Heather Courtney & Anayansi Prado | Los Angeles, CA | 87 min
Shot over a period of four years, this observational documentary feature follows Alejandro, Silvia, and Aldo, three DACA recipients for whom attending college in their home state of Georgia is all but impossible, given the government’s refusal to grant them entry or offer in-state tuition. Rather than giving in, the three students deftly navigate the political maelstrom that surrounds them, not only fighting for their own rights but for the rights of their families and their communities as well.
Josh Gibson | Durham, NC | 60 min
Genre: Narrative, Experimental
In an empty world, a solitary woman mechanically follows the protocols of a factory hog farm. Her labors are sporadically punctuated by musical rhapsodies as she moves toward the impending end. Is it the end of the world, a program malfunction, or the beginning of a film? Indie Grits alum Josh Gibson returns to this year’s festival with this striking experimental feature.
Rodrigo Dorfman | Durham, NC | 61 min
“No guacamole for immigrant haters.” That’s the message New Orleans-based performance activist José Torres-Tama hopes to spread through his Revolutionary Taco Truck Theatre. Drawing its title from musician Woody Guthrie’s famous motto, This Taco Truck Kills Fascists is the true story of an immigrant artist of color struggling to raise his two boys–and to champion the voices of the marginalized–in Trump’s America.
Hao Zhang | Beijing, China | 83 min
In this engaging documentary self-portrait, engineer-turned-filmmaker Hao Zhang, a recent transplant to the United States, finds solace in the company of a devout group of fellow Chinese expats, who–in the heart of the Bible Belt South–have embraced an evangelical Christian faith seemingly at odds with their roots. Gimme a Faith premiered at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival.
Nicholas Manting Brewer | Los Angeles, CA | 38 min
This timely documentary feature–a lyrical exploration of indifference and isolation in today’s divided political climate–zeroes in on a poverty-stricken community in rural Georgia that plays host to one of America’s largest immigrant detention centers.
Jacqueline Olive | Wilmington, NC | 88 min
“How far would you go to get to the truth?” That’s the question Claudia, mother of the late Lennon Lacy, puts to viewers of this elegiac documentary feature, a study of lingering historic traumas and their effect on the present day. Though authorities ruled Lennon’s death by hanging a suicide, Claudia–an African-American woman and longtime North Carolina resident–suspects it was a racially motivated lynching. Always in Seasonpremiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency.
Emily Harrold | New York, NY | 72 min
What does it mean to be young, Black, and a Democrat in the heart of the American South? That’s the question at the center of Indie Grits alum Emily Harrold’s warm documentary portrait of Bakari Sellers. A rising star in the progressive political establishment, Sellers’ 2014 bid to become South Carolina’s lieutenant governor–as well as his activism following the shooting deaths of the Emmanuel 9 in Charleston–serve as the backdrop for this moving feature.
Andrea Patiño Contreras & Almudena Toral | Miami, FL | 39 min
It’s been a decade since Postville, Iowa suffered the largest immigration raid at a worksite in US history–389 immigrants were arrested in the biggest kosher meatpacking plant in the country. As Donald Trump revives aspects of George W. Bush’s immigration enforcement policies, this documentary feature sheds light on the repercussions of such massive raids. America First marks the return of Indie Grits alum Andrea Patiño Contreras to this year’s festival.
Jon Kasbe | New York, NY | 76 min
From the producers of the Oscar-nominated Cartel Land, this riveting documentary feature (directed by Indie Grits alum Jon Kasbe) follows a small-time ivory dealer in the Kenyan bush, who fights to stay on top while forces mobilize to destroy his trade. When he turns to his younger cousin, a conflicted wildlife ranger who hasn’t been paid in months, they both see a possible lifeline.
Khalik Allah | New York, NY | 77 min
Soulful and profound, filmmaker Khalik Allah (co-director of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade) offers a stark meditation on faith and Jamaican identity in Black Mother, juxtaposing scenes of the country’s churches and holy spaces with those of its sex workers, and presenting a series of searingly powerful images that will burn themselves into your memory.
Georg Koszulinski | Wilmington, NC | 85 min
Indie Grits alum Georg Koszulinski returns to this year’s festival with White Ravens, a contemplative documentary feature about the indigenous Haida Gwaii people of British Columbia. Told from the perspective of a young Haida poet, White Ravens bears witness to the transgenerational trauma of colonization as survivors, their children, and grandchildren struggle with the effects of substance abuse, suicide, and interfamily trauma.
Jon Strong | Orlando, FL | 88 min
In 1955, when racial segregation defined the South, two groups of twelve-year-old boys stepped onto a baseball field in an act of cultural defiance that would change the course of American history. More than 60 years later, these players explore how this game changed their lives–and how, ultimately, it was more than just a game.
Nadia Shihab | Oakland, CA | 90 min
In this vivid, wistful documentary portrait, filmmaker Nadia Shihab returns to her hometown in the Texas panhandle to visit her mother, an artist from Iraq; her mother’s increasingly isolated life–and dynamic creative process–become the object of her attention. Soon, Shihab’s grandfather arrives from Iraq, prompting a deeper engagement with questions of place, migration, and the spaces we call home.
John Whitehead | Saint Paul, MN | 83 min
Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson–the North Carolina trio that came to comprise the Carolina Chocolate Drops–refurbished a nineteenth-century musical style for twenty-first century listeners, and in doing so earned a Grammy, as well as legions of adoring fans. This compelling documentary portrait charts their meteoric rise from busking on the street to playing sold-out crowds at some of the most prestigious music festivals in the world.