A very big thank you to all of the filmmakers and participants of the First Annual Spotlight on Academics Film Festival! Despite Covid restrictions, we were able to host a successful virtual event, meet interesting and like-minded people, and watch some great films!
See you next year!
A Fine and Private Place | 12min | Bahrain
Director Jason Carter
Writer and storyteller Steve Stickley asks why we find it difficult to face death, grief and bereavement
A Hundred Year Journey/Sadan vuoden matka | 51min | Finland
Director Antti Seppänen
The film A Hundred Year Journey is based on a project by the Helinä Rautavaara Museum. It documents a rare encounter between cultural objects, the heirs of their original owners and creators, and two museums.
A Piece of Land | 3min | Iraq
Director Ranja Ali
Ahmed flees his war-torn homeland of Syria and is discriminated against in his new place of residence, Iraq, where he loses many of the rights he once had.
Abandominium | 26min | United States
Director Greg Scott
An observational ethnographic documentary film about daily domestic life among four heroin-dependent people who live together in an abandoned building on Chicago’s west side.
Acts of Resistance: Heavy Metal Music in Latin America | 70min | United States
Director Nelson Varas-Díaz
A documentary focusing on how metal music in Latin America engages in the social transformation of its context. The film focuses on Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala.
And Today We Remember Them/Y hoy somos recordados | 55min | Honduras
Director Camilo Pauck
In the 1970s, in Juticalpa, Olancho, a battle is fought over ownership of the land. […] When no agreement was reached, between 1972 and 1975 the massacres of La Talanquera, Santa Clara and Los Horcones took place, events that remained in complete impunity. Fifty years later, land continues to be the fundamental problem of the peasantry.
The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning | 52min | Canada
Director Mark Terry
An examination of the impacts of climate change on Antarctica’s land and wildlife.
Arena | 33min | Denmark
Director Ricardo Leon
‘Arena’ is the story of the resource struggle of a small Afro-descendant village in western Colombia. Surrounded by sugarcane plantations to all sides, the villagers base their livelihoods on manual sand extraction in the nearby river, supplying materials to local and regional construction markets. The river constitutes a fundamental pillar in the village; it is from this that they draw meaning and sustain their community life. To secure their right to the resource, the villagers have several times sought to formalise their activity, but without success. However, a competing mining claim is threatening their livelihoods and claimant has now been granted extraction rights by the national mining authorities. ‘Arena’ follows the villagers as they mobilise and appeal to the government institutions to defend their livelihoods and their fundamental rights to work, territory, cultural integrity, and a dignified life.
Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother | 69min | United States
Director Matej Silecky
The little-known story of Ukrainian children torn from their homes in the crush between the Nazi and Soviet fronts in World War II. Spending their childhood as refugees in Europe, these inspiring individuals later immigrated to the United States, creating new homes and communities through their grit, faith and deep belief in the importance of preserving culture.
Being Haddie | 6min | Liberia
Director Jason Carter
Meet Haddie, a Liberian American girl living in Bahrain and her attitude towards her disability, Cerebral Palsy. Haddie’s goal is to reach out to families of people with disability and let them know that, they are not alone.
Belle-Ile In Acadie/Belle-Ile En Acadie | 26min | Canada
Director Phil Comeau
Acadians from Belle-Ile-en-Mer, France, visit Canada to meet their “cousins” with whom they share a common culture and history. […] This film is about exile, the power of memory and finding your roots.
Bones of Contention | 75min | United States
Director Andrea Weiss
Bones of Contention is the first nonfiction film to explore the theme of historical memory in Spain, focusing on the repression and survival of the LGBTQ community under Franco.
Borderland Memories | 61min | Canada
Director Edie Steiner
Borderland Memories explores post-Holocaust German identity, merging the filmmaker’s family history in the post-WW2 forced migrations in Eastern Europe with contemporary discourses around immigration, kinship, and belonging.
Camp Diaries | 14min | United States
Director William Noland
Juxtaposing archival moving images with the piercing photographs of Dorothea Lange, Camp Diaries examines Japanese-American internment more than 75 years after the fact, courting echos of the hysteria of post-9/11 actions and, more recently, the traitorous insurrection of 2021.
The Changing Face of Iceland | 52min | Canada
Director Mark Terry
The recent eruptions of Mount Fagradalsfjall are the result of several environmental and geological changes taking place in Iceland. Many of these changes are caused by the impacts of climate change on this island nation. This film examines these changes as well as their influence on Iceland’s wildlife, economy, and people.
Dancing Manilenyos | 20min | Philippines
Director Patrick Alcedo
In Manila, a group of young Filipinos dream of making it big in the ballet world. […] Amidst Manila’s disparate social class, ballet teacher Luther hopes to lift his students out of poverty through artistic and life skills one learns from dancing.
Fake | 8min | United States
Director Alan J. Chriest
Human bias plays an important role in manipulating information.
Fem’s Way | 31min | United Kingdom
Director Btihaj Ajana
Weaving together personal narratives and scholarly accounts from a feminist sex performer (Kali Sudhra), a political activist (Emma Holten), a porn scholar (Rebecca Saunders) and a sex shop owner (Sandra Crespo), the film, Fem’s Way, examines the politics and ethics of the Fem Porn industry as well as its contentious relation to capital and market ethos.
Finding My Roots: Tale of Two Carries | 16min | United States
Director Carrie Bernans
Carrie Annie Bernans, named after her grandma Carrie and great-grandma Carrie, is on a quest to “find her roots.” She takes a trip with her grandma from Memphis, TN to the Mississippi Delta and stops at places in between to learn how her grandma raised 10 children including her mom in one of the poorest counties in the U.S. at that time, discovering common traits, and share the emotional experience with viewers.
Foreign Puzzle | 69min | United States
Director Chithra Jeyaram
Foreign Puzzle is an intimate documentary that captures the journey of an inspiring Mexican American dancer as she communicates the impermanence of life through dance while juggling the roles of a recently divorced parent of a 6-year-old, a choreographer and a primary school teacher amidst intensive treatments for breast cancer.
Galo Preto Coletivo | 15min | Canada
Director Sarah Shamash
A portrait of the creative collaboration between two Latin American artists and their collective desire to make visible Latin American centric currents of thought, art marking, and political realities.
The Gig is Up | 88min | Canada
Director Shannon Walsh
A very human tech doc, THE GIG IS UP uncovers the real costs of the platform economy through the lives of workers from around the world for companies including Uber, Amazon and Deliveroo.
High Tide Don’t Hide* | 83min | New Zealand
Co-directors Niva Kay, Emily McDowell, Nia Phipps, Phil Stebbing
In the race for existence, striking teenagers discover that activism, authority and awareness make for a steep learning curve. *This film is only available for viewing in Canada
Ignacio’s Legacy | 53min | Norway
Director Titus Fossgard-Moser
Ignacio’s Legacy documents the return of the award winning UK documentary film maker Brian Moser and the anthropologists Christine and Stephen Hugh-Jones to Colombian Amazon to show and return the films he made there over a fifty year period as well as explore changes to the Barasana and Makuna indigenous communities during this time period.
Inside/Outside | 90min | United States
Director Nandini Sikand
Inside/Outside is a feature length documentary film about women and mass incarceration in the United States as they struggle with the challenges of sexual assault, substance abuse and often, motherhood.
Keepers of the Shy Place | 15min | United States
Director Gianna Savoie
On the tiny island of St. Paul, Alaska, marine debris is taking its toll on the ecosystem and wildlife — especially the northern fur seal, a species of enormous cultural significance to the Unungan people who call this place home. Join the members of this resilient community as they confront this challenge with action and profound wisdom in order to protect the vast ocean wilderness that defines them, feeds them, and is quickly and irrefutably changing.
La Flor Settlers/Colonos de la Flor | 60min| Argentina
Director Florencia Bohtlingk
Portrait of a small farming and herding village in Misiones jungle, Argentina. Testimonies of the arrival to the place with little or almost nothing, are mixed with affective histories and the daily tasks of food provision. “La Flor Settlers” is a pictorial and human documentary about the feeling of belonging and the struggle for the land.
“Lady Susan,” Missing Masterpiece by Jane Austen | 18min | United States
Director Michelle Lambeau
The strange destiny and literary merit of Jane Austen’s stunning first novel, ‘LADY SUSAN,’ which was very nearly lost forever
Many Roots One Law/Des racines une loi | 37min | France
Director Véronique Duchesne
This film presents different actors who intervene in the African therapeutic arena where medical In Côte d’Ivoire, the vote of the 16 July 2015’s law represents an important step for traditional medicine practitioners’ recognition and integration in the health system.
María | 20min | Argentina
Directors Gisela Gorbalan, Florencia Bohtlingk
The dynamics between Integration and Tradition. A strong community helps but enforces ancestral codes. A new country that demands individual and modern decisions.
No Page for Dalits | 5min | India
Directors Wesley Shrum, Antony Palackal
India’s “untouchable” caste has experienced a period of discrimination lasting most of recorded history. This short film shows what its members do today, though oppression endures, even in marriage advertisements, where “Dalits have no page.”
No Place to Grow | 27min | United States
Director Michelle E. Aguilar
No Place to Grow follows a group of Latinx farmers who find themselves representing a movement to save the last green space centered within a neighborhood facing gentrification in Santa Cruz, Ca. Over time we find out what happens when migrated farming traditions intersect with the “urban growth machine”. Set in a small city known for its liberal ideology, a community becomes conflicted as the fate of the garden is in jeopardy.
QueerEdge: From Gay to Queer Liberation | 75min | Canada
Director Dr. Nick Mule
From historical referencing to contemporary and modern day issues affecting the LGBTQ communities, revealed is an internal divide between those who have sought and are content with equality and those who continue to fight for liberation.
Rasa Dari Tari/The Soul of Dance | 26min | United States
Director Mark Freeman
The SOUL OF DANCE is an introduction to the vibrant diversity of contemporary dance in Indonesia.
Rastas’ Journey ‘Home’ | 40min | Australia
Director Maria Stratford
Rastas’ Journey ‘Home’ is a documentary that explores the process of returning to one’s roots and through interviews with members of the Rasta community reveals the conflicted emotions that they experience in their new homeland of Ethiopia.
Smart Home for Seniors | 32min | Australia
Director Sarah Pink
Smart Homes for Seniors joins a group of elders in regional Australia on their 6 month journey of living with smart home technologies, in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SOLEDAD | 24min | United States
Director Lisa Molomot
Soledad weaves live action and animation to tell the story of a woman from Central America who fled gang violence to seek asylum in the US.
Sparo: A Political Portrait | 55min | United States
Director Danny Hoffman
“Sparo” is a film ethnography of politics in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, seen through a former militia leader’s long-shot vice presidential campaign.
Still Here: Still Strong! | 16min | Canada
Director Lisa Anne Ross
This short film shows how social science research findings in the form of I-Poetry verses can be brought to life through theatre to educate and to engage both performers and audiences. The poems reproduced in Still Here, Still Strong highlight the ageing adults’ voices regarding the tensions between the cultural expectations associated with versus the day-to-day lived reality of “being old.”
Thinking with the Hands/Das denkende Tun der Hände | 9min | Austria
Director Mersolis Schöne
A short ethnographic documentary dedicated to the involvement of physicality in scientific knowledge production.
Time to Re-Wonder | 4min | United Kingdom
Director Jason Carter
A creative response to the current global situation.
What Language has to say: A film about language, work and diversity/Hva språk har å si – En film om språk, mangfold og arbeid | 29min | Norway
Director Anwar Saab
The film explores multiple aspects of multilingualism in the workplace and how these relate to each other.
Women on Both Sides of the Camera | 95min | United Kingdom
Director Mahshad Afshar
Women representation in Iranian cinema and one century of struggle, compliance and censorship. A story told through the lens of women.
Your Mother’s Comfort/Aconchego de tua Mãe | 79min | United States
Director Adam Golub
Trans activist and politician Indianara Siqueira is the mother of a homeless shelter for trans sex workers in the center of Rio de Janeiro and as Brazilian democracy crumbles, she fights to save her community from the uncertain streets.
YOUTH v GOV | 110min | United States
Director Christi Cooper
YOUTH v GOV follows 21 young Americans suing the world’s most powerful government to protect their constitutional rights to a stable climate. If they win, they will change the future.