a huge hit at our 2011 festival, so screening the second installment of their trilogy was a no-brainer! All the original cast members are back (looking a little older as kids are prone to do), and several new characters assist in solving another town conspiracy. This time the gang of pint-sized detectives stumbles across a plot involving a local factory threatened with a mysterious closure. Worried that their parents will lose their jobs, the young sleuths must work together to uncover the sinister plan.
“The Crocodiles Strike Back” is packed with plenty of adventure and humor. What this film has above and beyond other films made for young adults is a sincere development of characters with real-world domestic situations. There are kids from broken families trying to cope. Racism is tackled, as are stereotypes of the physically challenged, often in humorous ways. These evolving young adults are empowered through their friendship despite entering a difficult age of thinking romantically about each other. There is still teasing but with respect for one another. Dealing with issues relevant to kids around the world, this entertaining coming-of-age film is guaranteed to thrill audiences.
Abila, 14, lives in the violent slum jungle of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a Luo – one of the many Kenyan tribes. He is smitten with Shiku, who is the same age, but she is a Kikuyu, and that is the problem. Boys and girls from different tribes are not encouraged to mix. But Abila has another problem. At the start of the film, he finds his father in a disturbing state. His mother says it’s a hangover, but Abila has a feeling there’s more going on. He finds out that his father’s soul has been stolen by a Nyawawa, a female spirit. Despite the hostility of the surroundings, Abila and Shiku set off together to save the soul of Abila’s father.
You could say that the location is the real protagonist of this film. Shot in 13 days, this film was made in Kibera, where more than one million people live and battle for survival. Its residents acted the film’s parts.
This film emerged from a workshop and benefited from production support by the famous German director Tom Tykwer. Above all, the camera work is of a level that is seldom seen in African pictures. The authentic background in combination with the outside support turned “Soul Boy” into a sparkling – and surprisingly professional-looking — short film.
In a contemporary small town around a closed-down factory, bored ‘tween friends, some from broken homes, are looking for creative ways to spend their time. They build forts, issue dares and tease one another. The Crocodiles is the name of this gang of 11-year-olds and a newcomer (who uses a wheelchair) wants in.
Part Hardy Boys, part “Stand By Me,” part “The Outsiders,” this fast-paced film combines classic elements with a larger message of breaking down stereotypes. Please be warned that the dialogue is stronger than an American audience may be used to. There is a domestic abuse scene. Slurs and stereotypes are expressed. However, this difficult dialogue is not used for shock value. It is part of the larger and more important narrative of kids learning how hurtful their exclusionary actions and hateful words can be, then making amends.
“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.