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Study Guides

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Study Guides

Prior to Education Screenings, study guides are provided to give students background to the cultural context of the films, highlight themes and historical references and introduce questions that encourage personal examination of the films’ subject matter. Each screening is followed by a Q&A with filmmakers, subjects and/or film professionals and professors.

Study guides from past Education Screenings are available to educators to use any time in the classroom. For additional questions or lesson ideas, as well as where to find past films, please contact info@chicagofilmfestival.com.

These programs are made possible by the support of generous sponsors and patrons. Learn how you can support our education program here.

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All Study Guides

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5 Girls

Maria Finitzo  |  United States
Documentary  |   English
Women, Youth

Over the course of 2 years, 5 Girls follows 5 strong young women between the ages of 13 and 17, exploring the ways these girls discover the resources necessary to successfully navigate the rocky waters of adolescence.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12

‘63 Boycott

Gordon Quinn  |  United States  |  2017
Documentary  |   English
Biography, Family

In 1963, 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest Northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, and youth activism.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Kartemquin Films

93 Queen

Paula Eiselt  |  United States  |  2018
Documentary  |   English
Women, Youth

Set in the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn, 93QUEEN follows a group of tenacious Hasidic women who create the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York City. With unprecedented — and insider — access, the film offers up a unique portrayal of empowered women who fight to change their own community from within.

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

YouTube, Google Play

Adama

Simon Rouby  |  France  |  2015
Animation  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Youth

In this vibrantly animated odyssey, a young boy ventures outside the forbidden cliff walls of his secluded West African village in 1916 in search of his older brother.

6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

The Agronomist

Jonathan Demme  |  United States  |  2003
Documentary
Tolerance, Youth

Through historical footage and intimate interviews, The Agronomist examines the life of Jean Dominique, the human rights activist and radio host whose voice inspired the spirit of revolution against Haiti’s dictatorial regime.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

Pratibha Parmar  |  United Kingdom  |  2013
Documentary  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Youth

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth tells the extraordinary story of one of America’s greatest living writers, from her childhood in a family of Georgia sharecroppers to a distinguished career as an activist and author.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

All Power to the People

Lee Lew-Lee  |  United States  |  1996
Documentary  |   English
Family, LGBTQ+, Youth

All Power to the People chronicles the history of the Black Panther Party, examining issues of racial injustice, class conflict, and political dissent.

9, 10, 11, 12

YouTube”

Amandla

Lee Hirsch  |  South Africa  |  2002
Documentary  |   English
LGBTQ+, Youth

In this moving testimony to the power of song, Amandala documents the vital role South African freedom songs played in the nearly half-century struggle against apartheid.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

a href=”https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Amandla-A-Revolution-in-Four-Part-Harmony/7417″ target=”_blank”>Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

Anne B. Real

Lisa France  |  United States  |  2003
Fiction  |   English
LGBTQ+, Youth

Anne B. Real centers on a young female rapper who finds inpiration in The Diary of Anne Frank in this moving coming of age tale.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Amazon DVD

The Athlete

Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew  |  Ethiopia  |  2009
Documentary  |   English
Religion, Social Justice, Youth

Seamlessly blending autobiography, biopic, drama, and documentary, The Athlete is a moving examination of Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila and his ceaseless journey for greatness.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Battleground

Stephen Marshall  |  United States  |  2004
Documentary  |   English
History, War/Conflict, Youth

In 2003, filmmaker and reporter Stephen Marshall travels to war-torn Iraq to investigate a spreading insurgency that is creating an increasingly unstable situation for U.S. military troops. Focusing on the story of an ex-Shiite guerrilla returning to his homeland for the first time in over a decade, Marshall uncovers a lost optimism for a truly liberated Iraq, and the roots of an ideological split that is as divisive for Americans as it for Iraqis at the center of the conflict.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon DVD

Benji

Coodie and Chike  |  United States  |  2012
Documentary  |   English
Conflict, Family, Youth

Benji documents the November 1984 death and cultural impact of Ben Wilson, a 17-year-old from the South Side of Chicago who was regarded as the best basketball player in the country.

9, 10, 11, 12

Amazon

Blindsight

Lucy Walker  |  United States  |  2006
Documentary  |   English, German, Tibetan
Coming of Age, Family, Youth

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb the 23,000 foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

Boys of Baraka

Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady  |  United States  |  2005
Documentary  |   English
Family, Youth

The Boys of Baraka follows a group of middle school students as they journey from Baltimore to Kenya in pursuit of a better education.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Vimeo, Amazon DVD

Brooklyn Castle

Katie Dellamaggiore  |  United States  |  2012
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Mental Health, Youth

Brooklyn Castle follows five chess team members at a New York school, showing how chess helps transforms the school into one of the city’s best, but recession-driven budget cuts threaten to undermine the school’s championship chess team.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Brown Sugar

Rick Famuyiwa  |  United States  |  2002
Fiction  |   English
Coming of Age, Youth

Following the evolving relationship of a revered music critic and a successful, though unfulfilled, music executive in New York, Brown Sugar uses a love story to parallel the history of hip-hop music.

10, 11, 12

Bully

Lee Hirsch  |  United States  |  2001
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Youth

Following five students and their families over the course of a school year, Bully offers an intimate and unflinching look into the often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Central Station

Walter Salles  |  United States  |  1999
Fiction  |   Portuguese
Art/Dance, Youth

An emotive journey of a former school teacher, who writes letters for illiterate people, and a young boy, whose mother has just died, as they search for the father he never knew.

11, 12
View trailer

Amazon DVD

Chasing Fireflies

Roberto Flores Prieto  |  United States  |  2012
Fiction  |   Spanish
Youth

Manrique enjoys a solitary life guarding an abandoned salt mine until a firefly chasing dog and the teenaged daughter he ignored for years arrive to help him recover the joy of life.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

The Chorus

Christophe Barratier  |  United States  |  2004
Fiction  |   French
Religion, Social Justice, Women

The Chorus follows the journey of a newly-hired teacher at a school for troubled boys, as he reaches out to his new students through music, attempting to gain their trust and friendship, and show them their potential. T

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Circo

Aaron Schock  |  United States  |  2010
Documentary  |   Spanish
Social Justice, Women

Circo follows the Ponce family’s hardscrabble circus as it struggles to stay together despite mounting debt, dwindling audiences, and a simmering family conflict.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Tubi, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes

Circus Kids

Alexandra Lipsitz  |  United States  |  2010
Documentary  |   English
History, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice, Women

What happens when a youth circus troupe has the opportunity to travel from St. Louis to Israel to collaborate with the Galilee Circus, a local troupe comprised of Jewish and Arabic children? Circus Kids is a powerful, interfaith film that follows the kids’ experiences and witnesses the understanding that grows between youths who have little in common but their love of the circus.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

The Class

Laurent Cantet  |  United States
Fiction  |   French
History/Conflict, Women

The Class follows the year in the life of a French schoolteacher working at a high school in a tough neighborhood of Paris. Cultures and attitudes often clash in the classroom, and his classroom ethics are put to the test when his students begin to challenge his methods.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

The Closer We Get

Karen Guthrie  |  Ethiopia, United Kingdom  |  2015
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Women

The Closer We Get is an autobiographical portrait of loyalty, broken dreams, and redemption told from the perspective of director Karen Guthrie in this affecting and resonating look at post-colonialism and the complicated bonds of
family.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Copyright Criminals

Benjamin Franzen  |  United States  |  2009
Documentary  |   English
Cross-Cultural Understanding, Tolerance, War/Conflict

Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and money, tracing the rise of hip-hop in New York.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Tubi, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes

Cronos

Guillermo Del Torro  |  Mexico  |  1993
Fiction  |   English
History, War/Conflict

In 1536 during the the Inquisition, a mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path.

11, 12

Dark

D.A. Bullock  |  United States  |  2002
Fiction  |   English
Family, War/Conflict

Dark tells the story of one Dark Freeman, a young African American man who finds himself torn between his tough urban roots – living as a resident on the impoverished, crime-ridden south side of Chicago – and his day-to-day life, in the comparatively wealthy and privileged University of Chicago, where he is enrolled as a student. Walking between the two worlds, Freeman must find a way to succeed in both, with the help of lovers, family members, close friends and acquaintances.

9, 10, 11, 12

Vimeo

Day of the Crows

Jean-Christophe Dessaint  |  Belgium  |  2012
Animation  |   French
Tolerance

Raised like a wild child in the woods by his bitter and fearsome father, a boy finds himself discovering the world beyond the forest in this enchanting visualization of Jean-Francois Beauchemin’s novel.

6, 8
View trailer

Amazon DVD

Deaf Jam

July Lieff  |  United States  |  2011
Documentary  |   English/American sign language
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Sports, Youth

Deaf Jam is the story of deaf teen Aneta Brodski’s bold journey into the spoken word slam scene. When Aneta, an Israeli immigrant living in the Queens, meets Tahani, a hearing Palestinian slam poet, the two women embark on a collaboration creating a new form of slam poetry that speaks to both the hearing and the Deaf.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Duck Season

Fernando Eimbcke  |  Mexico  |  2004
Fiction  |   Spanish
Inspiration, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Sports

A typical lazy Sunday gives way to an introspective look at what it means to grow up for two 14-year-old boys left alone for the afternoon in director Fernando Eimbcke’s gentle coming-of-age comedy.

11, 12

Edith+Eddie

Laura Checkoway  |  United States  |  2017
Documentary  |   English
Biography, History, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Edith and Eddie, ages 96 and 95, are America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Evolution of a Criminal

Darius Clark Monroe  |  United States  |  2014
Documentary  |   English
Politics & Current Events, Sports, Women

After 10 years, filmmaker Darius Monroe returns to his hometown to examine how his robbery of a bank affected his family, friends and other victims.

9, 10, 11, 12

Flex Is Kings

Michael Beach Nichols, Deidre Schoo  |  United States  |  2013
Documentary  |   English
Inspiration, Sports

Filmmakers Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols turn their cameras on a group of Brooklyn dancers and street performers whose talent may provide them with the means of transcending their meager beginnings in this inspirational, visually-striking documentary.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

For Akheem

Jeremy S. Levine, Landon Van Soest  |  United States  |  2017
Documentary  |   English
Biography, Coming of Age, Conflict

Daje Shelton, a 17-year-old girl from St. Louis, just wants to do the right thing. But growing up in a tough neighborhood, she can’t catch a break: she’s struggling in school; she’s distracted by boys; and she’s surrounded by a culture of violence and brutality. The fatal shooting of Michael Brown Jr. provides a powerful backdrop for this masterfully crafted portrait of working-class urban life.

9, 10, 11, 12

For Grace

Mark Helenowski and Kevin Pang  |  United States  |  2015
Documentary  |   English
Art/Music, Sports

After cooking his way through several of Chicago’s top restaurants, Chef Curtis Duffy is ready to open his new and ambitious restaurant, Grace. An in depth look at what it takes to create and manage one of the world’s greatest eateries, For Grace also tells the complex story of a man constantly pushing forward in a quest to overcome his traumatic past and create his own future.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Forbidden Games

Rene Clement  |  France  |  1952
Fiction  |   French
Social Justice, Women, Youth

A timeless evocation of childhood innocence corrupted, René Clément’s Forbidden Games tells the story of a young girl orphaned by war and the farm boy she joins in a fantastical world of macabre play. At once mythical and heartbreakingly real, this unique film features astonishing performances by its child stars and was honored with a special foreign language film Academy Award in 1952.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon DVD

The Girls on Liberty Street

John A. Rangel  |  United States  |  2013
Fiction  |   English
Politics & Current Events, Social Justice, Tolerance

With only one week left until she leaves for the Army, teenager Brianna spends her final days at her home in the Chicago suburbs packing and saying goodbye to friends. But in her quiet moments and the seemingly mundane interactions with family members, Brianna’s anxiety about her decision is palpable. Eschewing melodrama, the film imbues this simple story with a deft style and effortlessly natural performances, creating an assured portrait of a young woman in transition.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Girls On The Wall

Heather Ross  |  United States  |  2009
Documentary  |   English
Social Justice, Sports

In this affecting documentary, the girls of the Warrenville, Illinois prison are given a chance to tell their stories in a musical based on their lives. To do this, they must reach within themselves and reflect on the life choices they have made. With unprecedented access to the juvenile prison, director Heather Ross skillfully traces these young women’s attempts to reclaim their humanity and ultimately their freedom

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

Go For It!

Carmen Marrón  |  United States  |  2011
Fiction  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

In this high-energy coming-of-age tale from local filmmakers, feisty Carmen spends her days working and her nights wowing club crowds with her dancing. But an opportunity to win admission to a prestigious dance school forces Carmen to choose between fulfilling her obligations to her family and urban community or moving on to a brighter but uncertain future

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Good Morning

Yasujiro Ozo  |  Japan  |  1959
Fiction  |   Japanese
History, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

A lighthearted take on director Yasujiro Ozu’s perennial theme of the challenges of inter­generational relationships, Good Morning tells the story of two young boys who stop speaking in protest after their parents refuse to buy a television set. Ozu weaves a wealth of subtle gags through a family portrait as rich as those of his dramatic films, mocking the foibles of the adult world through the eyes of his child protagonists.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Grand Illusion

Jean Renoir  |    |  1938
Fiction  |   French
Family, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

One of the very first prison escape movies, Grand Illusion is hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. Jean Renoir’s antiwar masterpiece stars Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay as French soldiers held in a World War I German prison camp, and Erich von Stroheim as the unforgettable Captain von Rauffenstein.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Google Play, YouTube, Vudu

Grey Gardens

Albert and David Maysles  |  United States  |  1976
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

Grey Gardens is a hypnotic, tragic and affectionate classic, featuring 79-year-old Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, the aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy. Sharing a decaying seaside mansion with countless cats and rodents, the disarmingly eccentric duo competes for attention, revealing a complex relationship, as well as some famously far-out fashion experiments.

9, 10, 11, 12

Harlem Aria

William Jenning  |  United States  |  1999
Fiction  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

An aspiring opera singer from Harlem teams up with a charismatic busker and a kindhearted hustler to share his voice with the world, and teaches his two newfound friends the importance of taking your destiny into your own hands.

11, 12

The Hate U Give

George Tillman Jr.  |  United States  |  2018
Fiction  |   English
Art/Music, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr Carter, a young woman who is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

10, 11, 12
View trailer

Heat Wave

Kevin Hooks  |  United States  |  1990
Fiction  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

As the Watts riots erupted one steamy night in 1965, the Los Angeles Times sent its reporters to the scene – white men who, soon after they arrived, had to run for their lives. Then Bob Richardson, a young African American messenger for the paper, volunteered to cover the story alone. He braved fire, fury, bullets and death to report the courage and the cowardice, injustice and hate that engulfed the streets. His work helped earn the Times a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the uprising. Heat Wave tells the dynamic true story of America on the brink of racial meltdown and of citizens – black and white – who refused to allow violence to conquer hope.

11, 12
View trailer

Amazon, Vudu

The Homestretch

Kirsten Kelly, Anne de Mare  |  United States  |  2014
Documentary  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

Three homeless teenagers brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future. Against all odds, these kids defy stereotypes as they create new, surprising definitions of home. Can they recover from the traumas of abandonment and homelessness and build the future they dream of?

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Hunting Season

Natalia Garagiola  |  Argentina  |  2017
Fiction  |   Spanish
Art/Music, Youth

Animosity gives way to love and forgiveness when an angry teenager reunites with his estranged biological father in the wilds of Patagonia.

10, 11, 12

Netflix

In the Game

Maria Finitzo  |  United States  |  2015
Documentary  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

In the Game is the story of strong young women and a dedicated coach who uses the game of soccer to teach his players how to face all that life will throw their way, without giving up, without complaints, with grace and with resilience.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Kartemquin Films

The Interrupters

Steve James  |  United States  |  2011
Documentary  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn, persistence of violence in our cities.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

I’ve Seen The Unicorn

Vincent Toi  |  Canada  |  2014
Documentary  |   French Creole
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

I’ve Seen the Unicorn follows the inhabitants of the island nation of Mauritius as they prepare for The Maiden Cup horse race, a very popular and important event for their culture.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

KWA Films

Jump Shot film still

Jump Shot

Jacob Hamilton  |  United States  |  2017
Documentary  |   English
Biography, History, Sports

This agile documentary tells the story of Kenny Sailors, a young Wyoming athlete who pioneered his “leaping one-hander” in the 1940s. Featuring the charismatic Sailors, who can still swish at 91, Jump Shot pays tribute to a man—and the move—that changed the sport forever.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Just Mercy

Destin Daniel Cretton  |  United States  |  2019
Fiction  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

Just Mercy is the true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and his history-making battles for justice in Alabama. Stevenson refuses to back down as he fights a legal system without mercy stacked against him and his clients at every turn. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man whose clear innocence means nothing to the corrupt and compassionless forces Stevenson doggedly takes on.

10, 11, 12

Kinyarwanda

Alrick Brown  |  United States  |  2011
Fiction  |   English, Kinyarwanda
Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

A young Tutsi girl and Hutu boy fall in love, an army captain tries to stay true to her mission while keeping her humanity intact, and a priest grapples with his faith amidst unspeakable betrayals and horrors. Kinyarwanda magnifies the individual lives of those who suffered and endured in this compelling, wholly original take on the Rwandan Massacre of 1994.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

La Playa D.C.

Juan Andrés Arango Garcia  |  Colombia  |  2012
Fiction  |   Spanish
Mental Health, Social Justice

Tomás, an Afro-Colombian teenager driven from his home by war, settles with his brothers in the section of Bogota known as “La Playa.” Working as a barber’s apprentice, Tomás is just beginning to find a place for himself when his younger brother Jairo disappears. Tomás must make a risk-filled journey in search of Jairo, a rite of passage that forces him to find, and earn, his own identity in this impressive, wonderfully energetic debut film.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

Lalee’s Kin

Susan Froemke, Deborah Dickson and Albert Maysles  |  United States
Documentary  |   English
History, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

Lalee’s Kin takes us deep into the Mississippi Delta and the intertwined lives of LaLee Wallace, a great-grandmother struggling to hold her world together in the face of dire poverty, and Reggie Barnes, superintendent of the embattled West Tallahatchie School System. The film explores the painful legacy of slavery and sharecropping in the Delta.

9, 10, 11, 12

The Last Just Man

Steven Silver  |  Canada  |  2002
Documentary  |   English, French
History, Social Justice

An examination of the Rwandan Genocide through the eyes of Lt. General Romeo Dalaire, the Canadian commander of UN peacekeeping operations at the time, The Last Just Man is a compelling and revealing historical deconstruction of the forces behind a tragic failure to achieve peace

11, 12

Legacy

Tod Lending  |  United States  |  2002
Documentary  |   English
History, Social Justice

Legacy tells the story of a Chicago family living in the projects and their transcending of hardships. Shot over a five-year period, this emotional feature looks, with an intimate eye, into three generations of powerful women – how they winter through the murder of a son, welfare, drug addictions, and the violence of their community and life in the projects.

11, 12

Lemon Tree

Eran Riklis  |  Israel
Fiction  |   Arabic, English, Hebrew
History, Social Justice

Salma, a Palestinian widow (living there for decades), has to stand up against her new neighbor, the Israeli Defense Minister, when he moves into his new house opposite her lemon grove, on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. A complex, dark and sometimes funny look at the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, in which all players find themselves alone in their struggle to survive.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon, iTunes

Life After Death

Joe Callander  |  Rwanda, United States  |  2014
Documentary  |   Kinyarwanda
Social Justice

Life after Death follows the everyday lives of best friends, Kwasa and Fils, as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide. Both boys embody the struggle of a generation left behind in the wake of violence and destruction.

10, 11, 12
View trailer

Vimeo

Life and Nothing More

Antonio Méndez Esparza  |  United States  |  2017
Fiction  |   English
Art/Poetry, Chicago

A stunning fusion of drama and real-life, Florida-based director Esparza’s remarkable second feature follows Regina, a single-mother, and her teenage son Andrew. As Regina brings another man into their lives, Andrew wrestles with young adulthood, first love, and his feelings about his absent father.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

Amazon

Lift

DeMane Davis and Khari Streeter  |  United States  |  2001
Fiction  |   English
Science, Youth

Lift, a penetrating film set in Boston dealing with the bonds between a mother and a daughter is part melodrama, part consumerist critique, part heist flick. Lift portrays an embittered mother-daughter relationship located within a circle of dysfunctional friends and associates who aspire to materialism they cannot afford.

Amazon

A Light Beneath Their Feet

Valerie Weiss  |  United States  |  2015
Fiction  |   English
Science

Beth, an Evanston high school senior, has a bright future ahead. As she prepares to go to college, Beth must decide if she will stay near home and remain dedicated to caring for her bipolar mother or follow her own path. Emotionally raw and bracingly honest, this coming of-age drama balances the pull of familial obligations against personal aspirations.

View trailer

YouTube, Google Play, iTunes

Louder Than a Bomb film still

Louder Than a Bomb

Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel  |  United States  |  2010
Documentary  |   English
Relationships

Four teams of supremely talented Chicago high school students harness the ecstatic power of words as they prepare to compete in the world’s largest youth poetry slam right here in Chicago.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Mad Hot Ballroom

Marilyn Agrelo  |  United States  |  2005
Documentary  |   English
Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. Told from their candid, sometimes hilarious perspectives, these kids are transformed, from reluctant participants to determined competitors as they approach the final citywide competition.

Made In China

Judith Krant  |  United States  |  2009
Fiction  |   English
Politics & Current Events

A confident young man with a unique style and a solid entrepreneurial spirit has made it his mission to bring the small pleasures in life to a global market. But when he gets sucked into a world of scammers and schemers, this eternal optimist will have to figure out just how far he’s willing to pursue the American Dream.

9, 10, 11, 12
View trailer

iTunes

The Magic Hour

Óscar Blancarte  |  Mexico  |  2000
Fiction  |   English, Spanish
Coming of Age, Music

This modern fairy tale magically unfolds in flashbacks as a middle-aged writer, suffering from writer’s block, returns to her childhood in search of the key to the future.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Manchurian Candidate

John Frankenheimer  |  United States  |  1962
Fiction  |   English
Disability, Poetry

A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.

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Marie’s Story

Jean-Pierre Améris  |  France  |  2004
Fiction  |   French
History, Inspiration, Music

Marie’s Story tells the true tale of Marie Heurtins, born deaf and blind, who, with the help of compassionate nun Marguerite, shows the world what she is capable of learning.

Mary & Max

Adam Elliott  |  Australia  |  2009
Animation  |   English
Coming of Age, Music

An animated tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York.

Miriam Lies

Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada  |  Spain  |  2018
Fiction  |   Spanish
Art/Music, Coming of Age

In this sensitive coming-of-age drama, a shy, bi-racial teenager wants to invite a boy she met online to her quinceanera—but she fears telling her mother that he’s black.

10, 11, 12

Monsieur Lazhar

Philippe Falardeau  |  Canada  |  2011
Fiction  |   French
Music

In Montréal, Bachir Lazhar, a refugee from Algeria, is hired to replace a schoolteacher who has suddenly died. Despite the initial cultural differences, he gradually gets to know his pupils, developing a close relationship with his class.

Mooz-lum

Qasim Basir  |  United States  |  2010
Fiction  |   English
Music

Growing up under a strict father and the even stricter tutelage of his fundamentalist Muslim teachers, Tariq enters college questioning his faith, values, and identity. When the sudden cataclysm of 9/11 inflames antiMuslim fervor on campus, Tariq is forced to make a stand one way or the other.

View trailer

Amazon, Amazon DVD

More Than a Month

Shukree Hassan Tilghman  |  United States  |  2012
Documentary  |   English
Biography, Mental Health

Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a 29-year-old African American filmmaker, is on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month. Through this thoughtful, humorous journey, More Than a Month investigates what the treatment of history tells us about race and equality in a “post-racial” America.

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Amazon DVD

My Architect

Nathaniel Kahn  |  United States  |  2003
Documentary  |   English
Mental Health

Louis Kahn, a giant among twentieth-century architects, left a legacy of brilliantly designed and engineered buildings. Kahn’s personal life was mysterious, and his death, alone and unidentified in Penn Station in 1974, revealed that he led not a double but a triple life, shuttling between his legitimate family and two women and the children they bore him. One of these, his son Nathaniel, takes us on a personal journey to consider the contradictions of this complicated genius and eccentric parent.

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Amazon DVD

My Good Enemy

Oliver Ussing  |  Denmark  |  2010
Fiction  |   Danish
LGBTQ+, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Sensitive 12-year-old Alf is the low man on his class’s totem pole, and he’s sick of it. Forming a secret alliance with another student who has also grown weary of being bullied, he hatches a plan to throw a wrench into the well-oiled gears of the school social order.

My Life as McDull

Toe Yuen  |  Hong Kong  |  2001
Animation  |   Cantonese
Comedy, Inspiration

McDull and his mother may be animated pigs, but their lives are those of working class Hong Kong residents. The film is a charming, involving picture that epitomizes the irrepressible and happy-go-lucky spirit of Hong Kong.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Amazon DVD

Noi Albinoi

Nathanial Kahn  |  Iceland  |  2003
Fiction  |   Icelandic
History, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, War/Conflict

Is he the village idiot or a genius in disguise? 17 year old Noi drifts through life on a remote fjord in the north of Iceland. In winter, the fjord is cut off from the outside world, surrounded by ominous mountains and buried under a shroud of snow. Noi dreams of escaping from this white-walled prison with Iris, a city girl who works in a local gas station. But his clumsy attempts at escape spiral out of control and end in complete failure. Only a natural disaster will shatter Noi’s universe and offer him a window into a better world.

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iTunes

Notorious

Alfred Hitchcock  |  United States  |  1946
Fiction  |   English
Classic Cinema, History, War/Conflict

American spy film noir directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation.

Of Boys And Men

Carl Seaton  |  United States
Fiction  |   English
History, War/Conflict

A Chicago widower must somehow lead his family through unspeakable grief in the wake of a sudden tragedy.

9, 10, 11, 12

Off White Lies

Maya Kenig  |  Israel  |  2011
Fiction  |   Hebrew
History, War/Conflict

Shy teenager Libby moves back to Israel to live with her hapless father Shaul, unexpectedly finding herself without a home as war breaks out around them. Shaul devises a creative solution: posing as refugees, they are taken in by a wealthy family in Jerusalem. Finally, in a “normal” household, Shaul and Libby begin to build their father-daughter relationship, but their false identities can’t last forever.

9, 10, 11, 12
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Tubi, Amazon

One Week

Carl Seaton  |  United States  |  2000
Fiction  |   English
History, War/Conflict

A dire medical diagnosis prompts a young man (Joshua Jackson) to search for meaning in his life via a cross-country trek across Canada on a vintage motorcycle.

11, 12
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Otelo Burning

Sara Blecher  |  South Africa  |  2011
Fiction  |   English, Zulu
History, Sports

Otelo discovers an amazing talent as a surfer and is thrust into a glamorous world of money and women until his brother Ntwe is murdered. He faces a terrible choice — to stay a star or get revenge.

9, 10, 11, 12

The Other Side of the Wall

Pau Ortiz  |  Spain  |  2017
Documentary  |   Spanish
Biography, Culinary Arts, Inspiration

When their mother is sentenced to 10 years in a Mexican prison on questionable charges, teenagers Rocío and Ale are left with no choice but to play the role of both mother and father to their two younger siblings. The Other Side of the Wall roots its timely story about dislocation and migration in a deeply intimate and emotional domestic drama.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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P*Star Rising

Gabriel Noble  |  United States  |  2009
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, History

P*Star Rising follows the story of a retired rapper who guides his nine year old daughter through the music business in this exploration of the elusive nature of fame, the determination of youth and the seductive power of celebrity culture.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Patang

Prashant Bhargava  |  India  |  2011
Fiction  |   English, Gujarati, Hindi
History, Religion

In Patang, a successful Delhi businessman returns to his familial home, urban-bred daughter in tow, for a surprise visit during India’s largest kite festival. The excitement of their homecoming soon fades as long-held resentments and distrust surface.

9, 10, 11, 12
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YouTube, Vimeo, Google Play

Persepolis

Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi  |  France, United States  |  2007
Animation  |   English, French, German, Persian
Classic Cinema, Conflict/War, History

Persepolis traces a young girl’s growth from child to rebellious, punk-loving teenager against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution.

9, 10, 11, 12

Pressure Cooker

Mark Becker and Jennifer Grausman  |  United States
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, History, War/Conflict

Pressure Cooker profiles the lives of three high school seniors from Northeast Philadelphia, each with unique hardships but with the shared goal of winning scholarships to the country’s best culinary schools.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Public Enemy

Jens Meurer  |  France, Germany  |  1999
Documentary  |   English
Family, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Youth

Four past members of the Black Panther Party — playwright and former prisoner Jamal Joseph; renowned musician and record producer Nile Rodgers; law professor and lecturer Kathleen Cleaver; and founding party member Bobby Seale — share their personal memories and thoughts on the historic, militant civil rights group that caused a stir in America during the 1960s and ’70s. The subjects also reflect on the organization’s impact on contemporary American society.

9, 10, 11, 12

Racing Dreams

Marshall Curry  |  United States  |  2009
Documentary  |   English
Family, Youth

Racing Dreams is an exhilarating and emotional documentary following a year in the life of three top go-kart racers as they compete for the national championship. Barely 13 years old, Anna, Josh, and Brandon—and their families—must find out if they truly have what it takes to make it to NASCAR.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Tubi, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes

Rafiki

Wanuri Kahiu  |  Kenya  |  2018
Fiction  |   Swahili
Art/Music, History

A tender tale of forbidden first love told in an electric, colorful Afropop style, Rafiki tells the story of the tender but illegal and taboo romance between Kena, a skateboarding tomboy blessed with great grades and soccer skills, and Ziki, the charismatic daughter of a conservative local politician.

10, 11, 12
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Amazon, Vudu

Rain

Maria Govan  |  Bahamas
Fiction  |   English
Family, Youth

When her grandma dies, 14-year-old Rain is sent to live with her drug-addicted mother in the poverty-stricken ghettos of Nassau. The irony of disease, drug addictions, prostitution, and poverty—set against the tourist-filled island backdrop—is difficult to ignore as these women struggle to find an inner strength to overcome their seemingly inescapable destiny.

11, 12
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Amazon DVD

Rashomon

Akira Kurosawa  |  Japan  |  1950
Fiction  |   Japanese
Family, Youth

Brimming with action while incisively examining the nature of truth, Rashomon investigates the philosophy of justice. Through the use of camera and flashbacks, Kurosawa reveals the complexities of human nature as four people recount different versions of the story of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife.

11, 12
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Amazon, iTunes, fuboTV

Real Women Have Curves

Patricia Cardoso  |  United States  |  2002
Fiction  |   English, Spanish
Family, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, War/Conflict

Real Women Have Curves is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman, who’s torn between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage.

9, 10, 11, 12

Refugee

Spencer Nakasako  |  United States  |  2004
Documentary  |   Cambodian
Coming of Age, Family, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Refugee follows three young Cambodian American men, raised on the streets of San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin district, as they travel to Cambodia to meet their families for the first time. These family reunions reveal the quagmire of Cambodian political upheaval and military invasion, as well as the heavy toll of years spent apart in different worlds.

9, 10, 11, 12
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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Kim Bartley and Donnacha O Briain  |  United States  |  2003
Documentary  |   English, Spanish
Family, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

In April 2002, the democratically elected Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, faces a coup d’état by an American-backed opposition party. The two-day coup fails to topple Chávez, but the tumultuous event proves to be great dramatic material for two Irish filmmakers who happen to be making a documentary about Chavez as the coup erupts. They capture footage of the massive opposition and pro-Chavez crowds and analyze how Venezuelan TV manipulated images for propaganda purposes.

9, 10, 11, 12

Ringside

André Hörmann  |  Germany, United States  |  2019
Documentary  |   English
Family, Politics & Current Events

Ringside looks at the dangerous, volatile world of Chicago’s South Side from the perspective of two remarkably gifted young boxers and the fathers who train them ; as one begins a rising career in the ring, the other serves an eight-year-prison sentence for criminal trespass and burglary.

9, 10, 11, 12
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Runaway

Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini  |  United Kingdom
Documentary  |   Farsi
Family, Mental Illness

Runaway follows the stories of five young girls who arrive at a refuge in Irans capital city Tehran, having run away from abusive or neglectful families.

9, 10, 11, 12

Salaam Dunk

David Fine  |  Iraq, United States  |  2011
Documentary  |   Arabic, English, Kurdish
Art/Dance, Coming of Age, Family

Through traditional interviews and private confessional video diaries, Salaam Dunk follows the ethnically diverse AUIS women’s basketball team as they discover what it means to be athletes. From the joy of their first win to the pain of losing the coach who started their team, the film gives a glimpse into an Iraq we don’t see on the news.

9, 10, 11, 12
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Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland

Kate Davis & David Heilbroner  |  United States  |  2018
Documentary  |   English
History/Conflict, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Social Justice

In 2015, Sandra Bland, a politically active black woman from Chicago, was arrested for a traffic violation in a small Texas town. Three days later, Sandra was found hanging from a noose in a jail cell. Combining Bland’s video blogs with extraordinary access to her family’s testimony and their legal team, Say Her Name is both an engrossing murder mystery and a disturbing account of systemic racism and neglect.

10, 11, 12
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HBO

Science Fair

Darren Foster, Cristina Costantini  |  United States  |  2018
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Family

Science Fair follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries and setbacks on their journey to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair, offering a front-row seat to the victories, defeats and motivations of an incredible group of young men and women who are on a path to change their lives —and the world — through science.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Set Me Free

Léa Pool  |  Canada  |  1999
Fiction  |   French
Coming of Age, Family

Following a 13-year-old girl adrift in a sea of powerful emotions in Montreal in 1963, the heartfelt “Set Me Free” is simultaneously an insightful family portrait, a homage to the French New Wave and a testament to the potential of film to shape and redeem life.

10, 11, 12
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Shake the Dust

Adam Sjöberg  |  United States  |  2015
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Family

Chronicling the rise and influence of breakdancing and hip-hop culture across the globe, Shake The Dust tells the inspiring stories of the third-world communities that hip-hop has resonanted with the most, honoring the specific rituals of each culture as well as the passions that unite them.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Sole Survivor

Ky Dickens  |  United States  |  2013
Documentary  |   English, French
Coming of Age, Family

In the history of aviation, there have been only 14 sole survivors of commerical airplane disasters. Most have never soken publically about the psychological toll of this experience and the emotions that have followed them afterwards. Sole Survivor brings together four of these people together to share their complex, deeply personal stories for the first time, seeking solace in their shared histories as they relive the most harrowing moment of their lives.

11, 12
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Something Necessary

Judy Kibinge  |  Kenya  |  2013
Fiction  |   Swahili
Coming of Age, Family

Kenya erupts in widespread violence following the results of a controversially disputed Presidential election in 2007. In the wake of that violence, Something Necessary tracks the lives of multiple characters trying to rebuild their lives and atone for their actions, doing whatever they can to move forward and change themselves for the better.

11, 12
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Soul Food Junkies

Byron Hurt  |  United States  |  2012
Documentary  |   English
Classic Cinema, Family

Filmmaker Byron Hurt offers a fascinating exploration of the soul food tradition, its deep-rooted relevance to black cultural identity, and its continued popularity desite the known danges of high-fat, high-calorie diets. Hurt further studies the food industry machinations and socioeconimic conditions of predominantly black neighborhoods, examining the cultural politics of food and the comlex interactions of identity, flavor, power, and health.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Spellbound

Jeffrey Blitz  |  United States  |  2002
Documentary  |   English
Class, Classic Cinema, Family

Spellbound follows eight kids on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee. This Oscar-nominated entry documents the intense experience of the National Spelling Bee as seen through the eyes of eight young spellers, with viewers glimpsing the kids’ private lives as they train for and compete in the ultimate cerebral showdown.

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Strictly Ballroom

Baz Luhrmann  |  Australia  |  1992
Fiction  |   English
Family

Competitive ballroom dancer Scott Hastings has been groomed his entire life by his dance-teacher mother and reclusive father to win the coveted Pan-Pacific title. However, he has grown bored performing classic dances and starts dancing unconventional steps, thus disqualifying himself from the winner’s circle. Quiet beginning dancer Fran, however, encourages Scott to dance his own steps, and she becomes his secret partner. Chaos breaks out at the championships as Scott is torn between dancing with established winner Tina Sparkle or taking a chance on Fran, though it is sure to cost him the win. Meanwhile, a cast of wacky characters grows out of control while trying to maintain tradition in this romantic comedy/mockumentary about competitive ballroom dancing in Australia.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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Swing

Tony Gatlif  |  France  |  2002
Fiction  |   French
Coming of Age, Disability, Inspiration

Ten year-old Max is bored, he’s looking for some fun. One day, he finds himself listening to the virtuoso guitar-playing of a gypsy named Miraldo. Max is transfixed by the unusual music: he has discovered “manouche”. Like a bee to honey, he’s drawn to this haunting music, heading off to the wrong side of town, where the gypsies live–a place he knows he’s not supposed to visit. Undeterred, he buys a guitar and convinces Miraldo to tutor him. Soon he’s discovered a whole new world–gypsy jazz and a girl named Swing. A generous, purely joyful and exuberant film that teaches the importance of delving into other cultures.

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Those Who Remain

Carlos Hagerman, Juan Carlos Rulfo  |  Mexico  |  2008
Documentary  |   Spanish
Art/Dance, Art/Music, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Those Who Remain intimately observes the everyday lives of nine families across different parts of Mexico for almost a year, who all stayed in their home towns after their relatives moved to the U.S. for better opportunities.

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Tomboy

Céline Sciamma  |  France  |  2011
Fiction  |   French
Art/Dance, Art/Music, Social Justice

Gender identity and growing up are at the heart of this sweet and heartbreaking film about Laure, a 10-year-old girl who pretends to be a boy in her new surroundings after being confused for one by neighbor Lisa. As Michael, Laure soon wins the admiration of neighborhood boys for her soccer skills. No matter how imaginative Laure is in dealing with boy issues, keeping her true identity secret will prove difficult as Laure and Lisa become closer.

12
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Tough Bond

Austin Peck, Anneliese Vandenberg  |  United States  |  2013
Documentary  |   Swahili
Culinary Arts, Youth

On the streets of Nairobi, Tough Bond-brand glue is the drug of choice for kids living on their own, numbing themselves to hunger while surviving off scraps. This incredibly moving documentary provides an intimate look at four of these kids – who call themselves “Survivors” – following them over the course of three years and taking the viewer deep into their lives.

10, 11, 12
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Triplets of Belleville

Sylvain Chomet  |  France  |  2003
Animation  |   French
Cooking, Culture

Adopted by his grandmother, Madame Souza, Champion is a lonely little boy. Noticing that this lad is never happier than on a bicycle, Madame Souza puts him through a rigorous training process. Years go by and Champion becomes worthy of his name. Now he’s ready to enter the world-famous cycling race, the Tour de France. However during this cycling contest two mysterious men in black kidnap Champion. Madame Souza and her faithful dog Bruno set out to rescue him. Their quest takes them across the ocean to a giant Megalopolis called Belleville where they encounter the renowned Triplets of Belleville, three eccentric female music-hall stars from the 30’s who decide to take Madame Souza and Bruno under their wing. Thanks to Bruno’s brilliant sense of smell, the brave duo is soon on to Champion’s trail. But will they succeed in beating the devilish plans of the evil French mafia?

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Trust

David Schwimmer  |  United States  |  2010
Fiction  |   English
Coming of Age, Inspiration, Youth

After carefree teenager Annie’s life is shattered by an online sexual predator, her parents (Clive Owen, Catherine Keener) struggle to help her pick up the pieces. As anger and disbelief drive her father’s desire for revenge, Annie is left to contend with her feelings of guilt and shame. Commanding performances by an ensemble cast drive this fiercely honest look at the devastating aftermath of rape

12
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Undefeated

Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin  |  United States  |  2011
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Women

Set in Memphis, Undefeated chronicles the Manassas Tigers’ 2009 football season as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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United Skates

Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown  |  United States  |  2018
Documentary  |   English
Art/Music

A rousing tribute to roller-skating’s pivotal role in the African-American community, United Skates careens around the country, offering an intimate look at a lively subculture that’s under threat. Facing discriminatory policies and rink closures, committed skaters from around the country—including Chicago’s own Buddy Love—fight to preserve a space for people to come together and express themselves in sliding, bouncing, snapping glory.

9, 10, 11, 12
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Unknown Soldier

Ferenc Toth  |  United States  |  2003
Fiction  |   English
Coming of Age, War

Bright, friendly and bubbling with hormones, Ellison is a typical Harlem teenager. He gets into good-natured mischief with his pals, stealing dogs and sneaking into amusement parks, and has a playful sexual tug-of- war with his girlfriend Tande. But when his father dies of a sudden heart attack, Ellison is evicted from their apartment and forced to grow up far too soon. Without relatives, he quickly runs out of friends’ houses to stay in and finds himself homeless and desperate. He declines a job with local drug dealer and longtime acquaintance Zee, but after being refused by the Army (asthma) and victimized in a homeless shelter, Ellison is out of options. As Zee’s personal assistant, he’s entrusted with harmless tasks which slowly give way to dangerous assignments that leave him desperate for a way out. Ferenc Toth’s astounding debut won Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Valentin

Alejandro Agresti  |  Spain  |  2002
Fiction  |   Spanish
Coming of Age, Inspiration, Sports

Eight year old Valentin lives with his grandmother in Buenos Aires in the late 1960s. Valentin dreams of becoming an astronaut, finding a new wife for his absent father and of being reunited with his missing mother. While caught in the middle of his family, he attempts to better the bewildering world around him.This heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) tale follows the smart and resourceful Valentin, as he reacts to and observes the troubled individuals he encounters.

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Violet Perfume

Maryse Sistach  |  Mexico, The Netherlands  |  2001
Fiction  |   Spanish
Coming of Age, Social Justice

Unhappy with her family life, teenager Yessica finds solace in a close friendship with shy Miriam. But when Yessica is raped by her step-brother and his friend, her despair overwhelms her, leading to tragic consequences.

11, 12
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The Visitor

Tom McCarthy  |  United States  |  2007
Fiction  |   English
Coming of Age, Race, Ethnicity & Identity

Walter, s widower college professor, travels to New York City to speak at an academic conference and discovers a swindler has rented his apartment to a young, illegal immigrant couple. The two nearly leave but Walter convinces them to stay, and a friendship develops between the trio as they learn to get by together.

9, 10, 11, 12
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Wadjda

Haifaa Al-Mansour  |  Saudi Arabia  |  2012
Fiction  |   Arabic
Coming of Age, Family, Music

Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. Soon enough, Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, determined to continue fighting for her dreams. Wadjda is the first feature length film to be shot completely in Saudi Arabia, as well as the first feature film made by a female Saudi director

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Walking Distance

Alejandro Guzmán Alvarez  |  Mexico  |  2015
Fiction  |   Spanish
Coming of Age, Family

The film Walking Distance (Distincias Cortas) is a modern day urban fairytale about Fede, a morbidly obese man whose weight makes it difficult for him to leave his house. Living a life of isolation, his only human connection comes through weekly visits by his overbearing sister and her long-suffering husband. After his brother in law shows Fede his vacation photos, Fede becomes inspired to leave his house and develop an old roll of film found in his house. Through this experience, Fede’s life becomes renewed, introducing friendship, discovery and joy into his life.

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War Dance

Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine  |  United States  |  2007
Documentary  |   English
Coming of Age

Since 1985, the children of the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda have been victimized both by civil war and by a rebel force, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Millions have been displaced into camps where life is harsh. But when one camp’s primary school won the right to compete in Uganda’s national music and dance festival, its children dared to dream again. Nominated for an Academy Award, WAR DANCE follows three of these children – Dominic, Rose and Nancy – as they faced their past and imagined their future.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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War Witch

Kim Nguyen  |  Canada  |  2012
Fiction  |   French, Lingala
Coming of Age

A remarkable, inspiring story of human resilience, War Witch tells the story of Komona, a 14- year-old girl whose life took a drastic, tragic turn when armed rebels stormed her village. Forced to join the rebel army and endure brutal training, Komona learns to survive, and even falls in love. Although she wishes to forget, the now-pregnant Komona realizes she must reconcile herself with her painful past.

12
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Wattstax

Mel Stuart  |  United States  |  1973
Documentary  |   English
Comedy, Disability

Experience the history and the soul of the African-American community in Watts,
Los Angeles, 1972. Wattstax documents the gathering of over 100,000 at the Los
Angeles Coliseum, hosted by a very young Jesse Jackson, for the 7th
anniversary of the Watts riots. The music of The Stylistics, The Staples Singers,
Rufus and Carla Thomas, Bar-Kays, and the legendary Isaac Hayes held the
forefront of the spirit so vigorously displayed here. Interviews with the residents
of Watts combined with astounding, sublime monologues by comedian Richard
Pryor create an invocation-we are delivered from place and time to become in
tune with this politically loaded era and the flame of the soul performing and
reflecting it.

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The Way He Looks

Daniel Ribeiro  |  Brazil  |  2014
Fiction  |   Portuguese
Classic Cinema

The Way He Looks details the trials and tribulations of growing up for three teenagers as they struggle to navigate the awkwardness of adolescence. Leonardo and Giovanna have been best friends since they were very young. Now, in the midst of their teen years, they are both confronted with the challenges of budding sexuality, the struggle for independence, and defining themselves as adults. When they befriend the new kid in school, Gabriel, their seemingly static world is turned upside down as they question their relationships with one another. If being a teenager isn’t hard enough, their situation is further complicated by Leonardo’s blindness

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We Are The Radical Monarchs

Linda Goldstein Knowlton  |  United States  |  2019
Documentary  |   English
Classic Cinema

Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, We Are The Radical Monarchs documents the Radical Monarchs – a California-based alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. It’s members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice. The group was started by two, fierce, queer women of color, Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest as a way to address and center her daughter’s experience as a young brown girl. Their work is anchored in the belief that adolescent girls of color need dedicated spaces and that the foundation for this innovative work must also be rooted in fierce inter-dependent sisterhood, self-love, and hope.

6, 7, 8
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A Wedding in Ramallah

Sherine Salama  |  Australia, Palestine  |  2002
Documentary  |   English
Class, Youth

Even in the midst of intense political conflicts, people try to get on with their lives. So it is with Mariam and Bassam, a Palestinian couple who met during the relatively peaceful summer of 2000. This wonderfully observant film follows their relationship from courtship to marriage, and beyond. Bassam, a telephone repairman in Cleveland, returns to Palestine to find a “home-made” bride. He quickly meets and marries the young Mariam, but leaves he in Palestine with his family. Soon afterward, a new intifada takes place and violence erupts throughout Palestine. Life in wartime is brilliantly evoked: people talk on cell phones, quarrel and cook dinner while tanks are shelling buildings a few blocks away. After many months, Bassam is able to procure a visa for Maraiam, but she soon discovers that life is exile in the UC is not what she expected. This charming film says a great deal about love, courtship, and the roles of women and men in Palestinian society, while touching on the details of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Wolfskinder

Rick Ostermann  |  Germany  |  2013
Fiction  |   German
Biography, Inspiration, Sports

A remarkable story inspired by true events, Wolfschildren follows 14-year-old Hans and his younger brother Fritz, orphaned after WWII, on the long and difficult journey to Lithuania where family friends might take them in. Almost immediately, the brothers are separated, and Hans must make his way alone through treacherous territory, fighting off disease and hunger while outrunning the Soviet army, praying that he and his brother will fine each other again in this beautifully shot, true-life thriller.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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The Wooden Camera

Ntshavheni Wa Luruli  |  South Africa  |  2003
Fiction  |   English
Biography, Race, Ethnicity & Identity, Women

In Kayelitsha, a township close to Capetown, after the end of Apartheid, two thirteen-year-old kids- Madiba and Sipho – play along the railway line. A train passes by. A dead man is tossed from the train and rolls to their feet. His lifeless hand clutches an attaché case. Inside, the boys find a gun and a video camera. Sipho takes the gun and Madiba the camera. Madiba starts filming the township and its inhabitants. Through the lens, his bleak surroundings take on a strange new beauty. His status enhanced by gun ownership, Sipho becomes a gang leader and operates out of Capetown. In Capetown Madiba meets Estelle, who lives in a traditional Capetownian white community in which century-old prejudices have not died with the end of apartheid. Madiba introduces Estelle to Sipho, who inadvertently encourages her rebellion against her racist, strict father. Estelle introduces Madiba to Mr. Shawn, her music teacher who has taught music in the townships. Mr. Shawn encourages Madiba’s filmmaking. Madiba and Estelle each deal with problems at home of a very different sort. For Madiba, it’s the extreme poverty and an alcoholic father. For Estelle, it’s the rising confrontations with her narrow-minded father. Meanwhile, Sipho’s friendship with Madiba becomes strained as Sipho falls into drug use (sniffing glue) and deeper into crime.

10, 11, 12

Zoo

Colin Mclvor  |  Ireland, United Kingdom  |  2017
Fiction  |   English
Art, Biography

Young Tom Hall and his misfit friends fight to save “Buster” the baby elephant during the German air raid bombings of Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1941.

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
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