This year the Virginia Film Festival has over one hundred films on their schedule, including early Oscar-buzz films “Carol” and “Brooklyn,” as well as smaller lesser-known documentaries and international titles. Their mission is to encompass as many different genres and types of cinema as possible in hopes to appeal to the wider community of Charlottesville and Virginia as a whole. And many of the films selected highlight diversity and the roles of minorities. Here are some of the films at the festival with these themes:
“Southeast 67” is documentary spanning two decades following the lives of African- American students in Washington D.C. who were promised college scholarships at the age of 12. Struggling to survive in the improvised and violent D.C. neighborhoods, the characters of “Southeast 67” strive to attain their dream of attending college.
A drama by Sterlin Harjo, “Mekko” follows the life of a Muskogee man who tries to rebuild his life after spending 19 years in prison. Set in Tulsa and highlighting an all Native-American cast, “Mekko” sheds light on the Oklahoma Native American homeless community as well as much of the culture and fantasy of indigenous legends.
“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”
“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” by Stanley Nelson, is the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party and its impact on American culture. Nelson goes straight to the source with rare footage and first-hand accounts.
“Bound: African vs African Americans”
Highlighting the divide between Africans and African-American, “Bound: African vs African Americans” is a documentary by Peres Owino focusing on this complex and multi-layered topic. Starting with testimonials, “Bound” explores this divide, and attempts to create mutual understanding.
“Rosenwald” is a documentary by Aviva Kempner which follows the often untold story of Julius Rosenwald, former Sears president and civil rights activist. Motivated by his Jewish values, Rosenwald built thousands of schools in the Jim Crow South and awarded many grants to black thinkers and artists.
“Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot”
One of the free showings at the Film Festival, “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot” is also documentary which follows the lives of the 25,000 civil rights activists as they marched for 18 days from Selma to Montgomery. This film highlights how these activists led one of the most significant social movements in U.S. history, despite strong opposition.