The Social Justice Now Film Festival begins tomorrow with an impressive slate of diverse selections. Genre benders, insightful character studies, narrative examinations of mental illness and manifestations of the spiritual vs the intellectual are all identifying issues specific to the questions of equality, reform, and what it means to be fully human.
With more than a dozen feature length films and an equally impressive array of short films, the festival offers a tremendous amount of content.
The festival’s indie films are categorized into narrative features, documentaries, and shorts. In the New Media category, the SJNFF is showcasing a podcast that reimagines the last days of slavery on a cosmic scale with epic implications. Here is a list of the films selected with a brief description, the creative teams behind them, and their countries of origin.
NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
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.
Featuring Steven Silver, Spencer Neville and Nicola Peltz.
Directed by Ali LeRoi.
Written by Stanley Kalu.
Produced by Zachary Green p.g.a, Jason Shuman p.g.a, Marni Bond and Chuck Bond.
USA | 104 min
Even in Darkness, Cities of Dreams Are Born
A single father fights to give his young son the life he deserves while trying to achieve his own artistic ambitions.
Featuring Ghost, Zeke Parris, Bria Black, Pha’rez Lass, and Craig Bowler.
Directed, written, and produced by Ghost.
Produced by Edith Jane Cheesebourough Yarbrough, Erica Paris, Dr. Leona Woody, and Lee Young.
USA | 95 min
Raise Your Hand
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.
Featuring Jearnest Corchado, Hanani Tayor, Joel Steingold, Gregory Scott Cummins, Pat Skipper, DaJuan Johnson and Jess Nurse.
Directed, written and produced by Jessica Rae.
Produced by Evan Allen-Gessesse, Margarita Reyes, and Adam Dick.
USA | 94 min
Riding With Sugar
Who are you?
Featuring Charles Mnene, Hakeem Kae Kazim, Simona Brown, Hlayani JR Mabasa, Paballo Koza, Brendon Daniels, Leigh Bremridge, Akin Omotso, Asanda Maku, Getmore Sithole, and Sindiwe Magona.
Directed, written and produced by Sunu Gonera.
Produced by Shekinah Tribe and Helena Spring, Helena Spring Films
USA | 106 min
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Big Chief, Black Hawk
A short look at Black Masking Indians, their indigenous roots, and the effects of COVID-19 and police brutality protest on the culture.
Featuring Terrance Williams, Jr.
Directed by Jonathan Isaac Jackson.
Produced by Paul V. Fishback
USA | 20 min
Growing Up Milwaukee
Three inner-city youth growing up in Milwaukee struggle with the daily dilemma of growing up Black and avoiding becoming just another statistic.
Featuring Tiana Gee, Brandon Haney, Marquell Jenkins.
Directed and produced by Tyshun Wardlaw.
USA | 115 min
HBCU Storytellers: Confederate Monuments – Heritage or Hatred?
HBCU Storytellers confront Confederate monuments in Virginia, exploring whether these monuments are heritage or hatred.
Featuring Zyahna Byrant, Bryan Stevenson, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, and Dr. Wes Bellamy
Directed by Chadwick Gobar, Brian Favors, and James Hadgis.
Produced by Brian Favors, James Hadgis, Nate Parker Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation.
USA | 22 min
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.
Featuring Brandy Grant and Lucy Hall.
Directed and written by Ri-Karlo Handy.
Written by Ri-Karlo Handy and Rashad Mubarak.
Produced by Rashad Mubarak
USA | 71 min
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.
Featuring James Williams
Directed by Dorian Emerson.
Written by Dorian Emerson.
Produced by Ben Clerveaux.
USA | 20 min
Public Enemy Number One
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
Directed by Robert Rippberger.
Written by Robert Rippberger and Brian Welsh.
Produced by Ice-T, Robert Rippberger and Chris Chiari.
USA | 70 min
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
“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.
Directed by Jacoba Atlas.
Written by Monique W. Morris and Jacoba Atlas.
Producers by Jacoba Atlas, Denise Pines, and Monique W. Morris.
USA | 76 min
The Prison Within
“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.
Featuring Hill Harper.
Directed by Katherin Hervey.
Narrated by Hill Harper.
Written by Eric Frith, Katherin Hervey, Erin Kenway, and Jeremy Sell.
Produced by Katherin Hervey, Massimo Bardetti, Erin Kenway, and Eric Frith.
Co-Produced by Massimo Bardetti and Eric Frith.
USA | 86 min
This documentary is about the loss of identity and its negative systemic 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.
Featuring Godsway Anderson, Marcquis Graham, Dr. Chiji Akoma, Dr. Amari Johnson, Clifton Porter, and Wanlov the Kubolor.
Directed by Princess Garrett.
Written by Sarah Harris, Clifton Porter.
Produced by Hezekiah Lewis, Sarah Harris, Madiah Gant, Deanna Starr, Opeyemi Famakinwa, and Alexis Miller.
USA | 28 min
Who Will Survive America
A concerned filmmaker goes undercover to explore our country’s love affair and easy accessibility to guns in America…It was just too easy…
Directed and written by Sheldon Candis.
Produced by Lisa Osborne.
USA | 7 min
A front row seat to a survivor’s six month journey through sexual trauma therapy and recovery.
Featuring Zanah Thirus, Anisha Cooper, Claire Horner, Melissa Carnagey, SahDol Jones, Denisa Millette, Angela Townsend, Thalia Chicojay, and Gregory Geffrard.
Directed by Zanah Thirus.
Produced by Marquelle Young and Zanah Thirus.
USA | 38 min
When Liberty Burns
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.
Directed and written by Dudley Alexis.
Produced by Dudley Alexis, Femi Folami-Browne, and Betty Antonio Andrews.
USA | 111 min
Writing On the Wall
“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.
Directed, shot and edited by Miya Lee.
USA | 6 mins
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.
Featuring Ayinde Howell, Michelle Mitchenor, and Patrick Cage.
Directed by Jon Alston.
Written by Ayinde Howell.
Produced by B. Quinn Curry, Jon Alston, Ayinde Howell.
USA | 15 min
Backwards God tells the story of how man made God in his image.
Featuring Ian Banks, Genesis Be, Andrew Blair, Natalie Cook, Asia Howard, Honnor Seaton, Wayne Stewart, Ashley Tolbert, Jessica Vernon, Anthony Washington, Brionna Williams.
Directed and written by Natalie Cook.
Produced by Natalie Cook and Jason Cermak.
USA | 6 min
A fearless exploration of the way America’s need to define Blackness has challenged the identity of a community.
Featuring Denise Chamberlain, Reginald Cole, Brittany King, Dominique Lewis, and Farai Moyo.
Directed, written and produced by Rachel Hardy.
USA | 16 min
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.
Featuring Kyndra Kennedy, Kel King, Nick Orefice, Makai Pruitt, Lola Denise, and Valerie Addas.
Directed and written by Kyndra Kennedy.
Produced by Kyndra Kennedy, Kenneth Cuadrado, and KYNA Media Films.
USA | 5 min
Broken examines the devastating effects of untreated mental illness in a family struggling to cope with a broken system that fails them.
Featuring Beverly Todd, Jillian Reeves, Ariel Brown, Mackenzie Lee-Foster, and Scott Subiono.
Directed and written by Jillian Reeves.
Produced by Erick Nicole Malone, Kenneth L. Johnson, Michelle Covington, Stelio Savante, Will Conley, Jonathan T. Floyd, and Carole Murphy; Co-Produced by Landi Maduro.
USA | 15 min
Catch A Girl
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.
Featuring Daniel G. Cunningham, Kayciblu Wright, and Zakai Lassiter.
Directed and written by LeRon E. Lee.
Produced by Derrick Williams and executive produced by Ladun Thompson.
USA | 15 min
Yolonda and her daughter Charlie are ripped apart by illness, an unjust system, and a failure to face the truth.
Featuring Breonna Morrison as Charlie Thomas and Wendy Olunike Adeliyi as Yolonda Thomas.
Directed by Alison Duke.
Written by Alison Duke and Lindsey Addawoo.
Produced by Fonna Seidu and Lucas Joseph.
CANADA | 25 min
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.
Featuring Harold Dennis.
Directed, written and produced by El Arthur Bey.
USA | 17 min
Eavesdropping on the Elders
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.
Featuring Kiah Alexandria Clingman as Kiah, Mac Wells as Marcus Garvey, Brittany Inge as Ida B. Wells and James Clingman as Jim.
Produced by Kiah Clingman (KiahCan Productions), The African-American Legacy Network, Amefika Gueka and Villain Pictures.
USA | 18 min
First Day Back
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.
Featuring Loretta Devine, Aisha Hinds, Etienne Maurice, Cornelius Smith Jr., and Javicia Leslie.
Directed by Deshawn Plair, Kiah Clingman and Robinson Vil.
Written by Deshawn Plair & Sade Oyinade, Kiah Clingman and CJ Sykes.
Produced by Deshawn Plair, Sade Oyinade, Etienne Maurice, Greg Jennings, and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
USA | 21 min
A day in the life of four black women after they learn of an act of police violence.
Featuring Aizhaneya Carter, Kalyne Coleman, Janelle McDermoth, and Alexis Van Eyken.
Directed, written, and produced by Nicole Cone.
USA | 3 min
Free to Be
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.
Featuring DaeBrian O’Berry, Laganja Estranja/Jay Jackson, Ash Danielson, and Gracie Cartier.
Directed and written by Ugenia Stokes.
Produced by Brandon Claybon and Ugenia Stokes; Co-Produced by Anastasia Washington.
USA | 13 min
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.
Featuring Grant Harvey, Jorge A. Jimenez, Seth Gutiérrez, and Carlos Sanchez.
Directed and written by Rachel McDonald.
Produced by Maury Strong, Rachel McDonald, and Ezra Venetos.
USA | 23 min
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.
Featuring Jason Mimms, Joey Coverson, Auriel Branson, and Saffran Harris.
Directed and written by Jonathan Rowan.
Produced by Jonathan Rowan and Myava Mitchell.
USA | 15 min
A Million Eyes
A gifted young photographer, grappling with his mother’s alcoholism, sets out to capture something he loves.
Featuring Joe Morton, Elijah M. Cooper, Katie Lowes, and Shareef Salahuddin.
Directed by Richard Raymond.
Written by Curt Zacharias Jr.
Produced by Josh Reinhold, Richard Raymond, Nousha Raymond, and Erin Charles
USA | 24 min
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.
Featuring Yetide Badaki, Karen David, Dominic Burgess, Jen Richards, and Luke Youngblood.
Directed by Jessica Sherif.
Written by Yetide Badaki.
Produced by Yetide Badaki, Karen David, Jessica Sherif
USA | 10 min
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?
Featuring Rory Travis and Chris Prizzi.
Produced by Steven Kiefer.
USA | 10 min
All Things Undone | Podcast
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.
Featuring Chené Lawson, JoNell Kennedy, Danny Jacobs, Shannon Lee Holmes & Christen Sussin.
Directed by Joel Peissig and Chené Lawson.
Written by Chené Lawson.
Produced by Joel Peissig.
USA | 34 min
The SJNFF website is adding new information daily and you can follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. A free download of the ABFF Play app is the only way to experience the festival. It’s available on Apple’s App Store for iphone and ipad as well as any device that features Google Play .
Keep checking BlackLove.com for the complete list of films and conversations in the festival. The festival runs from October 21 – 25. Don’t miss it!