Filmfest DC 2019
Teaching for Change is partnering with Filmfest DC: The Washington, DC International Film Festival for an eighth year to spread the word about the international film festival and to bring filmmakers into D.C. classrooms April 25-May 5. Read about prior year visits.
This year’s films include both feature length films and short films. Read more about the films below. If you are interested in bringing one of the filmmakers to your classroom or bringing your students to one of the screenings, please complete this form.
Feature Length Films
The Corporate Coup d’Etat |Fred Peabody
US, 2018, 90 minutes
Back in 1995, philosopher John Ralston Saul argued that corporations are slowly taking over democracy. Today, Saul amends that statement, deleting the word “slowly.” The coup has happened: U.S. democracy has sold out its ideals to corporations and lobbyists whose goal it is to undermine the will of the people. This film is a trenchant look at how and why, and what next. It takes us into “sacrifice zones” like Camden, NJ and Youngstown, OH to really listen to the people that corporatized infrastructure and NAFTA forgot. And it blends their insights with those of philosophers, writers, and journalists, from the passionate investigator Chris Hedges to the poetic historian Cornell West, to lay out a compelling case history dating to the early postwar years and continuing (not ending) with Donald Trump in the White House. From the makers of All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.
Dear Walmart | Kiley Kraskouskas and Michael Blain
USA, 2019, 62 minutes
Some workers love retail; it has its satisfactions. All they want is for retail to love them back, in the form of a living wage, affordable healthcare, a safe workplace, and underlying it all, respect. OURWalmart (OUR, Organization United for Respect) was begun in 2011 by a few brave workers at the world’s largest private employer, many of whose two million-strong “family” live near the poverty line. Alone at first, and ultimately with the help of established union veterans, they used word of mouth to gain hundreds of members and bring them together in training sessions that double as morale boosters, all done in secret. The film shows how the very act of speaking out and standing up has profound and transformational effects upon our characters, their co-workers and their families. Dear Walmart (not entirely ironically titled) is an ultimately upbeat story of their first victory, a $9/hour minimum wage for some 500,000 people. But this win was followed by the retaliatory closure of five Walmart stores, a huge loss of jobs. Expect a sequel.
Rafiki / Friend | Wanuri Kuhiu
Kenya, 2018, 83 minutes, Swahili and English with English subtitles
In a lively tumbledown Nairobi housing estate where everyone knows everyone and there are no secrets, two girls share one. Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), soccer-playing, studious, poor, and Ziki (Sheila Muniyiva), bold and flighty, colorful, and rich, have fallen in love. That their fathers are rivals in a bitter campaign for local office becomes the least of their problems when word of their romance gets out and neighbors and even family turn vicious. “Good Kenyan girls” don’t do this. But they do. Wanuri Kuhiu has filmed Rafiki on location with a precise imagistic poetry that plays against the vividness of the life portrayed: the camera often stops to ponder what is happening here. Based on a short story by Monica Arac de Nyeko, invited to Cannes (and festivals worldwide) but initially banned in Kenya, this fiercely beautiful film introduces two courageous young actors, and a director with a keen eye.
The Sweet Requiem / Kyoyang Ngarmo | Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam
India, 2018, 91 minutes, Tibetan and Hindi with English subtitles
Inspired by a true story. In a Tibetan refugee enclave in Delhi, young people’s concerns are those of any Indians their age—find a good job, look cool, go dancing at night—plus, shelter and hide new refugees from the Chinese authorities, and deal with living apart from family in Lhasa, who gave you up to your future. Dolkar (Tenzin Dolker) arrived 18 years ago; she barely remembers the journey that got her here. But something haunts her. With the arrival in Delhi of Gompo (Jampa Kalsang Tamang), details of that long-ago, ill-fated trek over the Himalayas begin to come back to Dolkar. The mountain pass, frozen, dangerous… Dolkar carried on her father’s back, until her father was no more… Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, an Indian-Tibetan couple whose films include the memorable The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche and Dreaming Lhasa, have here created a narrative of karmic balance between the claustrophobic present and the treacherously open past. Learn more.
Aurelius Battaglia | Michael T. Miller
USA, 2018, 3 minutes, documentary
Bears joyful witness to D.C. native Aurelius Battaglia’s prolific career as an animator for Walt Disney and illustrator for Little Golden Books, and the effort to restore his amazing mural in the Mount Pleasant Library.
The Birth of Afrobeat |Opiyo Okeyo
USA, 2018, 7 minutes, documentary
Drum legend Tony Allen recounts his contributions to the birth of Africa's most exported music genre—Afrobeat.
Boys in the Boat | Nivedita Das, Ted Hornick, JJ Luceno
USA, 2018, 17 minutes, documentary
A crew of young rowers with intellectual disabilities thrive on the companionship and routine that come with being part of a team. While some train hard to compete at a prestigious regatta, others face seemingly insurmountable obstacles as they navigate toward adulthood.
John Mendez - The Bridge | Michael Kuba
USA, 2018, 15 minutes, documentary
Homelessness is everywhere. John Mendez is on the frontlines of the fight against homelessness in Montgomery County, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C. Often times battling extreme cold in the middle of the night, John works tirelessly to help find affordable housing for each individual living on the streets. This short documentary is a portrait of John, highlighting what drives him to care and fight for society’s most forgotten population.
Paranormal Girlfriend | Jeanne Hospod
USA, 2018, 3 minutes, animation
Mysterious forces of attraction inspire quantum level romance.
The Pick Up | Giovanna Chesler
USA, 2018, 10 minutes, narrative
A teen resentful of her divorcing parents and craving independence doesn’t like surprises. When Mom picks her up from swim practice and their trip gets derailed by a flat tire and a mysterious jogger, sullen teen Melanie’s unexpected trip home from swim practice takes her on a bumpy ride, facing adulthood.
Space to Explore | Katherine DuBois
USA, 2018, 14 minutes, documentary
Natalie Panek has spent her life focused on her biggest dream - to be the first to set foot on another planet. Natalie is an aerospace engineer, a pilot, an influencer, an avid explorer, and has made it to the top 100 of astronaut candidates. On an outdoor adventure to the Mars-like terrain of Moab, Utah she searches with her friend to reconcile life's stumbles, redirections and challenges in the pursuit of space travel. Their jobs are to design the next Mars rover, but cutting a path in a Razer 4x4 might be the closest they get to a crewed mission to Mars. In the face of sky high arches and pinnacles, breathtaking views, and a canopy of stars, it's easy to believe the sky has no limits.
We Are Now | Kevin Akakpo, Carlos Escobar, Kim Gonzalez-Ramirez, Verite Igiraneza, Merry Hailegeorgies, Yohannes Gezahegn, Gabe Hoekman, Juliet Marschall
USA, 2018, 8 minutes, documentary
Youth-led activism is sweeping the country. Eight local high school students explore the history and contemporary student movements to organize, protest, and stand up for their rights. Produced as part of Gandhi Brigade's Summer DOCS Program.