Two Worlds

The film is a portrait of deaf parents and their 12-year old daughter Laura who takes on the role of her father’s and mother’s mouths and ears. Laura is also the medium who, with empathy, introduces the spectator to the daily life of people with disabilities. Beyond her translations, she has become a transmitter of her parent’s emotions to a hearing world.

Three people, two ways of perceiving reality… and one family.

Twice Upon a Time

Behind the splash of headlines about the Syrian conflict, Khalil (Syrian, age 12) and Niam (Lebanese, age 32) share a rare friendship. Caught between countries, the film carefully focuses on the lives of one woman and one boy in a small village near the Lebanon/Syria border. Filmmaker and former refugee, Niam takes us through the prism of splintered memories and animated ‘re-imaginings’ of the past, to witness a young life currently caught today between countries.

Through the Wall

For two years now, on Sundays, Abril makes a treacherous trip from her home in Southern California to the US/Mexico border. An undocumented immigrant, Abril carries her two-year-old son Julián, an American citizen, to the border each week so they can have family-time with Julián’s father, Uriel. Two years before, Uriel was deported for a minor traffic citation. Julián only knows his father through the wall from these brief furtive meetings.

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?

Real Boy

Bennett Wallace is a charismatic teenager navigating the ups and downs of gender transition. As he seeks his true voice — as a musician, a friend, a son, and a man — the boy is taken under the wing of his idol Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician fighting his own demons. The film explores the complexity of addiction, the healing power of music, and the importance of family, both given and chosen.

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.

Oyate

Life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota is told through a single summer with two reservation families. The families attend rodeos and participate in Pow Wows; get married, celebrate new arrivals and the 4th of July but the dark cloud of modern reservation life shadows their world. Taking cues from filmmakers like Frederick Wiseman, Oyate aims to embed the viewer into a world far from their own guided by this gentle representation of space, place and people

Orphans [a requiem]

While researching migratory birds in Cheorwon, South Korea, along the demilitarized zone that separates the North and the South, the filmmaker came across a woman whose house was full of photographs from the other side of the border. A mix of historical documentary and fiction, Orphans [a requiem] is about the hidden trauma of the Korean War, and the birds that seem to echo that history across the peninsula.

La Laguna

Set within the rainforests of southern Mexico, La Laguna tells the story of a Mayan boy’s remarkable journey from childhood to adolescence. While Yu’uk and his younger brother José enjoy a childhood of uncommon freedom in the jungle, the family must move on. Problems begin to mount and leaving their village and Yu’uk, along with his beloved little brother, may be their family’s only hope.

The Joneses

Jheri Jones is the 74-year-old transgender matriarch of a unique Mississippi Bible Belt family. Reconciled after years of estrangement, and now living with two of her four sons in her trailer park home, Jheri embarks on a new path to reveal her true self to her grandchildren, while her son Trevor begins a surprising journey of his own, in this compelling documentary about an unorthodox family and the deeply complex personal bonds that make or break us.

Inside These Walls

Wang Bingzhang, founder of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Movement, has spent the last fourteen years in a Chinese prison for the crime of political activism. Although he once abandoned his family to pursue his political beliefs, his ex-wife and children campaign tirelessly for his release. Inside These Walls captures the complex range of emotions of a family bound together in struggle and hope.

Inside the Chinese Closet

Andy devotes his days and nights to looking for a lesbian wife of convenience who could possibly bear his child. From online searches to underground marriage markets he finally meets Cherry. She has already married a gay man but the quest for a baby proves to be a far more complex challenge. As they sort things out, the couple clash with their parents’ hopes and their own love partners, revealing the challenges that confront gay people in China today.

The Freedom To Marry

Over the last four decades, the concept of same-sex couples marrying went from a ‘preposterous notion’ to national law. The Freedom to Marry movement is one of the most successful civil rights campaigns in modern history. That said, its victory was carefully planned and orchestrated over decades. Take a riveting ride alongside Evan Wolfson and Mary Bonauto, architect and key litigator of the movement – from the earliest days to their final frenetic dash to the US Supreme Court.

Double Talk

Dubbing is more than just a job for actor Joan Pera, who has been the onscreen voice in Spain of Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis and countless others. Joan has been the Spanish and Catalan voice of Hollywood stars for three decades. Now, with his son Roger in the game, this story of the weird and wonderful world of international dubbing is sharpened with teasing and family rivalry.

The Chair of Life

What holds two sisters-in-law together over a lifetime? Carmen and Maria are two old ladies who support each other in their daily lives despite being alone. Instead of a walking stick, Carmen uses an old wooden chair to get about.

Twinterview

Ron & Roland Addad are very compatible and very identical twins. Director Sami Chan walks us through a playful conversation between twin brothers and leads to their musings on twin life, identity, artistic vision, and toy collecting.
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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.

Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball

“Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball” is the story of an 11-year major League pitcher who, after winning two world championships with the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1969 Miracle Mets, embarked on a USO tour through Vietnam that would change his life. After visiting field hospitals, Ron devoted the rest of his life to medicine, eventually becoming the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays. Through interviews with former teammates and friends, his two sons uncover the course of their father’s life.

Quiet Title (2016 Jury Award Winner)

SDFF 2016 Jury Award: Short Documentary

The Taalman sisters relate their memories of a haunted house they grew up in. Director Alina Taalman says ”Growing up, my sisters and I heard voices, saw lights and dreamed of other beings. My mother and I shared a recurring dream of strangers on the driveway. Our dreams and our memories converged into the experience of living in a haunted house”. The question remains: is it mere childhood reminiscence or was it truly haunted?

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A Nation Without a Homeland

Mohamed is a child refugee from Syria; he has no recollection of his family or his life before he reached Baghdad. In an attempt to reunite Mohamed with his family, filmmaker Warith Kwaish embarks on a journey, searching the refugee camps along the Iraqi-Syrian Border, desperately seeking leads as to their whereabouts. The result is bittersweet, revealing the scale of the humanitarian drama still unfolding in the region.

In Arabic with English subtitles

Part of our “Portraits of Resilience” special program.

Fibre & Wood

Sanna Rahola and Douglas Drdul are a couple of master craftsmen collaborating on their work. Although he is a woodcarver and she is a fiber artist, they explore techniques of combining their crafts to enhance the effects of each. This film is from the Breakwater Studios’ “Life’s Work” web series on craft in Nova Scotia.

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Drawing the Tiger (2016 Special Jury Mention)

SDFF 2016 Special Jury Mention: Feature Documentary

“Drawing the Tiger” is the intimate portrait of a Nepalese family’s daily struggle to survive off subsistence farming and the price that family pays for their golden opportunity to break the poverty cycle. Shanta, their brightest child, receives a charity scholarship to go to school in the capital city. She promises to return and free her family from poverty. But she doesn’t.

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That Which Sustains

This short documentary paints a portrait of Abraham Elterman, a Mexican-Jewish Oakland-based artist, who has long dealt with issues of power, individuality and connectedness.