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Reception Puts Focus on Social Justice, Ushers in a Week of Documentary Screenings

The Fund for Santa Barbara celebrates 10 films nominated for Social Justice Award

Among the shine and star power of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, a collection of films with a social justice mission will flicker before audiences this week, showcasing the work of lesser-known filmmakers but each heralding important stories.

Ten documentary films are up for the Social Justice Award, sponsored by The Fund for Santa Barbara, a nonprofit that supports organizations working for change in Santa Barbara County.

The lineup is a real treat for locals resigned to the usually scant showings of documentary and art-house films available outside of the film festival.

About 100 people packed Friday night’s reception for the award nominees at Artamo Gallery, and the passion of the filmmakers was nothing if not refreshing. Out of the 10 nominee films being shown, eight will have their world or U.S. premieres at the festival, which translated to a night of excitement at the gallery.

Noozhawk caught up with Rene Kock, producer of Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul, which will mark its premiere Saturday night. The film’s trailer opens with scenes of devastation Kock shot on his first trip to Kabul. Children are seen playing in the rubble that has replaced the city’s infrastructure, as a voice over reminds the audience that 70 percent of the country’s population are children.

“You never hear anything about the reality of their lives,” Kock said. “When you turn on the news, you hear about military missions and operatives” but Skateistan unearths a human element. He said the simple act of giving children a skateboard unlocks gender tension, religious and cultural rifts, allowing a simple act of play for the war-torn youth.

Director Lauren Parsekian and Molly Stroud of the film Finding Kind also spoke about their film. The pair, both Pepperdine University film-studies graduates, traveled the country interviewing women and girls about “the mean girl” phenomenon. The film reveals the pain that girls inflict on one another and the healing that can take place through kindness.

“The response has been really incredible,” Parsekian said. “It’s so universal.”

In addition to the 10 nominee films, 13 other “must-see” films are playing throughout the week. The film festival has embraced The Fund for Santa Barbara’s efforts, said Geoff Greene, executive director of The Fund.

The winner of the 10 nominees will be selected by an independent jury and announced on Feb. 6. The winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize, and though a small amount, “even a little goes a long way,” Greene said. “We think every single film is incredibly important.”

Tickets and passes are available at The Arlington Theatre at 1317 State St., the Lobero Theatre at 33 E. Canon Perdido St. or online by clicking here.

The Nominees (and Screening Times and Locations)

Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist (world premiere)
2011, United States, 90 minutes, directed by Peter Jay Brown
Seen through the eyes of activist Peter Jay Brown, this is an intimate look at shipboard life among the self-proclaimed animal saviors and sea rebels who helped shape the Green Movement we know today.
Wednesday, Feb. 2, 8:05 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Friday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Saturday, Feb. 5, 1:40 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre

Finding Kind (world premiere)
2011, United States, 90 minutes, directed by Lauren Parsekian
Two girls pack their bags and travel across America to interview hundreds of females about the “mean girl” phenomenon.
Thursday, Feb. 3, 8:15 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Saturday, Feb. 5, 2 p.m., Lobero Theatre
Sunday, Feb. 6, 11 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre

Land (U.S. premiere)
2010, Canada, 53 minutes, directed by Julian Pinder
Delving into the tumultuous topic of land ownership and development, Land examines issues of land, labor, tourism, ownership and imperialism in modern Nicaragua.
Thursday, Feb. 3, 4 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Friday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz) (U.S. premiere)
2010, Chile/France/Germany, 90 minutes, directed by Patricio Guzmán
A provocative portrayal of how we treat and acknowledge the past -— examining the parallels between the search for the origin of our universe and the truth behind the not-so-distant reign of Augusto Pinochet.
Friday, Jan. 28, 7:40 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Saturday, Jan. 29, 8:10 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Sunday, Jan. 30, 1:40 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre

Out for the Long Run
2010, United States, 77 minutes, directed by Scott Bloom
What’s it like to be openly gay in the macho world of high school sports?
Friday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Sunday, Jan. 30, 5 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Monday, Jan. 31, 10 a.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul (world premiere)
2011, Germany/United States, 100 minutes, directed by Kai Sehr
Inspired by Skateistan, Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, this is a journey into the contemporary lives of Afghanistan’s urban youth
Saturday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m., Lobero Theatre
Monday, Jan. 31, 10:20 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Wednesday, Feb. 2, 11 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre

Someplace with a Mountain (world premiere)
2011, United States, 51 minutes, directed by Steve Goodall
A look at the future of the planet from just a few feet above sea level — through the eyes of the people who contribute least but are affected most by climate change.
Friday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Saturday, Jan. 29, 11 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre
Monday, Jan. 31, 4 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre

We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân) (world premiere)
2011, United States, 82 minutes, directed by Anne Makepeace
The story of the return of the Wampanoag language — the first time a language with no native speakers has been revived in the United States.
Saturday, Jan. 29, 4 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Monday, Jan. 31, 1 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8:15 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre

When I Rise
2010, United States, 75 minutes, directed by Mat Hames
Barbara Smith Conrad is thrust into a civil rights storm when she is cast in an opera to co-star with a white male classmate, fueling a racist backlash from members of the Texas legislature. The incident escalates to national news, and Barbara emerges as an internationally celebrated artist.
Friday, Jan. 28, 1 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Saturday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Monday, Jan. 31, 8:15 a.m., Metro 4 Theatre

With My Own Two Wheels (world premiere)
2010, United States, 44 minutes, directed by Jacob Seigel-Boettner
More than just a lifestyle choice, this film documents how the bicycle is used by people across the globe as a way out of poverty, a means to an education or a tool to overcome discrimination.
Wednesday, Feb. 2, 7 p.m., Lobero Theatre
Thursday, Feb. 3, 2 p.m., Metro 4 Theatre

Screening times and locations are subject to change. Additional screenings may be added as needed. Click here for the most current schedule information.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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