By Robin Salant
This month Indie Memphis is presenting 4 films as a part of their Freedom Series. All are welcome to attend these events. As always, the Indie Memphis Freedom Series is free and open to the public!
On Sunday, October 10, at 3pm at East High School (3206 Poplar Avenue) Heart of Stone by Toni Beth Kruvant will be showing. This film won the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival and was hailed by Zach Braff as, “One of the most powerful documentaries I have seen…I cannot recommend something more.”
Before 1960, Weequahic High School (WHS) was known as one of the top schools in America. By 2000 it was one of the most violent schools in the 12th most dangerous city in the country. Heart of Stone is an inspiring portrait of a bold principal who works with gang leaders and predominantly Jewish alumni to give his students a hopeful future. The WHS experience is a model for other inner city schools to rejuvenate by engaging gang members into the schools culture and inspiring them to graduate and go on to college. By crossing over cultures and reaching into their own past, WHS pulls support from the residents of the surrounding suburbs who show they care. Inner cities were once proud downtown districts with excellent education programs that graduated professionals who long ago moved to the suburbs. Heart of Stone shows how disparate groups can join together to give their old communities something they haven’t had for generations – a future.
This event is hosted by BRIDGES and the Memphis Jewish Federation, with special thanks to the members of Give365 and the Greater East High Foundation. The showing will begin with a few words from Nika Jackson, the manager of the City of Memphis’ Office of Multicultural and Religious Affairs.
On Thursday, October 14, at 6pm at the National Civil Rights Museum, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter by Connie Field will be shown. This film was a British Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature and received 15 international awards for Best Documentary.
Women in the 1930’s were eligible for very few jobs. They could be domestic help, shop girls, waitresses, or cooks, if they could get work at all. Suddenly the US entry into World War II created an unprecedented demand for new workers. Notions of what was proper work for women changed overnight. Thousands of posters and billboards appeared calling on women to “Do the Job He Left Behind.” On one such poster, Rosie the Riveter was born – the symbol of working women during World War II. After whirlwind training, women found themselves doing “men’s work,” and they did it so well that production levels rose despite the military call-up of millions of male workers. They discovered a new sense of pride and dignity in their work. Their earnings leapt upwards. Many joined unions and found substantial new benefits from labor representation. And for the first time in history, black women gained entry into major industrial plants. When the war was over, Rosie wanted to stay. But neither the structure of the American economy nor the dominant view of women’s place in society sustained such hopes. The story is told by the women themselves, five former “Rosies,” who movingly recall their histories working in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco during the war. In The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, their testimony is interwoven with rare archival recruitment films, stills, posters, ads, and music from the period which contrast their experiences with the popular legend and mythology of Rosie the Riveter.
This event is hosted by the National Civil Rights Museum, with special thanks to the members of Give365. There will be two short films preceding this feature, I Think I Was An Alcoholic and Truth Movements, which merit a warning of adult content and strong language. Join the post-film conversation on the current situation of women in the workplace, with women of the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Roller Derby.
I Am A Man: from Memphis, a Lesson in Life, will be showing on Sunday, October 24, at 3pm at the National Civil Rights Museum. This film is the winner of 2010 Mid-South Emmy Awards in three categories and is hosted by the Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking and the National Civil Rights Museum.
In 1968, Elmore Nickleberry stood among 1300 other African-American men in Memphis who collectively asserted their right to be treated with dignity. Mr. Nickleberry hasn’t sat down yet. Each weeknight, he guides his garbage truck through the streets of downtown Memphis, a living link to a frequently forgotten chapter in American history, one long eclipsed by the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Filmed on location in Memphis in late 2008, I Am a Man: From Memphis, a Lesson in Life offers a modern-day look at the legacy of Mr. Nickleberry and others like him. Their inspiring story is tied to character traits and principles just as valuable today as they were more than 40 years ago, a time in Memphis when everyday working men stood together to say, “Enough!”
On Sunday, October 24, at 3pm at Malco’s Studio on the Square (in conjunction with the 13th Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, October 21-24), The Last Survivor directed by Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman will be presented. This film won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, and is hosted by members of the Jewish community in Memphis, with special thanks to the members of Give365.
The Last Survivor is a character-based, feature-length documentary film that presents the stories of genocide survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate, motivate, and promulgate a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. As survivors from four genocides and mass atrocities, the Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo, unite in a story of dignity and hope, the film focuses both on their activism and the deep-rooted connections that bind them as human beings. Having shot on location in five countries across four continents, the film focuses on the universality of the horror of genocide, combating the misguided notion that genocide is something that happens “over there.” Rather, the film asks its audience to consider genocide as an evil that has occurred on nearly every single continent and one that affects all of us as human beings.
Additional screenings will be announced online at Indiememphis.com/freedom.
By Robin Salant