Who’s Afraid of the Big Red Panda?

By Mihaela Mihailova

On paper, Pixar’s Turning Red, a film about a thirteen-year-old Chinese Canadian girl whose entry into puberty causes her to transform into a large red panda every time she feels a strong emotion, is not for (or about) me. I am not of Chinese descent. I did not grow up in Toronto (or in North America, for that matter). My parents are not immigrants (I am). I have yet to transform into a large beast, unless we count persistent pandemic weight gain. More importantly, I am not one of Oscar-winning director Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members. 

TURNING RED

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I Didn’t See You There

By C.J. Hirschfield

April 27, 2022

A monument to circus showman P.T. Barnum stands in Reid Davenport’s hometown of Bethel, Connecticut. “He got a pedestal,” says the director of I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE, the new documentary at the 65th SFFILM Festival, while the disabled filmmaker’s perspective is from the sidewalk. The film, a meditative and personal feature that invites the viewer to see the world through his eyes—and at his level– often refers to the corrosive legacy of Barnum’s freak shows and how society relates to those who are different.

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American Justice on Trial

By C.J. Hirschfield

April 21, 2022 (updated April 23)

Just as the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary ATTICA effectively used historical footage and interviews with key participants to illustrate our country’s history of systemic racism, so too does the excellent new documentary AMERICAN JUSTICE ON TRIAL.

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The Inspiration for the Film “My Vote Registration Vanished in 2016” 

By Ashia Lance

It’s true – in 2016, I went to vote at the same polling place where I’d voted for a decade and had received a postcard in the mail confirming I was registered.  This time when I went to vote, I was told my name wasn’t on the voter rolls and was asked if I wanted a provisional ballot.  Reluctantly,  I voted with a provisional ballot because I knew a dirty little secret about us voting: provisional ballots do not have to be counted.  Whether a provisional ballot is counted varies according to county practices, and some practices can be biased.

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A Few Nickels in the Slot Buys You Lunch at the Automat

By Gaetano Kazuo Maida

April 1, 2022

A film that starts off with the instantly recognizable dulcet tones of Mel Brooks gushing, “one of the greatest inventions, insane centers of paradise…” is irresistible even if you’ve never heard of the Automat. For those of us of a certain age from New York or Philadelphia (and yes, I’m one: born and raised in New York, with family in Philly), the Horn & Hardart Automat was a unifying experience of childhood delight and teenage necessity. You didn’t need a lot of money to eat, just a handful of nickels… In its heyday (1920s to the 1970s) it was, in just two cities, the largest restaurant chain in the country by any measure, at one point in the 1940s serving fully 10% of the population of Philadelphia. Continue reading

This Ocean Film Festival Does More Than See the Sea

By Nancy Friedman

April 1, 2022

Here’s what you can expect at any film festival: new films, fun swag, revealing Q&A sessions with filmmakers, stimulating conversations in the lobby or in the line for the restrooms. At the International Ocean Film Festival—North America’s oldest and largest ocean film festival–you can expect all that and something more: a call to action.

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