Previous Films

Screenings during Fall 2020 –Spring 2021 will be virtual.

October 30: Lost Birds

Discussant: Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian


Lost Birds presents a historical tragedy that takes place in 1915, from the point of view of two children.  The story is about Bedo, played by (Heros Agopyan) and Maryam, played by (Dila Uluca), whose beautiful, warm, and happy lives in Anatolia comes to an end when their grandfather played by ( Sarkis Acemoglu) is taken away by soldiers. Out of extreme fear, their mother, played by (Takuhi Bahar), forbid the children to go outside, but being children, they sneak out to their favorite spot to play, only to come back to an empty home and an empty village. Their fear takes over, and with their bird that they had saved, they embark on a journey toward Aleppo to find their mother, and their fellow villagers. This beautiful film made by an Armenian and a Turkish filmmaker with passion is a cinematographic beauty to watch.  Lost Birds is the first film made in Turkey to depict the 1915 Armenian genocide. In Turkish and Armenian with English subtitles, 90 minutes

Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

October 23: Ai WeiWei: Yours Truly

Discussant: Gina Leibrecht (Co-Director/Editor)


The revolutionary feature documentary Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly expands on the unprecedented exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, organized in 2014 by the film’s director Cheryl Haines. Following Ai Weiwei’s detention by Chinese authorities and while still under house arrest in Beijing, the outspoken artist and activist remotely transformed Alcatraz, a former island penitentiary and current national park, into a remarkable expression of socially engaged art. The multipart work culminated in an expansive display of larger than life size Lego portraits of prisoners of conscience from around the world, seen by over 900,000 visitors. Throughout the film, we discover how personal these issues are for Ai Weiwei and the extent to which he wove his family’s experiences into the exhibition. In the late 1950s, his father, a nationally revered poet, was imprisoned in a remote work camp. Ai, his mother and brother recall years of privation on the edge of the Gobi Desert – and the profoundly moving impact of an unexpected postcard expressing support. The final artwork at Alcatraz, Yours Truly, consisted of postcards beautifully illustrated with the national birds and flowers of the prisoners’ countries. Visitors were invited to write messages of hope to the imprisoned activists featured in the Lego portraits. By the time the exhibition ended, over 90,000 postcards had been sent. Then something even more astonishing happened: prisoners and their families began writing back. Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly follows these postcards around the globe—from Alcatraz Island to Beijing, Washington, D.C., and Cairo—as former prisoners of conscience and the families of those still detained describe their impossible choices and the comfort they found and still find in messages from people they would never meet. By the film’s end, Ai himself is finally free, seeing his own exhibit in public for the first time. He meets with former prisoner Chelsea Manning, while others who have been released, such as Egypt’s Arab Spring activist Ahmed Maher, express wonder at the connections Ai has initiated and the many strangers who sent encouraging messages. Ultimately, Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly is a call to action, extending the incredible reach of Ai Weiwei’s art by asking viewers to take the issue of global human rights to heart and make a simple gesture that would profoundly touch those unjustly imprisoned worlds away. Film website:

Sponsor: Creativity and the Arts

What Will Become of Us (2019) 

Discussant: Stephanie Ayanian (Director)


100 years ago, Armenians were nearly annihilated by the Genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman Turks. Today, often unrecognized, it remains defining – but the long shadow of the Genocide creates a burden for young Armenian Americans that discourages them from embracing their culture. What Will Become of Us follows six Armenian Americans, – some famous, some not – as they navigate the 100th anniversary of the Genocide, forging identities for the next 100 years. How can Armenian Americans honor their past, while unshackling themselves from this haunting trauma that seem compromise their future and their Armenian values, customs and traditions? 60 minutes.

March 13: Left on Pearl (2017)

Discussant: Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild (Executive Producer)


Left on Pearl is a documentary about a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women’s liberation movement, namely the 1971 takeover and occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women. The ten-day occupation of 888 Memorial Drive by local women demanding a Women’s Center and low income housing for the community in which the building stood, embodied within it many of the hopes, triumphs, conflicts and tensions of Second Wave feminism. One of the few such takeovers by women for women, this action was transformative for the participants and led directly to the establishment of the longest continuously operating Women’s Center in the U.S. 55 minutes. Film website: Film Trailer:

Sponsor: College of Social Sciences & Center for Creativity and the Arts

March 6: Lusala (2019)

Discussants: Maurice Ndole


Lusala is the first film that Kenyan actor and writer, Mugambi Nthiga has directed.  It tells the story of Lusala, a young man who is rescued from his abusive upcountry home and moves in with an affluent family in Nairobi, Kenya.  Years later, when he comes of age, he is imposed upon to leave the nest and start out life on his own.  Eager and acquiescent at first, he makes the most of his new life, until the demons from his past return, and he is forced to face them alone. In Swahili & English with English subtitles. 62 minutes.  Film trailer:

February 28: The Swallows of Kabul  (2018)

Discussants: Dr. Rose Marie & Dr. Adbul Hanifi

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Directed by film makers Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, Les hirondelles de Kabou (The Swallows of Kabul) is a delightful and extremely moving animated film adapted from the eponymous novel by Algerian novelist Mohammed Moulessehoul better known by his pen name of Yasmina Khadra. The film brings us back to the summer of 1998 and Kabul when Afghanistan was under Taliban rule.  It tells us the touching story of Zunaira and Mohsen, a young couple deeply in love.  Despite the daily violence and misery, they hope for a better future.  One day, a foolish gesture causes life to take an irrevocable turn. In French with English subtitles.  82 minutes.  Trailer:

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

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How did a young Mexican-American kid from a small rural town in the middle of nowhere become a leading musician of the Chicano civil rights movement? How did he learn about the power of music and imagination to take us on a journey towards freedom? Singing Our Way to Freedom chronicles the life of Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez from his humble beginnings as a farmworker in Blythe, California, to the dramatic moment when he received one of his nation’s highest musical honors at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. As a young man in the 1960s, Chunky joined the picket lines in the California fields with Cesar Chavez, eventually becoming Chavez’s favorite musician. His gradual transformation from a marginalized farm kid to a charismatic social activist shows how one person can mobilize people to change the world.  In his songs and his life, Chunky offers an inspiring narrative, reminding us that the battle for freedom has to be fought anew by every generation. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. 86 minutes. Film Trailer:

Sponsors: Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Humanities and Center for Creativity and the Arts

February 14: A Girl from Mogadishu (2019)

Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn

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Written and directed by Northern Irish filmmaker Mary McGuckian, A Girl from Mogadishu is a feature film based on the true story and testimony of Ifrah Ahmed, a young Somali-Irish activist who emerged as one of the world’s foremost international activists against gender-based violence. Born into a refugee camp in Somalia, Ahmed (Aja Noami King) escapes her war-torn native country and is trafficked to Ireland as a teenager. Recounting her traumatic childhood experiences of female genital mutilation when applying for refugee status, she vows to devote her life to the eradication of this horrendous practice. Taking her campaign all the way to the President of Ireland and finally to the European Parliament and United Nations, A Girl from Mogadishu celebrates the power of testimony, for when women find the courage to stand-up, speak out, and tell their truth, the impact can be so inspiring and empowering that act as a meaningful catalyst for change.  Filmed in Belgium Ireland and Morocco.  112 minutes.

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

February 7: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

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Chinese-French author, screenwriter and filmmaker Dai Sijie directed this feature film based on his own semi-autobiographical novel set in the early 1970s during the later stages of China’s Cultural Revolution. It tells the story of two young men, university students, who are sent to a remote mountain village in southwest China for three years of Communist re-education to purge them of their decadent Western education. Amid the back-breaking work and stifling ignorance of the community, they fall in love with a local beauty, the daughter of the most renowned tailor in the region. When they discover a hidden suitcase filled with banned books by western writers, they read these works to the little seamstress for hours on end in a secret meeting place. Thirsting for knowledge of the world beyond, she is mesmerized by the novels of nineteenth-century French writer Honoré de Balzac and eventually falls in love with the two young men who read this author’s stories to her. On her mystical journey, the Little Seamstress finds the courage to leave her village for broader horizons. In Chinese with English subtitles. 111 minutes.

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

January 31: The Cave (2019) Oscar Nominee for Best Feature Documentary

Discussant: Dr. Ahmad Tarakji (Immediate Past President of Syrian American Medical Society/SAMS)

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Feras Fayyad, the first Syrian director nominated for an Oscar for his documentary Last Men in Aleppo (2017), delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary The Cave. For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the “Cave”, where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballour and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic shortages of supplies and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, The Cave paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. The hospital featured in the film is sponsored by the Syrian American Medical Society or SAMS. In Arabic and English with English subtitles.  107 minutes. Film Trailer:

Sponsor: Syrian American Medical Society

January 24: The Etruscan Smile (2019)

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl


The Etruscan Smile features Scottish actor Brian Cox renowned for his role as Logan Roy in HBO’s series Succession and as Lyndon Johnson in the recent Broadway show The Great Society). In this film, Cox plays the role of Rory MacNeil, a rugged old Scotsman who reluctantly leaves his beloved and isolated island in the Hebrides, an archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland. He travels to San Francisco to seek medical treatment and moves in with his estranged son. His life will be transformed, just when he expects it the least, through a newly found love for his baby grandson. In English and Scottish Gaelic with English subtitles. 107 minutes. Film Trailer:

November 22: Short Film Program:Life Between Borders, Black Migrants in Mexico, Jamaica y Tamarindo: Afro Tradition in the Heart of Mexico & After La Nopalera

Discussant: Ebony Bailey (Director)

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Life Between Borders: Black Migrants in Mexico by Californian filmmaker and Central Valley native, Ebony Bailey discusses the context in which thousands of Haitians seeking entry to the US are now left stranded at the northern Mexico border after a change in immigration policy. But “Black migration” is not new to Mexico, as people from the African Diaspora have lived here for centuries. In Bailey’s short documentary, we meet Haitians stuck at the border as well as Africans in Mexico City and explore Black migration and identity in Mexico.

In Bailey’s second short film, Jamaica y Tamarindo: Afro Tradition in the Heart of Mexico we learn that the Jamaica flower and tamarind are iconic ingredients in Mexico although but their history comes from a place much further away.  To understand this, we meet four people and explore with them what African identity means in the context of Mexico City, an identity that goes beyond the color of one’s skin.

Bailey’s third short documentary After La Nopalera presents daily life in a small village in the state of Morelos in central Mexico after the September 19th, 2017 earthquake as vividly told by a local resident and an earthquake survivor.

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, the Africana Studies Program, and The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

November 15: Botero (2018) 

Discussant: Don Millar (Director)

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Fernando Botero is one of the world’s most popular living artists, with millions of fans transcending cultures across the globe. While his art is instantly recognizable, the story of how he became “the Maestro” is largely unknown. BOTERO changes that. This beautifully filmed documentary offers an inspiring look at the power of relentless vision, unwavering conviction and a lifetime of discipline. We follow an unknown, self-taught painter from provincial Medellin in 1932, as he propels himself to the pinnacle of the art world. The film brings together the man and his art to capture Botero’s essence–the quiet resolve and strength of character that allowed him to overcome poverty, decades of harsh criticism and the tragic death of his four-year-old son. Never-before-seen moments come to life as his children uncover 50 year-old sketches in a shuttered storage facility, as our cameras go behind the scenes at as how exhibiting his work alongside Pablo Picasso’s, and as the artist takes us on a private tour of his studio. BOTERO weaves together original footage shot in 10 cities across China, Europe, New York and Colombia, with decades of family photos and archival video. Unprecedented access to the artist and his family is combined with a colorful cast of historians, curators and academics to reveal the creativity and convictions at the heart of Fernando Botero. In his sunlit studio, Botero explains that despite the fame, the accolades, and the financial success, he is still learning and discovering, because “my life is to paint.” In English and Spanish with English subtitles.  84 minutes.  Film website: Trailer:

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

November 8: Jirga (2018)

Discussants: Amir Shah Talash (Actor & Producer) and Sam Smith (Actor)


Directed by Australian filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour, Jirga is a touching modern morality tale about a former Australian soldier, Mike, who returns to Afghanistan to find and confront the family of a civilian he accidentally killed during the war. Seeking forgiveness, he puts his life in the hands of the traditional village justice system – the Jirga. In Pushto and English with English subtitles. 78 minutes. Film website:

Sponsors: College of Arts & Humanities, Criminology Department: Victimology Option, Alliance for Medical Outreach and Relief (AMOR), Fresno Based Afghans, San Joaquin College of Law and Dr. Mehdi Ghajar

Nov. 1: Emma Peeters (2018)

Discussant: Nicole Palo (Director)

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The quirky film Emma Peeters by Belgian director and screen-writer Nicole Palo stars renowned French-Canadian actress Monia Chokri as Emma who is about to celebrate her 35th birthday. Emma’s life achievements have thus far been quite unremarkable: she struggled for years without success to become an actress in Paris. Eventually she becomes fixated on this idea: she will commit suicide the following week, on the exact day of her birthday. While preparing for this, she meets Alex Bodart, who works at the funeral home she is consulting.  He is also an amateur filmmaker and offers her to star in a film about her own life. Together they proceed to undertake this bizarre project.  Will she go through with her plan?  This is a wonderful black comedy with an existential and generational crisis filmed through a uniquely whimsical filter. In French with English subtitles. 90 minutes. Film Trailer:

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

October 25: Short Film Program: Lumpkin GA (2019), Our Country (2017) & Invented Borders

Discussants: Nicholas Manting Brewer (Lumpkin Director) Emily Grandcolas (Lumpkin Producer) & Mayra Flores (Our Country & Invented Borders Director)

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Lumpkin by director Nicholas Manting Brewer, tells the fate of a fading Georgia town, a community that recalls its dark past and faces a grim present.  There, an undocumented immigrant, caught in legal limbo and facing deportation, contemplates his future while at the same time, a massive, private immigration prison generates millions in profits.  Lumpkin, where these stories meet, truly represents the hidden epicenter of America’s immigration crackdown. 39 minutes + behind the scenes collaborative piece. Film website:

 Our Country, directed by Mexican-American filmmaker Mayra Flores, is an award winning experimental animated documentary that provides a compelling context and beautifully captures some of the infinite nuances about immigrant families living in the U.S.

 Invented Borders, also directed by Mayra Flores, is a fascinating animated and live action video essay on the many facets of today’s emotional immigration debate in America.

Sponsor: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

October 18: The Price of Free (2018)

Discussant: Derek Doneen (Director)

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Hidden inside overcrowded factories around the world, The Price of Free (formerly titled Kailash) by Director Derek Doneen, tells the story of countless children who are forced into slave labor due to rising global demands for cheap goods. With the help of a covert network of informants, Nobel Peace Prize winner and India’s “Children Rights” activist Kailash Satyarthi and his dedicated team carry out daring raids to rescue and rehabilitate imprisoned children. Using hidden cameras and playing the role of buyers at the factory to gain access, we watch Kailash take on one of his most challenging missions to date: finding Sonu, a young boy trafficked to Delhi for work, who has been missing for eight months. Now his father dreams of Sonu coming home. Kailash’s warmth and passion have gained international support for his philosophy that each child should be allowed to embrace their childhood. He gives them support, clothes, medical care and an education. Equal parts harrowing and motivating, first-time filmmaker Derek Doneen pulls us into Kailash’s gripping pursuits and relentless energy to create the change he wants to see. In Hindi and English with English subtitles. 92 minutes. Film website:

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

October 4: The River and the Wall (2019) 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Discussant: Heather Mackey (Biologist featured in the film)


Directed by conservation filmmaker Ben Masters, The River and the Wall follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1,200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes.  The film emphasizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead.  For this film project, Masters recruited NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on a two-and-a-half-month journey along the Texas-Mexico border. Together they set to explore these borderlands as well as the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environment.  However, as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters. 97 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: Arte Américas & Department of Political Science

September 27: Alternative Facts:The Lies of Executive Order 9066 (2018)  

Discussant: Jon Osaki (Director)

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Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 by Japanese-American director Jon Osaki is a documentary about false information and racial politics.  It shows how the infamous Executive Order 9066 was signed and led to the mass incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  Alternative Facts also examines how this miscarriage of justice parallels the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the U.S. government. 65 minutes. Film Website:

Sponsors: The Central California Japanese American Citizens League and the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno

September 20: The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983, new release)

Discussants: Dr. Robert Maldonado and Dr. Adán Ávalos



A new release of a classic film, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez narrates the story of Mexican-American farmer Gregorio Cortez who is forced to flee from the Texas rangers and evades a massive manhunt on horseback for days, after a heated misunderstanding leading to the death of one of their own. Renowned Edward James Olmos is the producer and the star of the film.  Together with director Robert M. Young, a longtime practitioner of socially engaged realism, they created this trailblazing film which became a landmark of Chicano cinema and shed a new light on a historical event that had been enshrined in a corrido folk song. In a shifting perspective between the pursuers and the pursued, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez  is a thrilling chase movie as well as a highly-nuanced procedural that peels away the layers of prejudice and myth surrounding Cortex and uncovers the true story of an ordinary man persecuted by the law and transfigured by legend. In Spanish and English with English subtitles. 106 minutes.

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts & Arte Américas

September 13 : A Duel Tale/Hatashiai (2015)

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

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A Duel Tale by Japanese director Sugita Shigemichi stars Nakadai Tatsuya, one of Japan’s greatest living actor, who gives the performance of a lifetime as Shoji Sanosuke, an elderly samurai forced to pick up his sword to protect those he loves in this adaptation of a popular novel by Fujisawa Shuhei. As a ”Heya-zumi” (essentially a freeloader living off his family) Sanosuke has one last chance to help his grandniece escape an arranged marriage with a cruel samurai. Nakadai proves that he ”still has it,” when fate forces him into a deadly duel. This award winning samurai drama from the pen of noted author Fujisawa Shuhei is a tribute to one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen! In Japanese with English subtitles. 94 minutes.

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

September 6: The Years of Fierro (2013, recently released)

Discussant: Santiago Esteinou (Director joining us from Mexico City)


The film entitled The Years of Fierro by Mexican director Santiago Esteinou features César Fierro, the oldest Mexican prisoner on death row in the United States, who has been languishing in a Texas prison for almost forty years. César continues to await execution by lethal injection for a murder that evidence shows he did not commit. This documentary is a reflection on justice, imprisonment and brotherly love, through the eyes of César and his bother Sergio.  In Spanish and English with English subtitles. 105 minutes. Only recently released due to pending litigation. Trailer:

August 30: Remember Amnesia (2019)  

Discussant: Dr. Ravi Godse MD (Director)

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Directed by Indian-American filmmaker and practicing Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Ravi Godse, Remember Amnesia tells the story of widower Jay Singh, a difficult but brilliant US-based physician, who has a terrible accident that robs him of his memory while on a trip to his homeland of India.  As he tries to piece his memory back together, he finds himself falling for the lovely Nina, the local doctor in charge of his care, who tries to help him figure out his true identity.  But there are questions about how Jay was injured, and if his memory loss is real. Everything begins to unravel when his US colleagues hear that his wife’s family thought that his wife was still alive and living with him in America. This leads the Indian police to think that he is a murderer and leaves his US colleagues, his Indian doctor Nina, and even he himself asking the following question: Did he kill his wife or not? In English, Marathi and Hindi with English subtitles. 88 minutes. Film Website:

Sponsor: Peace and Conflict Studies-Gandhi’s Global Legacy International Conference

May 10: Adios Amor – The Search for Maria Moreno (2017)

Discussants: Laurie Coyle (Director/Producer) and Gilbert Padilla (featured interviewee/UFW Co-Founder)

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In Adios Amor, the discovery of lost photographs sparks the search for a hero that history forgot— Maria Moreno, a migrant mother driven to speak out by her twelve children’s hunger. Years before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta launched the United Farm Workers, Maria picked up the only weapon she had—her voice—and became an outspoken leader in an era when women were relegated to the background. The first farm worker woman in the U.S. to be hired as a union organizer, Maria’s story was silenced and her legacy buried—until now. With the search for Maria Moreno, Adios Amor raises provocative questions about whose lives we remember and recognize, while inspiring viewers to launch their own journeys of discovery into the past. In English and Spanish with subtitles. 58 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: College of Arts and Humanities, Arte Américas, California Humanities, El Concilio de Fresno, Radio Bilingüe, and Valley Public History Initiative

May 3: En el Séptimo Día (On the Seventh Day) (2018)

Discussant: Adela Santana

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En el Séptimo Día (On the Seventh Day), a fiction feature from director Jim McKay, follows a group of undocumented immigrants living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the course of seven days. Bicycle delivery guys, construction workers, dishwashers, deli workers and cotton candy vendors, they work long hours six days a week and then savor their day of rest on Sundays on the soccer fields of Sunset Park. José, a bicycle delivery worker, is the team’s captain – young, talented, hardworking and responsible. When José’s team makes it to the finals, he and his teammates are thrilled. But his boss throws a wrench into the celebration when he tells José he has to work on Sunday, the day of the finals. If he doesn’t work, his job and his future will be on the line. But if he doesn’t stand up for himself and his teammates, his dignity will be crushed. Shot in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Gowanus, En el Séptimo Día is a humane, sensitive and humorous window into a world rarely seen. The film’s impact is made quietly, with restraint and respect for the individual experiences, everyday challenges and small triumphs of its characters. In Spanish and English with Bi-Lingual subtitles. 92 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsor: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

**April 26: The Zookeepers Wife (2017)  

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl


The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh, a European Film Award nominee for the Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Golden Globe Award nominee Daniel Brühl of Captain America: Civil War). To fight back on their own terms, the Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk. 127 minutes: Trailer:

Sponsors: The Jewish Studies Program and the Jewish Studies Association

April 12: Violeta Al Fin (2017)

Discussant: Hilda Hidalgo Xirinachs (Director)

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Directed by Costa Rican filmmaker Hilda Hidalgo Xirinachs, Violeta Al Fin tells the story of Violeta, a 72 year-old woman, who lives alone in her childhood home in the heart of San Jose, Costa Rica, after divorcing her husband of more than forty years. She tends to her lush tropical garden and makes plans to turn her property into a boarding house. When she discovers the bank is about to take away her house, she decides to fight and breaks all the rules to hold onto her home and her freedom. In Spanish with English subtitles. 85 minutes. Film Trailer: 

Sponsor: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

April 5: Tia and Piujuq (2018)

Discussant: Marie-Hélène Cousineau (Producer and script writer)

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Inuk (or Eskimo) throat singer Lucy Tulugarjuk makes her directorial film debut with this lovely tale from Northern Canada. Shot in Montreal, Canada, and the island of Igloolik, in Nunavut, Canada’s newest, largest and northernmost territory, where the director grew up, the film Tia and Piujuq tells the unlikely and burgeoning friendship between two ten-year old girls. Piujuq is a bored and lonely young Inuk, and Tia, a Syrian refugee whose sad life takes a dramatic turn when she finds a magical portal that transports her to Canada’s Arctic tundra where Piujuq lives. Together, the two girls discover a world of magic and Inuit stories that heal Tia’s spirit and her soul until their blossoming friendship is threatened by a mysterious character. “Through the eyes of these two girls, we perceive the similarities that unite them beyond their linguistic and cultural differences, their affection for each other and also their desire to be free and adventurous.” This charming film is for everyone: adults and children alike who believe in the power of imagination.  In French, Inuktitut, Arabic and English, with English subtitles. 80 minutes.  Film website: Trailer:

Sponsors: The French Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, and the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature

March 29: Yeva (2017)

Discussant: Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian


Yeva is a young woman who escapes her influential in-laws with her daughter Nareh, after her husband’s tragic death and takes refuge in one of the villages of Karabakh, Armenia…Yeva is a complete stranger in this village and is obliged to live her daily life in disguise. 94 minutes. In Armenian with English subtitles.


Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

March 22:  World Water Day Film: Short Films: Silent River & Sea of Troubles

Discussant:  Jason Jaacks (Director & Producer of Silent River and Sea of Troubles)


The Santiago River, known locally as “the River of Death,” flows along the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico. For forty years, waste from one of Mexico’s largest manufacturing corridors has been dumped into the Santiago. 80% of the companies in the corridor – such as IBM, HP, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Honda and Nestlé – are American and Japanese. Therefore. this river has become a sewer with over 1000 known chemicals, including dangerously high levels of arsenic, chrome, and lead. Silent River by Jason Jaacks  follows a young woman and her family as they defy death threats to try and save the one of the most polluted rivers in Mexico.

Silent River Trailer:

Over the last three years we witnessed some of the strangest conditions ever seen off the West Coast of the United States. What happens next? Was this just a weird few years, an anomaly in the normal flux of ocean conditions? Or was this a shift that we will look back on, decades from now, and point to as the beginning of a different era? Join an oceanographer and a paleo-climatologist from the Bodega Marine Laboratory on the northern California coast ponder what’s next for the world’s largest ocean.

Sea of Troubles Trailer:

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Tehipite Chapter, Sierra Club, and Fresnans Against Fracking

March 15: Saint Judy (2018)

Discussant: Dmitry Portnoy (Screenwriter, graduate of UCLA, USC Film School and Pepperdine Law School, where he interned for the real Judy Wood.)


Directed by Sean Hanish, Saint Judy tells the true story of Los Angeles immigration attorney Judy Wood, who single-handedly changed the United States law of asylum and saved countless lives in the process. In a 1994 landmark case, one of her first as an immigration lawyer, Judy Wood represented an Afghan woman who fled her home country after being persecuted by the Taliban for opening a school for girls. After a tenacious battle both in and out of court, Judy’s efforts culminated in arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where she fought to include women as a protected class. By winning the case, Ms. Wood single-handedly changed the law of asylum nationwide – saving the lives of not only her client, but thousands of other female refugees who would have been sent back to their home countries where they faced certain death. 106 minutes. Film website:

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

March 8: Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema (2018)

Discussant: Dr. Joe Hodes (Texas Tech)

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A celebration of the all-singing, all-dancing history of the world’s largest film industry, Shalom Bollywood reveals the unlikely story of the 2000 year-old Indian Jewish community and its formative place in shaping the world’s largest film industry. At the advent of the Indian cinema industry, it was taboo for Hindu and Muslim women to perform on screen. Indian-Jewish women took upon the female lead roles, and continued to do so for decades. Using stage names, the women were obviously not identified as Jewish, and were commonly thought to be Christian or Muslim. With access to rare archival footage, Jewish-Australian director Danny Ben-Moshe’s (My Mother’s Lost Children, 2017) new documentary tells this extraordinary tale through the lives of Indian cinema’s Jewish icons at the heart of Bollywood from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. 85 minutes.


Sponsors: The Jewish Studies Program, the Jewish Studies Association and Center for Creativity and the Arts

March 1: Time for Ilhan (2018) 

Discussant: Norah Shapiro (Director)


On November 8, 2016, a young, hijab-wearing mother-of-three named Ilhan Omar made history, becoming the first Somali Muslim woman to be elected to a state office in America.  She was hailed by the New York Times as, “one of the bright lights in the post-election darkness,” and the documentary film Time for Ilhan intimately chronicles her hard-fought campaign for State Representative in Minnesota’s Senate District 60B, home to our nation’s largest Somali community. Then, on November 6, 2018, Omar became the first Somali-American to be elected to the United States Congress. A fresh take on the old story of the American Dream, Time for Ilhan offers an inspiring, stereotype-busting portrait of a rising political star as she begins a bold and powerful political career. 88 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, Department of Political Science & Kamal and Aimee Abu-Shamsieh & Muslim Spiritual Care Services

February 22: Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (2017)

Discussant: Dr. Margaret Wilkerson (author of the forthcoming book, Lorraine Hansberry: Am I a Revolutionary?)


Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is the first-ever feature documentary about Lorraine Hansberry, the visionary author of the groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun. An overnight sensation, this play transformed the American theater and has long been considered a classic, yet the remarkable story of the playwright faded from view. With this documentary, filmmaker Tracy Heather Strain resurrects the Lorraine Hansberry we have forgotten—a passionate artist, committed activist and sought-after public intellectual who waged an outspoken and defiant battle against injustice in 20th-century America. The film reveals Hansberry’s prescient works tackling race, human rights, women’s equality and sexuality that anticipated social and political movements on the horizon. Lorraine Hansberry lived much of her 34 years guided by a deep sense of responsibility to others, proclaiming: “One cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world.” 118 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsor: The Africana Studies Program

February 15:  The Long Shadow

Discussants: Maureen Gosling (Editor & Co-Creator) & Jed Riffe (Producer)


From New Orleans to Virginia, Mississippi and Canada, The Long Shadow follows two white Southern filmmakers as they travel the roads of oppression and suppression to reveal the connections of slavery and strong-arm Southern politics to the current racial strife in America. The film is a disturbing story about the lingering human cost of ignorance, intolerance and inaction in the US, casting a long shadow over our national identity and imperfect democracy. “I am a filmmaker and journalist. On my odyssey to investigate racism in America I was stunned to discover that I was the problem. My family codified white supremacy into law. ~ Frances Causey, filmmaker91 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsor: The Africana Studies Program

February 8:  Maborosi (1995)

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl


One of the finest films of Japanese cinema, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first feature film Maborosi is a story of love, loss, and ultimately, regeneration. Haunted by the mysterious loss of her grandmother many years ago, a beautiful young mother (Yumiko, played by Makiko Esumi) struggles to come to terms with the sudden loss of her husband. Yumiko remarries and with her young son moves to her new husband’s home in a remote village on the wild, untamed Sea of Japan. There, she is haunted by the past, but with time and the natural wonders around her, she awakens to find love, understanding, and a sense of peace. Kore-eda’s feature films reflect back on his beginnings in documentary with a regard to truth and an incredibly humane sense of his characters’ strength and fallibilities. Working with almost entirely natural lighting, Kore-eda’s remarkable and elegant camerawork makes Maborosi one of the most striking visual works in cinema. In Japanese with English subtitles. 110 minutes. Trailer:

February 1: Women of the Venezuelan Chaos (2017)

Discussant: Margarita Cadenas (Director)


Embodying strength and stoicism, five Venezuelan women from diverse backgrounds each draw a portrait of their country as it suffers under the worst social, economic and political crisis in its history amid extreme food and medicine shortages, a broken justice system, and widespread fear. The women share what life is really like for them and their families as the truth about their country’s difficulties is repeatedly denied by their government. Featuring stunning visuals and creative soundscapes, Women of the Venezuelan Chaos presents a uniquely beautiful country and its people, who remain resilient and resourceful despite the immense challenges they face. In Spanish with English subtitles. 83 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, and The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

January 25:  Under the Blood Red Sun (2014)

Discussant: Chris Tashima (Actor featured in the film)


December 7, 1941 – Tomikazu “Tomi” Nakaji and his best friend Billy Davis are playing baseball in a field near their homes in Hawaii when Japan launches a surprise attack on the US at Pearl Harbor. As Tomi looks up at the sky and recognizes the blood-red sun emblem on the fighter planes, he knows that his life has changed forever. Torn between his love of all things American and the Japanese traditional ways of his parents and grandfather, Tomi is frightened and feels ashamed of his native country. His friendship with Billy is soon tested as prejudice divides their island community. He must find the courage to stand up to a neighborhood bully, while protecting his family’s honor and its katana, a century-old samurai sword. He is soon forced to become the man of the family to care for his Mama and sister after his Papa (Chris Tashima) is arrested and taken away to an internment camp. Adapted from Graham Salisbury’s 1995 historical novel and directed by Tim Savage, Under the Blood Red Sun, is an unforgettable story (based on actual events) of friendship, courage & survival. 99 minutes. Trailer:

November 30: Silent Sacrifice (2017)

Discussants: Jeff Aiello (Director) Elizabeth Laval (Executive Producer, PBS), Saburo &  Marion Masada, Kerry Yo Nakagawa (Featured in the film)


Silent Sacrifice by director Jeff Aiello reveals the true story of one of the darkest chapters in America’s past: the relocation and incarceration of Japanese-American in 1942. After Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese Americans and immigrants who called the United States home were subjected to one of the largest violation of civil liberties in our nation’s history. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, and, by May of the same year, nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most legal American citizens, were forced to leave their homes, their schools, their businesses and their lives behind and relocate to military-controlled concentration camps. This documentary focuses on our local history of this tragic past and presents witnesses who might be your friends and/or neighbors.  117 minutes.  Film website:

Sponsor: Valley PBS

November 16: Dede (2017)

Discussant: Maya Kriheli


Dede by Georgian director Mariam Bakacho Khatchvani is based on true events that took place during the Georgian Civil War (1988-1993). The film is set in the mountainous region of Svanetia in Northwest Georgia where the Svans, a people far removed from the modern world, still live in a society deeply steeped in tradition. This patriarchal society revolves around arranged marriages, pride and customs that dictate the code of daily life. Dede tells the story of Dina, a young woman promised by her draconian grandfather to David, one of the soldiers returning from the civil war. A marriage arranged by two families cannot be broken as it would bring dishonor and bloodshed. Dina does not love David and falls for his handsome friend. Will Dina be able to follow her heart? Will David accept Dina’s love for another man? In this hostile and conservative environment, Dina’s dream of true love is a menace to her community’s ancient ways. 97 minutes. In Georgian with English subtitles. Film website:

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

November 2: Roots (2016)

Discussant: Lilit Martirosyan (Producer)


Roots by Armenian director Vahé Yan tells the story of a Boston-based journalist-blogger named Aram who decides to visit Armenia on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 and cover the commemorative events on his blog. In Armenia purely by accident, he meets Anet, who lives in France and who, under the nickname Vané, is one of his regular blog readers. The beautiful love story that emerges makes these protagonists’ ties with their native homeland even more profound. A modern-day romance. 80 minutes. In Armenian and English with English subtitles.

Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

October 26: RBG (2018)

Discussant: Donna Schuele (Attorney, Author, Professor)


At the age of 85, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a lengthy legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But the unique personal journey of her rise to the nation’s highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. RBG, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, explores Ginsburg’s amazing life and long legal career. 98 minutes. Film website:

Sponsors: The Jewish Studies Program and the Jewish Studies Association & Center for Creativity and the Arts

October 19: Iqaluit (2016)  

Discussants: Benoît Pilon (Director) via Skype & Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn


In Iqaluit by French-Canadian director Benoît Pilon, Carmen travels for the first time to Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s newest, largest and northernmost territory. Her husband Gilles has been gravely injured and she wants to be at his bedside. Trying to find out how her husband sustained his injuries, she grows closer to Noah, an Inuk (or Eskimo) friend of Gilles and soon comes to understand that their dramas are deeply intertwined. What happened? What is Noah’s involvement in these events? Will Carmen be able to find the answers to her questions? In French, Inuktitut and English, with English subtitles. 102 minutes.

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures and L’Alliance Française de Fresno

October 12: Homeland (Né quelque part, 2014)

Discussants: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn & Dr. Zoulikha Mouffak


Directed by Algerian-French director Mohamed Hamidi, Homeland narrates the adventures of Farid, a 26-year old French law student, who travels to his father’s native Algeria because of a family emergency. Discovering this country where he had never been before, he comes in contact with a colorful gallery of amazing characters whose warmth and simplicity deeply touch him. He is particularly struck by a cousin who dreams to leave Algeria and live in France. Farid’s trip becomes an incredible journey, full of humor and humanity, an experience that will totally upset the image he had of his family and lead him to take a new look at his own identity. In French and Arabic, with English subtitles. 117 minutes.

Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures and L’Alliance Française de Fresno

October 6: Persona Non Grata

Discussant: Cellin Gluck (Director)


Persona Non Grata by director Cellin Gluck depicts the life of Chiune Sugihara who is often described as the “Japanese Schindler.” This Japanese diplomat and world-class spy is posted in Lithuania from 1939 to 1940 and gathers intelligence on European affairs. As WWII begins and Germany invades Poland, Jewish refugees flee to Lithuania. In search of transit visas, they turn to Sugihara, who is torn between his loyalty to his country and his commitment to humanity. 139 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles. Film website:

Sponsors: Jewish Studies Program and the Jewish Studies Association

September 28: Finding Kukan (2016)

Discussant: Robin Lung (Director)


In the late 1930s China is in dire straits. The country will collapse under Japan’s military juggernaut if it does not receive outside assistance. Chinese-American firebrand Li Ling-Ai jolts Americans into action with a new medium: the 16mm Kodachrome color film. She hires American photojournalist Rey Scott to travel to China and capture a citizen’s perspective of the war-torn country, including the massive bombing of the wartime capital Chungking (now Chongqing). Their landmark film Kukan is screened by President Roosevelt at the White House, called “awesome” by the New York Times, and receives one of the first Academy Awards for a feature documentary in 1942. Why have we never heard of Li Ling-Ai? And why have all copies of Kukan disappeared? Finding Kukan director Robin Lung turns detective and goes on a seven-year quest to find the answers. 75 minutes. Film website:

Sponsor: Center for Creativity and the Arts

September 21: The Judge (2017)

Discussant: Erika Cohn (Director)


A young lawyer named Kholoud Al-Faqih walks into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and asks to join the bench. He laughs at her. However, a few years later, Kholoud becomes the first female judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. The Judge by director Erika Cohn offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud: her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. With unparalleled access to the courts, The Judge presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Shari’a. 76 minutes. In Arabic and English with English subtitles. Film website:

Sponsors: Kamal and Aimee Abu-Shamsieh & Muslim Spiritual Care Services

September 14: Life After Life (2018)

Discussants: Tamara Perkins (Director), Dr. Deidre Hill-Valdivia & Noel Valdivia, Sr. (featured in the film) & Arnold Trevino (Project Rebound Graduate & MSW Student at Fresno State)


Life After Life by director Tamara Perkins follows the stories of Harrison, Noel and Chris as they return home from San Quentin State Prison. After spending most of their lives incarcerated, they are forced to reconcile their perception of themselves with a reality they are unprepared for. They also struggle to overcome their personal demons and reconstruct their fractured lives. Grappling with day-to-day challenges and striving for success, they work to reconnect with their families and provide for themselves for the first time in their adult lives. Told in an unadorned vérité-style, we experience the truth of their heartaches and triumphs. As their stories unfold over weeks, months and years, we witness the precarious nature of freedom after incarceration in America. 73 minutes. Film website: 

Sponsors: Project Rebound, Criminology Department: Corrections Option, Cross Cultural and Gender Center & Center for Creativity and the Arts

*September 7: Shadow Magic (2000)

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Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

*Film Screening will begin at 5 p.m.

 Shadow Magic by Chinese director Ann Hu brings us to China at beginning of the 20th century. Suffering both physical cultural invasions by the West the Chinese are suspicious and antagonistic toward anything that the West has to offer. Set against this historical background, Raymond Wallace, an Australian brings yet another Western innovation: the motion picture or what the Chinese literally call “shadow magic.” Wallace wants to make his fortune by establishing the very first motion picture theater in China. Not surprisingly, his efforts are met with both awe and suspicion, especially by the Dowager Empress, and bring forth the following question: can change and tradition coexist? 116 minutes. In English & Mandarin with English subtitles. Film website:

August 31: The Valley (2017)


Discussant: Saila Kariat (Director)

The Valley by Indian-American director Saila Kariat tells of an affluent Silicon Valley entrepreneur Neal Kumar whose beautiful daughter Maya tragically commits suicide during her freshman year of college. No one seems to know why. In his frantic quest to find the truth – and as his seemingly idyllic life and family begins to unravel – Neal discovers many things about himself and his own choices. 95 minutes. Film website:

Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts & Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center

**May 11 Film Screening: Pasajuego: Ethnography, Migration and Identity of the Oaxacan Peoples throughout the Game of Pelota Mixteca. 5:30 p.m. Peter’s Education Center Auditorium west of Save Mart Center in the Student Recreation Center Building)


Discussant: Daniel Oliveras de Ita (Director)

In the southern state of Oaxaca, México, Pasajuego is the name of the court where the ancient indigenous game of Pelota Mixteca is played. Pasajuego is a visual ethnography about the migration of Oaxacan workers to urban centers of Mexico and the U.S. In this story the game of Pelota Mixteca, acts as a window to look through the lives of the Oaxacan people at their migration destinations. The practice of Pelota Mixteca in different contexts reflects the lives of those who play the game, and shows how culture travels with them when they migrate. It tells the story of the players, shows the solidarity between paisanos, the cooperation systems among different regions of Oaxaca, Mexico and the U.S., and takes the audience through the diaspora of these migrants. This documentary film aims to capture the community contexts in which the game is carried out, and the ability of Oaxacan people to recreate their communities of origin on the other side of the border. In this journey the locations are condensed into one to describe Pasajuego as an embassy with diverse cultural expressions, geographically dispersed but unified by practice, cooperation and exchange between Oaxacan communities. Today at least two million Oaxacans live in the United States. This is the story of their ballgame, now taking root throughout the U.S. In Spanish, English, and Zapotec with English subtitles. 75 minutes.

Sponsors: The Consulate of Mexico in Fresno, The College of Arts and Humanities, The College of Social Sciences, the Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies, M.E.Ch.A and M.O.L.E.

May 4: A Billion Colour Story (2016)


Discussants: Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy (Director/Writer) via Skype & Professor Joan K. Sharma

Like so many nations, India is a land of high ideals and hopes that doesn’t always live up to its better nature. That is the learning curve not only for 11-year-old Hari Aziz, but also for his parents, self-declared “Indophiles” and “religion agnostics,” who met in film school in Australia but moved back to the land they love. When the funding on their film fizzles, the family is forced to downsize to a cheaper neighborhood, and with the move they find that their religious backgrounds (Imran was born a Muslim, and Parvati a Hindu) suddenly matter to people. A lot.

The masterstroke in writer/director Padmakumar’s debut feature is to tell this story of intolerance and fundamentalism through the eyes of a smart, curious and tech-savvy child, a 21st-century kid who embodies the best of a globalized outlook (he’s played by the director’s son). Shot in black and white, the film was received with a four-minute standing ovation at its European premiere at the London Film Festival in October. Legendary star Shabana Azmi was moved to tweet: “A heartwarming film that celebrates the idea of India & tears at heartstrings. It’s a must watch.” 105 minutes. Trailer:

April 27: The Suffragists (Las Sufragistas) (2012)


Discussant: Ana Cruz Navarro (Director)

The Suffragists by Mexican filmmak er Ana Cruz Navarro tells the story of Eufrosina Cruz, an indigenous woman from the Zapotec community of Santa María Quiegolani in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.  In 2008, her right to vote and run as Municipal President of her community was denied on the grounds that indigenous customary laws prohibit women from participating in electoral processes.  In Mexico, women won the right to full suffrage in 1953. Today, after a long battle, Eufrosina Cruz is a representative in Mexico’s federal government, and the first indigenous woman to be a member of the Congress of Oaxaca.  The Suffragettes details her political struggle, as well as Mexican women’s long fight for political power.  The film also considers challenges which women in power face, drawing on interviews with Mexican female politicians and Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first female president and the first Executive Director of UN Women. In Spanish with English subtitles, 78 minutes, Trailer:

Sponsors: The College of Arts and Humanities, Aeromexico, the Spanish Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, and the Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies

April 20: The Other Side of Home (2016)


Discussant: Naré Mkrtchyan (Director/Producer)

In 1915, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks, during the Armenian Genocide. One hundred years later, also in 2015, a Turkish woman named Maya discovers that her great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Maya embodies this painful conflict for she bears two enemies in her body: one that suffers and the other that denies. This documentary follows Maya as she decides to go to Armenia to take part in the 100th anniversary of the genocide and to explore her conflicted identity. This film is a universal story of identity, denial, and how the experience of genocide creates a ripple effect for future generations on both sides. In English, Armenian, and Turkish with English subtitles. 40 minutes, Trailer:

Sponsor: The Armenian Studies Program and the Sociology Department

April 13: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)


Discussant: Richard Rhodes (Author of Hedy’s Folly …on which the film is based)

What do the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and 40s and the inventor whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and bluetooth technology have in common? They are both Hedy Lamarr, the glamour icon whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman and a technological trailblazer who perfected a radio system to throw Nazi torpedoes off course during WWII. Weaving interviews and clips with never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life—from her beginnings as an Austrian Jewish emigre to her scandalous nude scene in the 1933 film Ecstasy to her glittering Hollywood life to her ground-breaking, but completely uncredited inventions to her latter years when she became a recluse, impoverished and almost forgotten—Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story brings to light the story of an unusual and accomplished woman, spurned as too beautiful to be smart, but a role model to this day. 88 minutes,

Sponsors: The Jewish Studies Program and the Jewish Studies Association

April 6: Dogs of Democracy (2016)


Discussant: Mary Zournazi (Writer/Director)

Dogs of Democracy is a documentary film about the stray dogs of Athens, Greece, and the people who take care of them. Greek-Australian filmmaker Mary Zournazi explores life on the streets through the eyes of these dogs and their peoples’ experience. Shot on location in Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the film is about how the Greeks have become the ‘stray dogs of Europe’, and how the stray dogs in Athens have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the Greek anti-austerity political movement. This is a universal story about love and loyalty and what we might learn from animals.  “A powerful film narrative, the stray dogs of central Athens are transformed from mere symbols of a peculiar freedom to witnesses of a heart-wrenching human crisis.” Yanis Varoufakis, Greek economist, Academic and Politician. 58 minutes, trailer:

Sponsors: The Classics Program, the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, with support from the Phebe McClatchy Conley Endowment

March 23: Shadow of Drought: Southern California’s Looming Water Crisis (2018)


Discussant: Bill Wisneski (Director)

While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead. 42 minutes.

This film is being screened in recognition of World Water Day March 22

Sponsor: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Fresnans Against Fracking, Tehipite Chapter of Sierra Club and Friends of the San Joaquin River Gorge

March 16: Serenade for Haiti (2016)


Discussant: Christy McGill (Producer)

Filmed over a seven-year period in Haiti, this documentary feature film by director Owsley Brown tells the story of a small classical music school, the Sainte Trinité Music School, in the heart of troubled Port au Prince, Haiti. This modest school thrives in the shadows of decades of political turmoil and natural disasters. Its story transcends poverty and political violence and shows how music can transform the lives of the children and faculty of the school and unlock the power of their own lives and imagination. In Haitian Creole, French, and English with English subtitles. 78 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: The Africana Studies Program, The French Program, and, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, L’Alliance Française de Fresno

March 9: Angelica (2016)


Discussant: Marisol Gómez-Mouakad (Director)

Angélica dreams of a major career as a fashion designer in New York, but has not got much further than a boring sewing job. After a long absence from Puerto Rico, she returns to the island when her father, Wilfredo, suffers a heart attack. The unexpected return to the house where she grew up, plus her father’s illness, force Angélica to re-evaluate her relationship with her mother, who has always disdained her because of her race, with family members who clearly are racist, and with her partner in New York, who travels to Puerto Rico in an attempt to bring her back. All this forces her to face herself and realize that she does not know who she is, and also, that she does not accept herself. After the death of her father, Angélica must decide whether to return to the comfort of her previous life, dissatisfied but secure, or set on an adventurous path to rediscover herself as an independent woman, modern, strong, mulatto and Puerto Rican, in a globalized world on the cusp of the twenty-first century. In Spanish with English subtitles. 90 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies, the Spanish Program, and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages and Literatures

March 2: And Then They Came for Us (2017)


Discussant: Don Tamaki (Fred Korematsu Legal Team Attorney)

Seventy-five years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the profound violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. Directed by directors Abby Ginzberg and Ken Schneider, And Then They Came for Us features Japanese-American actor George Takei and many others who were incarcerated, as well as newly rediscovered photographs of the late Dorothea Lange, a photojournalist best known for her Depression-era work. This film brings history into the present, retelling this difficult story and following Japanese American activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.  Knowing our history is the first step to ensuring we do not repeat it.  And Then They Came for Us is a cautionary and inspiring tale for these dark times. Please partner with us to share this critical story. 40 minutes.

Sponsors: The Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League and the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno.

February 23: Electric Shadows (2004)


Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

Electric Shadows marks the directing debut of Xiao Jiang one of the few active female film directors in China. The film begins when a young woman mysteriously attacks a stranger and then asks him to care for her fish while she is being arrested. When he enters her apartment he discovers an apparent shrine to the iconic Chinese singer and film actress of the 1930s Zhou Zuan, nicknamed “ the Golden voice”, and that they share a love of the cinema and more. The film’s reverent attitude towards the power of film, and particularly classic films, is a Chinese homage to the 1988 cultural classic Italian film Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore. Through a series of flashbacks the young stranger begins to unravel the incredible series of coincidences that intertwine his life with his attacker’s. In Mandarin with English subtitles. 93 minutes.

February 16: A Suitable Girl (2017)


Discussant: Sarita Khurana (Director)

A Suitable Girl by Indian-American director Sarita Khurana follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Ritu, Dipti and Amrita represent the new India. Educated, financially stable and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, they have access to the world in ways their mothers did not. Yet their lives take a dramatic turn when they are pressured to settle down and get married. Career aspirations become secondary to the pursuit of a husband, and the women struggle with the prospect of leaving their homes and families to become part of another. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in cinéma vérité-like style over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationships with the institution of marriage, the many nuanced ways society molds them into traditional roles, and a rarely-seen portrait of India’s urban middle class. In English & Hindi, with English subtitles, 90 minutes.

Trailer: Film website:

February 9: Our Little Sister (2015)


Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

*Film Screening will begin at 5 p.m.

Directed by famed Japanese Director Hirokazu Kore-eda, Our Little Sister is based on and adapted from the Umimachi, or Seaside Town, Diary, a popular “manga” or comic strip series in Japan. The film tells the life stories of three sisters in their 20s who live together in the ancient city of Kamakura, a town about thirty miles southwest of Japan’s capital Tokyo.  While attending their estranged father’s funeral they discover a14-year old half-sister who joins them in Kamakura. Our Little Sister was produced in 2015 and received the most nominations, twelve, at the 39th Japan Academy Prize winning four of them, including Best Picture of the Year and Best Director of the Year. In Japanese with English subtitles, 2 hours and 8 minutes, rated PG. Trailer:

February 2: Columbus (2017)


Discussant: Andrew Miano (Producer)

When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana – a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin’s estranged relationship with his father, and Casey’s reluctance to leave Columbus and her mother. With its naturalistic rhythms and empathy for the complexities of families, Korean director Kogonada’s debut film Columbus unfolds as a gently drifting, deeply absorbing conversation. With strong supporting actors Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, and Michelle Forbes, Columbus also reveals its director’s striking eye for the way physical space can affect emotions. In English and Korean with English subtitles, 1 hour and 44 minutes.


Sponsor: Darden Architects

January 26: Extra-Terrestrials (Extra Terrestias) (2016)

extra terrestials FV

Discussant: Carla Cavina (Director)

First-time Puerto-Rican director Carla Cavina makes a dazzling debut with her humorous and touching film Extra-Terrestrials. Her main character Teresa could not have chosen a worse time to return to her native Puerto Rico, after an absence of several years, and announce her plans to marry fellow astronomer Daniela to her very conservative family. Her father’s poultry business is the target of both corrupt elements of the Puerto Rican government and the U.S. poultry industry that want to drive it out of business. These two events set off a chain reaction that will either unite or destroy Teresa’s fractious family. Indeed, Teresa decides to delay revealing her engagement but Daniela’s decision to travel to the island and force Teresa’s hand will expose the many secrets the family has been keeping from each other.  Extra-Terrestrials is a thoughtful exploration of the sense of being alien and alone down on terra firma. The film might even suggest that we are not so foreign to each other after all. In Spanish with English subtitles, 1 hour 50 minutes. Trailer:

Sponsors: The Spanish Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures and the Communication Department

December 8: Filmworks: In Serach of Fellini (2017)


Filmworks presents “In Search of Fellini,” a film that follows a young woman named Lucy on her journey to meet Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. After living an extremely sheltered life, Lucy, played by Ksenia Solo, stumbles into a screening of a Fellini film and begins to relate to the characters while becoming enthralled with the cinematic world she encounters. Deciding to take a leap of faith, Lucy travels to Rome to find the famous director. On her own for the first time, Lucy must learn to find herself while also searching for Fellini. Also starring Maria Bello and Beth Riesgraf. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film. Rated R, 93 minutes.

December 1: Evolution of Organic (2016)


Panel Discussants: Mark Kitchell (Director) Tony Azevedo, Tom Willey, Glenn Anderson, Joe Soghomonian and Bryce Loewen.

Directed by Mark Kitchell’s (Berkeley in the Sixties, A Fierce Green Fire), Evolution of Organic is the story of organic agriculture, told by those who built the organic movement in California. A motley crew of back-to-the-landers, spiritual seekers and farmers’ sons and daughters reject chemical farming and set out to explore organic alternatives. It is a heartfelt journey of change: from a small band of rebels to a cultural transformation in the way we grow and eat food. By now organic has gone mainstream, split between an industry oriented toward bringing organic to all people and a movement that has realized a vision of sustainable agriculture. It is the most popular and successful outgrowth of the environmental impulse of the last fifty years. Evolution of Organic is not just history, but also a look into an exciting and critical future. Several local organic Central Valley farmers are featured in the film, including our own Tom Willey and David “Mas” Masomoto. 77 minutes.

November 17: Footnotes (Sur quel pied danser…) 2016


Discussants: Paul Calori & Kostia Testut (Co-Directors/Writers)

Inspired by the films of French filmmaker and lyricist Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and American film director and choreographer Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain), Footnotes by French directors Paul Calori and Kostia Testut, is a whimsical musical comedy. The film tells the story of Julie a young woman who might land a steady job in a luxury shoe factory. The film’s original French title is Sur quel pied danser… meaning literally “On which foot should I dance?” or in other words: “What should I do?  Which side should I be on?” Indeed the shoe factory could close and its jobs sent overseas.  So Julie has to decide between her livelihood and her life.  Will she stand with her striking coworkers or follow her boss? What is more important: a permanent job or her future?  No spoiler alert here: you will have to come and see Footnotes with its fun choreography and inspiring songs.

Co-Sponsors: The French Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures and L’Alliance Française de Fresno

CineCulture: Filmworks presents the 2017 Fresno Film Festival, Nov. 10-12: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


The 2017 Fresno Film Festival, presented by Fresno Filmworks at the historic Tower Theatre, will feature eight exclusive feature-length movies, including Q&A discussion with Director Finn Taylor (UNLEASHED), social gatherings and more.

Tickets for individual programs cost $10 general and $8 for students and seniors; festival passes cost $50. Tickets and passes can be purchased starting soon online and at the Tower Theatre box office, 815 E. Olive Ave.


PROGRAM #1 — 7 p.m.
Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt must escape from German-occupied Paris in 1943 in this French biographical drama.
With opening night champange reception to follow


PROGRAM #2 — 12 noon
The Force
This documentary follows the Oakland Police Department as it faces increasing public scrutiny and internal scandal.

PROGRAM #3 — 2:30 p.m.
The Divine Order
An unassuming young housewife is suddenly thrust into the center of the cultural movement for women’s suffrage in 1970s Switzerland.

PROGRAM #4 — 5:30 p.m.
In Syria
Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass plays a mother of three whose family comes under siege in war-torn Damascus.

PROGRAM #5 — 8 p.m.
I Dream in Another Language
The preservation of a dying language indigenous to Mexico lies in the hands of two sworn enemies who refuse to speak to each other.


PROGRAM #6 — 12 noon
Our Time Will Come
A primary school teacher in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong is pulled into a mission to save Chinese novelist Mao Dun during World War II.

PROGRAM #7 — 3:30 p.m.
Comic actress Kate Micucci plays a woman who unknowingly starts dating her pets when they mysteriously turn into grown men.
Featuring Q&A with director Finn Taylor

PROGRAM #8 — 7 p.m.
The Women’s Balcony
When the women’s balcony breaks, the women of a synagogue in Jerusalem humorously band together to fight for their rights and traditions.

November 3: Menashe (2017)

menashe Oct. 24

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

Set within the New York Hasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Menashe follows a kind but hapless grocery store clerk trying to maintain custody of his son Rieven after his wife, Lea, passes away. Since they live in a tradition-bound culture that requires a mother present in every home, Rieven is supposed to be adopted by the boy’s strict, married uncle, but Menashe’s Rabbi decides to grant him one week to spend with Rieven prior to Lea’s memorial.  Their time together creates an emotional moment of father/son bonding as well as offers Menashe a final chance to prove to his skeptical community that he can be a capable parent.

Shot in secret entirely within the Hasidic community depicted in the film, and one of the only movies to be performed in Yiddish in nearly 70 years, Menashe is a warm, life affirming look at the universal bonds between father and son that also sheds unusual light on a notoriously private community. Based largely on the real life of its Hasidic star Menashe Lustig, the film is a strikingly authentic and deeply moving portrait of family, love, connection, and community.  In Yiddish and English with English subtitles, 82 minutes.

Co-Sponsor: Jewish Studies Program, the Jewish Studies Association and Center for Creativity and the Arts

October 27:  Nowhere to Hide (2016)


Discussant: Zaradasht Ahmed (Director & Writer)

Nowhere to Hide is an immersive and uncompromising first-hand reflection of the resilience and fortitude of a male nurse working and raising his children in Jalawla, Iraq, an increasingly dangerous and inaccessible part of the world. While US troops withdraw from Iraq in 2011, director Zaradasht Ahmed gives Nori Sharif a camera and teaches him how to use it, asking him to capture the reality of life in his community and the hospital where he works. For the next five years, Nori films life around him, but the population— including the majority of the hospital staff—flees when the Iraqi army pulls out of his city in 2013 because of intensifying militant activity. Sharif is one of the few who remain. When the Sunni militias and the Islamic State advance on Jalawla in 2014 and finally take over the city, Sharif continues to film. However, he now faces a crucial dilemma: should he stay and dedicate himself to treating those he vowed to help, or should he leave to protect his family and become one of thousands of internally displaced people in Iraq?

Winner of the 2017 Nestor Almendros award for courage in filmmaking and 2016 IDFA Winner for Best Feature-Length Documentary. In Arabic with English subtitles, 86 minutes.  Trailer:

Co-Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts & Peace Fresno

October 20:  Frame by Frame (2015)


Discussant: Farzana Wahidy (Photographer featured in the film)

After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own. Under Taliban rule it was a crime to take a photo. After the Taliban fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerges and a photography revolution is born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, Frame by Frame follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four photojournalists in the pursuit of the truth. In Dari & English with English subtitles, 85 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: Department of Art & Design, Center for Creativity and the Arts, Asian Pacific Islander Programs and Services at Fresno State Cross Cultural and Gender Center and Department of Communication

October 13: Filmworks: Lucky (2017)


Lucky follows the spiritual journey of a 90 year old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self-exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment. Acclaimed character actor John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, LUCKY, is at once a love letter to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton as well as a meditation on mortality, loneliness, spirituality, and human connection. 88 minutes.

Thursday: Oct. 12 Artist Talk & Reception


presentation by Farzana Wahidy this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Peters Business Auditorium, PB 191 followed by a reception in the Phebe Conley Gallery from 5 to 8.

October 6: Bitter Harvest (2017)


Discussant: George Mendeluk (Director & Producer)

The romantic-drama Bitter Harvest by German-Canadian director of Ukrainian descent George Mendeluk, is set in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s. Based on true historical events, the film conveys the untold story of the “Holodomor”, the genocidal famine engineered by Joseph Stalin. It is a tale of love, honor, rebellion and survival at a time when farmers in Ukraine were forced to adjust to the horrifying social engineering by the Soviet Union. The film has been nominated for a prestigious Political Film Society Award in all four categories for Democracy, Exposé, Human Rights, and Peace. Rated R, 103 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: Department of History, College of Social Sciences and Ukrainian National Women’s League of America

September 29: The Promise (2016)


Discussant: Carla Garapedian (Associate Producer)

*Film Screening will begin at 5 p.m.

In 1914, while the Great War looms, the mighty Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Constantinople, the once vibrant, multicultural capital on the shores of the Bosporus, is about to be consumed by chaos. Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) arrives in the cosmopolitan hub as a medical student determined to bring modern medicine back to Siroun, his ancestral village in Southern Turkey where Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived side by side for centuries. Photojournalist Chris Myers (Christian Bale) has come here only partly to cover geo-politics. He is mesmerized by his love for Ana (Charlotte le Bon), an Armenian artist he has accompanied from Paris after the sudden death of her father. Then Michael meets Ana, their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men. As the Turks form an alliance with Germany and the Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities, their conflicting passions must be deferred while they join forces to survive even as events threaten to overwhelm them. Promises are made and promises are broken. The one promise that must be kept is to live on and tell the story. Rated PG-13, 133 minutes.

Co-Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

September 22: Paper Lanterns (2016)


Discussant: Chad Cannon (Composer) & Nobuko Saito Cleary (Producer)
In the summer of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan: the first on Hiroshima on August 6, and the second on Nagasaki three days later. An estimated 140,000 civilians were killed in Hiroshima that day, including twelve American POWs whose family were never told of their death. A young Japanese boy, Shigeaki Mori, witnessed the explosion and survived but his life was changed forever. Paper Lanterns by director Barry Frechette is a film about the true story of these twelve American POWs and Mori’s struggle to account for their story in the years and decades that followed the end of World War II. Not as enemies, but as human beings who suffered in one of history’s most tragic events. This film is about them, the horrors they witnessed, their families’ struggle to find the truth, and one man’s effort to give them the gift of closure and have each of these twelve airmen recognized as victims of the atomic blast at the Hiroshima Peace Museum. The witnesses and survivors of these horrific events are dying. They do not want anyone to forget their loved ones and the sacrifices they made. They strive for peace, for compassion and for a world free of nuclear weapons. They want us to never forget their story. 60 minutes.

This film is being screened in honor of International Day of World Peace (September 21).

Co-Sponsors: Center for Creativity and the Arts, The Ethics Center, Peace and Conflict Studies & Peace Fresno, WILPF.

September 15: The Fencer (2015)

the-fencer CineCutlure flyer

Discussant: Dr. Michelle DenbesteDirected by Finnish filmmaker Klaus Härö (Letters to Father Jacob, Mother of Mine), The Fencer is a movie with a bit of everything: a thriller, love story and inspirational teacher tale based on a true Cold War episode, about an Estonian fencing champion on the run from the Soviet secret police. This film manages to find optimism, humanity and beauty in a tragic historical era. The narrative is inspired by the story of Estonia’s legendary fencing master, Endel Nelis, who founded a dynasty and nurtured several world-class swordsmen. Working under a pseudonym as a physical education teacher in a tiny Estonian village, Nelis instructs his pupils in the art and sport of fencing. When the kids push for their team to participate in the national competition in Leningrad, Nelis must choose between his safety and his true vocation. “Unfolding under a cloud of suspicion and paranoia fostered by the postwar Soviet occupation, this well-acted, smoothly crafted drama tells a story of cross-generational bonding in the face of historical oppression.” Justin Chang, Variety. Academy Awards shortlisted in 2016 for Best Foreign Language Film. In Estonian, Russian and Armenian with English subtitles, 99 minutes.

September 8: Filmworks: Pop Aye (2017)


Pop Aye by filmmaker Singapore-born Kirsten Tan is a road film about a disenchanted architect named Thana who bumps into his long-lost elephant, Pop Aye, on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. After buying the elephant, Thana decides to travel back to the farm where the two grew up together, hoping to make sense of his career and marital troubles. Traveling across Thailand, Thana and Pop Aye deal with countless mishaps and meet colorful characters along their life-changing journey. In Thai with English subtitles, 102 minutes. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film.

September 1: The Eagle Huntress (2016)

eagle huntress

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

The Eagle Huntress by British director Otto Bell follows Aisholopan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition handed down from father to son for centuries. Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe of Central Asia,The Eagle Huntress features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography ever captured in a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film. While many old Kazakh eagle hunters vehemently reject the idea of any female taking part in their ancient tradition, Aisholpan’s father Nurgaiv believes that a girl can do anything a boy can, as long as she is determined. In Kazakh with English subtitles, 87 minutes.

May 5: A Stray (2016)


Discussant: Musa Syeed (Director)

In Minneapolis’ large Somali refugee community, Adan has nowhere to go. His mom kicked him out, and his friends are tired of his headstrong ways. As a last resort, he moves into the mosque, praying for a little help. Surprisingly, God seems to answer. Adan quickly lands a good job, devout friends, and a newfound faith. When Adan nearly hits a stray dog on the job, he’s forced to take it in for a night. But one of his new mosque friends considers the dog impure, and he throws Adan out. With Adan back on the streets, surrounded by his old crew, ex-­girlfriends, prying FBI agents, and his estranged family, the dog may be his only friend as he tries to keep his faith and get through the night. 82 minutes.

Sponsor: Africana Studies Program & Beth Ann Harnish Lecture Series

April 28: The Crow’s Nest (Malacrianza) (2014)


Discussant: Arturo Menéndez (Director)

The Crow’s Nest, written and directed by Arturo  Menéndez is a Salvadorian/Canadian film that tells the story of a lowly piñata vendor from a small town in El Salvador and the struggles that befall him after an extortion letter is left on his doorstep. The letter instructs him to deliver $500 in 72 hours or he will be killed. The amount seems near impossible for the seemingly destitute Don Cleo, as he navigates through his reality, neighborhood, relationships and the few aspirations he still has. Don Cleo exhausts every opportunity to raise the money, gathering as much as possible from friends and acquaintances. Yet, as much as he tries, Don Cleo finds himself in more trouble than when he started. With no other hope to survive, Don Cleo decides to face his fears and stands up to his transgressors. Malacrianza is the first fiction film from El Salvador since 1969 which has also had the first worldwide release. The film was released on October 4, 2014, at the AFI Silver Latin American Film Festival. 70 minutes.

Co-Sponsor: The Chicano & Latin American Studies & Political Science Departments

All films screened on campus are free and open to the public. Parking is not enforced after 4 p.m. on Fridays.

CineCulture is a film series provided as a service to Fresno State campus students, faculty, and staff, and community. CineCulture is also offered as a 3 unit academic course (MCJ 179) in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department. CineCulture fulfills General Education Integration Area Multicultural International (MI).

April 21:  Together With You (2002)


Discussant:  Dr. Ed EmanuEl

Chen Kaige composes a richly imagined film about love, ambition, and destiny in China’s high-pressure world of classical music. When violin prodigy Xiaochun and his father head to Beijing seeking fame and fortune, they soon discover a fierce world of cutthroat ambition. But when Xiaochun is “adopted” by a famous music tutor, success finally seems within reach- until a shocking discovery begins to unravel his entire world, and the boy must make the most difficult choice of his life. In Mandarin with English subtitles, 110 minutes.

Filmworks: April 14: The Salesman (2016)


Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, “The Salesman,” an Iranian thriller directed by Asghar Farhadi, presents the dramatic story of Emad and Rana, a couple acting in a theatrical production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”  Farhadi subtly recreates issues from the play in the lives of Emad and Rana.  The film opens as the couple is forced to evacuate their apartment when the foundation begins to collapse.  In their new home they find themselves living with the past left behind by the previous tenant. Tensions run high between Emad and Rana, as they struggle to face the reality of events that will drastically change their lives forever. Starring Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini and Babak Karimi. Rated PG-13, 125 minutes. In Farsi and English with English subtitles. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film.

Screening Sponsors: Earth Day Fresno (April 22, 2017), Middle East Studies Program at Fresno State and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute

April 7: Lost Birds (2015)


Discussant: Ela Alyamac & Aren Perdeci (Co-Directors)

The Co-Directors are traveling from Istanbul Turkey to discuss their film.

Lost Birds presents a historical tragedy that takes place in 1915, from the point of view of two children.  The story is about Bedo, played by (Heros Agopyan) and Maryam, played by (Dila Uluca), whose beautiful, warm, and happy lives in Anatolia comes to an end when their grandfather played by ( Sarkis Acemoglu) is taken away by soldiers. Out of extreme fear, their mother, played by (Takuhi Bahar), forbid the children to go outside, but being children, they sneak out to their favorite spot to play, only to come back to an empty home and an empty village. Their fear takes over, and with their bird that they had saved, they embark on a journey toward Aleppo to find their mother, and their fellow villagers. This beautiful film made by an Armenian and a Turkish filmmaker with passion is a cinematographic beauty to watch.  Lost Birds is the first film made in Turkey to depict the 1915 Armenian genocide. In Turkish and Armenian with English subtitles, 90 minutes

Sponsor: The Armenian Studies Program

March 24:  The Heart of Madame Sabali (2015)


Discussant: Ryan McKenna (Director)

The Heart of Madame Sabali is a dramatic film with touches of absurdist comedy, and features surrealist dream sequences and a colorful art design. The story is centered on Jeannette, who has a severe heart condition that keeps her trapped in a suburb of Montreal. After receiving her new heart, Jeannette begins to have strange visions of her donor’s former life. Soon after, she is befriended by her donor’s son, a Malian teenager, who believes she is his mother reincarnated. The story itself is based on the scientific concept of cellular memory, the idea that cells contain memories, and that organ recipients sometimes take on the personality traits of their donors. In French with English subtitles, 79 minutes.

Sponsors: Co-Sponsors: The French Program and the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures

March 17:  RiverBlue (2016)


Discussant: Roger Williams (Director)

Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, RiverBlue spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries, fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this groundbreaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future. Through harsh chemical manufacturing processes and the irresponsible disposal of toxic chemical waste, one of our favorite iconic products has destroyed rivers and impacted the lives of people who count on these waterways for their survival. RiverBue brings awareness to the destruction of some of the world’s most vital rivers through the manufacturing of our clothing, but will also act as a demand for significant change in the textile industry from the top fashion brands that can make a difference. 83 minutes,

This film is being screened in recognition of World Water Day March 22

Sponsor: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 

CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO March 10 at 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


Fresno Filmworks presents the American documentary feature “I Am Not Your Negro,” a powerful reinvention of Civil Rights activist James Baldwin’s unfinished book “Remember This House.” Baldwin’s book was to be a powerful look at the lives, and ultimate deaths, of his good friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film brings Baldwin’s manuscript to life, using his own words and explorations on the racial narrative of America, with images, sounds and music from both the past and present. “I Am Not Your Negro” masterfully provides a contemporary link between the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the present social justice movement of #BlackLivesMatter. From Haitian director and social activist Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film. Rated PG-13, 1 hour 35 minutes.

March 3: Lunafest


Discussant: Dr. Jenna Kieckhaefer

LUNAFEST™ is a nationwide festival of short films by…for…about women. LUNAFEST™ runs from October-March, in that time it is shown by more than 100 venues nationwide and is seen by over 20,000 viewers. For one night only Fresno is lucky to hold this festival. Films touch on a variety of issues of interest to women and those who love them. For information about the films:

Co-Sponsor: Cross Cultural and Gender Center

February 24: Agents of Change (2016)


Discussants: Abby Ginzberg (Director) & Dr. Ramona Tascoe (SF student leader featured in the film)

From the well-publicized events at San Francisco State in 1968 to the image of black students with guns emerging from the takeover of the student union at Cornell University in April, 1969, the struggle for a more relevant and meaningful education, including demands for black and ethnic studies programs, became a clarion call across the country in the late 1960’s. Through the stories of these young men and women who were at the forefront of these efforts, Agents of Change examines the untold story of the racial conditions on college campuses and in the country that led to these protests.  The film’s characters were caught at the crossroads of the civil rights, black power, and anti-Vietnam war movements at a pivotal time in America’s history. Today, over 45 years later, many of the same demands are surfacing in campus protests across the country, revealing how much work remains to be done. Agents of Change links the past to the present and the present to the past–making it not just a movie but a movement. 66 minutes

Sponsors: Henry Madden Library’s Prentice Womack Fund & Africana Studies Program

February 17:  Resistance at Tule Lake (2016)


Discussant: Konrad Aderer (Director)

Over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in ten camps from 1942 to 1945, in the largest mass imprisonment of citizens in U.S. history. Resistance at Tule Lake tells the long-suppressed story of the “No-No’s” – 12,000 incarcerees who defied the government by refusing to swear unconditional loyalty to the U.S. Although refusal was an act of protest and family survival, the government branded “No-No’s” as “disloyals” and forced them to relocate to the newly militarized Tule Lake Segregation Center. 78 minutes.


Film website:

This film is being screened in collaboration with the Henry Madden Library’s 9066 Japanese American Voices from the Inside collaborative exhibition and series of events which examine the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans in “exclusion areas” authorized by Executive Order 9066 which was signed on February 19, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This action had deep and profound consequences for all the families affected and the communities they left for decades—reverberations that are still felt today. The exhibition explores this complex and searing episode in our history. For more information regarding exhibition highlights and events:

Sponsor: Henry Madden Library

CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents Oscar Nominated Short Films: Feb. 10-11: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


For two nights only, catch an exclusive presentation of The Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2017, just weeks before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its winners. For the 12th straight year, Filmworks joins Magnolia Pictures and ShortsHD to continue its tradition of bringing the world’s best short-form cinema to the Central Valley.  The two evenings will feature five full programs of Academy Award-nominated short movies.  Closed Captioning and other assistive listening services are not available for this film.

February 3:  Nakom (2016)


Discussants: Trav Pittman & Kelly Daniela Norris (Co-Directors)

Set in present day Ghana, Nakom follows Iddrisu, a talented medical student who is summoned home by his sister after their father’s sudden death. Iddrisu buries his father and temporarily assumes the head of the impoverished household and farm, inheriting not only the delicate task of planting a successful crop, but also a debt left by the deceased patriarch that could destroy the family. Attempting to maintain part of his studies from the confines of a small hut, Iddrisu becomes increasingly frustrated with the incessant needs of those around him and the demanding toil of the land. The contentious relationship with his uncle Napoleon, to whom the sizeable debt is owed, is further complicated by the unplanned pregnancy of Napoleon’s daughter who was sent to live with Iddrisu’s family. Over the course of the growing season, Iddrisu grapples with tradition, familial duty, and the overwhelming sense of urgency to do what he must to secure his own future. In Kusaal with English subtitles, 90 minutes.

Sponsor: Africana Studies Program

January 27: Road to La Paz (2015)


Discussant: Francisco Varone (Director)

Sebastian is 35-years-old and unemployed, with only his father’s old Peugeot 505 to his name. When fate brings him a man in search of a ride, Sebastian sees no other choice but to take the opportunity. The man is Jalil, an elderly devout Muslim, and his destination is La Paz, the capitol of Bolivia some 2,000 miles from Buenos Aires. Both men are at a crossroads, and the journey of La Paz not only takes them to the north but also places them on a touching and often funny road of self-discovery.  In Spanish with English subtitles, 92 minutes.

Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies and the Department of Political Science

CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents TRUMAN December 9, 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


Cesc Gay’s moving film “Truman” captured five Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent of the US Oscars) this year, including Best Picture, Director, Actor (Ricardo Darín), Supporting Actor (Javier Cámara), Original Screenplay (Cesc Gay and Tomàs Aragay), not to mention many other awards throughout the world.  Julián, a stage actor diagnosed with terminal cancer, has determined to forego further treatment and, instead, to appreciate his remaining days.  His lifelong friend Tomàs, a teacher who emigrated to Toronto to start a new life, is unsure he will be able to help his friend.  Nonetheless, he travels to Madrid to assist in whatever way he can. The two find their friendship immediately revived.  Together, they visit old haunts as Julián tries to right old wrongs and, most important, seek a new home for his beloved bullmastiff Truman. Told with tenderness and humor, “Truman” tells the story of a man facing his death in the best way he can.  “Truman” is multilayered, honest and moving, presented in a way which avoids cloying sentimentality in favor of gentle laughter. In Spanish with English subtitles, 108 minutes, not rated.

December 2: The Destruction of Memory (2015)


Discussant: Tim Slade (Director)

This film traces the war against culture and the battle to save it. Over the past century, cultural destruction has wrought catastrophic results across the globe, including Armenia, Germany, Hungary, Bosnia, Mali, and more. This war against culture is not over – it is been steadily increasing. In Syria and Iraq, the ‘cradle of civilization,’ millennia of culture are being destroyed. The push to protect, salvage and rebuild has moved in step with the destruction. Legislation and policy have played a role, but heroic individuals have fought back, risking and losing their lives to protect not just other human beings, but our cultural identity – to save the record of who we are.

Based on the book of the same name by Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory tells the whole story – looking not just at the ongoing actions of Daesh (ISIS) and at other contemporary situations, but revealing the decisions of the past that allowed the issue to remain hidden in the shadows for so many years. Interviewees in the film include the Director-General of UNESCO, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as diverse and distinguished international experts, whose voices combine to address this urgent issue. 81 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: The Department of Modern & Classical Languages and Literatures, and Phebe Conley Classics Endowment

*November 18: Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) (2015)


Discussant: Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval

At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in Embrace of the Serpent, the third feature by Ciro Guerra. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, Serpent centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers, Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes, who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. The film has won numerous prestigious awards, including awards at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. In Spanish, Portuguese, Aboriginal, German, Catalan, and Latin, 125 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies, the College of Arts & Humanities, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, the Department of Political Science, and the Center for Creativity and the Arts.

CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents the 2016 Fresno Film Festival, Nov. 11-13: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


The 2016 Fresno Film Festival, presented by Fresno Filmworks at the historic Tower Theatre, will feature eight exclusive feature-length movies from 15 different countries, including special filmmaker appearances, social gatherings, and Q&A discussions.

November 4: If Only Everyone


Discussant: Professor Barlow Der Murgrdechian

If Only Everyone is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and the formation of the Armenian Armed Forces. The film is about a woman, Sasha, half-Armenian, half-Russian, a daughter of a freedom fighter who was killed in the Artsakh liberation war. Twenty years later, Sasha comes to Armenia in search of her father’s grave, where she wants to plant a birch tree. Sasha ecomes acquainted with her father’s combat friends, who help her carry out her mission. If Only Everyone, directed by Nataliya Belyauskene, was selected as the Armenian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.

Co-Sponsor: The Armenian Studies Program

October 28 : Imminent Threat (2015)


Location: Unitarian Universalist church of Fresno, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave. (between Willow and Chestnut) Fresno, CA 93720

This film is free and open to the public.

Discussant: Dr. Matthew Jendian

Imminent Threat, directed by Janek Abors documents the War on Terror’s impact on civil liberties as well as the potential coalition that may form between the progressive left and libertarian right.  The film is executive produced by James Cromwell, Jillian Barba (Fresno State Alumna), Anthony A. LoPresti, and D.J. Do:30 p.m. dd. 73 minutes.

October 21: The Merchant of Venice (2004) Film will begin at 5 p.m.


Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

In the late 16th century the greatest playwright of the Western world, William Shakespeare wrote a play which still shocks the world today: The Merchant of Venice. This exciting story is one of the first plays where a woman becomes the hero of the action because of her brains and not because of her femininity. Why was this play called a “comedy” in Shakespeare’s day will be dramatically revealed after the performance of this wonderful play brought to life by one of America’s greatest film actors, Al Pacino; costarring Jeremy Collins and Lyn Collins. Rated R, 131 minutes.

The film is being shown in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, where the word “ghetto” originated in 1516.

CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents MISS SHARON JONES October 14, 5:30 & 8:30: TOWER THEATER, 815 E. OLIVE AVENUE, FRESNO


Two-time Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA, Shut Up and Sing) follows Grammy-nominated R&B dynamo Sharon Jones during the most courageous year of her life.  Often compared to the legendary James Brown because of her powerful and energetic performances, Sharon Jones is no stranger to challenge. For years her music career struggled as she was kept in the wings by a music industry that branded her “too short, too black, too fat.” After decades of working odd jobs, from corrections officer to wedding singer, Sharon had a middle-aged breakthrough after joining forces with Brooklyn R&B outfit The Dap Kings. In 2013, on the eve of the release of the much-anticipated album Give The People What They Want, Sharon was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Miss Sharon Jones! is a triumphant crowd-pleaser that captures an irrepressible human spirit as she battles back to where she belongs: center stage. Not rated, 93 minutes.

October 7: Nari (2016)


Discussant: Gingger Shankar & Band

Nari is a global, multi-generational, multimedia live performance conceived by Gingger Shankar in collaboration with Dave Liang (producer of the electronic group Shanghai Restoration Project) and Sun Yunfan (artist and filmmaker). Nari is the unsung story of the lives of Lakshmi Shankar and her daughter Viji, two extraordinary artists who helped bring Indian music to the West in the 1970s through their close collaborations with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. In Sanskrit, “Nari” means both “woman” and “sacrifice.” As two female artists who grew up in a patriarchal society and tried to establish themselves in a male-dominated field, Lakshmi and Viji fought to overcome numerous challenges in both their artistic and personal lives as they were catapulted from conservative Indian culture into the stratosphere of American Rock & Roll. Conceptualized in early 2013 and followed by recordings and filming in India, the UK, and the US, Nari premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and had its U.S. Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Co-Sponsor: The Department of Art and Design

September 30: The Violin Teacher (Tudo Que Aprendemos Juntos) (2015)


Discussant: Sergio Machado Ribeiro dos Santos (Director)

The movie tells the story of Laerte (Lázaro Ramos), a talented violinist who after failing to be admitted into the OSESP Orchestra is forced to give music classes to teenagers in a public school at Heliopolis. His path is full of difficulties, but the transforming power of music and the friendship arising between the teacher and the students open the door into a new world. In Portuguese with English subtitles, 102 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: The Department of Chicano & Latin American Studies and the Department of History

Friday, September 23: The Law (La Loi, le combat d’une femme pour toutes les femmes) (2014)


Film Screening Friday, September 23, 5:30 p.m. Peter’s Education Center Auditorium (West of Save Mart Center in the Student Recreation Center Building)

*September 22-23: Two Events: Presentation and Film Screening

Thursday, September 22: “The Jews of France”

Presentation – “The Jews of France from the French Revolution to the Present,” 3:30-4:45 p.m. Sept. 22, Fresno State’s Agricultural Science Building, Room 109. Speaker Aron Rodrigue is a professor of history and the Charles Michael Professor in Jewish history and culture at Stanford University.

Friday, September 23: The Law (La Loi, le combat d’une femme pour toutes les femmes) (2014)

Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn

Directed by French Director Christian Faure and released in 2014, The Law brilliantly traces three days, in late Fall 1974, of stormy debate in the French National Assembly, around a bill which would make “voluntary termination of pregnancy” legal.  Behind this bill stands a lone woman brilliantly played by a remarkable Emmanuelle Devos (also in The Other Son): Simone Veil the Minister of Health in the Jacques Chirac government during the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.  During these three days of violent debate Veil, a Jew and Holocaust survivor, is spared nothing: political negotiations, solitude, sparring arguments, insults and violence to her family.  In spite of all of this, Veil never wavers. Viewers need not be afraid of being bogged down in the vagaries of 1974 French politics: Director Christian Faure has created a breathless thriller and gave the film’s “legal and political maneuvering some of the edge of a film noir”.

A television sensation in France, this profoundly disturbing and provocative film was a finalist for best television film award at the Globes de cristal in Paris and Emmanuelle Devos as Simone Veil was nominated outstanding actress at the Nymphes d’or in Monte-Carlo.  Additionally, The Law was a selection at many film festivals, including the San Francisco, New York, and San Diego Jewish Film Festivals in the US, as well as the Jerusalem and the UK Jewish Film Festivals. In French with English subtitles, 90 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: The French Program, the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures, and the Jewish Studies Certificate Program and the Jewish Studies Association

September 16: In Our Son’s Name (2015)


Discussant: Gayla Jamison (Director) & Nancy Meyer

In Our Son’s Name is an intimate portrait of Phyllis and Orlando Rodríguez, whose son, Greg, dies with thousands of others in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The bereaved parents choose reconciliation and nonviolence over vengeance and begin a transformative journey that both confirms and challenges their convictions.

They speak out against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, publicly oppose the death penalty of avowed 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and befriend his mother. As their search for meaning evolves they speak out against anti-Muslim actions and find peace in working with prison inmates. Their marriage strengthens, and they reach a deeper understanding of their rebellious son, who had just begun to find his way when his life was cut short. The film mixes in-depth interviews with on-location footage and striking archival photographs and video to create a deeply personal story that invites us to re-consider conventional concepts of justice and healing. 64 minutes.

September 9: THE IDOL

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Filmworks presents the Palestinian drama The Idol, was inspired by the incredible true story of a Gaza refugee who won the hearts of an entire region in 2013 when he won the Arab world’s version of American Idol. The movie follows the dream of Mohammad Assaf, a popular wedding singer whose band plays on second-hand, beat-up instruments, but whose ambitions are to someday play the world famous Cairo Opera Hall. On his unlikely journey against impossible odds, Mohammed retains hope that his voice will transcend the pain that surrounds him and bring joy to others. Although the borders are closed, he finds a way to reach the Arab Idol auditions in Cairo and make it in front of the judges. From there, destiny awaits. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, who also directed Omar (2013) and Paradise Now (2005). In Arabic, with English subtitles, not rated, 95 minutes.

September 2: Ocean Heaven (Hai yang tian tang) (2010)


Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

In 2010 famed martial arts star, Jet Li, made one of the most unusual and beautiful films of his career: Ocean Heaven.  A terminally ill father has to prepare his special needs son for a life without his father. Departing from his usual action genre films Jet Li explores a father son relationship that is tender and loving. Ironically, this film foreshadows a true life challenge in Jet Li’s life that he struggles to deal with today. In Mandarin with English subtitles, 96 minutes.

May 13: City of Gold (2016)


Fresno Filmworks presents the American independent documentary “City of Gold,” a love letter to the transformative power of food and food culture. The movie follows Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold as he explores his beloved city of Los Angeles. Long adored for his writing about Southern California’s hidden culinary treasures, Gold reviews small, family-owned restaurants in far-flung ethnic enclaves with as much passion as the haute cuisine establishments of Beverly Hills. With a stroke of his pen, he has changed the lives of countless immigrant chefs, newly discovered by voracious foodies who avidly track his reviews. Through his Odyssey-like quests for new food experiences, Gold’s style of criticism offers a rare opportunity to discover the true L.A. through the eyes of its foremost cultural journalist. Rated R, 91 minutes.

May 6: Coming Home (Gui Lai) (2014)

Coming Home -01

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

Li Yanshi and Feng Wanyu are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner. Released during the last days of the Cultural Revolution, he finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognize Lu, she patiently waits for her husband’s return.

A stranger alone in the heart of his broken family, Lu Yanshi is determined to resurrect their past together and reawaken his wife’s memory. Based on Yan Geling’s novel, The Criminal Lu Yanshi, Coming Home is a love story about joy and sadness, as well as separation and reunion. Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero and House of Flying Dagger). In Mandarin with English subtitles. PG-13, 109 minutes.

April 29: When Voices Meet; One United Choir; One Courageous Journey (2015)

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Discussants: Marilyn Cohen (Executive Director) & Sharon Katz (Subject and Composer) & Band Members

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 railroaded across the country aboard The Peace Train. Singing their way into the hearts, minds and soul 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. When Voices Meet documents the trials, tribulations and triumphs of those musician activists and young choir members. They performed together for seven years; never lost touch with one another; and then reunited 20 years later. 86 minutes.
Band concert following film screening and Q&A! It was music that brought the disparate groups together, and the harmony of their voices became emblematic of the new South Africa. Original songs in the trailer’s award-winning soundtrack include We Are The Children of South Africa, The Time Is Right Today and Siyajabula.
Sponsors: Beth Ann Harnish Lecture Series, Cross Cultural and Gender Center, Jewish Studies Certificate Program & Jewish Studies Association, Africana Studies Program and Global Music Lecture Series

April 22: Ghost Town to Havana (2015)

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Discussant:  Eugene Corr (Director)

A life rampant, street level story of mentorship and ordinary, everyday heroism in tough circumstances. An inner city coach’s son, estranged in his youth from his father, spends five years on ball fields in inner city Oakland and Havana, following the lives of two extraordinary youth baseball coaches: Nicolas Reyes, a 61-year old Afro-Cuban who coaches in a Havana neighborhood that is rich in community but struggling desperately economically, and Roscoe Bryant, a 46-year old African-American man who coaches in a troubled Oakland neighborhood wracked by three decades of gang violence. The filmmaker introduces the coaches on videotape and Coach Roscoe vows he will take his players to Cuba to play Nicolas’ team one day.

Two years of US/Cuba sanctions and red tape later, Coach Roscoe and 9 players fly to Havana to play Coach Nicolas’ team. For the next week, the boys and coaches eat, dance, swim, argue, tease, and play baseball together. The wary, street-smart, Ghost Town boys gradually warm to the fun-loving friendship of their Afro-Cuban hosts. Baseball! Girls! Fun! Real friendships form. Then Roscoe receives a fateful phone call from home. Right fielder Chris Fletcher’s stepfather has been murdered on an Oakland street. Ghost Town to Havana is contemporary in content but as old as the Greeks thematically: the human struggle to wrest life from death. 86 minutes.

Co-Sponsors: Africana Studies Program, Chicano & Latin American Studies, and Cross Cultural and Gender Center

April 15: Ixcanul (2015)


Discussant: Dr. Beatriz Coetez

María, a young 17-year old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on a coffee plantation on the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her. Although Maria dreams of going to the “big city”, her condition as an indigenous woman does not permit her to change her destiny. Later on, a snake bite forces her to go out into the modern world where her life is saved, but at what price…

First-timer director Jayro Bustamante proves himself a true global up-and-comer with his Berlinale-Competition Ixcanul (Volcano). As touching as it is visually beautiful and impressively well performed, this Guatemala-France coproduction includes Edgard Tenembaum, producer of the acclaimed The Motorcycle Diaries. 93 minutes, in Mayan and Spanish with English subtitles.

Co-Sponsor: Chicano & Latin American Studies

April 8: Mountains May Depart (2015)


Filmworks presents the Chinese drama “Mountains May Depart,” a candidate for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film follows the life of an easygoing drifter, Tao, and those closest to her in three time periods: 1999, 2014, and 2025. The multi-generational story examines how China’s economic boom and a culture of materialism has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love. Tao’s story, both colorful and moving, shows more than just Chinese history; it’s an ever-changing study of what it means to be human. Written and directed by the acclaimed master filmmaker Jia Zhangke, who is regarded a leader in the Sixth Generation movement of Chinese cinema. Starring Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, and Jing Dong Liang. In Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, with English subtitles. Not rated, 131 minutes.

April 1: Our Village (2014)

Our Village-01

Discussant: Yelena Arshakyan (Director)

The director is traveling from Yerevan Armenia to join us for the screening of her film.

The movie tells the story of a modern village, particularly three neighbors, who live in this village, about their relations, wishes and bothers. These three rural families and immigration, which is a general problem for all Armenians, gave nationwide publicity to this movie. The most important problems are not presented by the oration pointed to countersignature, but by the combination of the genres of lyrical comedy and drama. In Armenian with English subtitles. 97 minutes.

Co-Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program

March 18: Racing Extinction (2015)Racing Extinction -02

Discussant: Dr. Heather Rally (involved in the film’s production)

In Racing Extinction, a team of artists and activists exposes the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight — a world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes these two worlds in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it. From the Academy Award® Winning Filmmakers of “The Cove.” The soundtrack features the Oscar nominated (Original song category, 2015) “Manta Ray.” 90 minutes.

March 11: The Treasure (2016)


Filmworks presents the Romanian dark comedy “The Treasure,” the satirical tale of a search for buried treasure that won the Prix Un Certain Talent at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie tells the story of Costi, a family man and self-proclaimed Robin Hood to his 6-year-old son. One night, Costi’s cash-strapped neighbor reveals a family secret that sets the two on a twisted, weekend-long comic caper at a hidden family home in the country. Hoping to be a hero for his son, Costi pools his money for a metal detector, and the tumultuous search for redemption begins. From Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu, whose 2007 debut film “12:08 East of Bucharest” won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes. Starring Toma Cuzin and Adrian Purcărescu. In Romanian, with English subtitles, not rated.

March 4: Güeros (2014) 

Gueros Final Version English

Discussant: Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval

Güeros tells the story of Sombra and Santos, who have been living in motionless, angst-ridden limbo since the National University student strike of 1999 broke out. Their slacker routine is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Tomás, Sombra’s lighter-skinned kid brother. Tomás discovers that unsung Mexican folk-rock hero Epigmenio Cruz has been hospitalized somewhere in the city and wants to track him down in order to pay final respects to him. But a simple trip to find their childhood idol soon becomes a voyage of self-discovery and bonding across Mexico City’s invisible frontiers. The film has been an international festival favorite, and it won five top honors at the 2015 Ariel Awards, Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars. Filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios creates a love letter to Mexico City in his directorial debut. Critic A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised Güeros for being “sweetly nostalgic and exuberantly now.” Not rated, 90 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.

February 26: The Experimenter (2015)

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Discussant: Dr. Robert Levine & Dr. Spee Kosloff

Yale University, 1961. Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) designs a psychology experiment that remains relevant to this day, in which people think they’re delivering painful electric shocks to an affable stranger (Jim Gaffigan) strapped into a chair in another room. Disregarding his pleas for mercy, the majority of subjects do not stop the experiment, administering what they think are near-fatal electric shocks, simply because they’ve been told to. Milgram’s exploration of authority and conformity strikes a nerve in popular culture and the scientific community. Celebrated in some circles, Milgram is also accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster. His wife Sasha (Winona Ryder) anchors him through it all. Rated PG-13, 98 minutes.

 February 19: Frame by Frame (2015)Frame by Frame Film-01

Discussants: Mo Scarpelli (Co-Director)

After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own – reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bur

sting with color and character, Frame by Frame follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth. 85 minutes, in Dari & English.

3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (2015)

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Discussant: Dr. DeAnna Reese, Thomas Whit-Ellis and Melissa Harris

In 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, two lives intersected and were forever altered. On Black Friday 2012, two cars parked next to each other at a Florida gas station. A white middle-aged male and a black teenager exchanged angry words over the volume of the music in the boy’s car. A gun entered the exchange, and one of them was left dead. Michael Dunn fired 10 bullets at a car full of unarmed teenagers and then fled. Three of those bullets hit 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who died at the scene. Arrested the next day, Dunn claimed he shot in self-defense. Thus began the long journey of unraveling the truth. 3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets follows that journey, reconstructing the night of the murder and revealing how hidden racial prejudice can result in tragedy. A harrowing exploration of criminal justice gone awry & an all-too-timely film that speaks loudly to the current racial climate in America. — Indiewire 98 minutes.

January 29: Dawn of the World (L’aube du monde, 2008)

Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn

Directed by Iraqi-born French film maker Abbas Fahdel, Dawn of the World is set in the Mesopotamian Marshes.  This complex of shallow freshwater lakes, swamps, marshes, and seasonally inundated plains between the Tigris and Euphrates makes up the largest river delta in the Middle East.  Located in southwestern Iraq on the border with Iran and Kuwait, the area is known as the land of the mythical Garden of Eden, explains the film director. This is where the Maadan tribes, also known as the Marsh Arabs, live, and where Mastur and Zahra grow up.
Shortly after their marriage, the first Gulf War breaks out and Mastur is sent to the front.  There he befriends Riad, a young Baghdadi soldier, and makes him promise to protect Zahra should something happen to him… Fahdel’s film is a visual poem taking place in a haunting and magical landscape.  The simplicity of his plot and the beauty of the images of the film almost make the story seem like a misty dream.

Starring in the film are two actresses whom some of the viewers might have seen in Radu Mihaileanu’s film La source des femmes (2011), Tunisian-French Hafsia Herzi as Zhara and Arab-Israeli Hiam Abbass as Mastur’s mother.  Additionally, Dawn of the World won the prestigious Grand Prix for the Best Screenwriter in France. In Arabic and French, with English subtitles.  96 minutes.  Trailer (in French):

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August 29: BESA: The Promise (2012)

Discussant: Christine Romero (Producer/Editor)

BESA: The Promise weaves Albania’s heroism in WWII through the vérité journeys of two men. One is Norman Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer determined to document first-person accounts of the Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian. Rexhep must fulfill the promise made to a Jewish family his father rescued during the Holocaust and return to them a set of Hebrew books they left behind. And Rexhep’s promise is more than words — it’s part of his besa — an honor code that, among other things, pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees. With Norman’s help, Rexhep embarks on a journey to Bulgaria and Israel. His quest brings about an epiphany that he is part of this Jewish family — even as his Islamic faith, long suppressed under decades of communism, is affirmed. Through the stories of Rexhep and his fellow Muslims, we discover a nation of everyday heroes far removed from the narrative of violent Islam and anti-Semitism that’s so often portrayed in media today. And, through the experiences of Norman Gershman and the first-person accounts of Jewish survivors, we hear stories of gratitude to Muslim rescuers that have gone unheard for almost seventy years. More than seven years in the making, the film presents a powerful human drama compounded by a devastating twist. It is a story that that bridges generations and religions … uniting fathers and sons … Muslims and Jews. 90 minutes.

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September 5: In the Shadow (2012)

Discussant: Dr. Ed EmanuEl

In the Shadow is a gritty, dark, exciting crime drama set in Czechoslovakia during the criminal and repressive domination of that country in 1950s by the Soviet Union.  Directed by famed film director/producer David Ondricek and written by, who many are calling Czechoslovakia’s boy genius, Marek Epstein, In the Shadow is a gripping film experience. The film stars the great Czech film actor, Ivan Trojan and co-star Sebastian Koch, one of Germany’s finest film actors.  Trojan plays Police Captain Haki who has been called into investigate what seems to be a simple jewel robbery.  Events soon get completely out of control and Haki finds himself in the middle of a political fire storm, anti-Semitism, and a Cold War attack on the USA by using the Czech legal system. The cinematic technique used in this film is reminiscent of both film noir and Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant use of the Camera to increase tension and advance the plot. 106 minutes. In Polish, German and Czech with English subtitles.


*September 12: Filmworks: May in the Summer (2013)       

Discussant: Cherien Dabis (Director) 

Filmworks presents the multicultural romantic comedy “May in the Summer,” the latest feature from Palestinian American filmmaker Cherien Dabis. The movie, which has charmed festival audiences from Venice to Sundance, tells the story of May, a sophisticated and educated New Yorker who travels to her childhood home of Amman, Jordan for her wedding. Immediately upon returning home — a cosmopolitan Middle Eastern city, still full of natural and spiritual landscapes — the cracks in her seemingly perfect life begin to show. Her Christian mother disapproves of her fiancé Muslim faith, her sisters revert to behaving like rebellious teenagers, and their estranged father attempts to make amends for divorcing their mother for a younger woman. Confronted with the unavoidable wounds of her own family’s long-broken relationships, the fresh culture clash of old-world traditions and modern values leaves May at a crossroads. Written, directed by, and starring Dabis, whose debut feature film “Amreeka” played to international acclaim in 2009. Co-starring Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, and Bill Pullman.

99 minutes, Rated R. Film website:

For additional information:


September 19: Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa (2014)

Discussant: Abby Ginzberg (Director)

Soft Vengeance  is a film about Albie Sachs, a lawyer, writer, art lover and freedom fighter, set against the dramatic events leading to the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Shining a spotlight on Albie’s story provides a prism through which to view the challenges faced by those unable to tolerate a society founded on principles of slavery and disempowerment of South Africa’s majority black population. As a young man, Albie defended those committed to ending apartheid in South Africa. For his actions as a lawyer, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Cape Town, tortured through sleep deprivation and forced into exile. In 1988 he was blown up by a car bomb set by the South African security forces in Maputo, Mozambique, which cost him his right arm and the sight of one eye, but miraculously he survived and after a long year of rehabilitation in England, he recovered.  Returning to South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela, Albie helped write the new Constitution and was then appointed as one of the first 11 judges to the new Constitutional Court, which for the past 20 years has been insuring that the rights of all South Africans are afforded protection. 90 minutes. As Albie was recovering in a London hospital from the car bomb he received a note reading: “Don’t worry, comrade Albie, we will avenge you.” What kind of country would it be, he wondered, if it ended up filled with people who were blind and without arms? But if we achieve democracy, freedom and the rule of law, he said to himself, that will be my soft vengeance.” As it turned out, the first phase of his soft vengeance started with his becoming one of the principal architects of South Africa’s new non-racial, non-sexist Constitution. It went on to include his meeting through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the man who had organized the placing of the bomb in his car, and ended with him being chosen by Nelson Mandela as one of the first eleven members of South Africa’s first Constitutional Court set up to guarantee the implementation of the fundamental rights for which they had been fighting. Adding to the visual texture of the film is the story behind the construction of the Constitutional Court building, in which Albie played a critical role. He was among those who recommended that the new Court building be erected in the heart of the prison where both Gandhi and Mandela had been imprisoned and be designed to represent enlightenment and hope where once there had been despair. Albie became curator in chief of the Court’s unique art collection representing the themes of human dignity, equality and freedom that lay at the heart of the new Bill of Rights. As Albie said: “The building was designed to be a continuing part of the freedom struggle, and to epitomize in its very openness and sense of humaneness, the values of human dignity, equality and freedom that lay at the core of the constitutional endeavor.” 70 minutes.


September 26: Dancing in Jaffa (2013)

Discussant: Hilla Medalia (Director) 


Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion, is fulfilling a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. For generations, Jaffa has been a city divided by two communities that continue to grow increasingly apart. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. The film explores the complex stories of three children, all of whom who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation, and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy. We watch Pierre transform their lives, confirming his belief that dance can overcome hatred and provide the first steps towards real change.

Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer, fulfills a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches 10-year-old Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish- Israeli children to dance and compete together. Dancing in Jaffa explores the complex stories of three different children, who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy. The classroom becomes a microcosm of the Middle East’s struggle to work together harmoniously while still caught in the politics of the region and race. With the guidance of Pierre, the children learn to dance together and trust one another. Dancing In Jaffa offers an up-close-and-personal perspective of how the future might unfold if the art of movement and dance could triumph over the politics of history and geography. 90 minutes. In English, Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.


October 3: La Source des Femmes (The Source) (2011)

Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn

In a small village somewhere “between North Africa and the Middle East,” it has always been a woman’s chore to fetch water from the “source,”or spring, at the top of the mountain. This arduous task has caused several women to fall and miscarry while hauling their heavy pails of water back to the village. Leila, a young bride, urges the village women to action: no more hugs, love and sex until the men do their part and bear the painful task of fetching water from the spring back to their village. This whimsical and sometimes heartbreaking Belgian-Moroccan-French comedy directed by Romanian-born French filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu was selected for screening at the 2011 Festival of Cannes. 124 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles. Trailer in English:


October 17: Libertador (The Liberator) (2013)

Discussant: Dr. Maria-Aparecida Lopes

An impressively scaled chronicle of the life and times of Simon Bolivar, hero of South American anti-colonialist struggles in the early 19th century. The film journeys through the impassioned struggle of Simón Bolívar’s (Édgar Ramírez) fight for independence in Latin America from Spain and his vision of a united South American nation. Bolivar rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered – it liberated. 119 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.


October 24: Grandma’s Tattoos (2011)

Discussant: Suzanne Khardalian (Director/Producer)

Grandma’s Tattoos lifts the veil of thousands of forgotten women—survivors of the Armenian Genocide—who were forced into prostitution and tattooed to distinguish them from the locals.

“As a child I thought these were devilish signs that came from a dark world. They stirred fear in me. What were these tattoos? Who had done them, and why? But the tattoos on grandma’s hands and face were a taboo. They never spoke about it,” explains Khardalian. Grandma’s Tattoos is a journey into the secrets of the family. Eventually, the secret behind Grandma Khanoum’s blue marks are revealed. “Grandma was abducted and kept in slavery for many years somewhere in Turkey. She was also forcibly marked—tattooed—as property, the same way you mark cattle. The discovery of the story has shaken me. I share the shame, the guilt, and anger that infected my grandma’s life. Grandma Khanoum’s fate was not an aberration. On the contrary, tens of thousands of Armenian children and teenagers were raped and abducted, kept in slavery,” she explains. The story of Grandma’s Tattoos is a personal film about what happened to many Armenian women during the genocide. It is a ghost story—with the ghosts of the tattooed women haunting us—and a mystery film, where many taboos are broken. As no one wants to tell the reel and whole story, and in order to bring the pieces of the puzzle together, the director makes us move between different times and space, from today’s Sweden to Khardalian’s childhood in Beirut. 58 minutes.


October 31: Nosotros los Nobles (We are the Nobles) (2013)

When successful construction mogul Herman Noble accidentally stumbles onto his children’s credit card statements, he discovers they are spending money beyond control. His oldest son Javier, neglects the family business in exchange of his own ridiculous business ideas. His daughter Barbara gets engaged to a 40 year-old gigolo just to spike her father, Herman, and his youngest son Charlie was expelled from college after having sex with the teacher. Herman realizes his children are spoiled beyond redemption and decides to teach them a lesson, before its too late. Nosotros los Nobles is a 2013 Mexican comedy film directed by Gary Alazraki, the most successful Mexican film of all time. Rated: PG-13, 108 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.


CineCulture, together with Filmworks presents: Levitated Mass

November 14: Levitated Mass (2014)      

Filmworks re-ignites a centuries-old debate — “What is art?” — when it presents the American independent documentary “Levitated Mass.” The movie tells the story of a spectacle in motion: a 340-ton granite boulder is painstakingly moved from a quarry in Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then mounted atop the walls of a gigantic slot in the earth. The massive display of conceptual art, a “land sculpture” created by the reclusive and often-misunderstood artist Michael Heizer, references the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of megalithic stones to modern forms of , cutting-edge feats of engineering. The boulder’s 105-mile journey from quarry to museum draws international attention, and it challenges the imaginations of thousands of Southern Californians over the course of 10 nights in 2012, as it crawls through 22 cities aboard a football-field length, 206-wheeled trailer. From veteran filmmaker Doug Pray, who directed “Art & Copy,” “Surfwise,” and other films about unusual subcultures. Featuring an experimental score from the band Akron/Family. 89 minutes, not rated.

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November 21: Couleur de Peau: Miel (Approved for Adoption) (2012)    

Discussant: Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn

Couleur de peau: Miel was codirected by French director Laurent Boileau and Korean-born Belgian comic book artist Jung Sik-jun. It tells Jung’s own story who, as a young boy, was adopted by a Belgian family and grew up in Belgium. Based on Jung’s eponymous comic book series, this film chronicles the important moments of his childhood and adolescence and alternates between documentary footage of live action, animation sequences in 2D and 3D, and archival images.  The film received several awards in 2013 including: the Grand Prize for Animation at the Japan Media Arts Festival, and both the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the World Festival of Animated Films in Zagreb, Croatia. 75 minutes. In French and Korean with English subtitles. Trailer:


December 5: Siddharth (2013)

Discussant: Richie Mehta (Director)

After sending away his 12 year-old son Siddharth for work, Mahendra (a chain-wallah who fixes broken zippers on the streets) is relieved – his financial burdens will be alleviated. But when Siddharth fails to return home, Mahendra learns he may have been taken by child-traffickers. With little resources and no connections, he travels across India in pursuit, with the hope that whatever force arbitrarily took his child away will return him unharmed. Inspired by a true story. In Hindi with English subtitles, 96 minutes.


December 12: Bird People (2014)      

Filmworks presents the French experimental drama “Bird People,” an official selection Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The movie takes place inside a hotel at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, a sometimes dreary site of travel slowdowns and inconvenience that transforms into a place of promise and hope as it serves to bring two lost souls, Gary and Audrey, together. Fed up with the stresses of his work and home life, Gary, an American businessman en route to Dubai, views his overnight layover as an opportunity to start fresh in Europe. For Audrey, a Parisian chambermaid, the hotel is her ticket through college and an opportunity to move on from a humdrum life. As their paths cross nearer in the halls of the hotel, their lives change in an unimaginable way. Directed by French filmmaker Pascale Ferran, who previously directed the 2006 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterly.” Starring Josh Charles, Anais Demoustier, and Radha Mitchell. In French, English, and Japanese, with English subtitles. 128 minutes. Not rated.


February 20:  Field of Amapolas (Jardin the Amapolas) (2012)

Discussant: Dr. Patricia Rodriguez

Emilio and his nine-year-old son are forced to abandon their parcel of land overnight due to threats that they and the locals have been collaborating with the enemy in the guerilla war that has been ravaging rural Colombia for years. A relative helps them relocate and, despite his initial reticence, Emilio ends up working on a poppy plantation. At the heart of the story is Luisa, with whom Emilio’s son shares the secret companionship of a neighborhood dog. Filmed in the south of Colombia, near Melo Guevara’s native Ipiales, this is a film about the plight of innocent civilians displaced by war. Sitting on the fence is not an option and it is almost impossible for them not to get mixed up in illegal activities. However, the final flashback of the children leaves us with an inkling of hope for a better future. In Spanish with English subtitles. 87 minutes.


February 27: Josh/ Against the Grain (2013)

Discussant: Iram Parveen Bilal (Director)

Josh, inspired by true events, is the story of a privileged woman whose life is shattered in a single moment. It is the story of a woman in search for a dangerous truth. It is the story of the biggest challenge to Pakistan’s still reigning feudalism: the country’s youth. The film explores the internal debates the young are struggling with, and how solutions can be attainable if and when they stand united.

Fatima, a committed schoolteacher living the cosmopolitan high life in Karachi, is devastated when her nanny, Nusrat, inexplicably disappears. Though her friends and family beg her not to disturb the status quo and confront the powerful feudals in Nusrat’s village, Fatima travels there to investigate. Josh is a story of hope, of trying, of redemption. It is a story of the youth, of Pakistan, of the pain, the pleasure and the spirit of unity and independence. Ultimately, it is about “never giving up.” 103minutes, rated PG-13.


March 6: RIO 2096

Discussant: Adela Santana

Rio 2096 is an animated film with a graphic novel slant revolving around the love between an immortal hero and Janaína, the woman he has been in love with for 600 years. Luiz Bolognesi has set the story in four phases of Brazil’s history: colonization, slavery, military regime and the future, in 2096, in the midst of wars for water. The film stars the voice talents of Selton Mello and Camila Pitanga as the two main characters. The feature film also counts on the voice of Rodrigo Santoro as an Indian Chief and warrior. 98 minutes. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Co-Sponsors: Chicano & Latin American Studies and History Departments

March 13 at 5:30 & 8:30 p.m.

Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring Dr. Rose Marie Kuhn (Fresno State French Program Professor and longtime union representative with the California Faculty Association)

Fresno Filmworks will present one of the most acclaimed international movies of last year, the poignant and powerful Belgian labor drama “Two Days, One Night.” The movie, starring Oscar nominee for Best Actress, Marion Cotillard, shines a harsh and realistic light on the struggles of working-class women.

The film tells the story of Sandra, a factory worker who has just returned to her job after taking medical leave for depression. Realizing in her absence that the small company can operate with one fewer employee, management tells Sandra she may be let go. Within two days and one night, Sandra is forced to decide her fate by appealing individually to her co-workers, asking them one-by-one to give up their bonuses in order to allow her to stay. Sandra’s race against time tests the limits of a working-class community’s solidarity. Belgian filmmaker brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who are two-time winners of the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, direct. The Dardenne brothers are known for their deliberate, naturalistic movies, as they follow the lives of working-class characters. Rated PG-13, French and Arabic, with English subtitles.


March 20: Oil & Water (2014)  

Discussant: Hugo Lucitante (Student Activist featured in the film)

Oil & Water is the coming of age story of two boys as they each confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters, the prolonged contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon by Texaco and other oil companies. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his tribe, the Cofán, while David goes to Ecuador to launch the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Can Hugo become the leader his tribe so desperately wants him to be? Will David clean up one of the world’s dirtiest industries? This film is an intimate portrait of two young people finding their voices and trying to beat incredible odds. Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the people of the Amazon, but for all people around the world born with oil beneath their feet. Eight years in the making Oil & Water is a shocking and inspiring David and Goliath story. 78 minutes.


March 27: Celluloid Exiles: A Brief History of the Armenian Genocide and Diaspora on Film   

Discussant: Eric Nazarian (Director)

Director Eric Nazarian will present a historical overview of the Armenians as represented in cinema, the genesis of “Ravished Armenia,” the first film produced in Hollywood about the Genocide, and later productions of the 20th century depicting the Genocide and/or the Armenian experience of exile including the films of Elia Kazan (America, America), Atom Egoyan (Ararat) and Henry Verneuil (Mayrig). Nazarian will also screen and discuss (Bolis), a documentary short film he wrote and directed, which tells the story of Armenak Mouradian, an Armenian oud musician from the Diaspora who travels to Istanbul to find his grandfather’s oud shop and a family heirloom that disappeared during the Armenian Genocide.

Co-Sponsor: Armenian Studies Program


KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER: April 10, 5:30 & 8:45

Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring David Zellner (Director)

After the 5:30 show, join visiting filmmaker David Zellner to talk about the film. Based in Austin, Texas, Zellner often writes, directs, and co-stars with his brother Nathan in feature films, short films, and music videos. Discussion moderated by Dr. Mary Husain.

Fresno Filmworks presents the darkly comedic adventure fable “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” an American independent film starring Rinko Kikuchi. The inspiration: In 2001, an urban legend circulated online about a lonely Japanese woman who discovered a hidden copy of “Fargo” on VHS, leaving her life in Tokyo for the American Upper Midwest in a hunt for the movie’s buried treasure. The film tells the imagined story of Kumiko, a frustrated secretary whose imagination transcends the confines of her mundane life. She becomes obsessed with a mysterious, battered copy of the Coen brothers classic—a fictional movie she mistakes for a documentary— fixating on one scene where a suitcase of stolen cash is buried in the desolate landscape of rural North Dakota. Believing the treasure to be real, Kumiko plunges herself into a wild and dangerous odyssey unlike anything she has seen in the movies. The visually stunning and strangely touching underdog story is written and directed by indie filmmaker brothers David and Nathan Zellner, stars of numerous award-winning shorts and the 2012 Sundance hit “Kid-Thing,” with a surreal lead performance from Kikuchi, a 2006 Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress in “Babel.” Featuring an electronic score from The Octopus Project. In English and Japanese, with English subtitles. Not rated. 105 minutes.


April 17: The Hunting Ground (2015)

Discussant: Kirby Dick (Director)

From the team behind THE INVISIBLE WAR, comes a startling exposé of rape crimes on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. Weaving together verité footage and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors as they pursue their education while fighting for justice — despite harsh retaliation, harassment and pushback at every level. 90 minutes.


April 24: Omar (2013)

Discussant: Dr. Richard Falk

Winner of the Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard, at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and also a Best Foreign Language Film nominee at the 2014 Academy Awards, “Omar,” directed by Hany Abu-Assad, unfolds as a gripping thriller about betrayal—both suspected and real—in the Occupied Territories. The movie follows the story of Omar, a Palestinian baker by day who routinely evades surveillance bullets and climbs over the separation wall to visit his secret love, Nadia. By night, however, Omar acts as a freedom fighter alongside childhood friends Amjad and Tarek to strike at the Israeli military. After being arrested in the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant, which leads him into a game of cat-and-mouse with the military police. Unsure of who he can trust on either side, Omar’s feelings begin to mirror that of his country: deeply torn and conflicted. It soon becomes evident, though, that he survives for his love of Nadia. In Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles. Not rated. 98 minutes.


May 1: The Golden Dream  (La jaula de oro) (2013)

Discussant: Dr. Adán Avalos

Juan, Sara and Samuel, all 15 years old, flee from Guatemala towards the USA. On their journey through Mexico they meet Chauk, a Tzotzil Indian who does not speak Spanish and has no official documents. They all believe they will find a better world beyond the USA-Mexico border but they run into a harsh reality. 108 minutes. In Spanish and Tzotzil with English subtitles.


THE WRECKING CREW: May 8, 5:30 & 8:45

Post Screening Discussion Circle following the 5:30 featuring Denny Tedesco (Director)

After the early show, visiting filmmaker and director Denny Tedesco will speak about his father’s legacy and about the decades of inspiration behind the film. Based in Los Angeles, Tedesco has worked as a set designer, lighting technician and location producer. Discussion moderated by Dr. Mary Husain.

Fresno Filmworks will present one of the greatest underdog stories in documentary history: the story of “The Wrecking Crew,” the group of unsung musicians behind the most popular artists of a generation, including Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and more than a dozen icons of American pop music.

The movie, directed by first-time filmmaker Denny Tedesco, tells the behind-the-scenes tale of The Wrecking Crew, which included one of the greatest session guitarists in history, his father Tommy Tedesco. In the 1960s and early ’70s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to recordings made by The Wrecking Crew for six years in a row. The music they made defined the “West Coast Sound,” which became a dominant cultural force around the world. The film includes interviews with Brian Wilson, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Gary Lewis, and Crew members themselves. Rated P.G. 101 minutes.

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August 28th: Aram, Aram

Discussant: Christopher Chambers (Director)

Aram, Aram is the first American independent dramatic film to take movie viewers inside the Armenian Community of Los Angeles.  Indeed, a tragic accident uproots Aram, a 12-year-old Armenian boy, from his idyllic Beirut childhood, sending him to live with his grandfather in Los Angeles. Aram begins a new routine at his grandfather’s humble shoe repair shop and becomes friends with a young Latina from the neighborhood market. Lured by a gangster’s bravado to unite Armenians against the neighborhood Latino thugs, Aram is drawn into a dangerous urban culture that clashes with his grandfather’s values. Aram struggles to make sense of his new surroundings, his soulful eyes conveying a deep internal conflict between mourning for his old life and forging a new independent identity. Featuring well-known Armenian talent, first time director Christopher Chambers’ moving film portrays the complexities of life within the insular enclave of Little Armenia. 85 minutes. In English and Armenian with English subtitles.

sweet dreams

September 4: Sweet Dreams

Discussant: Lisa Fruchtman (Director)

Rwanda suffered a devastating genocide in 1994.  Close to a million were killed by neighbors, friends and even family members. Horror swept through the entire country. And when it was over, those who remained were broken, dead inside. The country has made great strides in economic recovery, but “people are not like roads and buildings” says Kiki Katese, a pioneering Rwandan theater director. “How do we rebuild a human being?” Kiki decided to start Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe, open to women from both sides of the conflict. There was only one requirement: to leave the categories of the past at the gate. For the women—orphans, widows, wives and children of perpetrators—the group has been a place to begin to live again, to build new relationships, to heal the wounds of the past. Yet the struggle to survive and provide for their families still persists. So when Kiki came up with the idea to open Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop, the women were intrigued … What was ice cream exactly and how would they do it? Kiki invited Jennie and Alexis of Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream to come to Rwanda to help the drummers open their shop, which they aptly named Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams). Sweet Dreams follows this remarkable group of Rwandan women as they emerge from the devastation of the genocide to create a new future for themselves. “Because of our history, people know how to fight against, but not for,” Kiki says. “We want to change that equation.” 89 minutes, in Kinyarwanda with English subtitles.

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September 11: Filmworks: The Wandering Muse      

On the anniversary of Sept. 11, Filmworks presents a film directed by Tamás Wormser about resilience and togetherness: the independent documentary The Wandering Muse. This movie tells the story of wandering Jewish musicians, who, for millennia, as reluctant nomads, have used their music instruments as passports to the world. In an Argentine bar, two friends play tango-infused klezmer. In rural Uganda, villagers chant Hebrew prayers in East African harmonies. At a Montreal party, an artist mixes hip-hop and jazz with cantorial singing in a multilingual tour-de-force. And in a Berlin apartment, an American harmonizes with a Russian in a rendition of an anti-Zionist song from the 1920s. From ram’s horn to beatbox, director Tamás Wormser examines a kaleidoscope of Jewish identities through the invigorating and ever-changing music of the Jewish diaspora. 93 minutes, in nine different languages, with English subtitles. Not rated.

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September 18: Brahmin Bulls

Discussant: Mahesh Pailoor (Director)

For Sid Sharma, life has not quite worked out the way he planned. A thirty-something disillusioned architect struggling to save his failing marriage, Sid stumbles through his days on a self-destructive path while holding his wife’s beloved cat hostage. Meanwhile Ashok, Sid’s estranged and widowed father living in Boston, decides to make a last-minute trip to LA for an academic conference. When Ashok arrives at Sid’s doorstep unannounced, the two men begin a journey to mend their strained relationship until Sid discovers the true purpose behind his father’s visit – a woman with whom he had an affair, years ago. Starring Sendhil Ramamurthy, Roshan Seth, Academy Award winner Mary Steenburgen, Justin Bartha, and Academy Award nominated Michael Lerner, Brahmin Bulls is a heartfelt and humorous look at the ever-evolving relationship between a father and son, the women in their lives, and the powerful secrets they keep. 96 minutes.


*September 25: Leviathan

Discussant: Dr. Michelle DenBeste

Screening at 5 p.m.

The latest drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the acclaimed director of The Return (Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner and Golden Globe nominee) was nominated for Best Foreign Film of the Year at the 2015 Academy Awards. Kolya (AlexeÏ Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (SergueÏ Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. The town’s corrupt mayor Vadim Shelevyat (Roman Madianov) is determined to take away his business, his house, as well as his land. First the Mayor tries buying off Kolya, but Kolya unflinchingly fights as hard as he can so as not to lose everything he owns including the beauty that has surrounded him from the day he was born. Rated R, in Russian with English subtitles, 140 minutes.

Sponsor: History Department

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October 9: Filmworks: The Great Man

The French drama, “The Great Man,” an international festival favorite, tells the story of French Foreign Legion soldiers Hamilton and Markov. While finishing their five years of service with a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, the inseparable friends are ambushed during a unofficial expedition, leaving Hamilton seriously wounded. Despite saving Hamilton’s life, Markov — an undocumented Chechen immigrant — is dishonorably discharged and left adrift in Paris, struggling to reconnect and provide for his son, Khadji. When Markov is killed in an unexpected accident, Hamilton is served by conscience to look after the kid of the man who saved his life. This intimate drama is a powerful story about friendship and solidarity and takes a closer look at how men try to piece their lives back together when they’ve been shattered by war. Directed by breakout French filmmaker Sarah Leonor, whose work has been compared to Claire Denis and Michael Haneke, and starring Jérémie Renier. In French and Chechen with English subtitles. 107 minutes.

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October 16: The Second Mother

Discussant: Dr. Maria-Aparecida Lopes

An excitingly fresh take on some classic themes and ideas, The Second Mother centers round Val, a hard-working live-in housekeeper in modern day Sao Paulo. Val is perfectly content to take care of every one of her wealthy employers’ needs, from cooking and cleaning to being a surrogate mother to their teenage son, who she has raised since he was a toddler. But when Val’s estranged daughter Jessica suddenly shows up the unspoken but intrinsic class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray. Jessica is smart, confident, and ambitious, and refuses to accept the upstairs/downstairs dynamic, testing relationships and loyalties and forcing everyone to reconsider what family really means. Brazil’s Oscar nomination for Best Foreign language film. In Portuguese with English subtitles, rated R, 112 minutes.