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Family Relations

Family Relations


Director: Mijie Li

Filmmaker Mijie Li's first feature (she co-produced Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's American Factory), Confucian Dream is an observational documentary about a Chinese woman's embrace of the ancient philosophy of Confucianism and how it affects her family.

Chaoyan, a young wife and mother, believes the ancient teachings of Confucianism will restore balance, respect and morality to her home. She involves her four-year-old son in the rigorous routine of chanting daily mantras. Little Chen may not yet understand the recitations' meanings, but mom is confident she's planting a seed for the future.

Chaoyan's husband finds the daily practice excessive, and indeed many Chinese people today criticize it as feudalistic, conservative, and counter-revolutionary. While Confucianism's primary purpose is to instill peace and harmony, the opposite occurs between Chaoyan and her husband as their beliefs clash and their arguments escalate, bringing forth a gripping portrait of marital and parental crisis.

DVD (Mandarin with English Subtitles) / 2019 / 82 minutes

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Director: Daniel Karslake

FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO, a new documentary that explores the intersection of religion, sexual orientation and gender identity in current-day America.

The arrival of marriage equality was seen by many as the pinnacle achievement of the march toward full equality for LGBTQ people. But for many on the Right, it was the last straw, and their public backlash has been swift, severe and successful. In collaboration with religious conservatives, politicians are invoking both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution in their campaigns for the 'religious freedom' to legally discriminate. By telling the stories of four families struggling with these issues, the film offers healing and understanding to those caught in the crosshairs of scripture, sexuality, and identity.

DVD / 2019 / 91 minutes

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Director: Jill Campbell

Suse Lowenstein lost her son Alex in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. In an effort to come to terms with her grief, Suse turned to her art. She began to sculpt herself naked, frozen in the position she fell into upon hearing the news of her son's death. Creating the sculpture brought her solace, and when Suse posted about her project in the Pan Am Victims' Family Newsletter, inviting others to participate, 75 women responded.

Suse spent fifteen years completing the monumental sculpture she titled "Dark Elegy," a memorial to the victims of the brutal attack that altered American history. In her new documentary Seat 20D, director Jill Campbell explores how art cradled a mother's soul and touches all who view it.

DVD / 2019 / 70 minutes

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Directed by Nancy Cooperstein Charney

Examines the effects of hate speech and bigotry on the lives of Muslim-Americans.

WHO'S NEXT? examines how the lives of Muslim-Americans have been affected in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. It focuses on six Muslim families—citizens and long-time legal residents—from diverse countries and widely different circumstances. In one way or another all of them have been targeted by federal agencies, hate groups, and even former friends solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Family separations, threats of deportation, repeated airport detentions, unexplained travel restrictions, have become part of the daily lives of thousands of Muslims who are innocent of any crimes or even suspicious behavior. If one group can be singled out because of their religious beliefs then who's next?

The film encourages us all to choose knowledge over ignorance, take action to prevent hate speech, and to welcome strangers into our lives so that the challenges of marginalized communities can be effectively addressed.

DVD / 2019 / (Grades 5 -12, College, Adult) / 88 minutes

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Directors: Kat Rohrer, Gil Levanon

Back to the Fatherland is the story of young people leaving their home country to try their luck somewhere else... a universal tale in today's globalized world. The difference in this story is that these young people are moving from Israel to Germany and Austria - countries where their families were persecuted and killed less than a century ago.

This deeply human and revealing film explores the challenges and opportunities for reconciliation and understanding between the Third Generation on both sides of the Shoah.

DVD / 2018 / 77 minutes

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Director: Jonathan Schienberg

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" - from The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus

Told through the eyes of 15-year-old Jamil Sunsin, Colossus is a modern-day immigrant tale of one family's desperate struggle after deportation leads to family separation, and the elusive search for the American dream.

Jamil is the only person in his family born in the U.S. His parents and sister came from Honduras and lived in America for a decade before Jamil's father was arrested for being undocumented. The entire family was forced to return to Honduras, a country wracked with violence. After a knife attack traumatizes Jamil, his family makes an excruciating choice to send him back to the U.S. alone.

Now 15, Jamil tries to survive without his family and fights against a broken immigration system. Back in Honduras, his sister Mirka, who would've been eligible for DACA had she remained in the U.S., hopes to someday reunite with Jamil. This intimate portrait is a rare look into the aftermath of deportation and family separation, amidst the current backlash against America's immigrants.

DVD (English, Spanish, With English Subtitles) / 2018 / 84 minutes

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Directed by Shaena Mallett

Follows Nick and Celeste Nolan and their young family on a journey to resurrect Nick's grandfather's dairy farm as agriculture moves toward large-scale farming.

FARMSTEADERS is a love story, a farm story, and a story of contemporary rural America. Nick Nolan, his wife Celeste, and their young family are on a journey to resurrect his grandfather's dairy farm - fighting to keep this homeland from "drying up and blowing away," something that has happened to about 4.7 million farms in the U.S. as the pressures of corporate-driven food have left deep scars in the region.

Director Shaena Mallet points an honest and tender lens at the beauty and hardship of everyday life on a family farm, as the Nolans work to balance their fears and hopes with so much at stake.

Nick and Celeste's meditations on life, legacy, and resistance bring complexity and depth to the national conversation and characterization of the rural white American. For the Nolans, only three things remain certain: family is everything, nothing ever stays the same, and the land holds it all together.

DVD / 2018 / (Grades 7-12, College Adults) / 52 minutes

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By Yang Mingming

Rising Chinese director Yang Mingming both directs and stars in GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY - a mother-daughter story that goes for the jugular.

Wu (Yang Mingming) and her mother (Nai An) live in a Beijing hutong - an old community of cramped alleyways where everyone knows your business and houses are so close together you can smell when neighbors start using a new cooking oil.

It's not just the neighborhood that's claustrophobic. At the heart of GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY is the relationship between Wu, an aspiring screenwriter in her 20s, and her bitter, superstitious mother, who has recently turned to writing as well. The tension between the pair is raw, honest, mean, and sometimes funny - with no blow too low and no memory too painful to poke at. But their relationship has its moments of intimacy and tenderness too, especially over meals in their leaky, jam-packed home.

As Wu and her mother bicker, they also worry about money and carry on their own misadventures in love. Wu dates and then dumps an older film professor (Zhang Xianmin, playing himself), while her mother cynically cares for Wu's grandfather, hoping the women will be written into his will.

GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY is a more conventional narrative film than Yang Mingming's earlier work. But it is no less remarkable - marked by the keen eye for visual detail, and unique sense of humor and irony she previously showed in her genre-bending film FEMALE DIRECTORS. Particularly striking are the shots of Wu on her scooter - bright, carefully composed sequences that follow her through the alleyways of the hutong and the broad boulevards of Beijing.

Emotionally intense and sometimes jarring, GIRLS ALWAYS HAPPY is a film about fraught relationships, life in contemporary Beijing, and the challenge of finding your way forward while tied down by the past.

DVD (Mandarin With English Subtitles, Color) / 2018 / 116 minutes

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By Nadia Shihab

Jaddoland explores the meaning of home and the search for belonging across generations.

When the filmmaker returns to her hometown in the Texas panhandle to visit her mother, an artist from Iraq, she turns her lens on her mother's increasingly isolated life, as well as the beauty and solace that emerge through her creative process. Soon, the filmmaker's charismatic grandfather arrives, still longing for the homeland he recently left.

While the shadow of geopolitical and historical forces looms on the periphery, the filmmaker searches for unexpected moments of meaning in the everyday, subtly weaving threads between past and present, her mother's work and her own. In doing so, she draws an artful and deeply intimate portrait of one family reimagining its relationships to the places they call home.

DVD / 2018 / 90 minutes

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Directed by Alexandra Shiva

Sundance award-winner puts a human face on the global refugee crisis by providing an intimate portrait of four Syrian refugees arriving in the US and struggling to find their footing.

THIS IS HOME is an intimate portrait of four Syrian refugee families arriving in America and struggling to find their footing. With only eight months of help from the International Rescue Committee to become self-sufficient, they must forge ahead to rebuild their lives in a new home: Baltimore, Maryland. They attend cultural orientation classes and job training sessions where they must "learn America" -- everything from how to take public transportation to negotiating new gender roles.

When the newly imposed travel ban adds further questions and complications, their strength and resilience are put to the test. Through humor and heartbreak, this universal story illuminates what it's like to start over, no matter the obstacles. THIS IS HOME goes beyond the statistics, headlines, and political rhetoric to tell deeply personal stories, putting a human face on the global refugee crisis.

DVD / 2018 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 91 minutes

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By Antonio Mendez Esparza

In his remarkable second feature - Spanish-born filmmaker Antonio Mendez Esparza follows-up his debut drama with another sensitive portrait of a struggling family. Stressed by her job in a diner, single mother Regina (Regina Williams) is raising her two children in northern Florida. When her 14-year-old son Andrew (Andrew Bleechington) has another brush with the law, she worries he'll wind up in prison like his father. Mendez Esparza employs documentary-style realism in this snapshot of race, class and the bonds of family in contemporary America.

DVD / 2017 / 114 minutes

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By Mila Turajlic

A locked door inside a Belgrade home has kept one family separated from their past for generations. An intimate conversation between the director and her mother, the dynamic activist and scholar Srbijanka Turajlic, reveals a house and a country haunted by history. What begins as the chronicle of a childhood home grows into an elegant portrait of a charismatic and brilliant woman in times of great political turmoil.

DVD (Serbian Wiht English Subtitles, Color) / 2017 / 104 minutes

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By Diedie Wang

The widening gap between generations in China today is at the heart of this deeply resonant documentary about a son, recently returned from the city, trying to modernize his aging father's beekeeping business.

After drifting aimlessly as a migrant worker, Maofu returns to his family bee farm in rural Northern China. Still in his early twenties and eager to provide support for his parents, Maofu brings with him big ideas for the family business; new thoughts on marketing and branding to increase honey sales.

His father, Lao Yu, however, maintains a deep commitment to the traditions of beekeeping which he's practiced for more than five decades. Now in his declining years, Lao Yu also sees first-hand how environmental pollution is depleting his bee colonies. He's struggling with his own self-worth, as well as mixed emotions of whether his son should even stay in this traditional line of work.

As father and son try to collaborate, their vastly different approaches, both to business and to life, run headlong into one other. It's a clash between tradition and modernization; one that is playing out in millions of families across the country.

DVD / 2016 / 85 minutes

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By Juliet Lammers And Lorraine Price

What happens when a loved one is imprisoned overseas?

In 2002, Wang Bingzhang, founder of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Movement, was in Vietnam meeting with other activists when he was kidnapped, beaten, blindfolded and brought into China where he was imprisoned. He has spent the last fourteen years in solitary confinement.

Although he was mostly absent as a husband and father before his imprisonment, his family feels a deep sense of duty and responsibility towards him. The family fights tirelessly for his release by speaking on his behalf, staging protests, and keeping his story relevant in Western media.

From prison, Dr. Wang sends monthly letters to his family, often over fifty pages long with intricate illustrations. These letters range in tone from fiercely accusatory to humble and remorseful. His son reflects that his father has probably spoken more words to him through these letters than he has in person. And his ex-wife observes, "In a weird way, he's more of a father now than he ever was."

The story of a political dissident and a family struggling to secure his freedom, Inside These Walls weaves a complex tale of political intrigue, familial responsibility and personal sacrifice.

DVD / 2016 / 44 minutes

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The one-child policy, a part of China's family planning policy, was a population planning policy of installed by the Chinese government. It was introduced in 1979 and began to be formally phased out in 2015.

"Only Me Generation" is a documentary that explores the effects of the China's "One Child Policy" from the perspective of the policy's first generation point of view.

Almost 30 years ago, the Chinese government first introduced the "one child policy" to alleviate social, economic and environmental problems. Three decades later, they are now looking at a relaxation of the policy. The result is that the babies born under the current policy are a unique population set with issues and challenges that are different from those of other Chinese generations; most notably that they grew up as "only children".

This film provides a unique look into a unprecedented government policy that changed the rules of a society, impacted far more than a generation, and can now be studied on a variety of fronts. The film raises numerous questions and serves as a wonderful launching point for discussion and debate.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of "only children" in a generation of only "only children"?

What are the pressures that these children, the results of the policy, have lived under?

How have parental expectations changes due to family limits on the number of children permitted?

What are their social experiences now that these Only Me Generation children are now adults?

What are the ramifications, if any, of relaxing the policy now after so many years?

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 58 minutes

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By Olga Delane

In rural Siberia, romantic expectations are traditional and practical. The man is the head of the household. The woman takes care of the housekeeping and the children. But filmmaker Olga Delane doesn't agree. While she was born in this small Siberian village, as a teenager she migrated to Berlin with her family, and 20 years of living in Germany has changed her expectations. SIBERIAN LOVE follows Delane home to her community of birth, where she interviews family and neighbors about their lives and relationships. Amusing and moving, this elegant film paints a picture of a world completely outside of technology, a hard-farming community where life is hard and marriage is sometimes unhappy - but where there are also unexpected paths to joy and family togetherness. Through clashing ideals of modern and traditional womanhood, SIBERIAN LOVE is a fascinating study of a country little known in the US and of a rural community that raises questions about domesticity, gender expectations, domestic abuse, childcare, and romance. Excellent for anthropology, women's studies, sociology, Russian and Eastern European Studies.

DVD (Color) / 2016 / 82 minutes

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By Michael Terrill

How would you feel if your two-year-old child was diagnosed as autistic and mentally retarded? That he would go into his room and never come out, and would be institutionalized by age 17?

This was the grim life sentence handed down to Lori and Jim Cairns regarding their son, JR. The diagnosis was made in 1996-when little was known about autism, governments offered few helpful resources, and hope for recovery was disregarded as a myth, and urban legend.

Today many people still dismiss hope of recovery from autism. And yet it can happen. JR is living proof.

Now, for the first time ever, the Cairns family and JR's therapists unite to celebrate his recovery and share their story of hope.

DVD / 2015 / 52 minutes

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By Hale Sofia Schatz

A stunningly beautiful and captivating documentary, Daughters of Anatolia follows a family of nomadic goat herders as they and their animals travel an ancient seasonal migration route - a centuries-old tradition and form of livelihood that is coming under increasing pressure from the outside world.

For a thousand years, the Gok family have been following the same migration route, from the temperate winters along the Mediterranean Sea to the cool summers in the Taurus Mountains, and back again. It is a route their ancestors pursued in order to provide forage for the animals through the year, and it is still of vital importance.

The family relies entirely on their 350 goats for their sustenance and livelihood: They make, eat and sell cheese and yogurt from the milk. They shear, spin, weave, and sell goat wool. They butcher the animals for their own meat consumption. In recent years, these traditional nomadic routes have been impacted by land and water use restrictions that increasingly have made it difficult for them to follow their way of life.

Since 2011, Producer/Director Hale Sofia Schatz has lived and traveled with this family. Her images, capturing both the hardships of such a life as well as the intimate moments universal to any family unit, are breathtaking. Schatz has taken a portrait of a single family and expanded it, offering a window not only on their world, but ours as well, both in the midst of upheaval.

DVD / 2015 / 56 minutes

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By Patrick Wang

Based on Leah Hager Cohen's critically acclaimed novel.

The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just fifty-seven hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. The couple's children, ten-year-old Biscuit and thirteen-year-old Paul, responding to the unnamed tensions around them, begin to act out in exquisitely idiosyncratic ways.

But as the family members scatter into private, isolating grief, an unexpected visitor arrives, and they find themselves growing more alert to the hurt, humor, warmth, and burdens of others—to the grief that is part of every human life but that also carries within it the power to draw us together.

DVD / 2015 / 103 minutes

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Director: Sivan Shtivi

Sivan, the film director, sets out to quit smoking together with his Uncle Jacob, a heavy smoker whose life is in danger. The initial plan involves recruiting the entire addicted family, but rapidly twists and turns as it becomes a more complex and eventful story. Sivan, who is about to become a father, must inevitably confront the painful memories of his father's suicide, while Jacob's health continues to deteriorate.

This dark-humored, smoke-filled film shares the story of a tight, loving, self-destructive family, as they reach out to smokers everywhere - active or passive.

DVD (Hebrew, With English Subtitles) / 2015 / 70 minutes

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By Marlo Poras

A tale of two sisters living in the shadow of two Chinas, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marlo Poras (Mai's America; Run Grany Run) follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the world's last remaining matriarchal societies. Thrust into the worldwide economic downturn after losing jobs in Beijing and left with few options, they return to their remote Himalayan village. But growing exposure to modernity has irreparably altered traditions of the Mosuo, their tiny ethnic miniority, and home is not the same. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her educational dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves, trying her luck in the city. The changes test them in unexpected ways. This visually stunning film highlights today's realities of women's lives and China's vast cultural and economic divides while offering rare views of a surviving matriarchy.

DVD (Mandarin/Mosuo/Tibetan, Color) / 2013 / 80 minutes

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By Patrick Wang

The Independent Spirit Award-nominated directorial debut of acclaimed filmmaker Patrick Wang (The Grief of Others, A Bread Factory). In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody's will reveals that he named his sister as Chip's guardian. The years of Joey's acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and closer to his son.

In a heartfelt story woven around child custody, two-Dad families, loss, interracial relations, the American South, and the human side of the law, the nature of what it means to be in a family is explored with ambitious and rewarding nuance.

DVD / 2011 / 169 minutes

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Directors: Alon Alsheich & Eran Yehezkel

''Not Far from the Tree'' is a funny and moving story about the creation of a family-owned winery and about the unavoidable father-son conflict.

Avi Kahanov, has spent his entire life working in the vineyards left to him by his father. This labor of love produced over the past few years the boutique winery Kahanov. Eran is the natural heir, good natured and kind, but he does not work in the family business created by his grandfather. He has chosen his own path and works as an educator of troubled youth. Avi would like to have his son working with him but any attempt ends in a shouting match.

DVD (Hebrew, Arabic, With English Subtitles) / 2011 / 50 minutes

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By Katja Esson

Renowned for their balance and skill, six generations of Mohawk men have been leaving their families behind on the reservation to travel to New York City, to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world. Jerry and his colleague Sky shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their rural reservation, a gruelling drive six hours north, where a family weekend awaits. Their wives are only too familiar with the sacrifices that their jobs have upon family life. While the men are away working, the women often struggle to keep their children away from the illegal temptations of this economically deprived area. Through rich archive and interviews, Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson explores the colourful and at times tragic history of the Mohawk skywalkers, bringing us a nuanced portrait of modern Native American life and a visually stunning story of double lives.

DVD (Color) / 2011 / 74 minutes

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Director: Robby Elmaliah

The tragicomic story of two brothers who survive by working as mechanics in a small garage in Sderot. Under the hail of missiles from Gaza, they comment the harsh reality of life in southern Israel during brotherly arguments oozing with black humour. The film is juxtaposing their disheveled lives with the drama of conflict intensifying around them. As much a funny and moving family story as a devastating commentary on the absurdity of war.

DVD (Hebrew, Arabic, With English, French Subtitles) / 2010 / 54 minutes

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By Jesse Lyda and Clark Lyda

THE LEAST OF THESE takes a penetrating look at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former medium-security prison that re-opened in 2006 as a prototype family detention center.

The facility houses immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who are awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. As information about troubling conditions at the facility began to leak out, activist attorneys sought to investigate and address the issues. In telling the story of their quest, the film explores the role (and limits) of community and legal activism in bringing about change. The film leads viewers to consider how core American rights and values-protection of children, presumption of innocence, upholding the family structure as the basic unit of civil society, and America as a refuge of last resort-should apply to immigrants, particularly children.

DVD (English and Spanish with English Subtitles) / 2009 / 82 minutes

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Director: Anneta Papathanassiou

The journey of Qadir, an Afghan refugee, who came to Greece after the Taliban's invasion. He returns home 9 years later, searching for his family, and his emotions are mixed. The country is destroyed. Qadir is torn between two worlds, the East and the West.

DVD (Dari, Greek, With English, French Subtitles) / 2008 / 55 minutes

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