Anthony Crwaford

Anthony Crawford: The Man the South Forgot
Carol Devoe, U.S., 2021, 27 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
A young Black woman journeys to her ancestors’ South Carolina hometown to find out what happened to her great-great-grandfather Anthony Crawford.


Arctic summer

Arctic Summer
Daniel Fradin & Kyle Rosenbluth, Canada/U.S., 2020, 24 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
A look at Tuktoyaktuk (Tuk), one of the northernmost towns in the world, capturing the Indigenous community during one of the last summers before climate change forced its coastal population to relocate to more habitable land.


Balancing Act

The Balancing Act: Walking the Pandemic Tightrope
Jessica Hentoff, U.S., 2020, 55 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
More Information: Circus Harmony Website
This hopeful documentary gives the pandemic perspective of students, staff, and alumni from Circus Harmony, St. Louis’ social circus school. The film also looks at the impact of the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and presidential election on young people whose lives will be most affected. From their living rooms, bedrooms, backyards, and local parks, the Circus Harmony family creates new acts and tells the stories of how its members are keeping their balance in this unbalanced time.


Climate Emergency

Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops
Susan Gray, U.S., 2021, series of five shorts of between 9 and 14 min. each, in English, documentary shorts
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Educator Resources
Fossil-fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth’s temperature, and the warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops, which are raising temperatures even higher. The five shorts in this series — Introduction (13 min.), Forests (14 min.), Permafrost (11 min.), Atmosphere (9 min.), Albedo (11 min.) — explore the issue from multiple angles and can be used singly or in any combination. The films are narrated by Richard Gere.


Concerto

A Concerto Is a Conversation
Kris Bowers & Ben Proudfoot, U.S., 2020, 14 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.


Day I had to Growup

The Day I Had to Grow Up
Stefano De Fre & Laura Pellegrini, U.S., 2020, 25 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Five prominent young activists meet in New York City to discuss their efforts to improve the world by addressing such issues as racial justice, gun reform, and climate change.


Ferguson Rises

Ferguson Rises
83 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12 (includes strong language)
More Information: Film Website
How does a father find purpose in pain? In 2014, Michael Brown Sr.’s son was killed by White police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, an event that fueled the global Black Lives Matter movement. But his personal story seeking justice and healing has not been told until now. “Ferguson Rises” presents a comprehensive look of the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown Jr. and the subsequent uprising, including the events after the decision not to press charges against Wilson. Just as compellingly, the film explores where Ferguson (and the country) stands today — what’s changed, what remains ever the same — with a particular focus on Michael Brown Sr.’s current perspective on what’s transpired since his son’s death.


First Step

The First Step
Brandon Kramer, U.S., 2021, 86 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12 (includes strong language)
Van Jones, a Black progressive activist known for calling Donald Trump's election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, controversially crosses party lines to win bipartisan support for criminal-justice reform and the response to the addiction crisis. Van’s journey building bridges in a time of extreme polarization takes him deep into the messy drama of the Trump administration, internal divisions within both parties, and the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities.


Generation 94

Generation 94
Gemma Capdevila, Rwanda/Spain, 2021, 22 min., in English, documentary short
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 9-12
The Rwandan genocide cost nearly a million lives and left a country devastated and wounded. A quarter-century later, the orphans left behind by that episode have become the symbol of the country's reconstruction.


Generation Impact

Generation Impact: The Coder
Samantha Knowles, U.S., 2021, 7 min., in English, documentary short
Generation Impact: The Inventor
Sarah Klein & Tom Mason, U.S., 2021, 7 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
CSL offers two shorts from “Generation Impact,” a documentary series that focuses on teenage entrepreneurs using technology to break barriers and better their communities. “The Coder” features Jay Jay Patton, who was only 13 when she designed and built Photo Patch, a mobile app to help kids send photos and letters to parents who are incarcerated. “The Inventor” profiles Easton LaChappelle, who developed the world’s lightest weight and most affordable prosthetic limb, which was inspired by a science-fair-winning robotic arm he built as a teenager.


Holocaust Journey

A Holocaust Journey: Lessons We Learned
Lisa Reznik, Germany/Poland/U.S., 2020, 31 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Film Website
A group of college students travel with their professors to Berlin and Poland — accompanied by remarkable survivor Pinchas Gutter — with the aim of trying to comprehend the reality of the Holocaust.


House of Thunder

House of Thunder
Paul Shankman, U.S., 2021, 59 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Even if you live in St. Louis, you’ve probably never heard of the Battle of St. Louis, but some historians believe it was a major inflection point in the American Revolutionary War and helped save the American West. In this new documentary, the battle — fought near the site of present-day Busch Stadium — is brought to life. The film includes new information about the sequence of events leading up to the British-led attack on St. Louis on May 26, 1780, and the strategy and lucky breaks that allowed the town’s defenders to prevail even though they were outnumbered 3-to-1.


I Am Here

I Am Here
Jordy Swank, South Africa, 2021, 73 min., in English, Hebrew & Yiddish with English subtitles, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Ella is not your average 98-year-old. Her magnetic personality makes her past even more surprising. “I Am Here” follows this spirited South African Holocaust survivor as she reveals her astonishing life journey and unwavering appreciation of life. The documentary contrast’s Ella’s vibrant day-to-day life with stories of her experience surviving the Holocaust. These memories are depicted through dynamic animation, innovatively bringing her storytelling to life. Ella recalls bearing witness to losing her family, becoming a prisoner of three concentration camps, and narrowly escaping death in a gas chamber. However, she never lost the connection to the beautiful moments and people who changed her life forever.


I Am Kinloch

I Am Kinloch
Daniel E. Williams, U.S., 2021, 20 min., in English, documentary short Appropriate for grades 6-12
Jacqueline Williams, a former resident of Kinloch — the first and largest all-Black incorporated city in Missouri — shares her personal memories of being raised in this suburb of St. Louis.


Indians Outlaws

Indians, Outlaws, Marshals, and the Hangin’ Judge
Larry Foley, U.S., 2020, 80 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
More Information: Film Website
Although this film is set in the late 19th century, the issues it addresses — gun violence, racial strife, police brutality, and Native American rights — continue to resonate today. The documentary recounts a tale of Indian removal, crime, and capital punishment through the figure of the charismatic Isaac Parker, the infamous “hangin’ judge” who sentenced scores of felons to “hang by the neck until you are dead.” Told in a first-person re-creation using the actual words written by St. Louis Republic newspaper reporter Ada Patterson in September 1896, this real-life story is set in and around Fort Smith, Ark., in the same time and place as the fictional Western novel and film “True Grit.”


Keen v Keen

Keen v. Keen: All That Father Giveth
Jeff Heinle, U.S., 2020, 14 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
A look at a 1904 Missouri Supreme Court decision about a contested will that took inherited farmland and economic livelihood away from Black farm families.


Keystone

Keystone
Maggie O’Dea, U.S., 2021, 28 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
This film examines the critical role bison play in the American plains: By removing this keystone species, we have altered an ecosystem and affected all of its inhabitants.


Kinloch Doc

The Kinloch Doc
Alana Marie, U.S., 2021, 45 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
More Information: Film Website
“The Kinloch Doc” chronicles the rise and demise of Missouri's First Black City and explores the implications of two major political decisions — a landmark school-district merger and an airport buyout — on this all-Black suburban community. The film is directed by a former Kinloch resident whose family had deep roots in the community.


Mama

Mama
Pablo de la Chica, Democratic Republic of Congo/Spain, 2021, 29 min., in French with English subtitles, documentary short
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Deep in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Sanctuary, where Mama Zawadi and her baby chimpanzees find the only place in the world where unconditional love can heal the wounds of war and save them from extinction.


Neutral Ground

The Neutral Ground
CJ Hunt, U.S., 2020, 90 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Exploring New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s centuries-long relationship with the Lost Cause, “The Neutral Ground” follows “The Daily Show” writer and comedian CJ Hunt as he documents the struggle to remove and the struggle to preserve New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. After witnessing this fight in his adopted city, CJ then explores how we understand a collective history as a nation with a contentious past.


Queen of Basketball

The Queen of Basketball
Ben Proudfoot, U.S., 2021, 19 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
One of the greatest living women’s basketball players, she won three national trophies, scored the first basket in women's Olympic basketball, and was drafted by the NBA. But have you ever heard of Lucy Harris?


Red Horizon

Red Horizon
T.C. Johnstone, U.S., 2021, 30 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
More Information: Film Website
A group of young Black pilots attempt to carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen while struggling to overcome racism and prejudice in today's world.


Red Soil

Red Soil
Farid Bentoumi, France, 2020, 90 min., in French with English subtitles, narrative feature
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 9-12
In this ecological thriller, Nour Hamadi (Zita Henrot) returns to her small hometown after losing her job as an emergency-room nurse and takes a position as a nurse at the chemical plant where her father has worked for 30 years. As she settles into her new job, Nour becomes aware of multiple irregularities in the treatment of hazardous waste and the protection of workers. Nour meets an investigative journalist (Céline Sallette) and finds herself compelled to become a whistleblower, at the risk of alienating her entire family.


Restrictions Apply

Restrictions Apply
Justice A. Whitaker, U.S., 2021, 18 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Film Website
In a California suburb called “America's happiest city,” a resident uncovers a sad secret when she discovers racist language in her home deed and uncovers a system that's designed to keep itself buried.


Silent Purse

The Silent Pulse of the Universe
Ben Proudfoot, U.S, 2021, 16 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
As a graduate student at Cambridge in 1967, Jocelyn Bell made one of the greatest astrophysical discoveries of the 20th century, but she was belittled and sexually harassed by the media, and the Nobel Prize was awarded to her professor and his boss.


SLIFF Kids

SLIFF/Kids Shorts
Multiple directors, multiple countries, in English or with no dialogue, animated narrative shorts
Total program running time: 49 min.
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 2-5 (equivalent to G)
An enlightening and entertaining selection of age-appropriate shorts from the 2020 St. Louis International Film Festival.

  • Kindled (Natasha Bishop, New Zealand,  2019, 3 min., no dialogue): A flame sprite and a wood sprite show that friendship can win no matter the obstacles.
  • Master Moley by Royal Invitation (Leon Joosen, U.K., 2019, 30 min., in English): A young mole must pick a rose from the queen's garden, not knowing that this simple act will change the life of all moles.
  • The Meteor & the Moon (Sarah Feldlaufer & Beorn Leonard, U.K., 2019, 5 min., in English): A meteor crashes into a lonely moon, kick-starting an unlikely relationship.
  • Picnic in the Park (Emily Howells, U.K., 2019, 4 min., in English): Two dinosaurs get into mischief on a picnic in the park.

Talk

The Talk
Warren D. Rogers, U.S., 2021, 17 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
An exploration of the conversation every Black family should have: How do you navigate the interaction with law enforcement when pulled over?


Target

Target: St. Louis, Vol. 1
Damien D. Smith, U.S., 2021, 60 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
“Target: St. Louis” tells the story of the U.S. government’s secret Cold War-era dispersal of aerosolized radioactive material in Pruitt-Igoe and other North City locations with majority Black populations to “study” their effects (though no proper follow-up ever seems to have occurred). The documentary also links the exploitation of poor, Black St. Louisans for medical testing to other historical examples (e.g., the Tuskegee syphilis study), and it makes connections to the city’s unfortunate larger legacy of radiation contamination. Former residents of Pruitt-Igoe complex, many still suffering from the effects of the experiment, offer moving testimony.


True Justice

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s FIght for Equality
George Kunhardt, Peter Kunhardt & Teddy Kunhardt, U.S., 2019, 52 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Educator Resources, Equal Justice Initiative Website
In the last half-century, America has become the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world, authorized the execution of hundreds of condemned prisoners, and continued to struggle to recover from a long history of racial injustice. For more than three decades, Alabama public-interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal-justice system. The story of his early years as an attorney was told in the acclaimed biographical drama “Just Mercy,” and in an intimate portrait of a remarkable man, “True Justice” follows his struggle to create greater fairness in the system.


Two Sides

Two Sides of Survival
Violet Du Feng & Amanda Pope, China/U.S., 2021, 30 min., in English & Mandarin with English subtitles, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Shoah Foundation Website
The film brings together two World War II-era stories of resilience and survival: one from Nanjing, where Japanese soldiers massacred Chinese civilians, and the other from Germany, where the Nazi regime sought the systematic murder of Jewish populations in Europe and beyond.


Unchosen

The Unchosen One
Ben Proudfoot, U.S., 2021, 16 min., in English, documentary short
Appropriate for grades 6-12
Devon Michael, who was one of the final three child actors up for the coveted role of Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas’ hotly anticipated “The Phantom Menace,” recollects the moment that would change his life and “Star Wars” history.


View from Above

A View from Above
Dylan Werkman, Netherlands, 2020, 19 min., in Dutch & English with English subtitles, documentary short
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 9-12
Featuring breathtaking footage of Earth from space, the film traces the intimate journey of an astronaut, raising questions about our shared home and our broader collective consciousness.


All Because You Matter

Weston Woods

Weston Woods Shorts
Multiple directors, U.S., in English, animated narrative shorts
Total program running time: 77 min.
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 1-4 (equivalent to G)
More Information: Weston Woods PDF
Weston Woods, a division of Scholastic Books, offers award-winning animated adaptations of the world’s best children’s books.

  • All Because You Matter (Tara Duffy, 2021, 11 min): A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to black and brown children everywhere, this film reminds them how much they matter — in the past, present, and future. Based on the book by Tami Charles and Bryan Collier.
  • Be You! (Melissa R. Ellard, Paul R. Gagne, Gary Goldberger, Peter H. Reynolds & Peter Stidwill, 2021, 7 min.): A joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special, this film reminds viewers to “be your own work of art.” Based on the book by Peter H. Reynolds.
  • Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale (Melissa R. Ellard & Paul R. Gagne, 2021, 6 min.): A longtime favorite becomes a clever cautionary tale in this funny, fresh, and timely film. Based on the picture book by Sam Wedelich.
  • Doctor De Soto (Michael Sporn, 1984, 10 min.): A mouse dentist finds a way to help a fox with a toothache without getting eaten. Based on the book by William Steig.
  • The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (Michael Sporn, 2005, 10 min.): The story of Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. Based on the Caldecott Honor book by Modicai Gerstein.
  • Me … Jane (Paul & Sandra Fierlinger, 2015, 9 min.): A biography of pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall. Based on the Caldecott Honor book by Patrick McDonnell.
  • One Cool Friend (Gary McGivney, 2015, 14 min.): In this endearing adventure, a boy decides a penguin would make a fantastic pet. Based on the Caldecott Honor book written by Tony Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small.
  • Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Cosmos (Paul Gagne & Melissa Reilly, 2016, 10 min.): For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked “What are they?” comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: astronomer Carl Sagan. Based on the book by Stephanie Roth Sisson.

 


World of Julius

A World for Julius
Rossana Díaz Costa, Peru, 2021, 104 min., in Spanish with English subtitles, narrative feature
No Q&As available.
Appropriate for grades 6-12 (includes offensive racial epithet)
Julius — an upper-class child in 1950s Lima, Peru — lives in a mansion with his aristocratic family and a bevy of servants. Little by little, Julius loses his innocence as he discovers, but never understands, a home and a world full of inequalities and injustices. The film is based on Alfredo Bryce Echenique’s “Un Mundo para Julius,” a 1970 book considered one of the most important literary works in Peru. Although the film is set in the past, the racism, discrimination, abuse of power, and sexism shown in “A World for Julius” remain sad realities not just in Peru and Latin America but throughout the world.


Youth v Gov

Youth v. Gov
Christi Cooper, U.S., 2021, 107 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 9-12
More Information: Film Website
“Youth v. Gov” is the story of America’s youngest citizens taking on the world’s most powerful government. Twenty-one courageous youth lead a groundbreaking lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting it has willfully acted over six decades to create our climate crisis, thus endangering their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. If these young people are successful, they’ll not only make history, they’ll change the future.


Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity
Thomas Verrette, U.S., 2021, 74 min., in English, documentary feature
Appropriate for grades 6-12
More Information: Film Website
“Zero Gravity” follows a diverse group of middle-school students from San Jose, Calif., who compete in a nationwide tournament to code satellites aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Seen through the wondrous eyes of three young students and their first-time coach, they each take an intimate and personal journey to space as their team grows from amateur coders to representing California in the ISS Finals Tournament — the culmination of a summer-long adventure that sees their incredible accomplishment performed by astronauts in orbit.