A former rapper named Anas takes a job teaching hip hop in an underprivileged neighborhood of Morocco. Despite differences in religion, and politics, Anas encourages his students to bond together and break free from the weight of restrictive traditions to follow their passion and express themselves through the arts. Community resistance soon follows. (Morocco, 2021 / in Arabic w/English subtitles / 102 mins / Ages 13+ for language, crass behavior and smoking) 

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)

 

In a province in the middle of the Mongolian steppe, 11-year old Amra lives a traditional nomad life with his mother Zaya, father Erdene, and little sister Altaa. While Zaya takes care of the flock, Erdene works as a mechanic and sells Zaya’s homemade cheese at the local market. Their peaceful routine is threatened by the encroachment of international mining companies, digging for gold and devastating the natural habitat. Erdene is the leader of the last nomads opposing them and tries to unite and convince his comrades not to accept the compensations the companies have offered. But after Amra’s father dies in a tragic car accident, his mother wants to give up the nomad life and trade the steppe for the city. But Amra refuses and tries to carry on his father’s David vs. Goliath fight with his cleverness and the tools of an 11-year-old boy.

PCFF 2021 WINNER Special Jury Award Best Narrative Feature!

Jack raves about his younger brother Gio, whom he believes to have superpowers. As he grows older he realizes that his brother is special in other ways. In a moment of uncertainty, Jack decides to deny having a brother from his classmates. But he failed to take into account that a brother like Gio is a personality impossible to deny to anyone. The consequences are a hard lesson learned in this poignant, humorous coming-of-age-story full of clashing emotions. Will Jack dare be as natural as his brother? Based on a true story.

2016 Festival Flashback!! Five years ago we invited this thought-provoking documentary to our festival. With the situation in the Middle East still far from resolution, this film speaks volumes about the hurdles people face to live in peace.

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…

 

THE CLUB OF UGLY CHILDREN (Netherlands, 2019)

This action-packed thriller unfolds in a dystopian world led by a new president whose motto, “Keep it Clean,” means rounding up kids who don’t meet his view of ideal looking citizens. Paul, his big sister, and their band of friends refuse to simply stand by. They mobilize with energy and ingenuity in this pulse-racing tale that will have you cheering from the edge of your seat! A stark warning against the rise of the far-right and the power of activism and social media.

Demolishing stereotypes without wrecking their cars, the Speed Sisters are the Middle East’s first all-female car racing team. With high-octane talent and the marketing savvy to draw attention to their camera-friendly lineup, this diverse, engaging, real-life group competes throughout the West Bank in Palestine’s makeshift motor sports circuit. They navigate Israeli checkpoints and restrictive societal expectations to evolve into potential role models for a new generation of young Arab women.

 

Cathy’s tenth birthday is tough enough without her eccentric father giving her an egg as a gift along with a warning: “Be there when it is born so the bird recognizes YOU as its mother.”  After a game of hide-and-seek goes awry, Cathy’s friend Margaux unknowingly becomes the “mother.” Unfortunately for the bird and Margaux, her parents believe Margaux is unable to care for this pet from her wheelchair. It takes a duckling, a great friend and a temporary flight from home to alter everyone’s impressions of life’s limitations.

 

Aylin, age 17, finds herself caught between worlds: A world of accepting her mother’s death or not. A world of struggling to survive as a Turkish family in Germany or returning home. Most importantly, a world of facing her fears at school to succeed or to remain in violent isolation. She finds answers in the story of Hördur (the horse): an Icelandic pony is never allowed to return once it leaves its homeland. By developing the courage to challenge her status in the world, Aylin develops a bridge to self-discovery, and like Hördur, never looks back.

Ten-year-old Fernando is a precocious boy living in a small Brazilian town in the 1930s with faithful friends and a strict yet loving family. His desire to tinker, explore and experiment constantly lands him in trouble. A resolution to this perpetual cycle of penance presents itself when a “twin Fernando” arrives unexpectedly. He willingly serves Fernando’s time (detention, grounding in his room, even attending school) while Fernando lives a life of indulgence, fishin’ n’ forts.  All goes well, until it doesn’t!