This seems like a timely moment to take stock. History is calling. We don’t have to look far to find the echoes of history in our everyday lives and great documentary film stories can help us make sense of what is happening.

*November 9 marks 80 years after Kristallnacht, also known as “the Night of Broken Glass,” where the escalation of violence against Jews in Nazi Germany moved from local occurrences to become more orchestrated and violent, and more systematic. Synagogues across Germany were burned, and Jewish men, Communists and others opposed to the Nazi regime were arrested, many were deported. The ability to immigrate was largely closed off.

Immigration continues to be on the forefront as people seek to find refuge and flee violence. On November 8, 2018, the President announced new security measures to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses into the United States and we are waiting to learn which countries the measures apply to. We are not 1938 Nazi Germany but xenophobia is alive and well and remains intact.

Also on November 8, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, can remain in place (for now). President Trump had sought to eliminate the program that protects children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents.
  • WAKING DREAM, weaves together the stories of six undocumented young adults as they sit in limbo between deportation and a path to citizenship and fight for legal status in the United States. DACA protects more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation and allows them to receive temporary work permits and protection from deportation. The six episodes, each 8-10 minutes in length, are part of the Indie Lens Storycast. We are building a dialogue guide and classroom lessons for these stories. We loved working with a new format and think educators and communities will find the short episodes east to use and the stories invaluable in their work to eliminate xenophobia and anti-immigrant racism and move the needle on perceptions of DACA and the urgency for immigration reform.

*This Fall the UN Intergovernmental Agency released their dire Climate Change report.  Yet several films show us that youth, industry and individuals are working towards addressing climate change in amazing, creative, innovative ways.

  • INVENTING TOMORROW chronicles young scientists and engineers grappling to find solutions to climate change. They are models for all of us that this work is hard – it is about trial and error and failure and success all together – and it is necessary to protect our homes, our communities and our nations.
  • Check out HAPPENING and the lessons we created to see how renewable energy innovation is transforming the way we use and produce energy.
  • Use the Emmy-award winning CHASING ICE and CHASING CORAL to show how capturing images of melting glaciers and bleaching coral can elevate this conversation from the mire of politics to the optimism of problem solving.

*The mid-term elections demonstrated the process of representative democracy in action:

  • DARK MONEY teaches us about campaign finance reform through the story of Montana politics and the difference passionate individuals can make. Watch the film and use the lesson we created for POV to think about special interests in elections and how critical media literacy can help voters make informed decisions.
  • And one of the pillars of our democracy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, continues to receive the attention she has earned. We learn of her legal journey and her acumen with the law, her strategic use of legal prosecution to make positive social change and all this before she became a Supreme Court Justice. Supporting RBG and the forthcoming ON THE BASIS OF SEX through creating professional development content for the legal, corporate and community audiences has been an honor. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope she is feeling better very, very soon.

*Monday, November 12th is Veteran’s Day. The aftermath of war continues to plague our society in a myriad of ways. A NY Times editorial on the recent massacre at the Borderline Club in Ventura, CA, reminds us of the critical importance of offering comprehensive care to veterans who have fought for our nation:

“Investigators said there was no clear motive (for the shooting at the Borderline Club in Ventura, CA). Mr. Long, a Marine Corps veteran who had served in Afghanistan, had apparently been wrestling with his own demons: officers responded to a disturbance at his home in April, and mental health specialists spoke to him about his military service after suspecting that he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But they decided he was not a danger to himself or others, and determined they could not force him to seek treatment.”
  • ALMOST SUNRISE introduces concepts of PTSD, moral injury and the mental health issues that veterans face. The film tells the stories of two veterans and their journey for for healing. Access free clips and lessons for your classroom on DOC ACADEMY.

We are dedicated to documentary film and committed to the power of education to bring these stories to as many audiences and schools and businesses as possible who can use documentary film to further their work, enrich lives, and invite students (and adults) to know that there is always more to learn.