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A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks
“A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks” – closing night film of the 3rd annual Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival

In light of the global surge in Covid-19 cases, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (MMJCCM) will move to a Virtual festival for its 3rd annual Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival, with dates remaining the same – January 13–17, 2022. Screenings will be shown via Eventive and exclusive Q+A’s will be hosted via Zoom. All Q+As will now take place at the times that in-person screenings would have been scheduled.

Building on the festival’s success over the past two years and the ongoing global conversations around racial and social justice, the festival will present impactful films and conversations exploring inequality, injustice, advocacy, and social responsibility through the lens of issues such as racial and economic discrimination, environmental justice, immigrants’ rights, and religious intolerance.

The festival aims to inspire participants to reflect and take action in order to create a community of civic-minded individuals. Timed to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend and in the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, the festival’s goal is to promote social action that leads to positive change in our society.

Opening Night, on January 13, will feature a preview screening of Sony Pictures Classics’ Award Winning Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America ahead of its release on January 14, followed by a conversation with the subject of the film, Jeffery Robinson, as well as directors Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler. Interweaving lectures, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.

The festival will conclude with a special screening of A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day/January 17. For decades, trailblazing photographer Gordon Parks brought the human struggle of the Black community out of the shadows and onto the pages of LIFE magazine. John Maggio’s documentary explores Parks’ enduring legacy through the lens of three contemporary photographers and spotlights his visionary work and its impact on the next generation of artists. Executive Produced by Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys, featuring interviews with LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jelani Cobb, Anderson Cooper, Ava DuVernay, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Spike Lee, and Bryan Stevenson, among others. An HBO Documentary Films release.

Another highlight of the festival’s programming is Youth v Gov, screening on January 16, the inspirational story of how since 2015, 21 plaintiffs, now ages 13 to 24, have been suing the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.

Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival Screening Lineup Includes:

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Opening Night
Dir. Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler
US | 2021 | 118 min | Doc
Interweaving personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, criminal defense and civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a postracial America.

Streaming virtually: Jan 12, 8:15pm – Jan 13, 8:15pm
Geo-restricted to the Tri-state area.
Live zoom Q+A: Thu, Jan 13, 7pm
Special guests include: directors Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, Jeffery Robinson.

A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks
Closing Night
Dir. John Maggio
US | 2021 | 89 min | Doc
Exploring the power of images in advancing racial, economic, and social equality as seen through the lens of Gordon Parks, one of America’s most trailblazing artists, and the generation of young photographers, filmmakers, and activists he inspired.

Streaming virtually: Jan 13-17
Live zoom Q+A: Mon, Jan 17, 5pm
Special guests include: director John Maggio, Jamel Shabazz. Moderated by Jo Livingstone.

Americanish
Spotlight Film
Dir. Iman Zawahry
US | 2021 | 90 min | Narrative
Welcome to America: Where dreams come true…ish. A twist on the traditional romantic comedy, Americanish highlights layers of womanhood as it intersects with cultural and societal expectations. In Jackson Heights, Queens, career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family.

Streaming virtually: Jan 13-17
Live zoom Q+A: Sat, Jan 15, 6pm
Special guests include: director Iman Zawahry, producer Roy Wol, Aizzah Fatima, Dalia Fahmy.

YOUTH v GOV
Dir. Christi Cooper
US | 2020 | 110 min | Doc
A story of global importance that has already inspired numerous legal actions around the world, YOUTH v GOV is the story of America’s youngest citizens taking on the world’s most powerful government. Twenty-one courageous youth lead a groundbreaking lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting it has willfully acted over six decades to create our climate crisis, thus endangering their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. If these young people are successful, they’ll not only make history, they’ll change the future.

Streaming virtually: Jan 13-17
Live zoom Q+A: Sun, Jan 16, 2pm
Special guests include: director Christi Cooper, Vic Barrett. Moderated by Charlie Manzano.

Ricochet
Dir. Jeff Adachi and Chihiro Wimbush
US | 2021 | 76 min | Doc
When a young woman is shot by an undocumented immigrant, the incident ignites a political and media furor that culminates in Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. In the eye of this storm, two public defenders fight to reveal the truth.

Streaming virtually: Jan 13-17
Live zoom Q+A: Sun, Jan 16, 4:30pm
Special guests include: director Chihiro Wimbush, Matt Gonzalez, Francisco Ugarte.

SHORTS

All short films available as part of the festival’s Shorts Block.

Streaming virtually: January 13 – January 17
Live zoom Q+A: Mon, Jan 17, 2 pm
Special guests include: director Patrice D. Bowman, director Emily Harrold. Moderated by Jo Livingstone.

Under the Sun After the Wind
Dir: Patrice D. Bowman
US | 2021 | 5 min | Narrative
An isolated Black woman struggles with the violence she sees online. An experimental adaptation of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Meltdown in Dixie
Dir. Emily Harrold
US | 2021 | 40 min | Doc
In the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, a battle erupts in Orangeburg, South Carolina between the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an ice cream shop owner forced to fly the Confederate flag in his parking lot. The film explores the broader role of Confederate symbolism in the 21st century and the lingering racial oppression which symbols such as this help maintain.

Heal Thy Neighbor: Denver
Dir. Mark Decena
US | 2021 | 8 min | Doc
Low-income communities, communities of color and other historically oppressed communities have been excluded from decision-making on the policies and practices that impact them. The film shows how community-led strategies in Denver affect the place-based conditions and that the people most directly affected by systemic barriers and inequities are the best positioned to drive change in their communities. Therefore, now more than ever, building community power is critical to creating lasting change.

They Won’t Call It Murder
Dir. Melissa Gira Grant & Ingrid Raphaël
US | 2021 | 20 min | Doc
A group of women, bound by grief at losing their sons, brothers, and sisters, demand recognition for their losses at the hands of police in Columbus, Ohio. These women offer searing indictments of a criminal justice system that has failed them.

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