America ReFramed

TUESDAYS 8/7c

Through the lens of independent documentaries, AMERICA REFRAMED brings to national audiences compelling stories that illuminate the changing contours of an ever-evolving America. The social-issue documentary series presents an array of personal voices and experiences through which we learn from our past, understand our present and are challenged to seek new frameworks for America’s future.

With weekly independent films, sometimes followed by provocative conversations led by host/moderator Natasha Del Toro, this series offers an unfiltered look at people rarely given a voice on national television.

Episodes

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About Season 7

The seventh season of AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. These documentaries invite audiences to reflect on varied topics.

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    Saving Brinton

    History teacher Mike Zahs uncovers a trove of 19th century showreels of one of America's first motion picture impresarios, William Franklin Brinton. Zahs sets out to restore these showreels and present them to today’s audiences. In this portrait of an unlikely Midwestern folk hero, SAVING BRINTON offers a meditation on the legacy of illusionist Frank Brinton, and the magic of living history.

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    Pyne Poynt

    The youth of Camden, NJ, one of America’s poorest cities, don’t know who to fear more - the police or the violent drug dealers. Bryan Morton leads a charge to reclaim Pyne Poynt Park as a safe space for little league teams and the community. Against all odds, Morton rallies an array of stakeholders and transforms Pyne Poynt into a field of dreams where the youth can play freely in the field.

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    Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route

    DETROIT 48202: CONVERSATIONS ALONG A POSTAL ROUTE explores the rise, demise and contested resurgence of the "motor city" through a multi-generational choir of voices who reside in mail carrier Wendell Watkins’s work route. Blamed for the devastation - disinvestment to bankruptcy - but determined to survive, the community offers creative solutions to re-imagine a more inclusive and equitable city.

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    Struggle & Hope

    Following the Civil War, all-Black towns emerged in what is now modern-day Oklahoma. Initially founded in an effort to convince the U.S. to create an all-Black state, only a few towns cling heroically to life. STRUGGLE & HOPE gives voice to the stories of the last remaining residents, while charting their fight to ensure their towns retain independence, character and hope for a better future.

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    Late Blossom Blues

    Born in Mississippi, Leo “Bud” Welch’s recording and touring career begins at the age of 81. With the support of his dedicated manager, veteran Vencie Varnad, Leo’s Blues career takes him to festivals across the South and all the way to Austria. With just a handful of Bluesmen left in the U.S., LATE BLOSSOM BLUES offers a glimpse into the daily life of one of America’s living musical treasures.

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    Exit Music

    Although medical interventions have kept him alive well beyond his prognosis of cystic fibrosis, 28-year-old Ethan Rice and his family live in constant uncertainty and everyday question how long they can go on fighting. In a culture that often looks away from death, EXIT MUSIC explores the intimate and complex path of terminal illness. What will Ethan’s absence mean to those he leaves behind?

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    Death of a Child

    Parents recount in disbelief the unimaginable trauma of forgetting their children in the car and being responsible for their deaths. Through their honest and personal stories, DEATH OF A CHILD provides insight into what it means to live with what they have done. These tragedies carry social stigma but talk about responsibility, parenting, stigmatization and shame ultimately lead to forgiveness.

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    Nailed It

    In virtually every city, state and strip mall across the U.S., women get their nails done in salons likely owned by Vietnamese entrepreneurs. How did this community come to dominate an $8 billion dollar nail economy? NAILED IT takes viewers from Los Angeles to the Bronx to meet the people behind this booming and sometimes controversial industry.

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    Circle Up

    After the brutal slaying of her teenage son, Janet Connors reaches out to her son’s killers to offer forgiveness. She establishes a connection with one of them in the hopes that their bond will help him turn his life around. Inspired by Native American tradition, Janet and other mothers of murdered children form peacemaking circles to help young people break the chain of violence and revenge.

About Season 6

The sixth season of AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. These documentaries invite audiences to reflect on varied topics.

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    Gentlemen of Vision

    GENTLEMEN OF VISION follows a year in the life of coach, counselor and founder Marlon Wharton, and his class of young Black males as he strives to rewrite future prospects for his students. Witness a brotherhood of young men as they support each other and chase their ultimate dreams: to maintain their position as national step champions and to be accepted into college.

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    For Ahkeem

    Expelled from high school, Daje Shelton is only 17 years old when she is sentenced by a judge - not to prison, but to the Innovative Concept Academy. It offers Daje one last chance to earn a high school diploma. FOR AHKEEM is an unvarnished exploration of a complex web of juvenile justice, education, poverty and race in America today.

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    Agents of Change

    AGENTS OF CHANGE examines the racial conditions on college campuses across the U.S. in the late 1960s, focusing on student demands at two seminal protests: San Francisco State in 1968 and Cornell University in 1969. Many of the same demands are surfacing in campus protests today, revealing the intersections America continue to face.

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    100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice

    Elouise Cobell's relentless pursuit of justice led her to find remedy for over half a million Native American account holders whose funds were held by the U.S. government in trust for a century. 100 YEARS: ONE WOMAN'S FIGHT FOR JUSTICE is the compelling story of this little known hero, and petite Blackfeet warrior, and how she prevailed.

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    The Invisible Patients

    Through the story of Jessica Macleod, a dedicated nurse practitioner, and her four homebound patients, THE INVISIBLE PATIENTS sheds light on some of the most urgent healthcare issues facing the country today. It challenges us to wrestle with healthcare policy, and as importantly, asks how to care for all persons with dignity and respect.

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    MILWAUKEE 53206

    MILWAUKEE 53206 introduces viewers to a community with the highest rate of incarcerated African American men. The film unfolds through the stories of postal code 53206 residents directly impacted by imprisonment: Beverly Walker and her husband Baron, Chad Wilson, and Dennis Walton, who is creating a support system for men seeking re-entry.

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    Beyond the Wall

    BEYOND THE WALL revolves around former prisoner Louie Diaz as he works to guide formerly incarcerated men safely through the minefield of life outside of jail. By helping others, Louie is able to maintain his own sobriety and preserve his freedom. But for those with little to no support from the criminal justice system, how will they find hope?

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    The Corridor

    San Francisco’s Five Keys Charter School: the first high school of its kind in the U.S. designed to provide incarcerated adults the opportunity to earn a high school diploma to prepare them for successful reintegration into their communities. THE CORRIDOR invites viewers to ask: is education the first step along the pathway to restorative justice?

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    Through the Repellent Fence

    THROUGH THE REPELLENT FENCE follows the creation of a two-mile long ephemeral art installation by Native Americans artists Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist, known as "Postcommodity." Their piece "Repellent Fence" installs floating balloons north and south of the border to represent a metaphorical "stitching" together of the United States and Mexico.

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    Finding Kukan

    Filmmaker Robin Lung documents her seven-year journey to uncover the efforts of Li Ling-Ai, the visionary but uncredited producer of the Academy® Award-winning documentary 'Kukan.' FINDING KUKAN is a portrait of the pioneer, and sheds a light on the longstanding underrepresentation of women and people of color in the movie-making business.

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    Random Acts of Legacy

    Finding a cache of deteriorating 16mm home movies spanning from 1936 to 1951, Ali Kazimi deftly crafts a story of history and memory. RANDOM ACTS OF LEGACY reveals a rare portrait of a creative and enterprising Chinese American family in middle America during the Depression, and offers a counter-narrative to the stereotypes of Chinese Americans.

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    Who is Arthur Chu?

    WHO IS ARTHUR CHU? follows the 11-time Jeopardy! winner. By using an unconventional game strategy, the former insurance analyst amassed both fans and haters on Twitter. To put his 15 minutes of fame to good use, Arthur aspires to become a public figure to address racism and sexism with his posture debunking the “model” Asian American stereotype.

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    Bidder 70

    Fueled by a desire to safeguard thousands of acres of pristine land near national parks, Tim DeChristopher outbid industry giants and disrupted a controversial oil and gas lease auction as bidder #70. BIDDER 70 traces Tim’s rise from concerned citizen and student of economics at the University of Utah to climate justice activist and leader.

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    Personal Statement

    PERSONAL STATEMENT follows three high school seniors from Brooklyn intent on defying the odds for themselves and their classmates by becoming the very resource they don't have for themselves: peer college counselors. The film weaves together their individual struggles, family life, and highs and lows of their respective college application processes.

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    Charlie vs Goliath

    Former Catholic priest Charlie Hardy is 75 years old and has no money or political experience. But none of that dissuades him from running for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Wyoming. Can Charlie, his principles and courage, and his ragtag group of young volunteers sustain their grassroots campaign and shake up the political establishment?

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    Island Soldier

    Follow the Nena family as they grieve the loss of their son - his death in Afghanistan makes waves through the community where nearly everyone is connected to the U.S. military. Known as a "recruiter's paradise," Micronesia contributes a disproportionate number of soldiers to the armed forces, who cannot receive benefits...yet young men leave their families behind in pursuit of the American Dream.

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    Moroni for President

    Every four years, the Navajo Nation elects its president, whom many consider the most powerful Native American. Moroni Benally, a witty LGBTQ candidate with radical ideas, hopes to defeat the incumbent president. Fraught with challenges, Moroni soon discovers that theory and a platform does not necessarily prepare you for the daily dirt of politics and the unpredictability of voter’s choice.

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    There Are Jews Here

    THERE ARE JEWS HERE follows the untold stories of four once thriving American Jewish communities that are now barely holding on. Struggling with aging congregants and dwindling interest, families are moving to larger cities with more robust congregations. A portrait of people who are doing their part to keep the Jewish spirit alive, the film celebrates religious diversity in smalltown America.

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    Winter at Westbeth

    The residents of Westbeth Artists Housing of NYC are immersed in their art practice as though there is no tomorrow: Edith hopes to complete an experimental film for her birthday, Dudley rehearses for an electrifying return to the stage, and Ilsa candidly weaves her breast cancer experience into her work. WINTER AT WESTBETH captures inspirational stories about aging and the need to keep creating.

About Season 5

The fifth season of AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. Featuring roundtable discussions moderated by host Natasha Del Toro.

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    A New Color - The Art of Being Edythe Boone

    The life and work of self-taught artist Edythe Boone. Filmed over five years, follow the spirited and captivating septuagenarian who became an artist/activist simply because empowering and building community is “the right thing to do.” Ultimately, Boone’s mission is to empower individuals and transform communities through art and activism.

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    70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green

    Exploring the effects of the Plan for Transformation, an order requiring the demolition of Chicago’s public housing high rises, and the building of mixed-income condominiums. 70 ACRES IN CHICAGO illuminates the layers of socio-economic forces, and the questions behind urban redevelopment and gentrification taking place in U.S. cities today.

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    Radical Grace

    In 2012, The Vatican censured American nuns. RADICAL GRACE follows three U.S. nuns, who refused to back down and continued to challenge the patriarchal system, are willing to lose it all and risk their place within the Catholic Church for their devotion to social justice and to meet their higher calling - to apply their faith to action.

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    Enter the Faun

    The culmination of an intensive two-year collaboration between veteran choreographer Tamar Rogoff and Gregg Mozgala, an actor with cerebral palsy. Their creative exploration, at the intersection of science and art, led them to discover that his diagnosis and physical limitations were not necessarily fixed and immutable.

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    Good Luck Soup

    For filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi, growing up half Japanese/half Italian in a white Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Cleveland, OH, was a difficult experience. In GOOD LUCK SOUP, Hashiguchi sets out on a journey to discover how the rest of his multi-racial family made sense of their lives and their Japanese American heritage. Surprisingly, he finds a role model in his elderly Japanese grandmother.

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    Unbroken Glass

    At six-years-old, filmmaker Dinesh Sabu lost both of his parents. Two decades later, worried that he has no memories of his mother and father, he turns a camera on his siblings, trying to understand their parent’s lives and tragic deaths. It's a journey that takes him back to India, a country he barely knows, and it forces him to think about the mental illness that seems to run in his family.

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    Breathin': The Eddy Zheng Story

    Eddy Zheng came to America with his family when he was 12 years old. Then at the age of 16, he committed a horrible crime: home invasion and kidnapping. Year after year he hoped for parole, and after almost 20 years in prison, Zheng was released, a model prisoner who wanted to become a community leader. But his victims insisted he should still be deported.

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    Vegas Baby

    The Sher Institute in Las Vegas is holding a contest. First prize: a free round of in-vitro fertilization – but even for the winners, there’s no guarantee of success. VEGAS BABY follows the journeys of three families so desperate to have a child, they’re willing to take the gamble. This may be their last chance to have a baby.

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    Oxyana

    Set among the hills and hollers of Appalachia, Oceana, WV looks like a rural paradise. But this community is under siege: a raging epidemic of prescription drug abuse is so deadly that residents have nicknamed the town “OXYANA.” A close-up look at people who live from one pill to the next, and a harrowing vision of today’s AnyTown, USA.

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    Care

    90% of Americans want to age at home, but many of them have to rely on paid care workers because their families can’t provide the support they need. CARE illuminates the many challenges and deep attachments that can be formed between the elderly and the home care workers they depend on - and exposes the cracks in a system that is poorly serving both.

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    Night School

    Every year, over a million students drop out of high school. They may complete their graduate equivalency degrees, but then they discover they’re still struggling to get good jobs. For some in Indianapolis, there’s another option: a night school program that will get them their full high school diploma – if they can complete a tough curriculum that includes algebra and biology.

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    We Breathe Again

    Suicide - one of the leading causes of death for Alaska Natives. Almost every family has lost brothers, sisters, parents, and children to it. WE BREATHE AGAIN introduces four Alaska Natives who are trying to break free from histories of trauma and suicide, creating a new, more positive trail for their communities.

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    Farewell Ferris Wheel

    Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy, and summer love. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns mean this national pastime is nearly extinct. FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL is an inside look at the struggles of an industry trying to stay alive by employing Mexican migrant workers with a controversial visa.

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    Deej

    DEEJ is the story of DJ Savarese, a gifted, young writer and advocate for nonspeaking autistics. Once a “profoundly disabled” foster kid on a fast track to nowhere, DJ is now a first-year college student who insists on standing up for his peers: people who are dismissed as incompetent because they are neurologically diverse. Will Deej be able to find freedom for himself and others like himself?

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    On a Knife Edge

    ON A KNIFE EDGE is the coming-of-age story of George Dull Knife, a Lakota teen growing up on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. The film traces George’s path to activism, inspired by his family’s history of fighting for justice for Native Americans. His focus: shutting down liquor stores in Whiteclay, a tiny town nearby that exists only to sell beer to the reservation’s vulnerable population.

About Season 4

The fourth season of AMERICA REFRAMED curates a diverse selection of films highlighting innovative and artistic approaches to storytelling from emerging and veteran filmmakers alike. Viewers will be immersed in personal stories from towns big and small to the exurbs and country roads that span the spectrum of American life. Featuring roundtable discussions moderated by host Natasha Del Toro.

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    Old South

    In a classic tale of two cities, OLD SOUTH delivers a quiet yet emotionally charged portrait of two communities living on one block. Steeped in history – one black, one white – each strives to keep their respective legacies relevant in a changing American South.

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    American Arab

    “Why is being an Arab suddenly the opposite of being a decent man?” Throughout AMERICAN ARAB, Iraqi-American Director Usama Alshaibi explores what it’s like to occupy the ‘space in between’ as a hyphenated American, specifically of Arab origin, during the surge of anti-Muslim sentiment that arose in post 9/11 America.

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    The Mosque in Morgantown

    THE MOSQUE IN MORGANTOWN is an observational documentary that follows Asra Nomani’s early activism and backlash within her W. Virginia mosque, telling a story about competing paths to social change, American identity and the nature of religion itself. Though not always politically correct, the film reveals a truth that may surprise many Americans.

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    Adama

    In March 2005, an FBI document leaked to the press mysteriously identified Adama Bah, a 16-year-old teenager from Harlem, NY, as an “imminent threat to the security of the United States.” ADAMA provides a timely perspective on the experiences of American Muslims at a time when their religion is being equated, by some, with violence and terror.

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    Revolution '67

    Focusing on what is known as "The Newark Riots," REVOLUTION '67 reveals how a spontaneous revolt against poverty and police brutality ended as a fateful milestone in urban America's struggles over race and economic justice. The film also provides a historical framework to contextualize recent events in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD.

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    BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

    The personal is political. "BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez" is a portrait of the artist, revealing her uncompromising life as she raised her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women's liberation, and world peace. The film captures Sanchez's commitment to cultural specificity while connecting history and humanities to the mainstream.

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    Divide in Concord

    DIVIDE IN CONCORD is an engaging tale about a contemporary debate: individual freedom vs. collective responsibility, and how this relates to American democracy. Driving the debate is a fiery 84-year-old grandmother, who presents a bylaw to ban the sale of single-serve plastic water bottles. But can one person take on the bottled water industry?

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    Romeo Romeo

    How strong is a woman’s desire to be a mother? After marrying the woman of her dreams, Lexy and wife Jessica set out to start a family. The couple spend their life savings on getting pregnant but it turns out to be more difficult than anticipated. ROMEO ROMEO is an intimate portrait of a modern marriage and the struggle with infertility.

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    Dog Days

    Hot dogs and apple pie are not merely symbols of the American Dream. In DOG DAYS, they are the things those dreams are made of - literally. This story unfolds through the working relationship between Coite, who risks his capital to embark on a new food business, and single mother Siyone, a food vendor from Eritrea dreaming of freedom.

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    Children of the Arctic

    At the Arctic edge of America, Native Alaskan teenagers strive to be both modern American kids, and the inheritors of an ancient whaling culture, language and tradition. CHILDREN OF THE ARCTIC is a year-in-the-life portrait of Native youth coming of age in Barrow, Alaska, and the decisions they have to make about their futures.

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    Reversing the Mississippi

    In Missouri, farmer and social innovator Marcin Jakubowski's Global Village Construction Set provides free blueprints to fabricate everything needed for a self-sustaining village. While in New Orleans, Nat Turner teaches kids how to work the land, but has limited resources and broken equipment. If these two men meet might they be able to make real change?

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    City of Trees

    A personal story about the struggle to achieve social, economic and environmental change during the worst recession in a generation, CITY OF TREES captures the tension-filled last six months of a two-year grant cycle for Washington D.C.'s nonprofit organization Washington Parks & People, and the close-out of a $2.7 million stimulus grant.

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    In An Ideal World

    Over seven years, IN AN IDEAL WORLD follows three men in CA’s Soledad prison — John, a white separatist murderer, Sam, a black ex-gang member and Ben, a warden. Challenged for the first time by a mixed-race program, and with pressure from the courts to integrate, the men struggle to move beyond the stark realities of America’s prison system.

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    The Grace Lee Project

    Do you know Grace Lee? Growing up, Grace Lee was the only “Grace Lee” she knew. Upon moving to New York and California, she discovered quite the opposite. In her quest to uncover how the name “Grace” became ubiquitous among Asian Americans, the filmmaker speaks with many subjects named Grace Lee, focusing on the individuality and humanity of all who share her name.

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    Operation Popcorn

    A thrilling tale, OPERATION POPCORN explores the fate of ten Hmong American leaders and a retired U.S. Army officer who are accused of conspiring together to overthrow the communist government of Laos. Seven years in the making, the film sheds light on the fragile relationships between individuals and the American surveillance state.

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    My Life in China

    An unvarnished portrait of the life and memories of a stoic and reticent man committed to his family, MY LIFE IN CHINA retraces the perilous steps filmmaker Kenneth Eng's father chanced in search of a better life. Exploring the themes of home, exile and belonging, the film is a story about promise, purpose and living life without regrets.

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    The Last Season

    Each September, the town of Chemult, Oregon is flooded with mushroom hunters. Many are immigrants from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand who entered the U.S. as refugees in the 1980s. Here, veterans Kouy Loch and Roger Higgins find more than just the rare matsutake in the woods; they create a familial bond and a means to slowly heal the wounds of war.

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    College Week

    A rarely represented insider's perspective, COLLEGE WEEK documents the impact of teacher and parent involvement on student success at Spencer Elementary Technology Academy. Despite the Chicago neighborhood's high rates of poverty and crime, a caring community of home owners and working class families are striving to make positive changes.

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    The Hand That Feeds

    At a popular bakery café in Manhattan, patrons get served with a smile 24 hours a day. Behind the scenes, some of the undocumented immigrant workers earn far below the minimum wage. Filmed at the onset of the service economy wage wars, THE HAND THAT FEEDS tells the story of the power struggle that turned a single city block into a battlefield.

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    Buried Above Ground

    Filmed over six years, BURIED ABOVE GROUND follows three Americans fighting to overcome the paralyzing grip of PTSD. Intimate moments illustrate how the road to recovery takes many shapes while being fraught with obstacles and setbacks. Over time and with support, each finds hope and pathways to living a meaningful and purposeful life.

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    Class of '27

    In rural America, children face the prospect of a compromised future. Class of '27 focuses on early childhood education in struggling communities, highlighting the efforts of people guiding children toward graduating high school in '27. United by hope, inspiration and resiliency, the film shows that children are most likely to grow into productive adults if they receive support in the early years.

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    In the Game

    “In life you deal with what’s dealt your way. When you get knocked down, just get up right away. Never give up.” "In the Game" follows a girls’ soccer team in an inner-city Chicago high school to reveal the obstacles confronted by Latinas as they seek an education amid issues of class and gender in the working class Brighton Park neighborhood.

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    We Like It Like That

    Created by largely Puerto Rican, Cuban and African American youths living alongside each other in the 1960s, Boogaloo served as an authentic and vibrant cultural expression. "We Like It Like That" explores a pivotal moment in '60s music history when blues, funk and traditional Caribbean rhythms were fused to define a new generation of urban Latinos.

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    Kivalina

    Today, the Inupiaq Eskimo must navigate an uncertain future 80 miles above the Arctic Circle on a fragile barrier island disappearing due to climate change. "Kivalina" is a quiet but stirring portrait immersing viewers into the rarely seen lives of an Arctic tribe who try to continue to honor their way of life despite the government failing them.

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    By Blood

    Chronicling the ongoing conflict over the issue of tribal rights between the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Freedmen, descendants of African American slaves. "By Blood" explores a largely untold history and the impact of a battle over race, identity, and the sovereign rights of Native American people.

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