Visitor's Day

An intimate portrait verite of one young man growing up at IPODERAC — a non-profit farm in Puebla, Mexico, dedicated to the care and social development of street children. This film follows the struggles of a neglected boy, Juan Carlos, who strives for self-acceptance and maturity in a sea of abandoned children.

The Emmy-nominated director sees the story as a beacon of hope and a positive depiction of our neighboring country.

Strings Attached

The Fratello Marionettes duo perform a timeless craft with consummate skill. Their youthful audiences are drawn into a magical world of beautifully made doll-like creatures come alive. Strings Attached is a blend of master puppet maker/performers putting on a show and giving us insights into their craft and their lives. They perform to beautiful music by Saint Saëns. There is laughter along the way but this video builds to a conclusion evoking deep emotions.

School Play

A 5th grade theater production of The Wizard of Oz becomes a larger-than-life coming of age drama. As pressure mounts and with opening night rapidly approaching, these children — the class clown, the overachiever, the chubby kid, the stutterer — are forced to face their hopes and fears, and all their peers. In this hilarious tribute to the end of childhood, who knew growing up was so hard?

Pepe

Pepe wakes up every day with a smile on his face. Pepe Argulo is a 12 year-old boy with cerebral palsy. He lives with his family in one of the poorest parts of Lima, Peru. Together they fight to improve their situation, making sure never to lose track of the beauty of life and the love of family. This is an intimate portrait of a boy with joy in his heart.

Miss Shade Is Missing

A 3rd grade class in Brooklyn recounts its worst day in school that year. It was a very bad day… and surprisingly funny.

The Learning Alliance

Three brothers collect garbage to earn the money to pay for their school fees. They want to change their future by selling garbage in Lahore and studying. This is a portrait of resilience which celebrates children who dare to achieve their dreams.

Laleh Complex

In a remote village in central Iran, students try to fulfill their dreams. Studying is still a big challenge for many as they must walk kilometers across wild landscapes to reach their school. Some keep going while others give up. One day, a car shows up in the village. It’s not an ordinary car but a magic car which sparks their imagination and makes them dream.

Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model

Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model follows award-winning performance artist Bryony Kimmings and her 10-year-old niece Taylor as they try to combat the hyper-sexualized and commercialized world of pop by creating their own alternative popstar role model for Tweens (7 to 12 year-old girls). This feature-length documentary is as uplifting as it is irreverent, an inspirational film for anyone who cares about the impact of the media we consume.

An Acquired Taste

As the food movement grows across America, a young generation of mindful meat-eaters rejects factory farms and turns to hunting for the ultimate protein. Animal lovers Nick, Alex and Ashlie leave behind their modern lives and embark on a journey that is foreign to their parents — partly to eat dinner, and partly to carve out their identities in a world increasingly at odds with reality and nature.

Art Connect

“Art Connect” reveals the impact that art and creativity had in a group of ‘at risk’ teenagers from Laventille: the community in Trinidad and Tobago with the most violence. The story is told by these children who had access to different forms of art to express themselves. By talking, painting, singing, dancing and filming they allow us into their world.

Waves of Childhood

For three months in 2015, a group of Syrian girls living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan participated in a media workshop designed to empower them to tell their own stories and those of the surrounding community. Given cameras and encouragement, these young women set out and created the seven short films depicting their experience and reality. The resulting work is named “Waves of Childhood” by one of the girls of the group.

Waterbabies

“Waterbabies” explores the world of synchronized swimming by way of an American teenage team; The New Canaan Aquianas. The film follows the girls as they train, practice, compete and become dexterous masters. We see the ambitions these young teenage girls explore through swimming. The many challenges of female teenage life inevitably surface as well. What’s clear is that the girls are incredibly passionate about this sport.

Thrive

A short documentary about the prodigious talent and irrepressible spirit of a musically precocious 12-year-old blind boy who plays the piano. We follow Matt Whitaker as he takes the lead in his first onstage performance and we root for him when he applies to school for musically gifted children.

Streetdance Family

“Streetdance Family” is the story of UK under-16 street dance crew Entity’s journey to the world championship in Germany. The film follows them through their rigorous training as they face the challenges of preparing for international competition. Their personal stories unfold through interviews with dancers, coaches and families, deepening our understanding of what drives them to go for the gold.

The Scenes

Although art funding is short, Mt. Diablo Elementary gives their the kids the freedom to do their own skits, and “The Scenes” is the result. Director Laura Van Zee Taylor introduces us to the 5th grade comedy troupe known as ‘What the Heck Was That’. While their public school focuses on sports and STEM, these ‘proudly-weird’ kids create their own arts education. Without any adult help and despite a few nasty bullies, these kids come together to learn, grow and shine.

WOMAN FILMMAKER

Oyler

Based on the award-winning ‘Marketplace’ radio series “One School, One Year”, “Oyler” takes viewers through a year at the school, depicting Principal Craig Hockenberry’s mission to transform an inner city school into a community learning center. The story focuses on senior Raven Gribbins’ quest to become the first in her troubled family to finish high school. Neighborhood problems erode the school’s progress, and Hockenberry’s job is threatened, but ultimately Raven gets recruited to college, and a record number of students graduate Oyler.

The Ox

A portrait of master woodworker and Vietnam veteran Eric Hollenbeck. This master craftsman uses vintage machines to produce custom wood products in his Eureka, California shop. Although this craft is part of his own personal journey, he also trains at-risk youth and war veterans. This film inspired the creation of the “Life’s Work” series from Breakwater Studios.

WEB SERIES

A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone

Edythe Boone may be 75 years old but is still fully engaged in bringing her art to the community. Her murals grace buildings from Berkeley to San Francisco, but she is above all a community educator. Boone tirelessly teaches both young and old in her unique method of mural painting. As events unfold, her nephew dies in police custody with his last words being “I Can’t Breathe”, throwing her work into turmoil.

Madina’s Dream

This hard-hitting inside look at the ongoing conflict in South Sudan presents a close-up view of everyday wartime life in the Nuba Mountains. The film is shot both in the refugee camp where women and their starving children, such as Madina, have fled, and village life under a siege in which Nuba men are daily forced to defend themselves against attacks from Sudanese troops. Their personal stories, told alongside skirmishes and bombings, create a riveting commentary of the effects of war on civilians.

Lockdown

Over the past decade schools have become concerned with protecting their students from the threat of an armed gunman. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, most elementary schools are now conducting safety drills that would prepare teachers and students for such a threat. “Lockdown” explores this chilling new reality through the voices of students, teachers, and parents. It provokes us to contemplate the emotional weight of this new normal.

WOMAN FILMMAKER, SATURDAY SHORTS

Idil Biret: The Portrait of a Child Prodigy

Idil Biret was five years old when she played piano for the Turkish President. Two years later, the Congress passed “Idil’s Law” which allowed her to study in Paris. Away from her friends, in an alien city, Idil was now working under strict supervision. As Arthur Rubinstein later recalled, “the first time I heard her play she brought tears to my eyes”. Director Eytan Ipeker provides many wonderful musical interludes from one of the most prolific pianists of all time.

Ghost Town to Havana (2016 Audience Award Winner)

SDFF 2016 Audience Award: Feature Documentary

“Ghost Town to Havana” is a heartbreaking, funny, and inspirational story about mentorship, kids, and baseball in Oakland and Havana today. Two youth baseball coaches, Nicolas from Havana and Roscoe from Oakland, meet on video and decide they want to play each other. When they meet in Cuba, it’s joy and baseball versus murder and poverty. Fascinating cross-cultural and personal stories are woven together by director Eugene Corr.

Daughters of the Forest / Hijas Del Bosque

“Daughters of the Forest” follows the lives of a group of girls attending The Mbaracayú Forest Girls’ School. The school is surrounded by land where more than 95 percent of the forest has been burned and cleared. The school is where the girls learn both academically and through running businesses that support themselves and the school. We see the fulfillment of their vision: the best hope for changing the world is empowering the girls.

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Chau, a 16-year-old boy living in a Vietnamese peace camp that cares for kids disabled by Agent Orange, battles with the reality of his dream to one day become a professional artist and clothing designer. Chau’s unstoppable spirit plays against the backdrop of the disfigurement of those whose lives were shaped by the defoliant chemical. Oscar-Nominated for Best Short Documentary in 2016.