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2023 Harlem International Film Festival Announces Lineup

The 18th edition of the Harlem International Film Festival is coming and we recently received the lineup. Taking place from May 18th to the 28th, it will open up with Blow Up My Life and Paris Is In Harlem. Read on for more…

Here is the press release:

The 2023 Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) today announced it is teaming up with STARZ (2023 Luminary Partner) and unveiled films and events for its 18th edition – a hybrid event taking place in-person May 18-28The film festival will open with a double feature presentation of Ryan Dickie and Abigail Horton’s Blow Up My Life, and Christina Kallas’ Paris Is In Harlem. Friday Spotlight Presentations include the world premiere of the first two episodes from the next season of STARZ’ Run the World series, and the world premiere of Clayton P Allis and Doug E. Doug’s In The Weeds.      

The in-person screenings will take place at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 Theaters (2309 Frederick Douglass Blvd), with the Harlem International Film Festival and Columbia University Zuckerman Institute’s free-to-the-public screenings at The Forum (601 West 125th Street), and the Maysles Documentary Center (343 Malcolm X Blvd.). With a music theme running throughout the festival, this year’s film lineup will once again celebrate and showcase relatively undiscovered international cinematic gems and local New York filmmaking talent with a special focus on Harlem artists. Hi’s lineup features 64 films, including 35 features (14 narrative, 21 documentary), 29 shorts (20 narrative, 9 documentary), 2 television episodes, and 2 VR projects. Other feature films making their world premieres are David Bell and Mecca Medina’s $ Broke Boi, Taylor Krauss’ BronX BandA: Arturo O’Farrill & The Bronx, and Patrick Heaphy’s The Sacred Place between Earth and Space.

RUN THE WORLD RUN THE WORLD 2
Run the World
Harlem International Film Festival’s Program Director, Nasri Zacharia, said. “This year we are celebrating over a century of Harlem Renaissance and Resilience with an amazing slate of films from the area. We are also glad to be back at the AMC Magic Johnson Theaters and Columbia University as well as Maysles Documentary Center, and this year we are thrilled to present the world premiere of the first two episodes of STARZ Run the World season 2, set in Harlem, to our lineup featuring several other world premieres, and wonderful work by our filmmakers here in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx. This year, music runs throughout our schedule with amazing documentaries, very special honorees, culminating in a big day of music films and a special live performance on Sunday, the 21st. This film festival has always emphasized the idea of being a festival with exciting and entertaining events inspired by the films we screen, and this year really underlines that idea.” 


OPENING NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE
Opening on Thursday, May 18 at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 Theaters (2309 Frederick Douglass Blvd), the Harlem International Film Festival will present the New York premiere of Ryan Dickie and Abigail Horton’s Blow Up My Life. The homage to noir comedy thrillers follows a disillusioned pharmaceutical employee who becomes a reluctant whistleblower forced to go on the run when he accidentally discovers a deadly opioid conspiracy hidden by his former boss and the CEO of the company. The film will be preceded by Eunice Levis’ short film, InVade, which follows an undocumented scientist and his son trying to stop an environmental disaster. The second screening of the Opening Night double feature will be Christina Kallas’ drama Paris Is In Harlem, which involves the lives of several strangers intertwining during a shooting a jazz club in Harlem on the eve of New York City’s controversial “No Dancing” Law getting repealed. Preceding that screening will be Fany de la Chica’s short film Last Night in Paris Blues about a Latino flamenco-jazz immigrant singer who needs to decide between love and her career as an artist on the last day she performs at Paris Blues. Both screening presentations will include appearances and post-screening Q&As with filmmakers, cast and crew.

IN THE WEEDS 2
In The Weeds
FRIDAY SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATIONS
The Friday Spotlight Presentations on May 19 will be highlighted by the World Premiere of the first two episodes of STARZ’ Run the World series second season. Chronicling the euphoric highs and heartbreaking lows that three black women must endure in their pursuit of world domination, the dramatic comedy returns as they continue to not simply survive but thrive. Directed by Rachael Holder, the episodes will include “A Dream Deferred,” where Whitney anxiously awaits the fate of her relationship, while Sondi and Renee are reminded by Ella that it’s never a bad time to choose yourself, and “Honeymoon’s Over,” in which Renee hustles to get her agency some business, as Sondi and Whitney are forced to face the reality of their new living situations. Attending and participating in a special panel discussion following the screenings will be series stars Amber Stevens West, Bresha Webb, and Corbin Reid, with showrunner Rachelle Williams-BenAry.

Also featured on Friday’s Spotlight Presentations will be the World Premiere of Clayton P Allis and Doug E. Doug’s magical realism drama In The Weeds. In the film, a free-spirited girl from Harlem falls for a handsome transplant from London, whose mental scars have been awoken by the pandemic. The remedy, she believes, is outside, everywhere, from medicinal weeds sprouting out of sidewalks in the Bronx, to magic mushrooms in Queens. Meanwhile, her chronically suspicious father, with the help of two healing witches runs all over NYC looking for her, desperate to make amends. The screening will be preceded by Hans Augustave’s short film I Held Him, about a man’s decision to choose an uncomfortable solution to help his friend out of his pain and depression. Doug E. Doug will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A with additional filmmakers moderated by Malik Yoba.

BLIND EYE ARTIST 9 RIGHT TO READ
Blind Eye Artist, Right to Read
HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
On Saturday, May 20, the Harlem International Film festival continues its association with Columbia University with three free-to-the-public screenings at The Forum. Ashwin Chaudhary’s documentary Blind Eye Artist tells the origin story of renowned painter Justin Wadlington. Blind in his left eye. Wadlington’s unique and dynamic art has become a sensation with clients and benefactors including Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Hart, and Broke Shields. As part of the special screening, Wadlington will also be displaying some of his work during the in-person run of the film festival. Jenny Mackenzie’s documentary The Right To Read will make its New York Premiere as part of the special screening series. The film shares the stories of an NAACP activist, a teacher, and two American families who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read. The third free-to-the-public presentation at The Forum will be a special package of Harlem Shorts, celebrating the best in local filmmaking this year.

BROKE BOI The Bronx
$ Broke Boi, BronX BandA: Arturo O’Farrill & The Bronx
MORE WORLD PREMIERES
Additional world premiere includes David Bell and Mecca Medina’s $ Broke Boi about a weed delivery boy, with dreams of being an NYC Hustler, who finds himself up against it after he gets robbed of his stash and profits and now has twelve hours to make the money back or he could lose more than his dreams. Taylor Krauss’ music documentary BronX BandA: Arturo O’Farrill & The Bronx watches 6-time Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill bring to life a 9-piece hip-hop-jazz ensemble converting stories of South Bronx life to music resounding in the streets. Patrick Heaphy’s documentary The Sacred Place between Earth and Space captures the mid-pandemic culmination of Harlem Stage’s Afrofuturism series featuring Craig Harris’ Nocturnal Nubian Ball for Conscientious Ballers and Cultural Shot Callers. 

Bonnie Blue LIFE 2 Ron Carter- Finding The Right Notes  
Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues, Life & Life, Ron Carter: Finding The Right Notes
MUSIC ICONS ONSCREEN
On Sunday, May 21, the Harlem International Film Festival will give music its due by featuring films putting music front and center. In addition to the aforementioned BronX BandA: Arturo O’Farrill & The Bronx, and The Sacred Place between Earth and Space, the film festival will feature the New York City premiere of Bestor Cram’s documentary Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues about James ‘Super Harp’ Cotton, who became a mentor to harp players around the globe as he brought the delta blues into mainstream rock ‘n roll. NC Heikin’s award-winning documentary Life & Life tracks the journey that musician Reggie Austin took to redeem his life following a murder conviction 40 years ago. With surprising honesty and depth, the film looks at Austin’s effect on his fellow inmates and his efforts to reconnect with his family. Peter Schnall’s Ron Carter: Finding The Right Notes is a captivating and informative story of the legendary jazz bassist. The film festival will honor Ron Carter with its Renaissance Award and will also present a special live performance by Reggie Austin and his band out of San Francisco.

Following the opening in-person weekend, the film festival will continue virtually with TBA in-person screenings and events throughout the second week. For updates, film festival passes, tickets, and more information on the Harlem International Film Festival go to http://HarlemFilmFestival.org

2023 Harlem International Film Festival official selections
Opening Night Selections
Blow Up My Life          New York Premiere
Director: Ryan Dickie, Abigail Horton
Country: US, Running Time:  81 min
Jason, a disillusioned pharmaceutical employee (Jason Selvig), is fired after a drug fueled social media post goes viral, but when he accidentally discovers a deadly opioid conspiracy hidden by his former boss (Davram Steifler) he sets out to redeem himself. In this homage to noir comedy thrillers set in the age of tech, Jason goes on the run as a reluctant whistleblower trying to expose the crime with the help of his computer whiz cousin Charlie (Kara Young), but the CEO (Ben Horner) at the heart of the scandal has other plans.
Preceded by
InVade 
Director: Eunice Levis
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
An undocumented scientist and his son try to stop an environmental disaster.

Paris Is In Harlem                                                        Manhattan Premiere    
Director: Christina Kallas
Country: US, Running Time: 101 min
On the eve of New York City’s controversial “No Dancing” Law getting repealed, the lives of several strangers are forever changed by a shooting at a historic jazz bar in Harlem.


Friday Spotlight Presentations
STARZ’ Run the World – Season 2                               World Premiere 
Episode 1: “A Dream Deferred”
Director: Rachael Holder
Whitney anxiously awaits the fate of her relationship, while Sondi and Renee are reminded by Ella that it’s never a bad time to choose yourself.

Episode 2: “Honeymoon’s Over”
Director: Rachael Holder
Renee hustles to get her agency some business, as Sondi and Whitney are forced to face the reality of their new living situations.

In The Weeds   World Premiere
Directors: Clayton P Allis, Doug E. Doug
Country: US, Running Time:  82 min
Shaunte, a free-spirited girl from Harlem, has fallen for K, a handsome transplant from London, whose mental scars have been awoken by the pandemic. The remedy, Shaunte believes, is outside, everywhere, from medicinal weeds sprouting out of sidewalks in the Bronx, to magic mushrooms in Queens. K is falling in love too, but afraid to leave his apartment. Meanwhile, Larry, Shaunte’s chronically suspicious father, has been running all over NYC looking for her. Larry’s floral business has gone under, and he’s desperate to make amends, but why will no one tell him where she is? 
Preceded by
I Held Him        
Director: Hans Augustave
Country: US, Running Time: 8 min
While a man falls deeper into the depths of pain and depression, his friend reluctantly chooses an uncomfortable solution to help him heal.

Harlem International Film Festival at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute
Blind Eye Artist 
Director: Ashwin Chaudhary 
Country: US, Running Time: 76 min
The origin story of painter Justin Wadlington, blind in his left eye.

The Right To Read       New York Premiere
Director: Jenny Mackenzie
Country: US, Running Time: 79 min
The Right to Read shares the stories of an NAACP activist, a teacher, and two American families who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read.


ADDITIONAL IN-PERSON NARRATIVE FEATURES
$ Broke Boi     World Premiere
Directors: David Bell, Mecca Medina
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
A weed delivery boy, with dreams of being an NYC Hustler, gets robbed of his stash and profits at the worst time. He was late with the payment last week, racked up some poor performance reviews, and the company’s Henchmen “Don’t play no games”. Now, this #Brokeboi and friends have twelve hours to make as much money as they can to pay back the supplier, while also trying to make it to the “Party of The Summer”. 

Honor Student                                                             New York Premiere
Director: Tamika Miller 
Country: US, Running Time:  82 min
Jeremy Chue is a picture-perfect teenager. He is talented, has the perfect grades, a well-off family, and attends a prestigious Washington, D.C. private school. At least that is how he appears. After losing his twin brother in a mass shooting, Jeremy takes matters into his own hands, holds a teacher hostage, and proves America a lesson it’ll never forget.

ADDITIONAL IN-PERSON DOCUMENTARY FEATURES
80 Years Later   
Director: Celine Parreñas Shimizu
Country: US, Running Time: 50 min
The feature documentary 80 Years Later explores the racial inheritance of Japanese American family incarceration during World War II through multigenerational conversations with survivors and their descendants. In the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that imprisoned 120,000 Japanese Americans in World War II, families still grapple with the legacy of their experience. How does one inherit traumatic history across generations?

AJASS: Pioneers of the Black is Beautiful Movement
Director: Louise Dente
Country: US, Running Time: 120 min
The documentary chronicles the journey of AJASS (African Jazz-Art Society and Studios) from the Bronx where they hosted jazz concerts to Harlem where their work was later Influenced by the teachings of the Honorable Marcus Garvey and his protégé, Carlos Cook of the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM), which had a tremendous impact on their vision and mission and led to the development of “NATURALLY” shows which featured the Grandassa Models, the first African superhero known as Lil Zeng: The African Boy King, and a wealth of visual arts creations and books to celebrate the rich history and aesthetic beauty of Africa and its descendants. 

Bonnie Blue:  James Cotton’s Life in the Blues   New York City Premiere
Director: Bestor Cram
Country: US, Running Time: 86 min
Born in 1935 on Bonnie Blue plantation in Tunica, Mississippi, apprenticing with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howlin’ Wolf, and schooled by Muddy Waters, James ‘Super Harp’ Cotton became a mentor to harp players around the globe as he brought the delta blues into mainstream rock ‘n roll. Orphaned at nine, Cotton’s journey tracks America’s history and his story is one of empowerment during a time when the weight of racial inequity made the journey seem impossible. Bonnie Blue – James Cotton’s Life in the Blues is a unique portrait of an era and its impact today. Cotton’s music made history; his musical voice was unique, and the blues were never the same.

BronX BandA: Arturo O’Farrill & The Bronx      World Premiere
Director: Taylor Krauss
Country: US, Running Time: 79 min
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Bronx, our nation’s most economically poor congressional district, 6-time Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill (2023, 2022, 2021, 2018, 2016, 2016) brings to life a 9-piece hip-hop-jazz ensemble converting stories of South Bronx life to music resounding in the streets. This music documentary pays homage to the history of the Afro-Latinx music that was born in the Bronx.

Case For Kindness      
Director: Steven Sawalich
Country: US, Running Time: 98 min
Case For Kindness is a journey to understand the true nature of Kindness, making a case for why it is our best way forward as a society. The film will examine different themes of kindness while exploring various stories, cultures, and conversations. We carefully thread the themes of bullying, hate, mental health, racial injustice, food insecurity and climate change across the entire Documentary Feature. We go to different parts of the United States to interviews experts, leading authorities and find real life moments to build the case that inspires humanity to understand the need and benefits of adopting Kindness.

Hargrove 
Director: Elaine Henri
Country: US, Running Time: 108 min
Filmed throughout his last tour across Mediterranean Europe, this film shines a bright spotlight on Roy Hargrove’s enormous contribution to both the art of jazz and the nurturing of upcoming young musicians. Told in vérité style the film exposes both dark and challenging sides of an artist pure in form, yet vulnerable to everyday realities.

In Search of Bengali Harlem                            
Directors: Vivek Bald, Alaudin Ullah
Country: US, Running Time: 85 min
As a teenager in 1980s Harlem, Alaudin Ullah was swept up in the revolutionary energy of early hip-hop. He rejected his working-class Bangladeshi parents and turned his back on everything South Asian and Muslim. Now, as an actor and playwright in post-9/11 America, Alaudin wants to tell his parents’ stories, but has no idea of the lives they led as Muslim immigrants of an earlier era. In Search of Bengali Harlem follows Ullah from the streets of New York City to the villages of Bangladesh to uncover the pasts of his father, Habib, and mother, Mohima. 

Life & Life        
Director: NC Heikin
Country: US, Running Time: 79 min
Life & Life tracks the journey that musician Reggie Austin takes to redeem his life following a murder conviction 40 years ago. With surprising honesty and depth, the film looks at Austin’s effect on his fellow inmates and his efforts to reconnect with his family, as well as questioning parole and sentencing practices through his story. Ultimately, the film reveals the steep and dangerous hill ex-prisoners must climb upon release to free themselves and create a positive future. Life & Life is a story of the struggle for redemption and hope against near impossible odds, accompanied by a soundtrack that comes straight from Austin’s heart. 

Ron Carter: Finding The Right Notes    
Director: Peter Schnall
Country: US, Running Time: 102 min
From seven-time Emmy Award-winning director Peter Schnall, Ron Carter: Finding The Right Notes is the captivating and informative story of a man whose love for making music had to overcome the racial discrimination in America he faced at a very early age. From the way he walks lines, to his thick, full, and prominent notes and tones, Mr. Carter has spent his entire career finding the right note and perfecting his craft, shaping him into the consummate jazz musician we know and respect, today.

The Sacred Place between Earth and Space   World Premiere
Director: Patrick Heaphy
Country: US, Running Time: 92 min
A documentary that captures the mid-pandemic culmination of Harlem Stage’s Afrofuturism series featuring Craig Harris’ Nocturnal Nubian Ball for Conscientious Ballers and Cultural Shot Callers. The film is a mix of behind the scenes, concert and historical footage that highlights Craig Harris’ reunion and performances with legendary free jazz instrumentalist and fellow Sun Ra Arkestra Member, Marshall Allen. For that brief week in the summer of 2021, Craig Harris and his Nation of Imagination were able to provide much needed entertainment for a pandemic fatigued New York City. 


ADDITIONAL IN-PERSON SHORT FILMS
Giants 1957 Polo Grounds Baseball Game     
Director: Janko Radosavljevic
Country: US, Running Time: 19 min
Short documentary primarily focused on Moe’s original 16mm film footage of the last NY Giants baseball game played at the Polo Grounds stadium in 1957.

Harlem Is Nowhere      
Director: Akil Gibbons
Country: US, Running Time: 16 min
In Harlem, on Juneteenth 2020, amidst lockdown and BLM protests, a wandering photographer 

Marjorie Eliot’ Parlor Entertainment Harlem    
Director: John Decker
Country: US, Running Time: 8 min
For three decades, pianist, playwright, actress, poet and composer, Marjorie Eliot, turns her sadness and tragic loss into joyful weekly performances of love and camaraderie in her Harlem apartment.

Uptown Oasis    
Director: Ian Phillips
Country: US, Running Time: 7 min
In 2004, Abdi Abajabal came to the United States from Ethiopia. In 2012, he decided to start a healthy juice shop in Harlem with only five hundred dollars to his name. Ten years later, he is still going. 


HYBRID PROGRAM – NARRATIVE FEATURES
Hideout            
Director: Yen Kuang Chen
Country: Taiwan, Running Time:  118 min
Drug dealer Guo-hao hopes to make enough money so that he and his girlfriend can leave their life of crime behind. One day, he is contacted by Michael, a drug broker with an offer to buy a batch of rare cocaine. Guo-hao teams up with long-time buddy Da-wei to borrow money from local crime boss Uncle Ma to complete this deal. On the day of the exchange, however, Michael is found dead, and the drugs are already gone. In the middle of the night, Guo-hao receives a phone call from a mysterious man claiming to be in possession of the lost cocaine, telling Guo-hao he has a new deal for him…

Illyricvm
Director: Simon Bogojevic Narath
Country: Croatia, Running Time:  95 min
In 37 BC a young Illyrian Volsus joins a Roman unit and sets off on a perilous journey into one of the darkest regions of the Empire.

Juwaa  
Director: Nganji Mutiri
Country: Belgium, Running Time:  86 min
Years after a traumatic night in Congo, a son (Amani) and a mother (Riziki) are reunited in Belgium. Shot in Kinshasa and in Brussels, Juwaa is a subtlety powerful drama based on African characters rarely seen on screens.

Our Father, The Devil (Mon Pere, Le Diable)   
Director: Ellie Foumbi
Country: US, Running Time: 108 min
An African immigrant’s quiet existence in a small mountain town in the south of France is upended by the arrival of an African priest, whom she recognizes from her past.

Stronghold      
Director: Julia Camara
Country: US, Running Time:  85 min
A young woman who’s lived in the woods with her mother for as long as she can remember, meets an ill stranger who convinces her that she’s been kidnapped from her real family.

The Great Distance Delivers Crane     
Director: Lhapal Gyal
Country: China, Running Time: 96 min
In Tibetan villages on Qinghai Plateau, young siblings Gesang and Duojie lost their mother and live with their grandmother. They rescue an injured young, black-necked crane bird whose parents are dead. With winter coming, the little crane cannot fly to migrate. After many kinds of man-made training and flying failures, the siblings ride a motorcycle and carry the crane to the wintering ground in Shangri-La.

The Problem Of The Hero        
Director: Shaun Dozier
Country: US, Running Time: 85 min
March 1941, the St. James Theatre in New York. On the eve of opening night, a difference of opinion over a single page of the script threatens an impasse between two literary giants of the 20th Century. As rehearsal continues around Richard Wright and Paul Green, led by the mercurial Orson Welles, the ensuing argument – delving into race, class, politics, and personal story – seems destined to dissolve the writers’ friendship.

The Way To Happiness            
Director: Nicolas Steil
Country: Luxembourg, Running Time: 112 min
As a child, Saül escaped the the impending Shoah by being sent from Vienna to Brussels by a Kindertransport. In 1986, he is on the road to resilience and owner of a Delicatessen dedicated to the 7th Art. With his protégé Joakin, a young Chilean director, they decide to write the story of Saül’s childhood and turn it into a film. Alas, love comes knocking on Saül’s door and he is confronted with his past…


HYBRID PROGRAM – DOCUMENTARY FEATURES
Conversations with Ruth de Souza     
Director: Juliana Vicente
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 107 min
Ruth de Souza inaugurates the existence of black actresses on stage, television, and cinema in Brazil. She carries within her the genesis of huge victories for black women over almost a century of her life. The film registers the encounter of the 98 years old actress with the young black woman and director Juliana Vicente. 

Ellis             
Director: Sascha Just
Country: US, Running Time: 96 min
Ellis is the first feature-length documentary about Ellis Marsalis Jr. and the Marsalis Music Family, often called the First Family of Jazz. The film chronicles the life of this exceptional New Orleans composer, performer, and educator, the profound influence that the city had on him — and that he had on the jazz that came out of New Orleans. It is also a story of how one man transcended racial injustices he faced from his birth during segregation to his death from COVID 19. The film interweaves Ellis’ accomplishments with key threads of American cultural history, placing him in historical context as someone who was both deeply affected the by world around him, and who, by responding to it helped to shape that world.

Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters  
Directors: Leah Gordon, Eddie Hutton Mills
Country: UK, Running Time:  78 min
Haitians take their history on to the streets during a modern-day annual carnival in the small southern Haitian town of Jacmel. Exuberant and historically rich, Leah Gordon and Eddie Hutton Mills’s engrossing documentary charts centuries of Haitian history through the lens of carnival celebrations. The country has witnessed unspeakable atrocities, but carnival serves not only as a reminder of the past, but also as a radical act of oral storytelling and collective solidarity in the face of oppression.

King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones         
Director: Harriet Marin Jones
Country: France, Running Time: 99 min
A filmmaker searches for the truth about her grandfather Edward Jones, a charismatic African American who rose to the heights of financial and political prominence in Depression-era Chicago. In shaping the destiny of a city, Ed Jones could not however escape his skin color. In conflict with both the mob and the Feds, he was forced into a life on the run. Exploring the rise and fall of the most famous ‘Policy King’ of all times, the filmmaker uncovers an unparalleled story, while showing the lasting repercussions of his untold story, both within her family, and for Chicago’s South Side where he once embodied the American dream. 

Move When the Spirit Says Move: The Legacy of Dorothy Foreman Cotton       
Directors: Ry Ferro, Deborah C. Hoard
Country: US, Running Time: 89 min
Dorothy Foreman Cotton was a bold and highly effective civil rights leader, who educated thousands about their citizenship rights and inspired generations of activists with her powerful freedom songs. The only woman on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s executive staff, Dorothy was a charismatic, courageous, and consistently overlooked key player in the Civil Rights Movement, whose freedom schools, freedom songs and messages of empowerment are profoundly needed today.

One Mother                 
Director: Mickael Bandela 
Country: France, Running Time: 80 min
For nearly twenty years, I grew up in a foster family, today I am 35 years old, and I am trying to start my family when Gisèle, my birth mother, tells me that she is returning to live in Congo, his home country. I must understand: Why is she still leaking? Through archive images, I trace the thread of my childhood, methodically, to better question the present. Who is this woman who gave birth to me?

Orange And The Blue              
Director: Keif Roberts 
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
An inside look at devoted New York Knicks fans who support the team despite its dysfunction and lack of success.

Ricochet   
Directors: Jeff Adachi, Chihiro Wimbush
Country: US, Running Time: 76 min
When a young woman is shot by an undocumented immigrant on Pier 14 in San Francisco, 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 for justice for an innocent man.


HYBRID PROGRAM – NARRATIVE SHORTS
A Mukbang To Remember   
Director: Leon Liu
Country: Taiwan, Running Time: 16 min
After being exposed for fake-eating during her last mukbang eating show, the notorious big eater Lady White decides to turn the tide, holding an “unforgettable mukbang”. 

A Universal Woman      
Director: Denis Gouzerh
Country: France, Running Time: 23 min
Imani, an Ivorian nuclear engineer in her thirties, travels as an expert to France following a terrible nuclear accident there. With her team, she discovers a community of seniors who refuse to leave their residence in the contaminated zone. She strives to help them in the face of the government’s police-like attitude towards their fate.

AJ’s Story
Directors: Christina Richardson, Leon Robinson
Country: US, Running Time: 27 min
A bi-racial teenager living in the Bronx in search of his biological father, faces tragedy that could split up a foster home family.

Black and White    
Director: Christopher Thomas Wilson
Country: US, Running Time: 22 min
A once renowned Hollywood actor, Calvin Bergerton, is accused and convicted of abusing his Greek girlfriend; Kathryn Soulti. Years later, he is released from a foreign prison, and finds himself living under the scrutiny of an imposed narrative he can’t escape from…

Bolero Station  
Director: Rolf Brönnimann
Country: Switzerland, Running Time: 10 min
The signalman lives on one side of the tracks, the saleswoman on the other. They see each other every day, but it’s not till death comes knocking that they both seize their chance to be together. They do it properly – and it’s enough for a lifetime.

Down’s Paradox      
Director: Red Rodgers Truss
Country: US, Running Time: 14 min
A teenage boy living in Harlem succumbs to the bad influences of his new friends.

Let the Dogs Howl           
Director: Christian Dioulo
Country: US, Running Time: 10 min
A raw, stylish city slick tale of three friends looking for a night of excitement. 

Love Song 
Director: Cameron A. Tubbs
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
Love Song tells the story of Lexi and Adam who painfully learn that love songs aren’t only about meeting and falling in love.

Stabat Mater  
Director: Marina Sagona
Country: US, Running Time: 5 min
Stabat Mater is a work about motherhood and separation. It is built upon the repetition of an eighteen second film. The audio of the film is the mix of a dialogue in Italian, between the artist’s daughter and the artist’s former husband, with the first movement of Giovanni Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. The text of the Italian dialogue translated into English is superimposed over the footage in a gigantic sized type which grows smaller with each repetition until it disappears, while the voices subside, and the music takes over.

Studio With A View   
Director: Mara Wollong
Country: US, Running Time: 22 min
“Studio with a View” is a short film chronicling the first two years of the Covid pandemic from the perspective of an apartment window in New York City’s Chinatown. The film captures life as it unfolds on the city block below, home to a police precinct and located in a neighborhood stigmatized during the pandemic. Conceived as a visual poem, the film evokes themes both small and large, above all human resilience in the face of large-scale crisis.

The Closet B!tch    
Director: William Alexander Runnels
Country: US, Running Time: 19 min
Shana finds herself looking to purchase her first home in New York City, but she only has $10,000, so she settles for the subjects… you know, 25% suburbs, 75% projects. The glamorous coming-of-age journey she thinks she’s about to embark on quickly turns raggedy. This one-woman show, set in the Bronx, is Shana Solomon’s origin story that chronicles the part of her life that leads to her being kicked out of her own apartment by her own father and writing a play about it.

The Lake Merritt Monster 
Director: Benjamin Mulholland
Country: US, Running Time: 17 min
When Ollie Henderson’s mother is attacked by a monster hiding in the depths of Lake Merritt, he sets out on a mission to find her – discovering instead a hidden network of monster hunters tasked with protecting Oakland from its own dark underbelly.

The Waffle Prince 
Director: W.L. Boyd
Country: US, Running Time: 16 min
A young boy returns home from delivering newspapers to find that his mother has left. Unable to process his feelings of abandonment the boy contemplates self-inflicted injury. In the end he is saved by the power of his mother’s love.

TikTok Challenged   
Director: Ivan Rome
Country: US, Running Time: 9 min
Claretha, a soap opera-loving grandmother, has always dreamed of being a star, and she’s finally got her chance. TIKTOK. But she needs a little help from her grandson, Daryl, who didn’t plan to spend the day teaching his grandma how to do a TikTok dance. Will they be able to successfully make a TikTok? Maybe. Will their TikTok go viral? Who knows! But, watching the two of them struggle through this challenge together will be a fun ride filled with peach cobbler, Hollywood dreams, and a whole lot of funky dancing.

Trust Issues    
Director: Reva Santo
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
A young musician haunted by past sexual trauma struggles to navigate trust issues, new love, and a destabilized career.

Visiting Day 
Director: Diego F. RodrÍguez Ocampo
Country: Colombia, Running Time: 15 min
Jose tries his best to adapt to his father’s home, where he visits every other week.


HYBRID PROGRAM – DOCUMENTARY SHORTS
John Leguizamo Live At Rikers
Director: Elena Francesca Engel
Country: US, Running Time: 26 min
John Leguizamo visits Rikers Island Correctional Facility to perform his one-man Broadway show Ghetto Klown for an audience of over 400 inmates. Following his performance, Leguizamo holds group discussions with justice-involved young men awaiting trial or sentencing. This short documentary interweaves excerpts from Leguizamo’s performance and those discussions, bringing attention to the serious challenges and human side of incarceration.

Last May in Palestine
Director: Rabeea Eid
Country: Palestine, State of, Running Time: 20 min
After the assassination of the journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh on May 2022, I return from the UK to Palestine and open my archive of May 2021 upraising in Haifa. On this trip, I relive memories and places I left, but it did not leave me, and ask questions about being a journalist during dangerous events.

Part of Me – Anuar Khalifi by Yasiin Bey      
Director: Jordi Esgleas Marroi
Country: Spain, Running Time: 11 min
This is the story of the appreciation, respect and fondness of musician, actor, and activist Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) for Spanish Moroccan painter Anuar Khalifi. Yasiin reflects on the cultural, ethnic, and religious issues present in Khalifi’s work while sharing his thoughts candidly and providing his very personal take on his friend’s art and life in general.

Return of the Hummingbird Women
Director: Patricia Kaersenhout
Country: Netherlands, Running Time: 18 min
The film takes as a starting point the famous Artist and writers conference from 1956 which took place in the Sorbonne in Paris. This conference was organized entirely by Black women, but no women got the podium. The film not only criticizes patriarchy, but also the European colonial modernity project.

Spiritual Cyphers: Hip Hop and the Church
Director: Ariyan Johnson
Country: US, Running Time: 37 min
Ariyan Johnson shares her personal journey about the struggles and triumphs of her two conflicting loves, Hip Hop, and the Church. Through research and interviews with pastors, historians, artists, and pioneering women hip hop dance artists, the film explores the burgeoning industry of Hip Hop and its challenge for acceptance within the Church. Spiritual Cyphers is a love story told through, the director- Ariyan Johnson’s experiences of her two loves. 


HYBRID PROGRAM – VIRTUAL REALITY (HARLEM360)
Thank You For Sharing Your World 
Director: Yu Sakudo
Country: Japan, Running Time: 30 min
Takashi lost his eyesight in grade school. Though he can recreate the world in his mind, he is losing interest with fewer things to enjoy. He had a friend, Shinji, who was autistic. One day, Shinji invites him to a steam locomotive ceremony. Takashi gets into a fight with Shinji, and they become separated. Takashi looks for him, falling into a darker state of mind. 

Tops of Memory II ILLUSION   
Director: Jialiang Liu
Country: Japan, Running Time: 3 min
Hand-drawn animation using actual painting materials has a unique charm because of its a special texture and unique sense of dynamism. Now with the help of VR, you can experience the hand-drawn world through 360-degree view. What on earth do humans remember when they remember the past? Obviously, it’s not the reality as it is. When the memory that recorded the past reality recurs to our mind repeatedly, the memory is reconstructed repeatedly by being added personal imagination and illusion, then becomes an unrealistic and illusory thing. 

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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.
Email: filmsnork@gmail.com

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