Race Forward and Working Films are excited to announce the 2020 Race Flicks film track of Facing Race: A National Conference being held virtually from November 10-12, 2020. Race Flicks lifts up critical issues of racial justice through film. This year’s program maintains a focus on accountable filmmaking that truly respects and reflects the people and places featured, and holds great potential to build power among those represented in the stories at hand. The selected films were chosen in large part because of the way they have been or could be used strategically by advocates, organizers, and nonprofits to advance their work for racial justice. 

Over 45 filmmakers applied for the opportunity to screen their film at Facing Race. Seven were selected, including three by filmmakers based in the U.S. South whose stories focus on the region; which is significant given the long history of racist terror and lingering racism in the region, and that Facing Race was originally set to take place in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 2020 Race Flicks films are: 

All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk

Directed by Angela Tucker, Produced by Jolene Pinder (25 mins.)

After a contentious race, the 2017 runoff for mayor of New Orleans came down to two candidates: Desirée Charbonnet and LaToya Cantrell, two very different black women. The winner of this election would take office as the first female mayor of New Orleans and the city’s fourth black mayor. Through news footage, campaign advertisements and archival audio and video, All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk is the unprecedented story of this mayoral runoff told through the eyes of black women living in this city.

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Belly of the Beast

Directed/Produced by Erika Cohn; Produced by Angela Tucker, Christen Marquez, and Nicole Docta (82 mins.)

When a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California’s women’s prisons, they wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes – from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations – primarily targeting women of color. This shocking legal drama captured over 7-years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.

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Standing Above the Clouds

Directed/Produced by Jalena Keane-Lee, Produced by Amber Espinosa-Jones and Pua Case (15 mins.)

Standing Above the Clouds is the story of inter-generational women activists on the Big Island of Hawaii, who call themselves Kū Kiaʻi Mauna, or protectors of Mauna Kea. The film follows three sets of mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, who are at the forefront of the indigenous movement to safeguard their sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, when a construction permit was granted for an eighteen story, Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to be built on pristine land. Mauna Kea is the tallest peak in the world from seashore, standing at 14,000 feet, and is believed in Hawaiian culture to be the portal to the gods. The film explores the relationships between native Hawaiian mothers and daughters as they go from standing in ceremony to standing on the mountain and in the courtroom.

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Stateless (Apátrida)

Directed/Produced by Michèle Stephenson, Produced by Lea Marin and Jennifer Holness (95 mins.)

In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary Stateless traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests.

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The Passing On

Directed by Nathan Clarke, Produced by Lana Garland and Tyler Trumbo (71 mins.)

Three professions ushered Black former slaves from poverty to the American dream: preacher, teacher, and undertaker. Lewis Funeral Home has functioned within this tradition, having been a pillar of the Black community in San Antonio, Texas since 1909. While Black funeral homes close across America as a result of the loss of Black neighborhoods and gentrification, Lewis’ current chief embalmer James Bryant cares deeply about this institution after a career of preparing over 10,000 bodies. And he’s damn good at it, having been named the National Embalmer of the Year in 2016. Now, James puts his faith in a new generation to continue this vanishing legacy. He’s met with resistance from his young intern, Clarence Pierre, who himself is conflicted about his commitment due to the judgment he feels from the Black community as a queer, Christian man.

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Through the Night

Directed/Produced by Loira Limbal, Produced by Jameka Autry and Nicole Docta (67 mins.)

To make ends meet, Americans are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of non-stop work has resulted in an unexpected phenomenon: the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers.

Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.”

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While I Breathe, I Hope

Directed/Produced by Emily Harrold; Produced by Xuan Vu, Lauren Franklin, and Diane Robertson (72 mins.)

What does it mean to be young, black, and a Democrat in the American South? While I Breathe, I Hope follows South Carolina politician Bakari Sellers as he runs to become the first African American candidate electedstatewide in over a century. The film begins by following Sellers as he makes his 2014 bid for Lieutenant Governor, through the Charleston Shootings, and during the removal of the Confederate flag in 2015. Through his experiences, this timely film offers audiences a window into the legacy of race in politics in the United States today.

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The Facing Race and Working Films team will work with selected filmmakers to create dynamic programming for each film. This will include participation by select filmmakers and characters featured in the documentaries, curated post screening conversations with activists and organizations, and opportunities for audiences to learn how to take films back to their communities and use them to incite change.

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Register for the Facing Race Conference at https://facingrace.raceforward.org/register.

See the Facing Race Schedule At a Glance: https://facingrace.raceforward.org/program

Full conference schedule and full Race Flicks session announcements coming soon!

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