The Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival presents impactful films that engage the community toward a more democratic, inclusive, and just society. The festival explores themes of inequality, injustice, and social responsibility. Through films, special events, and conversations, we aim to inspire participants to reflect and take action in order to create a community of civic-minded individuals eager to make a collective change. In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, our goal is to promote social action that leads to positive change in our society and beyond.
The Cinematters: New York Social Justice Film Festival will run January 14-18, 2021.
Submissions are now open for the 2021 festival. Submit your film here.
Opening Night | All Rise
Dir. Anthony Mandler
Writers: Radha Blank, Cole Wiley, Janece Shaffer
98 min | Narrative
"Monster" is what the prosecutor calls 17-year-old honors student and aspiring filmmaker Steve Harmon, charged with felony murder. But is Steve really a monster? Adapted from the best-selling novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers.
Dir. Billy McMillin
98 min | Documentary
Every year, in the nation's largest Latino immigrant community, a game between the country’s fiercest high school football rivals draws over 25,000 spectators. The All-Americans follows four players struggling to find their place in today’s America, as they prepare to play in the East LA Classic.
Always in Season
Dir. Jacqueline Olive
90 min | Documentary
Claudia Lacy moves from paralyzing grief to leading the fight for justice for her son, Lennon. Lennon's case, and the suspicions surrounding it, intersect with stories of other communities committed to breaking the silence of their own recent histories and leading the way to justice.
Dir. Adam Zucker
82 min | Documentary
In the initial 18-month battle over the Muslim ban, five Muslim-Americans in New York City confront the Age of Trump.
Film and Shabbat Shabbang 7pm.
Film followed by Q&A.
Changing the Game
Dir. Michael Barnett
95 min | Documentary
This dynamic documentary takes us into the lives of three transgender high school athletes—all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths experiencing both success and fierce resistance in the world of sports.
Praying With My Legs
Directed by Steve Brand
US | 27 min
Praying with My Legs explores the life, thought and transformative impact of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: scholar, mystic, devout Jew, fervent advocate for social justice and one of the most powerful voices of the religious left in the 20th Century. This screening, presenting a 27-minute excerpt of the work-in-progress, features Heschel’s social justice activism and highlights his bond with Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle for civil rights and in their mutual opposition to the war in Vietnam.
Slay the Dragon
Dir. Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance
101 min | Documentary
A secretive, high-tech gerrymandering initiative launched 10 years ago threatens to undermine our democracy. Slay the Dragon follows everyday people as they fight to make their votes matter.
Thirst for Justice
Dir. Leana Hosea
East Coast Premiere
70 min | Documentary
In the face of official denial and repression, extraordinary citizens fight for clean water. Can they succeed?
We Are the Radical Monarchs
Dir. Linda Goldstein Knowlton
97 min | Documentary
Meet the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color at the front lines of social justice in Oakland, started by two fierce queer women of color. We follow them as they face the challenge to grow the organization, before and after the 2016 election.
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality
Dir. Peter Kunhardt, George Kunhardt + Teddy Kunhardt
101 min | Documentary
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, advocates on behalf of the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination. We follow his struggle to create greater fairness and see how racial injustice emerged, evolved, and continues to threaten the country.
Closing Night | Harriet
Dir. Kasi Lemmons
Writers: Gregory Allen Howard, Kasi Lemmons
125 min | Narrative
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
Shabbat Shabbang: Presented in Partnership with Cinematters
Our dinners will include films, panels, and music that inspires social action—taking the spiritual practice of breaking bread together and using our shared time to explore social justice, history, current and political happenings, and other matters of interest to Jewish and NYC audiences. Pre-registration required. Visit our website for more information.
Cinematters R&R: Shabbat at the JCC
An amazing opportunity to experience the Cinematters festival as a family and community, R&R is an incredible alternative to the typical New York Saturday and...IT'S ALL FREE! Suitable for adults and children, this day will include films and artists, storytelling, the Peace of Heart Choir, social justice text study, art, yoga, musical performances, discussions, panels, open play, and more.
Cinematters Social Justice Fair
Speak face-to-face with representatives from community organizations doing powerful social justice work across a wide variety of issues including climate change, housing justice, immigrant and refugee rights, and more! Come find a way to plug in, get connected, and take action.
From Intention to Action: A Morning of Advocacy + Service
Join us for a morning of learning, reflection, service, and action to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Participate in workshops on how to take action on immigrant rights, environmental justice, racial equity, and more; or participate in hands-on service projects, including cooking a meal for the B'nai Jeshurun/The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew Homeless Shelter.
Story Pirates Volunteering
Environmental Activism Workshop
Join us for a morning of drop-in activities and action. You can make buttons sharing your perspective on issues that matter to you, register to vote, buy and donate books to incarcerated adults, and write postcards to elected officials. Endless coffee included.
Cinematters After Dark: Open Mic at Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Come sit back and relax for a night of spoken word after the film festival! Get a free drink along with your ticket when you use code word DREAM at the door.
The Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival would not exist nor be possible without the support of our sponsors and partners.
Please see our growing group of supporters below. Clicking on most logos will take you to that respective partner’s website.
Meg and Bennett Goodman
Heidi and Richard Rieger
Robert L. Bildner and Elisa Spungen Bildner, Charitable Fund
Carol M. Joseph
Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival presents impactful films to engage the community toward a more democratic, inclusive, and just society. The festival explores various themes of social inequality, injustice, and responsibility. Through films, special events, and conversations, we aim to inspire participants to reflect and take action and to create a community of civic-minded individuals eager to make a collective change. In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, our ultimate goal is to promote social action that leads to positive change in our society and beyond.
Want to volunteer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 Advisory Committee
Noah Emmerich Wendy Ettinger
Carol M Joseph
2020 Youth Advisory Committee
Jhanaya Belle (Film Department Intern)
Samuel Dexter Dore
Kelsey Reeder (Film Department Intern)
Isaac Zablocki, Senior Director, Film Programs
Sheryl Parker, Director, The Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility
Kareema B. Partin, Associate Director, Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival
Mark Labadorf, Development Officer, Leadership Giving
Morgan Magid, Program Manager, Film Programs
Jessica Epstein, Director of Marketing Operations