The Film Life Foundation’s inaugural Social Justice Now Film Festival (SJNFF) has unveiled its robust program including its spotlight screenings including the documentaries 40 Years A Prisoner from HBO, Us Kids, and SNCC executive produced by Pharell Williams as well as I Am Other. and the narrative feature REEFA. The fest will also feature the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed Just Mercy and Ryan Coogler’s award-winning Fruitvale Station as opening night films which will screen at Paramount’s Drive-In Theater on Wednesday, October 21. Both films star Michael B. Jordan, who was previously announced as Co-Ambassador alongside Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Opal Tometi. All official selections and spotlight screenings will be available to stream for free on abffplay.com, a new digital platform, powered by Endeavor Streaming from October 21-25.
“Through these films, we hope to advance the dialogue and help to reshape the narrative of racial and social justice in this country. The festival’s mission is to encourage people to recognize the fierce urgency of now—to watch, reflect, and take action,” said SJNFF creators Jeff and Nicole Friday.
From shorts to documentaries to narrative features, the SJNFF program includes an impressive lineup of timely, relevant, informative and empowering films. The non-competitive showcase highlights the themes of social justice, and explore issues of racial injustice, implicit bias, Black identity and human rights. This includes Ali LeRoi’s The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, Ghost’s Even In Darkness, Cities of Dreams Are Born, Jessica Rae’s Raise Your Hand, Sunu Gonera’s Riding With Sugar, Tyshun Wardlaw’s Growing Up Milwaukee and more. The slate of films were selected by a jury of industry executives including Endeavor, the parent company of Endeavor Content, which is a Coalition Partner on the event. The festival can be accessed via the website http://www.socialjusticenowfilmfestival.org.
Read the complete list of selections for this year’s fest below.
40 Years a Prisoner | Documentary
USA | 110 min
Director: Tommy Oliver
Executive Producers: John Legend, Common, Keith Gionet, Derek Dudley, Shelby Stone, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius, Kelly Ryan, Adam Platzner; Producer: Tommy Oliver
Cast: Mike Africa Jr.
Logline: 40 Years A Prisoner chronicles the controversial 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE and the aftermath that led to a son’s decades long fight to free his parents.
Reefa | Narrative Feature
USA | 96 min
Director: Jessica Kavana Dornbusch
Writer: Jessica Kavana Dornbusch
Producers: Alejandro Suaya, Jessica Kavana Dornbusch, George Perez, Ed Arenas, EK Keratsis Cast: Tyler Dean Flores, Clara McGregor, José Zúñiga, Margarita Rosa de Francisco, Cinthya Carmona, and Ricardo Chavira
Logline: The story of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, an 18-year-old Colombian immigrant and artist, as he spends his last summer in Miami, before moving to New York on an art scholarship.
SNCC | Documentary
USA | 75 min
Director: Danny Lyon
Writer: Danny Lyon
Producer: Danny Lyon
Executive Producer: Pharrell Williams
Cast: John Lewis, James Forman, Julian Bond, Dottie Zellner, Danny Lyon, Gloria House, Chuck McDew
Logline: The story of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as told through the 1963 photographs of Staff photographer Danny Lyon, the amazing music recorded in the churches and mass meetings, and the narrations by Julian Bond and John Lewis in his last interview.
Us Kids | Documentary
USA | 96 mins
Director: Kim A. Snyder
Producers: Kim A. Snyder, Maria Cuomo-Cole, Lori Cheatle
Cast: Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, Alex King, Sam Fuentes, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and Bria Smith
Logline: Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilized youth take back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story.
NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
USA | 104 min
Director: Director: Ali LeRoi
Writer: Stanley Kalu
Producers: Zachary Green p.g.a, Jason Shuman p.g.a, Marni Bond, Chuck Bond Cast: Steven Silver, Spencer Neville and Nicola Peltz
Logline: A wealthy, Nigerian-American teen is pulled over by police, shot to death, and immediately awakens – reliving the same day over and over, trapped in a terrifying time loop that forces him to confront difficult truths about his life and himself.
Even in Darkness, Cities of Dreams Are Born
USA | 95 min
Producers: Ghost, Edith Jane Cheesebourough Yarbrough, Erica Parris, Dr. Leona Woody, Lee Young Cast: Ghost, Zeke Parris, Bria Black, Pha’rez Lass, Craig Bowler
Logline: A single father fights to give his young son the life he deserves while trying to achieve his own artistic ambitions.
Raise Your Hand
USA | 94 min
Director: Jessica Rae
Writer: Jessica Rae
Executive Producers/Producers: van Allen-Gessesse, Jessica Rae, Margarita Reyes
Co-Executive Producer: Adam Dick
Producers: Evan Ellen- Gessesse, Jessica Rae, Margarita Reyes, Chanda Dancey-Morizawa, Eileen Kennedy
Cast: Jearnest Corchado, Hanani Tayor, Joel Steingold, Gregory Scott Cummins, Pat Skipper, DaJuan Johnson and Jess Nurse
Logline: Gia and her best friend, Lila, grew up in a rough neighborhood where every kid has a sad story to tell. As teenagers, their problems become more complicated, and the stakes get raised.
Riding With Sugar
USA | 106 min
Director: Sunu Gonera
Writer: Sunu Gonera
Producers: Sunu Gonera, Shekinah Tribe and Helena Spring, Helena Spring Films
Cast: Charles Mnene, Hakeem Kae Kazim, Simona Brown, Hlayani JR Mabasa, Paballo Koza, Brendon Daniels, Leigh Bremridge, Akin Omotso, Asanda Maku, Getmore Sithole, Sindiwe Magona
Logline: Who are you?
Big Chief, Black Hawk
USA | 20 min
Director: Jonathan Isaac Jackson
Producer: Paul V. Fishback
Cast: Terrance Williams, Jr.
Logline: A short look at Black Masking Indians, their indigenous roots, and the effects of COVID-19 and police brutality protest on the culture.
Growing Up Milwaukee
USA | 115 min
Director: Tyshun Wardlaw
Producer: Tyshun Wardlaw
Cast: Tiana Gee, Brandon Haney, Marquell Jenkins
Logline: Three inner-city youth growing up in Milwaukee struggle with the daily dilemma of growing up Black and avoiding becoming just another statistic.
HBCU Storytellers: Confederate Monuments – Heritage or Hatred?
USA | 22 min
Directors: Chadwick Gobar, Brian Favors, James Hadgis
Producers: Brian Favors, James Hadgis, Nate Parker Foundation, Kellogg Foundation Cast: Zyahna Byrant, Bryan Stevenson, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, & Dr. Wes Bellamy
Logline: HBCU Storytellers confront Confederate monuments in Virginia, exploring whether these monuments are heritage or hatred.
USA | 71 min
Director: Ri-Karlo Handy
Writers: Ri-Karlo Handy, Rashad Mubarak
Producer: Rashad Mubarak
Cast: Brandy Grant, Lucy Hall
Logline: Lucy Hall, the founder of one of the nation’s most successful women’s treatment facilities, shares her story of generational addiction to help Georgia families.
USA | 20 min
Director: Dorian Emerson
Writer: Dorian Emerson
Producer: Ben Clerveaux
Cast: James Williams
Logline: Latin for the word Blacks, Negros is an experimental social justice film depicting the young black male experience in modern day Miami. The story follows James, 14, as he overcomes a series of traumas in order to make a difference in his neighborhood and rediscover adolescent joy.
Public Enemy Number One
USA | 70 min
Director: Robert Rippberger
Writers: Robert Rippberger, Brian Welsh
Producers: Robert Rippberger, Chris Chiari
Logline: From Executive Producer Ice-T. Public Enemy Number One is a documentary feature about the USA’s war on drugs, focusing on major shifts in policy from Nixon to today, incarceration, racial biases, and solutions for the future.
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
USA | 76 min
Director: Jacoba Atlas
Writers: Monique W. Morris, Jacoba Atlas
Producers: Jacoba Atlas, Denise Pines, Monique W. Morris
Logline: “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” takes a deep dive into the lives of Black girls and the practices, cultural beliefs and policies that disrupts one of the most important factors in their lives – education.
The Prison Within
USA | 86 min
Director: Katherin Hervey
Narrated by: Hill Harper
Writers: Eric Frith, Katherin Hervey, Erin Kenway, Jeremy Sell Producers: Katherin Hervey, Massimo Bardetti, Erin Kenway, Eric Frith Co-Producers: Massimo Bardetti, Eric Frith
Logline: The Prison Within is a relevant and timely documentary exploring the destructive impact of untreated trauma on individuals and communities through the powerful stories of survivors of violent crimes and prisoners incarcerated for murder in circle inside San Quentin prison.
USA | 28 min
Director: Princess Garrett
Writers: Sarah Harris, Clifton Porter
Producers: Hezekiah Lewis, Sarah Harris, Madiah Gant, Deanna Starr, Opeyemi Famakinwa, Alexis Miller
Cast: Godsway Anderson, Marcquis Graham, Dr. Chiji Akoma, Dr. Amari Johnson, Clifton Porter, Wanlov the Kubolor,
Logline: This documentary is about the loss of identity and its negative stystemic impact on individuals across the world. By exploring the complexities and parallels between the United States and Ghana, it will illuminate the prevalence of mental slavery and call audiences to free themselves from the system in which they were born.
Who Will Survive America
USA | 7 min
Director: Sheldon Candis
Screenwriter: Sheldon Candis
Producer: Lisa Osborne
Logline: A concerned filmmaker goes undercover to explore our country’s love affair and easy accessibility to guns in America…It was just too easy…
USA | 38 min
Director: Zanah Thirus
Producers: Marquelle Young & Zanah Thirus
Cast: Zanah Thirus, Anisha Cooper, Claire Horner, Melissa Carnagey, SahDol Jones, Denisa Millette, Angela Townsend, Thalia Chicojay, Gregory Geffrard
Producers : Marquelle Young & Zanah Thirus
Logline: A front row seat to a survivors six month journey through sexual trauma therapy and recovery.
When Liberty Burns
USA | 111 min
Director: Dudley Alexis
Writer: Dudley Alexis
Producers: Dudley Alexis, Femi Folami-Browne, Betty Antonio Andrews
Logline: When Liberty Burns examines the life and the death of Arthur Lee McDuffie, a black insurance executive who died at the hands of Miami’s law enforcement officers.
Writing On the Wall
USA | 6 mins
Director: Miya Lee
Cinematographer: Miya Lee
Editor: Miya Lee
Logline: Writing on the Wall documents the transforming streets of Soho, New York City during the Black Lives Matter protests in June and July 2020. It is held together by the musical performance of Sean Bennett, A.K.A. “Yozart,” playing Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4 on the corner of Spring Street and West Broadway.
USA | 15 min
Director: Jon Alston
Writer: Ayinde Howell
Producers: B. Quinn Curry, Jon Alston, Ayinde Howell
Cast: Ayinde Howell, Michelle Mitchenor, Patrick Cage
Logline: Augustus, a literate escaped slave masquerading as a free man in Massachusetts in 1841, experiences nightmares of his son’s death and a future that resembles the struggles of his own past.
USA | 6 min
Director: Natalie Cook
Writer: Natalie Cook
Producers: Natalie Cook, Jason Cermak
Cast: Ian Banks, Genesis Be, Andrew Blair, Natalie Cook, Asia Howard, Honnor Seaton, Wayne Stewart, Ashley Tolbert, Jessica Vernon, Anthony Washington, Brionna Williams
Logline: Backwards God tells the story of how man-made God in his image.
USA | 16 min
Director: Rachel Hardy
Writer: Rachel Hardy
Producer: Rachel Hardy
Cast: Denise Chamberlain, Reginald Cole, Brittany King, Dominique Lewis, Farai Moyo
Logline: A fearless exploration of the way America’s need to define Blackness has challenged the identity of a community.
USA | 5 min
Director: Kyndra Kennedy
Writer: Kyndra Kennedy
Producers: Kyndra Kennedy, Kenneth Cuadrado, KYNA Media Films
Cast: Kyndra Kennedy, Kel King, Nick Orefice, Makai Pruitt, Lola Denise, Valerie Addas Logline: A spoken-word narrated, visual protest about the revolution happening in America today, the power of our voices and the importance of having allies from different backgrounds, coming together to stand up against police brutality and systemic racism.
USA | 15 min
Director: Jillian Reeves
Writer: Jillian Reeves
Producers: Erick Nicole Malone, Kenneth L. Johnson, Michelle Covington, Stelio Savante, Will Conley, Jonathan T. Floyd, Carole Murphy; Co-Producer: Landi Maduro
Cast: Beverly Todd, Jillian Reeves, Ariel Brown, Mackenzie Lee-Foster, Scott Subiono
Logline: Broken examines the devastating effects of untreated mental illness in a family struggling to cope with a broken system that fails them.
Catch A Girl
USA | 15 min
Director: LeRon E. Lee
Writer: LeRon E. Lee
Producers: Derrick Williams; Executive Producer: Ladun Thompson Cast: Daniel G. Cunningham, Kayciblu Wright, Zakai Lassiter
Logline: With his elementary understanding of courtship, 11-year old Darius, meets up with friends that conspire to play a popular “predator vs. prey” childhood game targeted to take advantage of girls.
CANADA | 25 min
Director: Alison Duke
Writers: Alison Duke, Lindsey Addawoo
Producers: Fonna Seidu, Lucas Joseph
Cast: Breonna Morrison as Charlie Thomas and Wendy Olunike Adeliyi as Yolonda Thomas
Logline: Yolonda and her daughter Charlie are ripped apart by illness, an unjust system, and a failure to face the truth.
USA | 17 min
Director: El Arthur Bey
Writer: El Arthur Bey
Producer: El Arthur Bey
Cast: Harold Dennis
Logline: This is Harold Dennis. On the night of November 3rd, 2020, Harold spends 8 hours in a line so that he can cast his ballot to vote for this year’s important elections. On the way home from the polls, he receives a phone call from a sick friend who needs his help before it’s too late.
Eavesdropping on the Elders
USA | 18 min
Directors: Kiah Clingman and Robinson Vil
Writers: Kiah Clingman and CJ Sykes
Producers: Kiah Clingman (KiahCan Productions), The African-American Legacy Network, Amefika Gueka and Villain Pictures
Cast: Kiah Alexandria Clingman as Kiah, Mac Wells as Marcus Garvey, Brittany Inge as Ida B. Wells and James Clingman as Jim
Logline: A girl is unknowingly charged with the task of bridging a generation gap and confronting lessons from the past when she is forced into another world.
First Day Back
USA | 21 min
Director: Deshawn Plair
Writers: Deshawn Plair & Sade Oyinade
Producers: Deshawn Plair, Sade Oyinade, Etienne Maurice, Greg Jennings, Sheryl Lee Ralph
Cast: Loretta Devine, Aisha Hinds, Etienne Maurice, Cornelius Smith Jr., and Javicia Leslie
Logline: Students and faculty struggle to cope on the first day back at school after a fight between two students from rival neighborhoods in Philadelphia resulted in the death of a fellow student and changed the community forever.
USA | 3 min
Director: Nicole Cone
Writer: Nicole Cone
Producer: Nicole Cone
Cast: Aizhaneya Carter, Kalyne Coleman, Janelle McDermoth, Alexis Van Eyken
Logline: A day in the life of four black women after they learn of an act of police violence.
Free to Be
USA | 13 min
Director: Ugenia Stokes Writer: Ugenia Stokes
Producers: Brandon Claybon, Ugenia Stokes; Co-Producer: Anastasia Washington
Cast: DaeBrian O’Berry, Laganja Estranja/Jay Jackson, Ash Danielson, Gracie Cartier
Logline: Through the eyes of four individuals that identify within the LGBTQIA+ community we see their push for social justice and racial equality, advocating for ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER while also showcasing the cultural impact the BLACK LGBTQIA+community has brought to the mainstream media but underhandedly has been forgotten.
USA | 23 min
Director: Rachel McDonald
Writer: Rachel McDonald
Producers: Maury Strong, Rachel McDonald, and Ezra Venetos Cast: Grant Harvey, Jorge A. Jimenez, Seth Gutiérrez, Carlos Sanchez
Logline: Brothers, separated from their mother at the U.S. border, risk everything to protect each other and stay alive as they cross Texas on foot.
USA | 15 min
Director: Jonathan Rowan
Writer: Jonathan Rowan
Producers: Jonathan Rowan, Myava Mitchell
Cast: Jason Mimms, Joey Coverson, Auriel Branson, Saffran Harris
Logline: After the racially charged shooting of an unarmed teenager, an officer of color must decide whether to stand on the side of the law or seek justice for his community.
A Million Eyes
USA | 24 min
Director: Richard Raymond
Writer: Curt Zacharias Jr.
Producers: Josh Reinhold, Richard Raymond, Nousha Raymond, Erin Charles Cast: Joe Morton, Elijah M. Cooper, Katie Lowes, Shareef Salahuddin
Logline: A gifted young photographer, grappling with his mother’s alcoholism, sets out to capture something he loves.
USA | 10 min
Director: Jessica Sherif
Writer: Yetide Badaki
Producers: Yetide Badaki, Karen David, Jessica Sherif
Cast: Yetide Badaki, Karen David, Dominic Burgess, Jen Richards, Luke Youngblood
Logline: This dark fantasy short film follows Zodwa, a struggling actress, as she heads to an exciting, once-in-a lifetime audition and lands in a strange place reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s most famous work.
USA | 10 min
Director: Mikkel Aranas
Writer: Hunter Peil
Producer: Steven Kiefer
Cast: Rory Travis, Chris Prizzi
Logline: On his way to support his friends, Rory makes an unexpected stop to help a stranger in need. Will his act of kindness end the way he imagined?
All Things Undone | Podcast
USA | 34 min
Directors: Joel Peissig, Chené Lawson
Writer: Chené Lawson
Producer: Joel Peissig
Cast: Chené Lawson, JoNell Kennedy, Danny Jacobs, Shannon Lee Holmes & Christen Sussin
Logline: Through an astrological event in 1850, Black people suddenly cannot be killed as an enslaved black woman finds herself in a world of supernatural powers fighting the forces of evil to deliver the oppressed into a new age.
Film Life Foundation is the SJNFF organizer, with Coalition Partners to include ABFF Ventures, Endeavor Content, One Community, and Outlier Society. Sony Pictures Entertainment is the Founding Sponsor, with Principal Sponsors being K Period Media and ShivHans Pictures. The official Sponsors are Advancing Black Pathways – JP Morgan Chase & Co., Amazon Studios, HEINEKEN USA Inc. and Amazon Alexa. Impact Partners include the Advancement Project, Color of Change, GoldHouse, Higher Heights for America, IllumiNative, LA Collab, NBJCand When We Vote. BlackLove.com and Black Information Network are Marketing Partners.