SDFF Alumni Filmmakers + Films - Awards. Honors. Festivals. - New Docs - Streaming




Still of filmmaker Crystal Lee Kwok’s grandmother Dorothy outside of her family’s store in Augusta with Pete, a man who worked there circa 1947, from Blurring The Color Line, which is showing at the Georgia Film Festival and the Fort Smith International Film Festival. Kwok uses her family history as a way of complicating a black and white history of race in the U.S.

Crystal Lee Kwok’s Blurring The Color Line (Crystal Lee Kwok, SDFF 2022) is taking the South by storm, appearing in two regional film festivals in as many months After just winning an award for “Best People of Color Film” at the 2nd annual Fort Smith International Film Festival, the film, which tells a textured, complex history of Jim Crow race relations by examining the experiences of the filmmaker’s family, is the sole documentary feature being screened at the Georgia Film Festival. The Fort Smith Festival, which is was held in late August, is focused on bringing educational films transformative cinematic experiences to its Arkansas community, while the Georgia Film Festival, which runs Sept. 16-17 at the University of North Georgia, Gainesville, celebrates films made in the state and/or by Georgia filmmakers. In Blurring The Color Line, director Kwok reflects on her Grandmother’s past, growing up Chinese in one of Augusta’s predominantly Black neighborhoods during Jim Crow. The film complicates a black and white historical narrative of America’s racial history while exposing uncomfortable truths behind today’s Afro-Asian tensions. 

Still of Setsuko Thurlow talking about her experience as a Hiroshima survivor to a group of teenagers from The Vow From Hiroshima (Susan Strickler, 2019). The film recently made its Scottish premiere at the Consequences – Art and Activism festival.

The Vow From Hiroshima (Susan Strickler, 2019) made its Scottish debut as part of the Consequences – Art and Activism in the Nuclear Age festival on Sept. 3 in Edinburgh. The film is an intimate portrait of 85 year-old Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor and activist whose life has been animated by her passion to rid the world of nuclear weapons, culminating in her acceptance speech at the 2017 Nobel Peace Awards. The version of the film that showed in Scotland has changed slightly since it appeared at SDFF 2020, and now includes an epilogue about the ratification and enactment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which became a reality on January 22, 2021.

Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival (Lagan Sebert and Ted Roach, 2021) is the opening film at the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience, which begins today. The film will be available to stream on demand via the event’s virtual platform through November 18.

A screening of Leftover Feelings: A Studio B Revival (Lagan Sebert and Ted Roach, 2021) tops off the opening night of the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience, which begins its 10th iteration today, Sept. 13. In the SDFF 2022 film, Nashville music legends, John Hiatt and Jerry Douglas, team up to record their Grammy-nominated album Leftover Feelings in Elvis’s favorite studio, RCA’s fabled Studio B, attempting to revive and capture the magical sounds of this historic room where so many early hit songs were made. The film features commentary from Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and others. The film will screen in-person this evening, but will also be available VOD via the AFME’s online platform through Nov. 18. 

Still from My Favorite War (Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen, 2020), produced by Guntis Trekteris who is working on two films in development that were presented at this year’s Baltic Sea Docs forum: he Death Of Death (dir. Dāvis Sīmanis) about modern attempts to cheat death using technology, and The Last Will (dir. Janis Abele) about a poet’s quest to find another poet’s remains in order to fulfill his last wish.

My Favorite War (Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, 2020) producer Guntis Trekteris had two Latvian films in development presented at the Baltic Sea Docs forum, the only event of its kind for international documentary filmmakers in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, which wrapped on Sunday. Trekteris’s projects The Death Of Death (dir. Dāvis Sīmanis) about modern attempts to cheat death using technology, and The Last Will (dir. Janis Abele) about a poet’s quest to find another poet’s remains in order to fulfill his last wish, are both part of the BSD’s co-financing and development forum. Trekteris produced the award-winning animated doc, My Favorite War, a favorite at SDFF 2020. An SDFF alumni filmmaker also made a showing as part of the festival’s film program. Young Plato, from filmmakers Neasa Ní Chianáin and Declan McGrath was one of the festival’s 8 film selections. The doc is about the headmaster of a Belfast school who uses philosophy to counter powerful mythologies of violence among students. Young Plato treads very similar territory to Ní Chianáin’s 2017 doc with David Rane, School Life (SDFF 2018), which focuses on teachers at Headfort, the only primary boarding school in Ireland. An extended clip from the Young Plato about peace walls was recently released through Screen Rant. 


Still from Sweet Dreams, a collaboration between filmmaking siblings Rob and Lisa Fruchtman. Sweet Dreams is about Rwanda’s first female drumming group Ingoma Nshya, and shares many themes with Rob’s SDFF 2019 doc Moving Stories about dancers from an acclaimed New York company who travel the world, working with youth who’ve experienced war, poverty, sexual exploitation, extreme prejudice and severe trauma as refugees.

SDFF alumni filmmaker Rob Fruchtman (Moving StoriesThe Cat Rescuers) has teamed up with his sister, editor Lisa Fruchtman (Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, The Godfather Part III) on the new doc Sweet Dreamsabout Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first Hutu and Tutsi female drumming troupe. The film, which recently appeared at MIST Harlem, focuses on how the drumming group has helped break down gender, class and political divisions, in particular the relatively new political power of women, who now hold 56% of the country’s political offices. The doc also approaches economic development in Rwanda, with the Ingoma Nshya’s founder Inzozi Nziza, opening the only locally-owned ice cream shop in the country. The film has broad thematic resonance with Fruchtman’s SDFF 2019 film Moving Stories about dancers from an acclaimed New York company who travel the world, working with youth who’ve experienced war, poverty, sexual exploitation, extreme prejudice and severe trauma as refugees. 

Still from Mark Cousins’s The Story Of Looking, an SDFF 2022 Jury Award Nominee. Cousins recently had two new documentary projects — March On Rome (Marcia su Roma) and Le Giornate degli Autori — showing at two prestigious film festivals (Venice and Telluride) in the space of a few days. Both films have received significant media attention since premiering.

Mark Cousins’s (The Story Of Looking, 2021) two new documentary projects—March On Rome (Marcia su Roma) and My Name I Alfred Hitchcock—have been getting a great deal of press since showing at major film festivals less than a week apart. March On Rome opened the Venice Film Festival’s Le Giornate degli Autori on Aug. 31 before showing at Telluride on the Sept. 4, followed by My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock on Sept. 5. Both films were part of Telluride’s Tribute to Cousins, who was awarded with a Silver Medallion, the festival’s top prize, honoring career-spanning achievements in the industry. Cousins’s March on Rome explores historic, Italian fascist propaganda tied to the insurrection, the “March On Rome,” which brought Mussolini to power in October 1922. Taking its cue from A Noi (1923)Umberto Paradisi’s official Fascist party documentary celebrating the March on Rome, the film will explore the roots of fascism by analyzing film, photographs and other material from the Italian archives. The film received a flurry of reviews and think pieces from VarietyDeadlineScreen Daily and CineuropaThe other new doc, My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock, feels a bit more obviously resonant with  Cousins’ cinephilic work, as it examines Hitchcock’s life and career in first-person, from the legendary, London-born auteur’s perspective. The infamous and frequently revered director is voiced by renowned UK impressionist Alistair McGowan (The Big Impression and Spitting Image). Cousins’ has 21st Century version of Hitchcock has also received a significant amount of press from The Hollywood ReporterIndieWireand Screen Daily. Cousins’s 2021 doc, The Story Of Looking, a deeply personal meditation on the power of looing that preceded a surgery to restore his vision, showed at SDFF 2022

Ben Proudfoot’s newest documentary short, The Best Chef In The World, about Sally Schmitt, the original founder of The French Laundry, premiered at Telluride last weekend and begins streaming as a New York Times Op-Doc today, Sept. 13.

Another SDFF alumni filmmaker whose work turned up at Telluride is Ben Proudfoot, who premiered his new short, The Best Chef In The Worldabout Sally Schmitt, the original founder of The French LaundryProudfoot was in-toe for the screening and a post-screening discussion. The Best Chef In The World is Proudfoot’s second release in the past few months, as his project with tennis star Naomi Osaka, MINK! about Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, came out in June. Both films are a part of Proudfoot’s ongoing partnership with New York Times Op Docs, joining many of Proudfoot’s other shorts on the platform, including The Queen Of BasketballA Concerto Is A ConversationThe Unchosen One, and The Lost Astronaut. MINK! has been up on the Times’ Op-Docs series site since its release, where The Best Chef In The World will join it today (Sept. 13)! For more on last weekend’s Telluride film premieres and screenings, see Deadline’s overview right here!

Still of composer/director Kris Bowers, from A Concerto Is A Conversation, which he co-directed with Ben Proudfoot. Bowers is scoring the new reality-inspired period piece Chevalier, about 18th Century violinist and composer Joseph Bologne, aka Chevalier de Saint Georges. The illegitimate son of an African slave and French plantation owner, Bologne rose to the height of French society before being brought low by an ill-fated love affair.

Proudfoot’s co-director on A Concerto Is A Conversationvaunted composer Kris Bowers (Dear White People, Bridgerton, King Richard) is responsible for the music in the period piece Chevalier (Stephen Williams, 2022), which is inspired by the true story of mixed race 18th century violinist and composer Joseph Bologne, aka Chevalier de Saint Georges. The composer was the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, who rose to great heights in French society as a composer before an ill-fated love affair. The film is the first feature written by Stefani Robinson, who has won awards for his writing on Atlanta and What We Do In The Shadows, both indie comedies. The film will be showing at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs Sept. 8-18. In addition to an impressive career as a musician and composer, Bowers helped co-direct A Concerto Is A Conversation, a visually-stunning autobiographical short, in which the virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family’s lineage through his 91 year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The film, which was SDFF 2022’s Best Short Doc, is available to stream for free through New York Times Op-Docs.

Animated still from Ellen Bruno’s her 2013 documentary short Split—Divorce Through Kids Eyes. Bruno recently released a sequel to Split, Split Up—The Teen Years, which interviews the same kids who appeared in the original film, a decade later.

Documentarian Ellen Bruno has released just released Split Up—The Teen Years, a sequel to her 2013 documentary short Split—Divorce Through Kids Eyeswhich interviewed a dozen school-aged kids from diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Done in the absence of parents and without any commentary from professionals, the interviews had an unfiltered feel that captured the short-term impacts of divorce on children’s feelings. Her new film,  Split Up—The Teen Years, Bruno revisits the same kids a decade later, in format that mirrors the earlier film. Now teens, the kids reflect on how the divorce has impacted their lives, ideas and emotions, in general striking a more subdued, thoughtful tone than they had as small children. The teens describe the beginnings of some longer-term effects of divorce, such as growing up more quickly, questioning the solidity of long-term relationships, being less trusting, keeping secrets, and deeply questioning what is meaningful in their lives. While the new film is currently available to professionals (therapists, counselors, family attorneys, etc.), the earlier film is available online through the filmmaker’s website, as is her film Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy(1995), about the non-violent resistance of Tibetan Buddhist nuns under Chinese occupation, which showed at SDFF.


Animated rendering of a Cultural Revolution-era Chinese theater from Drew Leung’s The Chemical Factory, which was recently added to the Los Angeles Times series of documentary shorts, which includes other SDFF alumni films and filmmakers, such as The Beauty President (Whitney Skauge, 2022) and Sentinels (Derek Knowles and Lawrence Lerew, 2022).

Drew Leung’s animated film The Chemical Factory (2021) was recently added to the Los Angeles Times series of documentary shorts, which are meant to represent “a West Coast perspective and a global view” showcasing underrepresented voices and fostering diversity in the film community. So far, the series has included several films that were either shown at SDFF, such as The Beauty President (Whitney Skauge, 2022) about queer, black presidential candidate Terence Alan Smith, who ran for office during the ravages of the AIDS crisis in 1992; or are the work of SDFF alumni filmmakers, such as Sentinelsa new documentary short co-directed by Derek Knowles (After The Fire, SDFF 2020) and Lawrence Lerew, which takes an immersive, observational tack in its presentation of the Redwood Forest Defense tree-sit, or the Adam Mazo-produced (Dawnland, SDFF 2019) short ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught) (Brit Hensel, 2022), which explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. Unlike these other examples, The Chemical Factory tells a story based outside the United States, though it does so from the perspective of an American immigrant, the filmmaker’s mother, who retraces her early years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution to her son. Leung’s film is also differentiated by its style, The Chemical Factory is an animated piece in which an immigrant mother retraces her early years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution to her son, the filmmaker. While the series appears to be adding a new film each month, like the New York Times Op-Docs, it also seems to be making them available for free indefinitely.

Alternative Facts - The Lies of Executive Order 9066 - Jon Osaki
Still from Jon Osaki’s 2019 doc Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 (Jon Osaki, 2019) about the U.S.’s treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Osaki’s documentary short Reparations recently made news in Philadelphia when it sparked a productive conversation about reparations after being screened as part of an initiative aimed at promoting dialogue, cooperation and mutual understanding in the wake of recent hate crimes and rising tensions between the city’s black and Asian communities.

Director Jon Osaki’s (Alternative Facts, 2019) newest film Reparations (2021) made the news recently for sparking a serious public dialogue about Reparations in Philadelphia. The documentary short, which reflects on the critical role of solidarity between Black and Asian Americans in addressing systemic racism, and a pre-taped interview with filmmaker Jon Osaki were screened as part of an initiative aimed at promoting dialogue, cooperation and mutual understanding in the wake of recent hate crimes and rising tensions between the city’s black and Asian communities. An article in The Philadelphia Tribune explains the context and gives an overview of the discussion sparked by the screening, and one of the ways in which impact documentaries can be productively used in emotionally charged circumstances. Osaki’s Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066which showed at SDFF 2020, is a feature-length doc that considers the political forces and misinformation behind Executive Order 9066, which authorized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The film draws connections between the US’s treatment of its Japanese citizens during the war and the contemporary scapegoating of immigrants and abuses of power. An interview with the filmmaker at SDFF 2020 is available to stream for free.

Still of Victor Rios from The Pushouts (Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez, 2018), which documents the school-to-prison pipeline in California. Rios was featured in a recent article on KPBS after the film was re-aired as part of VOCES on PBS.

The Pushouts (Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez, SDFF 2019), a 2018 doc that documents and examines California’s school-to-prison pipeline that is being shown as part of VOCES on PBS, was featured in a recent article on KPBS. The piece focuses on Victor Rios, whose evolution from school pushout and gang member to UC professor, author, and thought leader on the school-to-prison pipeline, is at the heart of the doc. While the film has been a part of VOCES for several years, it began airing on PBS again earlier this month. VOCES is a documentary series produced by Latino Public Broadcasting devoted to exploring the diversity and issues impacting the Latinx communities in the U.S. The film is available on demand with a PBS passport.

Sebastopol Film
A still of Bristol Bay from above from Mark Titus’s film The Wild, which is streaming for free on youtube right now as apart of an effort to generate public support/comment on an EPA measure that could help protect the bay from a destructive copper mining project.

Director Mark Titus is streaming his two Bristol Bay/sockeye salmon docs, The Wild and The Breachfor free on youtube through the month of September as part of an effort to educate and bolster support for EPA to pass protections for Bristol Bay that would stop the destructive Pebble Mine copper extraction project. Aside from being a stunningly beautiful place, the bay is also the last fully-intact wild salmon system in the world, supports a $2.2 billion fishing industry, and is home to Native Alaskan communities. So far, the outreach effort has been successful with more than half a million people, including a record number of Alaskans (according to the NRDC), giving public comment in favor of a revised Clean Water Act proposal that would safeguard the bay.  This is the latest in an ongoing fight to protect Bristol Bay, which is what motivated both The Breach, and its follow-up, The Wild, which showed at SDFF 2020, along with this exclusive interview with filmmaker Mark Titus. See more on the film here, and more about the EPA measure here.  

A still of Alexander Liu and a sweet treat from A Sexplanation, a doc he directed and stars in. Liu was interviewed about the film, U.S. sex ed, and his other upcoming projects, in a recent episode of the WGN Radio podcast Behind The Curtain.

Alexander Liu of A Sexplanation (SDFF 2021) fame is interviewed about the film in a new episode of the WGN Radio podcast Behind The Curtain by journalist/commentator Paul Lisnek. In the interview, Liu discusses his own experience of sex ed, which prompted him to make A Sexplanation. In the documentary feature, a 36 year-old Liu investigates his own repression by looking to right the wrongs of his all-American sex education—going on a quest to uncover naked truths and hard facts. In doing so he engages in provocative conversations with psychologists, sex researchers, a Jesuit priest, and several generations of his family. In addition to discussing the film and American sex ed in general, the interview also covers Liu’s upcoming film projects. A Sexplanation is available VOD through iTunesAmazonGoogle and Vimeo.

Still of newspaper coverage of confidence man and faux wine aficionado Rudy Kurniawan from Sour Grapes (Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell, 2017), a film about a high-class scammer which made a recent Looper list of the best docs to watch on Prime Video.

Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas’s collaborative feature about an upscale scammer, Sour Grapes (Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell, 2017), made  a recent Looper list of the best docs to watch on Prime Video. The film tells the story of Rudy Kurniawan, an unassuming young man who flooded the American wine market with fake vintages, valued in the millions. Like much of the new crop of scam media, Sour Grapes tells a story in which the swindler is a figure who threatens the wealthy while also appearing as a condensation of capitalist values. Sour Grapes is VOD on Vimeo and Vudu, and is also streaming on Amazon Prime


Patricia Highsmith around 1955, as seen in Loving Highsmith, a film by Eva Vitija. Photo by Ellen Rifkin Hill, courtesy Swiss Social Archives.

The highly anticipated biographical doc about celebrated American author Patricia Highsmith (Strangers On A Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Price Of Salt), Loving Highsmith (Eva Vitija, 2022) is showing at Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol through September 15, co-presented by SDFF and OUTwatch’s 2022 film series. Based on Highsmith’s diaries, notebooks, and other personal writings, which reflect on her lovers, friends and family, the film casts new light on the famous thriller writer’s life and work, permeated by themes of love and its defining influence on identity. Tickets are available through the Rialto®, here.

Petaluma Film Alliance Fall 2022 cinema series continues this week with a screening of Dune (Denis Villeneuve, 2021).

The Petaluma Film Alliance continues its Fall cinema series on September 14 with a screening of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021), an adaptation of Sci-Fi author Frank Herbert’s iconic novel about the colonial exploitation of a desert planet, which in many ways mirrors U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. The first film is a gorgeously stylized work of world-building that introduces key players in what will become an anticolonial inter-galactic struggle. The film begins at 6:30 p.m., but admission includes a pre-show program that begins at 6 p.m. The Fall Cinema Series will continue through Nov. 30, with the majority of screenings on Wednesdays in the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium at the SRJC Petaluma Campus. See details on parking, tickets and COVID protocols here. The series is being co-presented by SRJC’s Chair of Communications Studies, Mike Traina, and film production teacher Brian Antonson, who collaborated with Sara Alexander on the SDFF 2020 film A Pilgrimage about artist Genevieve Barnhart. For more on the Film Alliance’s fall movie series, see the Argus Courier’s recent article.

Still from Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream, a genre defying, immersive film about David Bowie, which begins showing at Rialto Cinemas® on Sept. 16.

Moonage Daydream, a new, genre defying immersion into the art and sounds of David Bowie from Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Jane) will begin showing at the Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol this Friday, Sept. 16. Told through sublime, kaleidoscopic imagery, personal archived footage, unseen performances, and anchored by David Bowie’s music and words, Moonage Daydream is the first film to be supported by the David Bowie Estate, which granted Morgen unprecedented access to their collection. See Rialto Cinemas® screening details and tickets.

Still of Leonard Cohen from Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, 2022), which examines the music icon’s life and career through his influential song Hallelujah. The new doc is playing at the Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol.

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, 2022), a unique music doc about the beloved singer-songwriter, will continue to run at Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol, through Sept. 15.  The doc explores Cohen’s work and life through the prism of his hymn Hallelujah, a touchstone for many other recording artists, and most of the rest of the population who has heard it played. The doc was approved by Cohen a couple of years before he passed away, and as a result includes never-before-seen materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews. Tickets are available here. You can also catch interviews with filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller at NorCal Public Media and KSRO.

Still of political philosopher Hannah Arendt from Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt – the Life and Work of a Moral Philosopher (Ada Ushpiz, 2015). The film is the subject of the Sept. 21 Sonoma County Library Documentary Film Discussion Group.

The Sonoma County Library Documentary Film Discussion Group will meet on Sept. 21 to discuss Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt – the Life and Work of a Moral Philosopher (Ada Ushpiz, 2015), a doc about the life and work of political theorist and moral philosopher Hannah Arendt, who is best known for her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. The book considers the testimony and trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, who displayed neither hatred nor remorse and claimed he was just “doing his job.” The film examines Arendt’s life, from her time as a student scholar during the Weimar Republic, to her experience of the Holocaust and her eventual life in the U.S. and coverage of the Eichmann trial. The discussion group will be held on Zoom, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m., attendance requires registration, see details and availability on the Sonoma County Library Events Calendar. The film is available to screen on Kanopy with a library card, and all participants must view it on their own before the meeting.

The Shakleton party’s rid to the Antarctic, The Endurance, trapped in pack ice just miles from shore, from South: Ernst Shackleton And The Endurance Expedition (Frank Hurley, 1919), which has a special single day engagement at the Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol on Sept. 29.

South: Ernst Shackleton And The Endurance Expedition (Frank Hurley, 1919), shot during Sir Ernst Henry Shakleton’s harrowing 1914 Antarctic expedition, and released before the term “documentary” was coined, will be screened twice (1:15 p.m., 5 p.m.) at Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol on Sept. 29 to celebrate National Silent Movie Day. The film captures the Shakleton party’s infamous and epic exploration, which began with the ship, The Endurance, getting trapped and then crushed in pack ice just miles from shore, leaving the crew to drift on ice floes for months before landing on a deserted island. With no hope of rescue, Shackleton and five men left the island and set out on an 850-mile journey in the roughest seas in the world, in an open boat with only a sextant to guide them. Miraculously they reached South Georgia Island where they crossed mountainous terrain to reach the island’s whaling station. See Rialto Cinemas® screening details and tickets.

Still from #Kids On Tech (Paul Zehr, 2022), a film released in the wake of pandemic lockdowns, which examines the relationship between kids and technology from a variety of perspectives. The film is part of the fall Doc Nite series put on by SDFF, Trim Tab and Rialto Cinemas®.

Sebastopol’s Fall Doc Nite series will continue on October 11 with a screening of #Kids On Tech at 7 p.m. at Rialto Cinemas® Sebastopol, followed by a discussion with director with director Paul Zehr and editor Eric Ivey, and a casual gathering at Fern Bar. #Kids On Tech (2022) looks at the relationship between children and technology in the wake of the pandemic, examining the impact technology has had on children’s developing minds and bodies, and asking how best to move forward and prepare children for life in a digital world. The film includes intimate conversations with parents, teachers, neuroscientists, tech executives, child psychologists, and kids of every age from around the world. Doc Night is a collaboration between Trim Tab, SDFF and Rialto Cinemas®. See #Kids On Film Doc Night details and buy tickets here.


Still from Marlén Viñayo’s documentary short Unforgivable, an SDFF 2020 Jury Award Winner. The film appeared on Vice’s The Short List with Suroosh Alvi, along with an interview between Alvi and Viñayo.

SDFF 2021 Jury Award winning short Unforgivable (Marlén Viñayo, 2020) recently aired on VICE’s The Short List with Suroosh Alvi, along with a Alvi’s interview with filmmaker Viñayo. Unforgivable tells the story of a hitman for the 18th Street gang who deals with his sexuality inside an evangelical Salvadoran prison, where he is not just guilty of crimes, but of an “unforgivable sin” under God and gang: being gay. Both film and interview are now available to stream on the series website. Check out VICE’s full video catalog, where you can also find an episode of The Short List from last season about SDFF 2021 short Last Mealincluding an interview with filmmakers Marcus McKenzie and Daniel Principe.

Still from Free Renty: Lanier v. Harvard (David Grubin, 2021). Tamara Lanier looks at an item from a racist Harvard collection commissioned to “prove” white supremacy in 1850. Lanier sued the university for pictures of her grandfather that were included in the collection. Free Renty is a nominee for the jury award at 4th Annual Morehouse College Human Rights Festival, which will stream Sept. 20-30.

Free Renty: Lanier v. Harvard (David Grubin, 2021) is a jury nominee at the 4th Annual Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival’s, which will be available to stream Sept. 20-30. Free Renty tells the story of Tamara Lanier, an African American woman determined to force Harvard University to cede possession of daguerreotypes of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved man named Renty. The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 by a Harvard professor to “prove” the superiority of the white race. The images remain emblematic of America’s failure to acknowledge the cruelty of slavery, the racist science that supported it and the white supremacy that continues to infect our society today. The film focuses on Lanier and tracks her lawsuit against Harvard, and features attorney Benjamin Crump, author Ta-Nehisi Coates and scholars Ariella Azoulay and Tina Campt. The film showed as part of SDFF 2022. Right now, passes for the Human Rights Festival’s digital program half off. The festival’s program is comprised of films meant to provoke discussions about immigration, race, gender identity, politics, health care, and law enforcement, along with many other human rights and social justice topics. 

Image from The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo & Robert Bahar, 2018), an SDFF 2019 official selection that recently began streaming on Netflix.

SDFF 2019 jury winner The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, 2018) is now available to stream on Netflix. The documentary feature reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day. Filmed over six years, the film follows victims and survivors as they organize the groundbreaking “Argentine Lawsuit” and fight a state-imposed amnesia of crimes against humanity, in a country still divided four decades into democracy.

Still of Robert Fisk from This Is Not A Movie (Yung Chang, 2019), which begins streaming on the Criterion Collection platform in September.

Yung Chang’s doc about foreign correspondent and conflict journalist Robert Fisk, This Is Not A Movie (2019) will be available on the Criterion Collection’s streaming platform starting in September. In the film, Chang captures Fisk, whose career has spanned 40 years, in relentless action—feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions. The film is also available on kanopy (w/ public library card) or tubi (w/ ads), and VOD on VuduAmazonYoutubeGooglePlay and Apple TV.  An SDFF exclusive Q+A between director Yung Chang and SDFF co-director and lead programmer Jean McGlothlin from SDFF 2021 is available here

Hospital workers donning photos of themselves over their PTE talk to a patient at the outset of the pandemic in Yung Chang’s Wuhan Wuhan is available to stream via PBS’s POV series website.

Another of Yung Chang’s docs, Wuhan Wuhan is now available to stream on PBS’s POV website, having opened the show’s 35th season. The film, which showed at SDFF 2021, is an observational documentary filmed during February and March of 2020, at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan city, where the coronavirus began. With unprecedented access at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, the film focuses on five stories that focus on the human experience of the earliest days of the pandemic, as a mysterious virus began to infect Chinese citizens, and frontline healthcare workers grappled with an invisible, deadly killer. 

Still from Ben Masters’ The River And The Wall (2019). Masters new doc Deep In The Heart also takes place in the Texas wilds, celebrating the state’s eco-diversity through the eyes of native wildlife species. The film just became available to stream VOD.

Ben Masters’s new film Deep In The Heart is available to stream VOD on PrimeVideoGooglePlayAppleTV and Vudu. The film is a celebration of Texas’s diverse landscapes and wildlife, told through the eyes of wildlife species and narrated by actor Matthew McConaughey Masters’ film with Hillary Pierce, The River and The Wall (2019), which was an official selection of SDFF 2020, is similarly focused on conservation and follows five friends who set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a U.S.-Mexico border wall on the natural environment. 

Still of men working on an oil derrick from Sydney Bowie Linden’s documentary short Black Gold (SDFF 2022), which is being featured in The New Yorker online. The documentary short is about a California oil town bracing for changes they believe the Biden administration will accelerate.

Sydney Bowie Linden’s documentary short Black Gold (SDFF 2022), about a California oil town bracing for change, is now featured in The New Yorker. The vaunted publication is streaming the film, accompanied by a short, interview-based article in which Linden talks about her intentions and experiences making the film. Linden filmed in the small town of Taft, near Bakersville, over 6 months in 2020, during the presidential campaign and election. The doc is a compelling artifact of an historic moment and one that challenges national views of California as uniformly progressive.

SDFF Alumni films focused on abortion: AKA Jane Roe (Nick Sweeney, ed. Mary Manhardt, 2020), Personhood: Policing Pregnant Women In America (Jo Ardinger, SDFF 2020), Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa (Mike Attie, Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, 2020), Vessel (Diana Whitten, SDFF 2014), and On The Divide (Maya Cueva and Leah Galant, 2021).

The recent  U.S. Supreme Court decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, suspending legal access to vital reproductive health care for woman across the United States and effectively curtailing women’s bodily autonomy, prompted us to look back at our recent selections for films that can give context and dimension to a life experience, which is frequently discussed in abstract terms. The films we selected for this list either showed at the festival or were the work of SDFF alumni and include: On The Divide (Maya Cueva and Leah Galant, 2021), Personhood: Policing Pregnant Women In America (Jo Ardinger, SDFF 2020), AKA Jane Roe (Nick Sweeney, ed. Mary Manhardt, 2020), Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa (Mike Attie, Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, 2020), and Vessel (Diana Whitten, SDFF 2014). The in-text links above will take you to a streaming version of each film. For a list with more detailed film descriptions and more places to watch, click here.

If you have news about an SDFF alumni, please contact us at info@sebastopolfilm.org so we can broadcast it!

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