82 year-old Peter Anton has spent decades obsessively chronicling his life story in a massive, illustrated autobiography titled “Almost There,” and nothing – not poverty, obscurity, isolation or crippling disabilities – will stop him from seeing it published. What conflicts arise when filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden befriend this “outsider artist” and help him get his work shown publicly for the first time is the dramatic center of the film.
With equal parts naivete and requisite chutzpah, filmmaker Judith Helfand sets out on a quest to see if America’s disaster preparedness industry could be used to tackle what might be the deadliest man-made disaster of all – extreme poverty. With Chicago’s 1995 heat disaster at its dramatic core -- when 739 Chicago residents, most of them poor, elderly and African American, died over the course of one hot July week -- Cooked asks questions about the politics of disaster every city will have to answer: disaster preparedness for some or community resilience for all?
With a billion hungry and two billion overweight people on Earth, everyone knows that the food system is broken. But few people understand that it’s a system, with rules that keep things ticking along. Investors and corporations make millions. Billions suffer the consequences. But a few groups are breaking the rules of how we eat today, so that everyone can eat tomorrow. Steve James (The Interrupters, Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) and Raj Patel (Stuffed & Starved, The Value of Nothing) weave together tales of the system’s destructive creators and creative destroyers, bringing together traders, farmers, grocers and eaters from India to Malawi to Maine to Oakland to show not only how the system works, but how some unlikely people are transforming it.
Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series for Al Jazeera America, puts aside economic debates and follows five families around the country to find out what it takes to get by on eight, ten or even 15 dollars an hour. The series turns an intimate lens on this group of 21st century American dreamers. They fight against all odds to thrive, when it takes everything they have to simply survive.
In the Game is a Kartemquin documentary film that follows the ups and downs of an inner city girls’ soccer team to reveal the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. For two years, filming has been ongoing at Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side. Set in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, Kelly is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basics for their students, many of whom do not make it to college, either because they cannot compete academically or because their families do not have the financial resources to send them to college.
Inspired by Mormon educational films starring her mother during the 1960s, Xan Aranda (Andrew Bird: Fever Year), explores the stories that shaped generations of her ancestors - the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As the tales and tenets of their controversially clean-cut community are uncovered, Xan tests the seemingly unshakeable cornerstones of her family's beliefs, and re-examines her own story of leaving the faith sixteen years ago.
Director Joanna Rudnick follows former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who after 15 years of working for clients such as Yves Saint Laurent, Elle, and Harpers Bazaar, grew tired of seeing the same ideal of beauty “spit up at us constantly.”
In Raising Bertie we follow three young men as they grow into adulthood in a community where expectations are low and fighting is a way of life. In rural Bertie County, an African American led community, their leaders have the opportunity to improve the futures of their youth. As the film unfolds, we witness one women’s attempt to elevate Bertie’s underprivileged youth and raise their expectations for their future.
Unbroken Glass is a Kartemquin documentary about filmmaker Dinesh Sabu's journey to understand his parents, who died 20 years ago when he was six years old. Traveling to India, Lousiana, California, and New Mexico, Dinesh pieces together the story of his mother's schizophrenia and how his family dealt with it in an age and culture where mental illness was often misunderstood, scorned and taboo.
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