When did you last watch an Iranian film? Or better yet, where is the last time you saw or learned anything about Iran? Odds are the news is where most Americans encounter any stories about Iran and usually, it’s not good news. Well, filmmaking is quite alive in Iran and the stories they tell are not what’s on the newscaster’s minds. They are mostly about the lives of everyday Iranians who experience the joys and sorrows of working hard and getting to tomorrow. Included in IRAN: Axis of People is a documentary about an Iranian girl who just wants to ride her bike on the city street but is reprimanded again and again for doing so as a girl. Gando is another documentary that relates the story of a girl who went to the river to fetch some water but encountered a crocodile?! This is evidently a regular problem for this village. Then there are several stunning animations about the worlds we humans have created around us. Iran truly is an axis around which stories of everyday people’s lives rotate. Films on this reel include…
ONE NICE DAY – An elementary school teacher is given the opportunity to give away one new bookbag to a student in his class. To decide, everyone writes a name on a piece of paper and tosses it into a bag. The teacher will pull out the winner. Little did he know… the fix was in! 🙂 (2014 / 3 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Sousan Salamat / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
BORDERLESS – Delaram is a teenage girl who was born with Down syndrome. She is very aware of being treated differently by others and feels that there is a border between everyone she encounters. Delaram has come up with a unique coping mechanism to maintain happiness in her life. The imagination can be a powerful tool. (2020 / 13 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Behrad Sahebgharani / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
GANDO – In the Sistan and Baluchistan provinces of Iran running water is scarce. Villagers must go to local ponds and rivers to get what they need on a daily basis. Once you are on the river bank you must be very careful because gando (Iranian crocodiles) live there as well. This documentary tells the story of a nine-year-old girl named Hawa who lost her arm one-day getting water. It’s also a story about, despite the gando being a threat, the villagers respect the gando because they believe they help bring the water. (2020 / 8 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Teymour Ghaderi / documentary / Persian w/English subtitles)
WOODEN SWORD – Two young boys meet on a park bench while waiting for their fathers to return. Little do they know their fathers have not formed a friendship similar to what they just have. Is what they see next might stay with them forever. (2019 / 7 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dirs Behzad Alavi, Sousan Salamat/ live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
THE ROTATION – There is a war between two tribes over claiming the sun in the sky. As a result of that war, the sun is annihilated and the volcano erupts. Those two tribes perish and a new sun is made by lava. Several centuries pass and the new tribes continue to war over their claim to the sun in the sky. The sad cycle continues. (2020 / 7 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Hazhir As’adi / animation / no dialogue)
RAINBOW – A young flower vendor working a street corner comes across something that is not his. The events that follow show his regret and misunderstanding of other people’s intentions. (2020 / 11 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Mohammad Khalili/ live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
A GIRL FROM PARSIAN …is an insightful documentary about a group of young Iranian women who wish to ride their bikes and the resistance they encounter from men of all ages. (2019 / 20 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Parinaz Hashemi Mobarakeh / documentary / Persian w/English subtitles)
THE ELEVENTH STEP – A little lion cub, born in a zoo, lives in a cage that is only ten steps long. On the eleventh step he bangs his head against the bars, but one day the zookeeper leaves the cage door open…. (2020 / 11 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Maryam Kashkoolinia / animation / Persian w/English subtitles)
RAYA – Raya’s family is having a dispute with the landlord and eviction is on the horizon. She and several of her friends also have a problem with a teacher at school and they decide to take matters into their own hands. Raya learns the hard way how not to deal with problems she might have with other people. Thankfully she demonstrates this knowledge shortly after. (2019 / 14 mins / Islamic Republic of Iran / dir Sepideh Berenji / live-action / Persian w/English subtitles)
Community: A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Sometimes you might feel a part of this group and other times not so much. Life in school, with family or even as part of a world community can be challenging at times. In this compilation of shorts, you will see how others try to live in a community that isn’t exactly a natural fit. A Norwegian man creates a song about his favorite Indonesian food. What follows is nothing short of bizarre. Then there is Zara and her zombie family who have all the best intentions but are unaware of other people’s levels of disgust. Finally, when one friend cheats off another’s test, how willing should he be to turn him in? Include on this reel are…
MATHILDA AND THE SPARE HEAD – A girl tries hard to be the smartest student for her mother finds out a brain can only handle so much! (2020 / 13 mins / Lithuania / dir Ignas Meilūnas / animation / in Lithuanian w/English subtitles)
CRAMMING – Close friends Alex and Yan Bo, eighth-graders, cram for a test in a prestigious prep school. Once they’re accused of cheating off of one another, their friendship is threatened. (2020 / 15 mins / USA / dir Dan Perlman / live-action / in English and Spanish w/English subtitles)
LEARNING TO FLY – A young girl, upset that her mom won’t teach her how to ride a bike, meets a young boy who agrees to help her and they spend the day riding and talking about life. (2020 / 10 mins / USA / dir Nicolas Alayo / live-action / in English)
FAMILY BONDS tells the story of the little fox Hugo and his unconventional family to which love is more important than heritage. (2019 / 17 mins / Germany / dir Maria Schmidt / animation / no dialogue)
A SPECIAL GIFT: A Troublemaker’s Story – Lili, Stretch and ZéGordo (aka the Troublemakers) decide to surprise their friend Rosita by decorating her school for the neighborhood’s annual Christmas dinner, but they didn’t expect to deal with Stinky who is a jealous kid and is willing to spoil the decorations and the event altogether. (2019 / 7 mins / Mozambique / dir Nildo Essá / animation / in Portuguese w/English subtitles)
HELP I’VE GONE VIRAL! – A short documentary about Audun Kvitland who makes a love song about an Indonesian food dish called Nasi Padang after having been on vacation in the country. The song goes viral and is immediately heard by millions after he posted it on Youtube. Kvitland is invited back to Indonesia not knowing what to expect, but immediately after landing, he is greeted by a hallway of drummers at the airport. From then on he undertakes a funny, quirky and unexpected journey where people are united across cultures, languages and traditions over food and music. (2020 / 20 mins / Norway / dir Audun Amundsen / documentary / in English, Norwegian and Indonesian w/English subtitles)
ZARA AND THE OTHERS: Miss Miss – Zara has never heard of a “Miss-competition”, she only knows the girls in class say it’s a way to decide who the prettiest girl is. When Zara’s wacky dad brings a bucket of fresh moose poop to the event, things take an unexpected turn… (2020 / 13 mins / Norway / dir Nils Johan Lund & Bjørn Sortland / animation / Norwegian w/English subtitles)
PCFF Winner Audience Choice Award Best Documentary 2020
Microplastic Madness is an inspirational and optimistic take on the local and global plastic pollution crisis as told through an urban youth point of view with a powerful take action message.
Fifth graders from PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn -a community on the frontline of climate change that was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy- spent 2 years investigating plastic pollution. Taking on the roles of citizen scientists, community leaders, and advocates, these 10-11-year-olds collect local data, lead community outreach, and use their impressive data to inform policy, testifying and rallying at City Hall. They take a deep dive into the root causes of plastic pollution, bridging the connection between plastic, climate change, and environmental justice before turning their focus back to school. There they take action to rid their cafeteria of all single-use plastic, driving forward city-wide action and a scalable, youth-led plastic-free movement.
With stop-motion animation, heartfelt kid commentary, and interviews of experts and renowned scientists who are engaged in the most cutting edge research on the harmful effects of microplastics, this alarming, yet charming narrative, conveys an urgent message in user-friendly terms with a take action message to spark youth-led plastic-free action in schools everywhere.
What happens when a diverse group of LGBTQ youth dares to be “out” on stage to reveal their lives and their loves? THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE goes behind the scenes of one of the oldest queer youth theaters in America, with a camera crew slipping into classrooms, kitchens, subways and rehearsal rooms. Boston-based True Colors OUT Youth Theater transforms daily struggles into performance for social change. With wit, candor and attitude, this cast of characters captivates audiences who may be surprised to hear such stories in school settings. THE YEAR WE THOUGHT ABOUT LOVE introduces a transgender teenager kicked out of her house, a devout Christian challenging his church’s homophobia and a girl who prefers to wear boys’ clothing even as she models dresses on the runway. When real bombs explode outside their building, the troupe becomes even more determined to share their stories of love to help heal their city. Brave, encouraging, and funny…these are the inspiring LGBTQ youth leading us into the future.
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.
Tenth-grade filmmaker Bailey Webber is on a mission that starts when her school district, in a misguided attempt to address childhood obesity, forces its schools to perform Body Mass Index (BMI) tests on selected students. After a sixth grader voices her protest against the “fat letters,” Webber recognizes the injustice of telling children they are fat if they don’t fall within a narrowly accepted range. Her keen inquiry includes a relentless chase after the bureaucrat who sponsored the law. Whether staging a vigil at the state house or interviewing health experts, Bailey never loses her cool, pursuing with poise and charm. Her dogged pursuit is always done with poise and immense charm. THE STUDENT BODY is a sophisticated, smart, steadfast, sensitive and often humorous chronicle of two brave girls who expose the hypocrisy of grownups who think they are safeguarding youth.
No classroom for these kindergarteners: In Switzerland’s Langnau am Albis, a suburb of Zurich, children four to seven years of age go to kindergarten in the woods every day, no matter what the weatherman says. The filmmakers follow the forest kindergarten through the seasons of one school year to make their documentary film “School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten.” This eye-opening film looks into the important question of what it is that children need at that age. There is laughter, beauty and amazement in the process of finding out.
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.
“No matter what we do, is it really going to make a difference?” This corrosive statement becomes the core of “ReGENERATION,” a documentary that succeeds as a lightning rod for social change through thought and action. Strongly calling out the apathy of the current generation of youth and young adults, the film, narrated by Ryan Gosling, presents a cross-section of perspectives from a society fed more through corporate media than by truth. Unique commentary on the problems facing our society are explored through an inspired collective of musicians (STS9), a 20-something conservative family and a group of five suburban high school students looking for their place in the world. As the powerful evidence of our reliance on technology, disconnection with nature, excessive consumption and loss of history add up, leading scholars from around the world (including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky), journalists (Amy Goodman) and media personalities, Mos Def and Talib Kweli) stimulate the discussion with their wisdom and personal reflections. As engaging as it is insightful, ReGENERATION stands to be heard and energizes audiences to join its march to a world of passionate action.
In partnership with RISD Museum and Gallery Night Providence, PCFF 2014 brought back one of 2013’s audience favorites for a command – and free! – performance. “Le Tableau” is set within the world of an idyllic but incomplete painting, long ago abandoned by its painter. In his absence, the figures in the painting have taken over the narrative to serve their own ends. After the screening, you will be invited to explore, with the guidance of museum educators, RISD’s own collection of All-Dones, Sketchies and Halfies!
“Enchanting! This consistently enjoyable, inventive and beautifully crafted tale is a color riot suitable for all ages! A constant feast for the eyes!” – Variety (8/12)