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1 ISSUE

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JAN. 27–FEB. 7 • 2015

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE

PRESENTS

GET REEL. THE 16TH ANNUAL

SOCIAL

JUSTICE AWARD FOR DOCUMENTARY FILM

independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS

interviews with the nominees


WITH THE NOMINEES Join us for a reception celebrating this year’s nominees:

FRiDaY, JaNuaRY 30 5:00 TO 7:00 P.M. the Granada theatre - mccune Founders room 1214 State Street, Santa Barbara, cA 93101 Suggested donation: $25

Space is limited • Reservations requested • Platinum Pass holders will be admitted free.

For reservations and information, please contact the Fund office at (805) 962-9164 or jmoreno@fundforsantabarbara.org

ABOUT THE AWARD

The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film is awarded annually to a film that makes a particularly valuable contribution to advancing social justice. The 2015 award winner will be announced on Saturday, February 7. The creator of the winning film will receive a $2,500 cash prize. Nine provocative films have been nominated. We hope you will have an opportunity to view them.

Thank you to the 2015 Social Justice Award Jury: Roman Baratiak – Associate Director of UCSB Arts & Lectures • Andrew Davis – Film Director Margaret Lazarus – Filmmaker • Phyllis de Picciotto – Film Consultant • Vicki Riskin – Writer / Producer Dr. Janet Walker – Professor of Film & Media Studies at UCSB Dr. Charles Wolfe – Professor of Film & Media Studies at UCSB

Thank you to our partners in this effort:

And finally, thank you to all of the filmmakers who dedicate their time, talent, resources, and vision in order to address these important issues so that we may all live in a more just and humane world. – The Board, Staff and Volunteers of The Fund for Santa Barbara

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For more information or to purchase tickets:

www.fundforsantabarbara.org or www.sbiff.org


independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS Interviews with the nominees

gers and their plight. We looked hard for a “hero,” for someone with the real credentials to speak on the subject and the charisma to hold his audience. Alan was speaking in New York, and when I heard and saw him there, I approached him on the spot, as I knew I had found the right man. We always saw Alan as the guide for the movie, but my first interview with him was so powerful that we immediately started adjusting our view of how to weight the story. We came to believe that the most effective way to make an audience care about tigers was to have it care about Alan and his passion for tigers.

tiGer tiGer

director GeorGe bUtler WHitemoUntainFilms.com

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hough tightly focused on legendary conservationist Alan Rabinowitz’s quest into the Sundarbans swamplands between India and Bangladesh in search of the elusive and rather dangerous Bengal tiger, this gripping documentary is quite expansive, touching on the value of apex predators, the relationship of man to beast, and the nature of a purposeful life.

There is a very Heart of Darkness feeling to this documentary, of a man going deep into the jungle and himself. Was that intentional? Yes, very much so. In fact, somewhere on Alan’s desk was an actual copy of Heart of Darkness! From the outset in discussions with Tom Hurwitz, our cinematographer, we made clear that this was not to be a conventional natural-history approach. The Sundarbans is very beautiful, but it has also been called the most dangerous place on Earth, and we didn’t want to edit out the menace in the interest of conventional beauty. We also wanted to retain the sense of journey, of moving upriver. In actual fact, we did not know what danger lay around each corner. Did you know that this would become a profile of rabinowitz, or was it a tiger movie that evolved into something more meaningful? We began years back knowing we wanted to make a movie about tigers — the movie was for the ti-

What can people who want to help the tiger do? The tiger range governments need to know people worldwide really care about the tiger crisis. Reports of tiger deaths and poaching should be met with blasts from social media. Most importantly, law enforcement must be paid for, so if you can afford to please give to an organization that can be counted on to provide what is needed. We hope to release a version of our film sub-titled in Chinese — if the engine for the tiger trade is driven by China, it is perverse to leave it and particularly its young people out of the dialogue, so any engagement with Chinese voices is desirable. Have there been any recent conservation victories in either country? The situation in India is complicated by the fact that the country is so vast, and conservation efforts in each region are controlled by regional governments. So the success of the Indian Sundarbans must be credited to the West Bengal Forest office as much as the top-down national agency. In Bangladesh, just this December, an oil tanker ran aground in the Sundarbans, spilling 52,000 gallons of bunker oil into the water. The wreck site was just south of Mongla, a major port, and so not within the heart of the protected area, but the tanker route nonetheless ran right through a dolphin reserve. We’re still following the story to see what the extent of the damage is, but the fervent hope is that this disaster will focus attention on the Sundarbans and on stiffer measures of protec— Matt Kettmann tion.

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For film festival coverage and schedule changes, visit independent.com/SBiFF


2015

Social Justice

Award

A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake director Michael Lessac asnaketoasnake.com

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diverse group of South African actors tours war-torn regions of the world with Truth in Translation, a theatrical reenactment of transcripts from the Truth and Reconciliation Committees. Through presenting the atrocities of apartheid in places where audiences are preoccupied with unresolved conflicts of their own, the performers elicit raw testimony from others, and in the process find out that they must confront the divisive issues of their South African past once again.

How did you choose this title? As the actors traveled through conflict zones with the live production of Truth in Translation, it became clear that this idea — that it is rational to kill the children of our enemies because “a snake gives birth to another snake” — seemed to plague every culture we visited. Each culture, coming out of genocide or massacre, had a similar phrase in their own history. I believe it is subconsciously in our culture as well. For some, it is a convenient entitlement to kill; for others, it is a justification of our fear. To quote Graham Greene, “Hatred is just a failure of imagination.”

The development process for this film involved several stages, including a theatrical production. What happened as a result of this process that was unexpected? Actually in the beginning we weren’t going to make a film. We didn’t have the money. We shot

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when we could just to document for the future maybe for university archives or for other actors and artists to see what could be done. We never knew what would happen next and so there was no real plan during the shooting except to capture what we were going through as best we could. When the play became a success, we started to get some funds and were able to film on the road. But as we toured and the real drama started to happen we realized we might have a film here. So we hustled a lot, reshot a little, and found a wonderful editor in Joel Plotch. 

How did the theater piece work in countries where similar tensions still exist? Many people in the Balkans told us not to bring the theater piece, because they thought that we would cause a lot of trouble among warring factions still existing, that we’d open old wounds, that we would trivialize their pain with the comedy and music and outrage victims of violence. Sometimes it was as simple as their not wanting to hear of a TRC until they could extract vengeance. They just wanted traditional retributive justice. Of course we decided to go anyway, and the reception was huge from Kosovo to Bosnia, from Serbia to Croatia. — Charles Donelan 


independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS Interviews with the nominees

Je SuiS Femen

director alain MarGot eyesteelFilm.com

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n this compelling documentary, Swiss fi lmmaker Alain Margot chronicles the activities of FEMEN, the provocative Ukranian feminest group known for their topless protests against sexism, religious institutions, and homophobia. Their radical behavior garners them support and media attention, but it also incurs governmental wrath. The women endure arrests, intimidation, beatings, and imprisonment for their noble causes.

What prompted you to do a documentary on FeMeN? I had seen these girls protest on the Internet, and I found it very brave of them to do that in Ukraine. Since not much is happening in Switzerland, I decided to live three years in Ukraine.

Did you find their tactics eective in getting their message across? The FEMEN were able to change things in Ukraine [because] it is a country that is not democratic. As FEMEN Ukraine members had to flee to Paris, they are a little prisoner while waiting for political asylum in France. For me, FEMEN has lost its reputation since there [is not] FEMEN Europe. I made a historical fi lm; these girls were the first fruits of this revolution in Ukraine.

What has the response been to your film? The public has responded well to the fi lm because finally people understand where they come from. The Swiss public was standing after the screening and in Odessa festival in Ukraine, too. At the Festival of Gijon in Spain, many girls asked Oxana how to become a FEMEN [member]. — Michelle Drown

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For film festival coverage and schedule changes, visit independent.com/SBiFF


2015

Social Justice

Award Were you surprised that MSNBC wanted to remain so in line with the establishment?

mad as hell

director Andrew Napier MadAsHellFilm.com

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his is an inside look at how Cenk Uygur evolved from a conservative, loudmouth law school student into the most progressive and widely watched talk show host in the history of the Internet. Love him or hate him, the founder of The Young Turks truly follows his ideals, sending up the rest of the media along the way.

How did you decide to do this story? Back in 2008, I was going to UW-Madison and wasn’t feeling very fulfilled in what I wanted to achieve film-wise. I left school, packed up my car, and drove to Los Angeles. Once there, I had to accomplish two things: I needed to make a living to be able to stay in L.A., and I wanted to win my parents back over, as they were somewhat sore for me dropping out of school. My dad and brother were both really big fans of this weird online show called  The Young Turks featuring this bombastic host, Cenk Uygur. I started interning for them, which eventually led to a full time job with TYT. Right away I thought Cenk was such a compelling and larger-than-life character, so at the end of my first week there I asked him what he would think about me doing a documentary on him. Cenk right away told me, “I always wanted a documentary made about me!”

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I was hopeful at first, but after Cenk started with them there were many red flags along the way. They gave him notes like “act more like a senator,” which is hilarious because most senators are boring and not actually what you want in a good TV host, but it was about being safe, not rocking the boat. So ultimately it wasn’t too surprising, just disappointing.

With so many viewers, why won’t a network air The Young Turks? Sometimes it’s less about viewership and more about keeping the advertisers and companies happy. They didn’t like what Cenk had to say or the way he said it.

Is the show able to make money in its current online form? Yeah, they are doing very well online. Since I left the company when there were just about eight of us, there are now over 50 employees in that new studio of theirs.

What do you foresee for Cenk’s future? He’ll continue to grow and expand TYT. He is relentless. It was hard to find a way to end the film because he is constantly striving to achieve more. Cenk always jokes that he would like to see me make this into a trilogy. But for me, after five years of nonstop depressing news and politics, I’d like this film to speak on my behalf in that area for a while, as I’d personally like to take a break — Matt Kettmann from it all. 


independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS Interviews with the nominees

liFe AccordinG to ohAd director eri daniel erlich oHad-doc.com

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his is not an easy fi lm to watch. Writer/director Eri Daniel Erlich spent three years following his friend and fellow animalrights activist for this story, which follows a young man named Ohad as he tries to reconnect and reason with his meat-eating family. The struggles — and knock-down drag-out fights — between Ohad and his parents are brutal, but they send a strong message about activism, family, and fighting for what you believe in.

What spoke to you about Ohad’s story? First, it’s a touching family story about Ohad’s rift from the people closest to him, like so many like him, not only in animal liberation context. Many families find themselves in situations like these when a child decides to become newly religious or goes against his family’s religious line or in cases of coming-out stories — any case of going against your own family’s core values. In addition, this was a unique opportunity to report what is happening to animals being raised in the food industry and to tell the story of those who dedicate their lives to stop this injustice.

Did your views on animal-rights change? I’ve been an animal-rights activist long before this production, and in fact this fi lm was a way for me to convey all the pain in this issue and the frustration in trying to explain it to the people around me — especially to those closest to me. What did change in me during this production was my feelings towards family issues. Like Ohad, I also had

a problem accepting my own family’s choices (all of them are true Argentinian meat lovers). All the family dinners we shot, the gatherings, the conversations, the fights — all of them reminded me of similar events with my family and compromises that I had to make. Through making this fi lm, I got to know Ohad’s parents’ point of view that I assume is similar to my own parents’ view, and the importance of keeping the family together. I realized that you can find important values there, too.

What was the biggest filmmaking challenge? Not knowing where that tricky relationship was going. The meetings were very charged, on the break of explosion even, and there was no way of knowing how the fi lm will end or even if we would be able to complete it. There were many hard moments when it was not clear whether the fi lm had a future. But that’s documentary fi lming. I allowed my protagonist to guide me through his world, and his choices were the steering wheel for the whole fi lm.

What do you hope people take away from the film? In this we attempt to show a different viewpoint of our society by turning to the sidelines that most cinema and TV viewers are not aware of. There you find a world comprised of anger and desperation towards the status quo, a strong desire for change that is manifested by total dedication to the cause. All of this alongside the belief that by keeping active there just might be a better world in the end. I attempted to capture with my camera the extreme conflict with the current order of things that threatens to swallow the individual fighting against indifference in hopes that this will allow the viewer to see a different side to his own life. There’s a very deep misunderstanding regarding social-change activists like Ohad and his “over sensitivity.” This sensitivity is often perceived as a disconnection to reality. But in fact, those activist are much more connected to what’s really happening in our reality, which isn’t as pleasant as one would like to think.  — Aly Comingore

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For film festival coverage and schedule changes, visit independent.com/SBiFF


2015

Social Justice

Award

The Year We Thought About Love director ellen brodsky ellenbrodskyfilms.com

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here is a power to being true to yourself,” said Ellen Brodsky, director of The Year We Thought About Love. The documentary, shot during eight months of rehearsals with the Boston-based LBGTQ theater group True Colors, speaks to that sentiment as it reveals the triumphs and heartbreaks of 16 gay teens. Their challenge was to write stories for the stage about queer love that resonated with everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification. So they dug into their own experiences with parents and partners and succeeded brilliantly in showing that love is really a universal human experience not defined by sexuality.

What drew you to make this film? I have always loved the risk-taking in a rehearsal room, where you try all sorts of new things, but know that you are in a safe place. I began working with LGBTQ youth over 20 years ago, and learned that they faced risks every day, not always in a safe place. When my brother-in-law’s theater company started True Colors: OUT Youth Theater, I heard incredible stories of risk-taking — theatrically and personally — in a unique safe place. After years of watching performances, I wanted to see inside the rehearsal room.

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What surprised you most about making this film? There can be so much laughter right next to so much pain. Perhaps, I was reminded of this, not so much surprised. We so often need to learn things over and over.

Was there one person’s story that stood out to you in particular? One person’s story? Well, actually the character that stays with me is the audience at the troupe’s plays. The audience is so unknown — I wonder how the individuals hear the stories onstage, how they may or may not have personal feelings confirmed, or personal convictions challenged. The camera caught them laughing and clapping as well as shaking their heads and leaving the auditorium. I wonder what they told their friends and family about the play later that day.

How have the audiences responded? Audiences have responded with tears and laughter. Young audiences love seeing their reality on the screen, a reality not often portrayed in media, and some adults have thanked us for providing a window into a world they do not know very well. Older LGBTQ people often wish they had something like this theater troupe when they — Michelle Drown were young.


independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS Interviews with the nominees

Whose story resonated the most?

do i Sound GAY?

director daVid thorpe doisoUndGay.com

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his documentary about coming to terms with his own gay voice is gripping and uplifting, but it’s also a near-perfect example of how one person’s story can resonate with so many. Whether you identify as LGBT, know someone who does, or simply have felt like an outsider at one point or another in your life, this opens your eyes a little wider to the world around you.

When did you decide to turn this idea into a movie? I started working on Do I Sound Gay? literally the day after I had my shame spiral about my voice on the train to Fire Island that’s depicted in the movie. My shame spiral transformed into an epiphany. I should probably keep that in mind.

Were you wary about putting that much of your personal life in front an audience? I tricked myself into doing it very gradually and slyly. Originally I wasn’t going to be in the fi lm and then as we moved forward, gradually, more and more, I became the central subject. I set a great trap for myself. I do think it’s easier now than it used to be. So many people are throwing their lives up on social media.

There were two moments early in the making of the fi lm that really stuck with me and were touchstones the whole way through pushing me to finish. Very early on, I interviewed the young guy in the movie who says he hates sounding gay 100 percent and wishes he didn’t. I could understand my own middle-aged self-hatred, but to hear it from someone so young was heartbreaking. The other moment was the dinner party, where one my best friends told me he’s always hated his voice. I thought, “How could we never have talked about this?”

What was your biggest personal takeaway? What do you hope others get out of it? It’s okay to be gay. It’s okay to be yourself, including sounding like yourself. It seems obvious, but really learning those basic lessons is much easier said than done. I have no expectations for the audience, but if they take a piece of that away from the fi lm, I’d be so proud.

Personally speaking, what was the largest hurdle? The biggest personal challenge was trying to understand what was really going on with me. What did I really want? To change my voice or not? Why would I want one or the other? Although the fi lm is a comedy on the surface, I really did struggle to come to terms with who I wanted to be, as represented by my voice, and with my internalized homophobia. It was a rollercoaster, and I didn’t know where I would end up. — Aly Comingore

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For film festival coverage and schedule changes, visit independent.com/SBiFF


2015

Social Justice

Award Simultaneously, the documentary touches on a similar revolution happening in the world of cinema, where some filmmakers are stepping outside the normal funding and distribution channels to reach their audience. Nossiter was too busy to answer questions related to his latest film, but allowed us to excerpt some of his thoughts from a story he wrote in Film Quarterly last spring.

On natural winemakers’ impact:

Natural Resistance director Jonathan Nossiter jonathan-nossiter.com

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onathan Nossiter is known as one of the more divisive figures in the world of wine. That’s thanks mainly to his controversial 2004 film Mondovino, which vehemently attacked the influence of popular critic Robert Parker’s penchant for oaky and ripe wines and threw barbs at consultant Michel Rolland and the moneyed Mondavi family along the way. (The film played to packed audiences at SBIFF back then.) These days, Nossiter is more concerned about the rise of so-called “natural winemaking,” in which vintners eschew the use of pesticides, mechanization, additives, and even the widespread and historic use of sulfur as a preservative. His new film, Natural Resistance, shines a bright light on the issue, traveling the Italian countryside to speak with grape growers and winemakers who are bucking many modern traditions in order to make what they feel is a more pure and true-to-terroir product. The winemakers interviewed by Nossiter — and you know he’s there, as he doesn’t hide the filmmaker’s presence — also lambast Italy’s DOC system as authoritarian and corrupt.

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[T]hese renegades have transformed the basic idea of wine, especially in France and Italy, while exposing the cynicism and chemical manipulation of most conventional wine. So radical and so successful have the natural winemakers become that they provoked the fabled reactionary American wine critic Robert Parker to define them as a “scandalous fraud that needs to be eradicated,” a laughable idea given that Parker recently sold his brand—that is, his lifetime’s name and reputation—for tens of millions of dollars to Singaporean financial speculators.

On their philosophy: Turning their backs on the rules of the marketplace, they are united in their absolute respect for the health of their souls, for the people, animals, and insect who bring their vines to life, and for the humans who will eventually drink the fruit of their labor.

On how they are influencing film: I feel deeply relieved and excited to see that a growing number of my fellow filmmakers, consciously and unconsciously, are starting to follow the winemakers’ resistance to a cynical, corrupt, and wholly outdated system of production, distribution, and marketing with their own refusal of cinema’s systems of regula— Matt Kettmann tion and self-censorship. 


independent.com presents

MEET THE MAKERS Interviews with the nominees

enerGiZed

director hUbert canaVal memento-Films.com

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other Nature needs us to find a better and cleaner way to meet our collective energy desires. But despite our best intentions and efforts by some of the world’s brightest minds, progress is slow. In this visually captivating and straight-talking documentary, Austrian fi lmmaker Hubert Canaval takes an exhaustive look at what exactly we are up against right now and how people around the world are responding. What was your primary motivation for making Energized? The accidents of Fukushima and Deepwater Horizon were, of course, the motivation to make this fi lm. But very soon it turned out that these types of catastrophes are not the main problem with energy production. In order to tell a more true story, it was more important to cover the collateral damage of  “normal” energy production. We were shocked about our findings even in the most technically developed countries and democracies. As you explored the global landscape of energy issues, what surprised you most? On one hand I didn’t really expect to see how brutally people are treated who oppose or speak out, even in democratic countries. On the other hand I was moved by the many brave people I found fighting for their vision of green energy.

Does the average person understand the bleakness of the situation at hand? Well, I hope this fi lm helps people to understand the problem and that it is a very complex one and not only depressing like the word bleakness suggests. I think everyone is able to understand that if he/she produces their own energy for their own consumption, then they themselves will profit. This is a question that everybody is able to answer, Shall he/she be able to benefit from his own energy production or an energy company?

What is the single biggest roadblock preventing us from a better energy future? The main problem is present in your question. There is neither a simple answer nor simple solution. Every single place in the world needs and offers a different answer to their respective energy demands. Accomplishing this would guarantee sustainable and ecological production. Of course, this is not convenient for big companies making profit by producing energy but it could result in enormous economic prosperity for the people actually living in a region.

Is there hope? Making this film, I met so many brave people who are not only opposing big energy but also showing us how to do it. So, at the end, I do see a small stream of light on the horizon. There are many possibilities; we just have to use them. — Ethan Stewart

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For film festival coverage and schedule changes, visit independent.com/SBiFF


The Fund for Santa Barbara is a nonprofit community foundation that supports organizations working for social,

economic, environmental, and political change in Santa Barbara County. The Fund raises money through donations of all sizes in order to provide grants, training, and advising to local grassroots efforts. The Fund supports community-based projects employing a variety of strategies including community organizing, education, direct action, issue advocacy, and the arts. For thirty-five years, the Fund has been at the forefront of responsive and progressive philanthropy in our community, distributing over $5 million in grants to more than 1,000 grassroots projects.

The Fund for Santa Barbara 26 West Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 • 120 East Jones Street, Suite 120, Santa Maria, CA 93454 Tel: (805) 962-9164 • FAX: (805) 965-0217 • Website: www.fundforsantabarbara.org

Board of Directors Geoff Slaff, President Kate Adams • Ignacio Alarcón • JoAnn Bell • Sheila Davidson • Anna DiStefano • Samuel Duarte • Cheryl Hermann • Ann Hutchins Vijaya Jammalamadaka • Margaret Lazarus • Alice O’Connor • Kara Powis • Ted Rhodes • Mahil Senathirajah • Craig Wood

Grant-Making Committee Wendy Sims-Moten, Co-Chair • Elsa Velasco, Co-Chair • Kate Adams • Samuel Duarte Gloria Liggett • Dondra R. Lopez • Eddie Mendoza • Jade Moreno • Renner Wunderlich

Honorary Board Nancy Alexander, Founder Susan Bower • Carnzu Clark • Sevren Coon • Nancy Franco • Susan Jørgensen • Don Olson • David Peri • Susan Rose Katy Peake (in Memoriam) • Selma Rubin (in Memoriam) • Naomi Schwartz (in Memoriam) Sarah Shoresman (in Memoriam) • Herman Warsh (in Memoriam)

Staff Geoff Green, Executive Director • Nancy Weiss, Associate Director Cristina González, Regional Program Manager • Gary Clark, Technical Assistance Program Manager Elena Richardson, Grants Program Manager • Javier Moreno, Administrative Coordinator Interns: Lindley Dobbrow, Jane Huson, Ryunhee Kim, Tina Nham

Past Social Justice Award recipients 2000 – Good Kurds Bad Kurds, Directed by Kevin McKiernan 2001 – Botín de Guerra (Spoils of War), Directed by David Blaustein 2002 – The Making of the Revolution, Directed by Katarina Rejger & Eric van den Broek 2003 – Sadaa E Zan (Voices of Women), Directed by Renée Bergan 2004 – Home of the Brave, Directed by Paola di Florio 2005 – Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, Directed by Roberta Grossman 2006 – Sisters in Law, Directed by Kim Longinotto 2007 – Crude Impact, Directed by James Wood • The Ground Truth, Directed by Patricia Foulkrod 2008 – Después de la Neblina (When Clouds Clear), Directed by Anne Slick & Danielle Bernstein 2009 – Yes, Madam Sir, Directed by Megan Doneman 2010 – Enemies of the People, Directed by Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath 2011 – When I Rise, Directed by Mat Hames • Nostalgia de la Luz, Directed by Patricio Guzmán 2012 – Dirty Energy, Directed by Bryan Hopkins 2013 – Revolution, Directed by Rob Stewart 2014 – Through a Lens Darkly, Directed by Thomas Allen Harris

2015 Santa Barbara International Film Fest: Meet the Makers, issue 1  

The 16th Annual Social Justice Award Santa Barbara Independent

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