Kemi Osukoya


April 29, 2019

Films, like all artistic works, are subjectives, and what makes one film great or not is based on individuals’ as well as collective opinion. On the other hand, there are films that are far more notable beyond their stupendous cinematography and characters. These 10 films listed here, currently playing at this year’s festival, are thought provoking, conversation starters that will elicit fervid opinions, as well as spirited debates among families, friends and strangers, for now and later.

Actor Wendell Pierce plays the role of a preacher in Burning Cane

Burning Cane: The film, influenced by director and screenwriter Phillip Youmans’ background, piqued my interest and was on my list of films to see and review at the film festival. At a time when there are major calls to Hollywood from the public and the black community to shift the depictions of black people in television and films from negative to more positive portrayals, if the conversations I have had with fellow journalists reviewing this film are any indication, this bold film is bond to definitely reignite those racial conversations. It’s a film that most likely will be studied months and years from now. (Saturday, 5/4 at 2:45pm)

Luce: A film by Nigerian American filmmaker Julius Onah, cowrote with JC Lee, starring Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and newcomer Kelvin Harrison Jr., is a story centered around interracial adoption, issue of identity, prejudice and expectations. The film taps into one of current societal debates about interracial adoption and question of identity. If the audiences’ responses after the public screening I attended are any indication, this film is one of those films that each viewer will have very strong opinion about and will want to defend that viewpoint. (Thursday 5/2 9:30pm; Saturday 5/4 12:15pm)

Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy, the notorious American serial killer in the film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile: How comprehensively do we know those who we love and how do we reconcile the difference when confront with the truth? In this film, a single mother falls in love and lives blissfully with her handsome, smooth talking boyfriend, Ted Bundy, who unbeknown to her has a double lives and just happens to be one of American notorious serial killers of all time. Full of surprises, this thought provoking film will make you take a second look at your loved ones. (Thursday, 5/2 at 9pm)

Flesh Out, directed by Michela Occhipinti

Flesh Out: I was curious about this film because of its subject matter, however, after I saw it, I left feeling conflicted. On the other hand, the topic it addresses is one that definitely viewers will want to talk about. (Saturday, 5/4 11:30am)

Slay the Dragon: Gerrymandering has become an important topic lately and whether or not you’re a political junkie, the 2016 elections was a wake-up call for many Americans as well as many people around the world. With 2020 elections season around the corner and the aftermath of 2016 elections still reverberating across America, this film calls to mind several events in American society that led to the outcomes of the 2016 elections, what followed and how the country has changed or not. More importantly, using maps and other fact-based information, this film reminds audience what’s at stake in the upcoming 2020 elections. (public screening showtimes: Thursday 5/2 6:45pm; Sunday 5/5, 12:45pm)

One Child Nation: What happens when a country tries to limit its population growth from spiraling out of control by imposing a policy? This film reexamines China’s notorious One Child Policy, enforced between 1979-2015, and its repercussions on Chinese families. (Wednesday, 5/1 and Saturday 5/4)

Left Over Women: The film answers the questions posed in the film, One Child Nation, showing the ramifications of the government’s policy on its current society. (Wednesday, 5/1 5:30pm; Sunday, 5/5 at 12pm)

17 Blocks: Washington D.C., the federal district of the U.S., is a paradox city of two extremes: Privilege and Poverty. This documentary, filmed over 20 years period, captures the lives of an African American family that lives in the city in a disadvantaged neighborhood plagued by poverty, drug addiction, gun violence, just 17 blocks away from the U.S. Capital. (Showtimes and dates: 5/1 at 6pm; 5/4 at 12pm)

Mercy: How important are the works of non government medical organizations and medical volunteers to people living in developing worlds and remote places in developed countries? The short film, Mercy, is an immersive experience film that allows viewers to understand why these services are vital to communities. (Shown daily from 12pm)

The Key: A 15-minutes virtual immersive film that takes audience on an odyssey that helps them understand what it means to leave the familiar behind and start all over again. (Thursday and Friday)