The Heartland Film Fest is underway and included in this year’s lineup of American and International films are ones that cater to the African-American community. Below is a synopsis of a few films that can be seen in theatres across Indianapolis.
“Crime After Crime”
Crime After Crime tells the dramatic story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. Over 26 years in prison could not crush the spirit of this determined African-American woman, despite the wrongs she suffered, first at the hands of a duplicitous boyfriend who beat her and forced her into prostitution, and later by prosecutors who used the threat of the death penalty to corner her into a life behind bars for her connection to the murder of her abuser.
Filmed over four years, from the dilapidated cement courts of Senegal to upscale American prep schools, “Elevate” documents the personal journeys of four West African Muslim teenagers. Recruited for both their physical and academic skills, Assane, Dethie, Byago and Aziz accept basketball scholarships to schools in the U.S. – and face the daunting challenges of alienation, a foreign language, American-style basketball and an unfamiliar American culture rife with African stereotypes. But with courage, humor, and remarkable resilience, they relentlessly pursue their dreams – to obtain an education and a shot at the NBA.
Charismatic but troubled Tyree fights the odds of academic failure at a strict new inner city school. As teachers struggle to help this 7th grader succeed, life outside the classroom door soon puts everyone to the test.
Kofi, a Ghanaian in New York City, works in an advertising agency’s mail room office and has a big idea, but sharing it tests the integrity of his friendships and puts his job at risk.
“My Last Day Without You”
When a young business executive, Niklas, is sent from Frankfurt to New York to shut down a division of his firm, he doesn’t realize his life is about to be turned upside-down. By 9:30 a.m. he has done what he was asked to do. But his flight back home doesn’t leave for another 11 hours. In this time, seemingly by chance, he meets and falls for Leticia, a beautiful African-American secretary and aspiring singer. The film mines the humor and conflict that arises when two individuals – seemingly so different – are thrown together by a force they fight but ultimately cannot control…love.
“The Loving Story”
A racially-charged criminal trial and a heart-rending love story converge in this documentary about Richard and Mildred Loving, set during the turbulent Civil Rights era. The Lovings, an interracial couple, fell in love and married at a critical time in American history, and, because of a confluence of social and political turmoil our reluctant heroes bring about change where previously no one else could. They are paired with two young and ambitious lawyers who are driven to pave the way for Civil Rights and social justice through an historic Supreme Court ruling, changing the country’s story forever.
“The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History”
Destroyed in a dramatic and highly-publicized implosion, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex has become a widespread symbol of failure amongst architects, politicians and policy makers. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth explores the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of conventional public housing in America, and the city centers in which they resided, while tracing the personal and poignant narratives of several of the project’s residents. In the post-War years, the American city changed in ways that made it unrecognizable from a generation earlier, privileging some and leaving others in its wake. The next time the city changes, remember Pruitt-Igoe.
Vibrations is the story of twelve deaf students at the Indiana School for the Deaf. With the aid of a massive sound system, and energetic beats, this group of grade and high school students choreograph and perform an inspiring dance show that displays that the Deaf can do everything that hearing people can, except hear.
“Why I Write: The Twin Poets”
Why I Write chronicles the lives and work of the Twin Poets, Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Albert Mills. Artists and social workers, these identical twin brothers recoiled from a high profile life in the entertainment industry, opting instead to devote their lives to saving children. Most often, they work with young people living in the Riverside housing projects, where gun violence, drug culture, and an overriding sense of failure result in the arrested development, disproportionate incarceration and even death of a high number of young residents.
In “Zero Percent,” we are given rare access behind the walls of the notorious Sing Sing Correctional facility as we follow the lives of several of society’s forgotten men as they experience the transformative power of education.
Attending a rigorous college program called Hudson Link, we follow men on the inside as well as those who have finished the program and now have returned to society with a strong desire to serve the communities that they formerly hurt.
The Heartland Film Festival will conclude Oct. 22. For more information on these films, visit www.trulymovingpictures.org.