Film has long been a powerful medium for social justice. For the next 10 months, Pittsburgh will play host to a first-of-its-kind film series that uses cinema to spark conversations—and inspire action—around social, political and economic change. From September 2016 through June 2017, one film will be shown each month at the Eddy Theatre on Chatham University’s Shadyside campus.
Teaming up to present the new Just Films series are four regional organizations deeply committed to women, girls, gender equity and social justice—the Chatham University Women’s Institute, New Voices Pittsburgh, Women and Girls Foundation, and Women’s Law Project.
Free and open to the public, the monthly series features 10 new social justice films—most showing in Pittsburgh for the first time and many made by women.
Accompanying the films are post-screening panel discussions and talk-back sessions featuring local and national figures.
The inaugural film festival explores a wide range of issues—from immigration and human trafficking, to trans families and paid leave—all selected to educate, inspire, challenge and empower viewers.
Don’t miss the kick-off on September 15 at 6:15 p.m., when the series presents Mikaela Shwer’s poignant documentary, Don’t Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie). Focusing on 24-year-old immigrant activist Angy Rivera—who shares her “parallel journey of coming out of the shadows as undocumented and a survivor of sexual abuse”—the film premiered as part of PBS’s 2015 POV series.
Audiences will follow Angy’s personal story from poverty in rural Colombia to the front page of The New York Times, as she becomes “a beacon in a movement for national change.” Featuring verite footage and candid interviews, the film helps to give voice to real struggles faced by nearly 11 million undocumented people in America.
Don’t Tell Anyone will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Christina Castro (Women’s Law Project), Maria Duarte (Chatham student), Monica Ruiz (Casa San Jose Latino Community Organization), and Sister Janice Vanderneck (Casa San Jose).
Not to miss is a special Just Films event on Thursday, October 27 featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. Taking place at 6:30 p.m. in Chatham’s Campbell Memorial Chapel, the event will feature the Pittsburgh premiere of the new award-winning documentary film, Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil, made by local filmmakers Donna C. Roberts and Donna Read. Narrated by Walker—the fascinating film documents the Candomblé spiritual culture of Bahia, Brazil. In the stunning film, elder women leaders share stories exploring Candomblé’s history, social challenges, triumphs, strong sense of community, and Earth-based wisdom and practices. Joining Walker and Roberts for the event’s special post-screening panel discussion will be Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding, a scholar of Indigenous spiritual traditions and Candomblé priestesses at the University of Colorado.
The compelling film series concludes June 15 with Sharon Shattuck’s documentary, From This Day Forward. The moving portrayal chronicles the experiences of an American family coping with a highly personal transformation—when the director’s own father comes out as transgender and transitions to female.