2015 Films

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The 50 Year Argument - 214 - USA
118 min
Director: Martin Scorsese & David Tedeschi
Year Presented: 2015

From its emergence during the writer strikes and Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s the New York Review of Books defied the modern culture of news reporting and frequently made challenges to mainstream thought. Scorsese puts together a bracing film about how fifty years of radical ideas can open a dialogue toward social and political change.
All the Time in the World: Disconnecting to Reconnect - 2014 - Canada
88 min
Director: Suzanne Crocker
Year Presented: 2015

In search of a new perspective, two parents leave their jobs and take their three children, ages 10, 8 and 4, to spend the long northern winter living in the Yukon wilderness. Their home is in a small cabin with no road access, no electricity, no running water, no internet, no TV, no phone and, most importantly, no clocks or watches. Filmed over 9 months, off the grid, without external crew.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs - 2013 - Canada
83 min
Director: Grace Lee
Year Presented: 2015

Grace Lee Boggs is a 98-year-old Chinese American woman in Detroit whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future. This film inspires concerned citizens and dreamers of all ages with new thinking to sustain their struggle and engagement.
Becoming Bulletproof - 2014 - USA
82 min
Director: Michael Barnett
Year Presented: 2015

Joy and persistence triumph over adversity in this award-winning documentary about a diverse group of people from across North America who come together in a camp every year to make a movie. On this occasion, it will be a Western called Bulletproof. This is not the story of someone else who may have a disability; it is our story of who we are or may become. This life-affirming film has much to teach us about embracing the great diversity of humanity.
Building Legends: The Mi’kmaq Canoe Project - 2011 - Canada
28 min
Director: Jason Levangie
Year Presented: 2015

Join a group of young Indigenous and non-Indigenous students as they work with and film Todd Labrador, a master canoe maker. Beautifully shot, this intriguing documentary takes us through the process of building one of the most iconic and vital elements of Mi’kmaq culture: the birch bark canoe.
Burden of Peace - 2015 - Guatemala
77 min
Director: Joey Boink & Sander Wirken
Year Presented: 2015

Guatemala's first female Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz, fights against corruption, drug gangs and a sense of impunity among the powerful and does what everyone had hitherto held to be impossible: she arrests former dictator Efraín Rios Montt on charges of genocide. After taking office Paz y Paz gave access to filmmakers Boink and Wirken which results in an intimate portrait of a woman who wants to bring justice to a country ravaged for years by violence.
Capturing Grace - 2014 - USA
61 min
Director: Dave Iverson
Year Presented: 2015

Capturing Grace is a story about two realms. One is occupied by some of the most acclaimed modern dancers in the world; the other is inhabited by a group of people with Parkinson's disease. This film is about what happens when those worlds intersect. For Iverson, it's also a personal story. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's eight years ago. This is a film about rediscovery: the rediscovery of a lighter step and the sweetness of motion.
Desert Runners - 2013 - USA
99 min
Director: Jennifer Steinman
Year Presented: 2015

A diverse cast of non-professional runners attempts to complete the most difficult ultramarathon race series on Earth. Their dramatic journey takes them across four beautiful but brutal landscapes, pushing their bodies, hearts and spirits through 1000k of the Atacama Desert, the Gobi, the Sahara, and Antarctica. Desert Runners delves into the mindset of ultra-athletes, and the complex ways in which human beings deal with both heartbreak and triumph.
Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists - 2013 - USA
56 min
Director: Letitia Schwartz & Judith Vogelsang
Year Presented: 2015

This is a powerful story about how art saved the lives of a group of talented homeless and indigent men and women who, despite a daily struggle for survival, create art in the worst area of Los Angeles known as Skid Row. It’s also about the ubiquity of art in human life. People strive to make art, no matter how humble the circumstances, and in return art changes their lives.
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story - 2014 - USA
74 min
Director: Grant Baldwin & Jenny Rustmeyer
Year Presented: 2015

After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is discarded each year in North America, filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant pledge to quit grocery shopping and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. In a nation where one in ten people is food insecure, the images they capture of squandered groceries are both shocking and strangely compelling. Our systemic obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce and portion sizes is having devastating consequences around the globe.
The Landfill Harmonic - 2015 - UK
84 min
Director: Brad Allgood & Graham Townsley
Year Presented: 2015

The world generates about a billion tons of garbage a year. Those who live with it and from it are the poor, like the people of Cateura, Paraguay, and they are transforming it into beauty. Follow the lives of a garbage picker, a music teacher and a group of children from a Paraguayan slum that out of necessity started creating instruments entirely out of garbage. Landfill Harmonic is a beautiful story about the transformative power of music, which also highlights two vital issues of our times: poverty and waste pollution.
The Malagasy Way - 2014 - Madagascar
84 min
Director: Lova Nantenaina
Year Presented: 2015

The people of Madagascar pride themselves on producing things out of nothing. A return to a conservationist lifestyle that encourages recycling, fraternity and self-reliance is entirely of the moment and makes perfect sense in the midst of a global economic crisis. The Malagasy Way is a poetic, music-filled, proverb-packed lesson in creativity and resistance that offers fresh logic on how to live. The Malagasy hope to teach the Western ‘superpowers’ a thing or two.
The Man Who Stopped the Desert - 2010 - UK
64 min
Director: Mark Dodd
Year Presented: 2015

This documentary tells the story of one illiterate peasant farmer from Burkina Faso who has transformed the lives of thousands of people across West Africa. Over cinematic reconstruction, Yacouba Sawadogo tells the incredible story of his battle with nature and man to reclaim land lost to desertification, through the traditional farming practice of Zai.
Nostalgia for the Light - 2012 - Chile/USA
90 min
Director: Patricio Guzmán
Year Presented: 2015

Chile’s remote Atacama Desert, 10,000 feet above sea level, provides spectacularly clear views of the heavens for astromomers. But as one of the driest places on earth, it also preserves secrets from the past. Through the filter of stunning cinematography, earthly and celestial quests meld and become a remarkable meditation on memory, history and eternity.
On the Side of the Road - 2014 - Israel
85 min
Director: Lia Tarachansky
Year Presented: 2015

Tarachansky grew up in an Israeli West Bank settlement and moved with her family in 2000 to Canada. There for the first time she met Palestinians and ‘discovered’ their history. On the Side of the Road looks at Israelis’ collective amnesia of the fateful events of 1948 when the state of Israel was born and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees. This is the story of those who fought to erase Palestine, creating an Israeli landscape of denial, and those who are fighting to acknowledge it.
Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds - 2014 - USA
88 min
Director: M. Sean Kaminsky
Year Presented: 2015

Seeds provide the basis for everything from fabric to food to fuels. They are as essential to life as the air we breathe or the water we drink, but are given far less attention. Over the past one hundred years, seeds have steadily shifted from being part of our common heritage to being claimed as sovereign property. This film examines the challenge to maintaining seed biodiversity.
The Price We Pay - 2014 - USA
93 min
Director: Harold Crooks
Year Presented: 2015

Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world’s stock of money beyond the reach of public treasuries. Tax avoidance by big corporations and the wealthy is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the accelerating trends that are carrying the Western world to an unsustainable future.
Searching for Realism - 2015 - Canada
40 min
Director: Peter Murphy
Year Presented: 2015

Realism often finds itself on the uncomfortable fringes of the art establishment, overlooked and underappreciated by our provincial public art gallery. Although Nova Scotian realist painters enjoy broad popular appeal, their paintings have not been surveyed or celebrated for decades. Produced and initiated by PLANS, Professional Living Artists of Nova Scotia, this film explores the genre of realism in Nova Scotia from the point of view of the artists themselves who took matters into their own hands and organized an exhibition.
Shameless Propaganda - 2014 - Canada
72 min
Director: Robert Lower
Year Presented: 2015

This feature documentary examines its own genre, which has often been called Canada's national art form. Released in the year of the NFB's 75th birthday, this film examines the boldest and most compelling propaganda effort in our history: 1939-1945. All 500 of the films produced by the NFB before 1945 are distilled here. Using only these films and still photos from that era, Lower recreates the picture of Canada they give us. What he finds is by turns enlightening, entertaining, and unexpectedly disturbing.
Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa - 2013 - South Africa
84 min
Director: Abby Ginzberg
Year Presented: 2015

As a young lawyer, Albie Sachs defended those committed to ending apartheid in South Africa. For his actions he was imprisoned, tortured and forced into exile. In 1988 he was attacked by a car bomb which cost him his right arm and the sight of one eye, but miraculously he survived. He helped write the new South African Constitution and was appointed as a judge to the new Constitutional Court, which for the past 20 years has been insuring the rights of all South Africans.
Tribal Canoe Journey - 2015 - USA
5 min
Director: Ed Carswell
Year Presented: 2015

Over the past 150 years, First Nations societies suffered many hardships and some of their traditions were outlawed. The Tribal Canoe Journey tradition was revived in 1986. Massive dugout canoes travel, sometimes up to three weeks, from their territories to the host territory, visiting Indigenous nations along the way to participate in traditional protocols and share languages, songs, dances, and traditional foods. Once all canoes arrive at the final destination, a weeklong celebration follows.
Unfinished Spaces - 2011 - Cuba
86 min
Director: Alysa Nahmias & Benjamin Murray
Year Presented: 2015

In 1961, three young, visionary architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba's National Art Schools. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution became a reality, the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream.
Views from the Bench - 2015 -
40 min
Director: Peter Murphy & Antigonish County Adult Learing Assoc.
Year Presented: 2015

The Views from the Bench project works to overcome the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Sixteen participants who are dealing with mental health issues in their own lives work together behind and in front of the camera to create four short films. Views from the Bench is a spin-off of the award winning Park Bench Players theatre troupe.
When Voices Meet: The Story of the Peace Train - 2015 - South Africa
90 min
Director: Nancy Sutton Smith & Abby Ginzberg
Year Presented: 2015

When Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison, courageous South African musicians broke through apartheid’s barriers to form a 500-voice, multiracial children’s choir. Threatened with bombs and thwarted at every turn, they prevailed and took the railroad across the country aboard The Peace Train. Singing their way into the hearts, minds and souls of a divided nation amidst a civil war, they promoted a peaceful transition to democracy and went on to become Mandela’s face of the new rainbow nation.
Zero Percent - 2011 - USA
90 min
Director: Tim Skousen
Year Presented: 2015

The Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison is showcased inside Sing Sing Maximum Security Prison. The film’s title, Zero Percent, refers to the fact that not one of Hudson Link’s graduates has been re-incarcerated for a new crime once released even though the national recidivism rate is over 60%. The driving forces behind Hudson Link’s creation and success are the men who were once incarcerated themselves.