Tribeca Film Festival: A Rundown of 6 Documentary Shorts

A still from “For Flint”

The Tribeca Film Festival always provides a wealth of documentaries that highlight injustices around the world or give us insight into real people. Sometimes, a filmmaker makes a short in an effort to raise money for a full-length feature. Other times, the subject matter simply doesn’t merit a longer film but is still worth communicating.

Below is a rundown of six documentary shorts that I got to see during this year’s festival:

“For Flint” – Rather than focus on economic issues or contaminated water, filmmaker Brian Schulz focused on three residents who are doing what they can to make life in Flint better. Ryan Gregory is an artist who uses found objects and enlists the community to create art pieces together. He wants residents to see the possibilities in everything. Valorie Horton, a former General Motors employee, became a full-time potter and formed the Chosen Few Arts Council to make sure Flint students received art and music education. Leon El-Alamin, a former drug dealer and prison inmate, started the M.A.D.E. Institute (Money Attitude Direction Education) to help ex-convicts and at-risk youth.

“Love the Sinner” – This 16-minute documentary by Geeta Gandbhir and Jessica Devaney investigates the evangelical roots of homophobia. The short includes footage of the aftermath of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, and the title refers to the saying, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.”

“Mother’s Day” – This is a heart-wrenching short about children visiting their mothers behind bars. A bus takes them to see their moms, and we watch as they have a play day at the prison, followed by the tearful goodbyes. It shows the effects of incarceration on the young people who are left without their parents. Directed by Elizabeth Lo and R.J. Lozada.

“Revolving Doors” – This is another short that shows the effects of incarceration on families and highlights how difficult it is for former prisoners to make it on the outside and avoid the revolving doors of repeated jail time. We’re introduced to Jason, who struggled to find work after his time in prison. Then, unable to support his family, he turned to crime again out of desperation. The film was made over a span of two years and directed by James Burns, who served a 12-year sentence himself.

From “Water Warriors”: In response to a court ruling that banned protest near SWN worksites, a multi-cultural group of land protectors blockade Rt 126, blocking Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicles, burning tires and shale gas exploration equipment. The few regional highways are major arteries for local traffic and the most direct routes through the thick forest. They provide an efficient thoroughfare for SWN to collect seismic data on the amount of natural gas hiding in the underground shale formations. On October 17, 2013, anti-fracking protests turned violent when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the encampment that had been peacefully blockading SWN’s equipment, preventing them from doing seismic testing- a prelude to fracking. The RCMP arrested 40 people while torched police cars sent clouds of black smoke into the air. Police pepper sprayed elders from Elsipogtog, fired sock rounds to control the crowd, and an RCMP officer was infamously recorded shouting “Crown land belongs to the government, not to fucking natives.” The community responded by steadfastly maintaining encampments in key locations to disrupt any attempted work by SWN. On December 6, 2013 SWN pulled out and ended their operations in New Brunswick. Community members believe they will return, and that the fight is far from over.

“Water Warriors” – In 2013, a Texas company began to explore natural gas resources in New Brunswick, Canada. A group of First Nation activists responded, setting up road blockades to try to prevent the contamination of their water sources. It took a while, but they managed to halt the drilling and get a moratorium on fracking in their area. This 22-minute film is about these activists and what resistance can accomplish. Directed by Rachel Falcone.


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