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English Studies

English Studies

By Run Time (Minutes)

Sin País (Without Country). New Day Films. 2010. 20 mins.
New Day Films promotional page
With intimate access and striking imagery, Sin País (Without Country) explores one family's experience as they are separated by deportation. Sam and Elida Mejia escaped a violent Civil War in Guatemala and came to California. After raising their family for nearly 20 years in the Bay Area, immigration agents stormed the Mejia's house in 2007. After a passionate fight to stay in the U.S., Sam and Elida are deported back to Guatemala, and leave their two teenage ch[i]ldren in the U.S. This short documentary explores the complexities of the Mejia's new reality: parents living without their children, and children doing their best to succeed without their parents.


Life on the Line: Coming of Age Between Nations. New Day Films. 2014. 27 mins.
New Day Films promotional page
Just two years ago, the Torrez family looked a lot like many American families: Mexican-American with immigrant roots, multilingual and multicultural, working class with two kids in public schools getting a decent education, living in a mid-sized American city and weathering the economic downturn with any work the primary bread-winner could find. But in an instant, everything changed. After fourteen years of living undocumented in the U.S., Vanessa Torrez crossed into Mexico when visiting her dying mother, and as the only family member without U.S. citizenship, was not allowed to return to her family in the U.S. So the Torrez family left everything behind and moved to Nogales, Sonora, committed to remaining together. Now, while the family lives in a dilapidated public housing compound at a dangerous border crossing, Kimberly must cross the border daily on foot to go to school in the U.S. Meanwhile, her father, Rick, finds himself unemployed, stricken with Hepatitis C, and in dire need of a liver transplant. Vanessa travels to Juarez to obtain the visa that will allow her to live in the U.S. with her children if her husband dies. Told through the eyes of adolescent Kimberly over the year in which her family is forced to straddle two countries, Life on the Line offers an intimate story from a quintessentially American place, illuminating the changing face of America and the impact of our immigration policies through the story of one girl and her family.


Abrazos. New Day Films. 2014. 44 mins.
New Day Films promotional page
Tells the story of the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children who travel 3,000 miles, from Minnesota to Guatemala, to meet their grandparents for the first time. After being separated for nearly two decades, these families are able to share stories, strengthen traditions and begin to reconstruct their cultural identity.


The Language You Cry In. California Newsreel. 1998. 53 mins.
California Newsreel promotion page
Traces the history of a Mende burial song brought by slaves to the rice plantations of the Southeast coast of the United States over two hundred years ago, and preserved among the Gullah people there. In the 1930s a pioneering Black linguist, Lorenzo Turner, recognized its origin, and in the 1990s scholars Joe Opala and Cynthia Schmidt discovered that the song was still remembered in a remote village in Sierra Leone. Dramatically demonstrates how African Americans retained links with their African past, and concludes with the visit of the Gullah family which had preserved the song to the Mende village, where villagers re-enact the ancient burial rites for them.


Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth. Graham Street Productions. 2009. 55 mins.
Graham Street Productions promotional page
Twelve million undocumented immigrants live in the United States; two million of them are children. This film is about people who did not decide to become illegal immigrants. Their parents made that choice for them. Although born outside the U.S., these young people were raised in this country, educated in American schools, hold American values, know only the U.S. as home and upon high school graduation, find the door to their future slammed shut. 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without "papers." It is against the law for them to work or drive. It is difficult, if not impossible in some states, to attend college. They live at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation to countries they may not even remember. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for these young people.


Speaking in Tongues = Hablando en lenguas = Yi kou shuang yu. PatchWorks Productions. 2010. 57 mins.
PatchWorks Productions promotional page
At a time when 31 states have passed 'English Only' laws, four pioneering families put their children in public schools where, from the first day of kindergarten, their teachers speak mostly in a foreign language. Speaking in Tongues follows four diverse kids on a journey to become bilingual. This charming story will challenge you to rethink the skills that Americans need to succeed in the 21st century.


Stolen Education. Video Project. 2013. 67 mins.
Video Project promotional page
Documents the untold story of Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950s and changed the face of education in the Southwest. Eight elementary-school students testified in a federal court case in 1956 to end the discriminatory practice (Hernandez et al. v. Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District), one of the first post-Brown desegregation court cases to be litigated. The film features the personal accounts of most of those who were at the center of the court case.


The New Black: LGBT Rights and African American Communities. California Newsreel. 2013. 75 mins.
California Newsreel promotional page and Community Cinema Discussion Guide
Documentary that examines how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community's institutional pillar -- the black church -- and reveals the Christian right wing's strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.


Out in the Night. New Day Films. 2014. 76 mins.
New Day Films promotional page
Out in the Night is a documentary that tells the story of a group of young friends, African American lesbians who are out, one hot August night in 2006, in the gay friendly neighborhood of New York City. They are all in their late teens and early twenties and come from a low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Two of the women are the focus -- gender non-conforming Renata Hill, a single mother with a soft heart and keen sense of humor, and petite femme Patreese Johnson, a shy and tender poet. As they and their friends walk under the hot neon lights of tattoo parlors in the West Village, an older man sexually and violently confronts them. He says to Patreese "let me get some of that" as he points below her waist. When she says that they are gay, the man becomes violent and threatens to "fuck them straight". He spits and throws a lit cigarette. Renata and Venice defend the group and a fight begins, captured by security cameras nearby. The man yanks out hair from Venice's head and chokes Renata. Then, Patreese pulls a knife from her purse and swings at him. Strangers jump in to defend the women and the fight escalates. As the fight comes to an end, all get up and walk away. But 911 has been called and the man involved has a puncture wound from the knife. Police swarm to the scene as their radios blast out warning of a gang attack. The women are rounded up and charged with gang assault, assault and attempted murder. Three of the women plead guilty. But Renata, Patreese, Venice and Terrain claim their innocence. They are called a "Gang of Killer Lesbians" by the media. In activist circles they become known as The New Jersey 4 (NJ4). Through the lives of these four young women, Out in the Night reveals how their race, gender identity and sexuality became criminalized in the mainstream news media and criminal legal system.


It's Criminal: A Tale of Prison and Privilege. Video Project. 2017. 78 mins.
Video Project promotional page and Official Film Site
Two worlds collide when Dartmouth College students meet with incarcerated women at a local jail in this transformational documentary about privilege, poverty, and injustice. IT'S CRIMINAL highlights the wide economic and social inequality that divides the United States and offers a unique window into how two groups of women break down barriers and learn to speak to each other.


Teach Us All: Segreation for a New Generation. Video Project. 2017. 81 mins.
Video Project promotional page
Sixty years after the Little Rock Nine faced violent resistance while desegregating Central High in Arkansas, TEACH US ALL examines the "re-segregation" of American's schools today and the pervasive educational inequities that continue to marginalize millions of low-income students of color. Weaving together interviews with two of the Little Rock Nine and the nation's most prominent thought leaders on urban education alongside students, educators, and parents, TEACH US ALL asks: how far have we really come in 60 years, and where do we go from here?


Owned: A Tale of Two Americas. Gravitas Ventures. 2019. 83 mins.
Gravitas Ventures promotional page
The documentary unearths the complicated, painful, often disturbing history of housing policy in America, shifting perceptions about what the idea of home means.


Defiant Lives: The Rise and Triumph of the Disability Rights Movement. Women Make Movies. 2016. 85 mins.
Women Make Movies promotional page and Official Film Site
A triumphant film that traces the origins of the world-wide disability rights movement. It tells the stories of the individuals who bravely put their lives on the line to create a better world where everyone is valued and can participate. Featuring interviews and rarely seen archival footage, the film reveals how these activists fought to live outside of institutions, challenged the stigmas and negative image of disability portrayed by the media, demanded access to public transportation, and battled to reframe disability rights as a social responsibility relevant to us all.


How I Got Over. Video Project. 2014. 88 mins.
Video Project promotional page
A profile of 15 formerly homeless women in Washington, D.C. who particapate in a unique theater program. The film follows the women as they craft and rehearse a play based on their experiences, leading to a one-night performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Many of the women seek shelter at N Street Village, a homeless and recovery facility, and the backdrop for the film.


I am a Girl. Women Make Movies. 2013. 88 mins.
Women Make Movies promotional page and Official Film Site
There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls. Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on Earth. In I Am a Girl, we meet 14-year-old Kimsey from Cambodia, forced to sell her virginity at 12; Aziza from Afghanistan, who will be shot if she goes to school; Breani, a teen living in a ghetto of NYC and dreaming of stardom; Katie from Australia, who is recovering from a suicide attempt; Habiba from Cameroon, betrothed to a man 20 years her senior; and Manu from Papua New Guinea, about to become a mother at 14 following her first sexual encounter. The portraits in this poetic, observational documentary underscore the urgent need for education for young girls. I Am a Girl reveals what it means to grow up female in the 21st century with resilience, bravery and hope.


Pre-Crime. Gravitas Ventures. 2017. 88 mins.
Gravitas Ventures promotional page
Science fiction turns into disturbing fact as forecasting softwares, algorithms and databases quickly become the new fortune tellers for future crimes, driving people to ask, how much are they willing to abandon for the sake of security?


No Room in Paradise. Collective Eye Films. 2017. 90 mins.
Collective Eye Films promotional page
Presents a portrait of life on the streets of Honolulu. Follows two homeless families as they struggle from sidewalk tents to subsidized housing, allowing them to tell their own stories of how and why they became homeless. Along the way, the viewer learns the impact of addiction and mental illness, the huge cost of maintaining the status quo and what can be done to fix it.


Check It. Gunpowder & Sky. 2017. 92 mins.
Gunpowder & Sky promotional page and Official Film Site
This film festival favorite follows a group of African-American gay and transgender youth in one of Washington D.C.'s most violent neighborhoods. After being subjected to constant torment and assault, the group formed their own gang for camaraderie and protection.


Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America. First Run Features. 2016. 102 mins.
First Run Features promotional page and Official Film Site
Musician Daryl Davis has an unusual hobby. He's played all over the world with legends like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but it's what Daryl does in his free time that sets him apart. In an effort to find out how anyone can 'hate me without knowing me' he takes an interesting line of research. Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the Ku Klux Klan, something few black men can say.


Whose Streets?. Magnolia Pictures. 2017. 102 mins.
Official Film Site
Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. For this generation, the battle is not for civil rights, but for the right to live.


In Jackson Heights. Zipporah Films. 2015. 189 mins.
Zipporach Films promotional page
Frederick Wiseman's 40th documentary IN JACKSON HEIGHTS is about the racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York. The subject of the film is the daily life of the people in this community--their businesses, community centers, religions, and political, cultural and social lives--and the conflict between maintaining ties to traditions of the countries of origin and the need to learn and adapt to American ways and values.


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