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New Documentary Films in the Library

Evanston's Living History

It is the story of a community’s struggle for justice; with roots extending to the town of Abbeville, South Carolina and the horrific lynching of one of its prominent citizens, Anthony Crawford.

It is the story of Crawford’s granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and great, great-granddaughter working alongside the families of Emmett Till, Michael Schwerener, James Earl Chaney, and Andrew Goodman to gain passage of United States Senate Resolution 39, which apologized for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation.

It is the story of Evanston’s greatest generation, and their courageous fight to free Evanston from the bondage of racial discrimination.

With interviews featuring some of those who lived this history: Joseph Burton, Phillip Crawford, Rosetta Gradford, Bishop and Mary Harvey, Sanders Hicks, Viola Hillsman, Sue Holloway, Delores Holmes, Doria D. Johnson, Rose Jourdain, William Logan, Jr., Eleanor “Brownie” Moore, the Hon. Lorraine H. Morton, Dr. Larry G. Murphy, Allen “Bo” Price, Mary Walker, Byron Wilson, and George E. Young, Sr.

Produced and directed by Craig Dudnick.

Alice's Ordinary People

Alice's Ordinary People is a documentary about Alice Tregay - a woman who refused to stand still in the face of injustice. It's Alice's story of the ordinary people who effected extraordinary change and advanced the endless struggle for human rights and dignity. It's an inspiration to current and future generations, as they take up the mantle and continue the fight.

Alice’s life story reads like a history of the movement. Early on she fought the “Willis Wagons,” second class structures-- built to relieve overcrowding in those Chicago schools which served the African American community--whose very existence perpetuated segregation.

In 1966, when Dr. King came to Chicago she and her husband James Tregay, marched alongside him, often at great personal risk. It was at this time that Dr. King joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the Reverend James Bevel to form Operation Breadbasket. Breadbasket fought racism on many fronts, but its main task was jobs for African Americans, particularly from those businesses drawing profits from the African American community.

Under the leadership of Reverend Jackson, the months that Alice and her group of ordinary people spent picketing led to real change. But it was through her Political Education class, as a part of Operation Breadbasket that Alice’s had her most significant impact. Over a four year period, thousands were trained to work in independent political campaigns. This new force eventually evolved into a movement strong enough to re-elect Ralph Metcalf to congress (this time as an independent democrat), to elect Harold Washington, mayor, and to make Barack Obama, the first African American President.

Produced and directed by Craig Dudnick.

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Children in No Man's Land

by Anayansi I Prado

Named 'Best Film' by The Center for Mexican-American Studies and Research

Children In No-Man's Land is an award-winning documentary that uncovers the current plight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United States. The film will give this timely political debate about the U.S.-Mexico border a human face by exploring the stories of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they attempt to cross the US/Mexico border alone to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area in Nogales, Arizona, this film will explore every detail of these children's journey as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way as we uncover in an intimate and personal way where they are coming from, what their journeys have been like and how they've gone about it, through to the arrival at their destination their new home, The United States of America.


Immigrant Nation!: The Battle for the Dream

by Esau Melendez

Immigrant Nation! is a feature documentary about the modern immigrant rights movement in 2006 and ‘07. In particular, it is the story of the struggle of Elvira Arellano, a single mother from Chicago, who fought her deportation. The film also interweaves the stories of individuals, organizations, activists and community leaders united by passion and a concern for justice for the undocumented immigrants.



The film (97 minutes) weaves together the personal stories of those directly affected by the most brutal, most expensive, and one of largest Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in the history of the U.S. abUSed: The Postville Raid and presents the human face of immigration, the socioeconomic forces which fuel it, and serves as a cautionary tale against government abuses.

Immigration enforcement today, in the form of paper raids and criminalization of immigrants for even the most minor of offenses, produces the same effects as the Bush-era large work-site raids: separated families, traumatized children and devastated communities. Every day we have the equivalent of three Postville raids as 1,077 people are deported 365 days a year.

Sin País (Without Country)

Sin País (Without Country) attempts to get beyond the partisan politics and mainstream media’s ‘talking point’ approach to immigration issues by exploring one family’s complex and emotional journey involving deportation.

In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala during a violent civil war and brought their one-year old son, Gilbert, to California. The Mejia’s settled in the Bay Area, and for the past 17 years they have worked multiple jobs to support their family, paid their taxes, and saved enough to buy a home. They had two more children, Helen and Dulce, who are both U.S. citizens. Two years ago, immigration agents stormed the Mejia’s house looking for someone who didn’t live there. Sam, Elida, and Gilbert were all undocumented and became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system.

Sin País begins two weeks before Sam and Elida’s scheduled deportation date. After a passionate fight to keep the family together, Sam and Elida are deported and take Dulce with them back to Guatemala.
With intimate access and striking imagery, Sin País explores the complexities of the Mejia’s new reality of a separated family–parents without their children, and children without their parents.

Waste Land

Directed by Lucy Walker, 2010

What happens in the world’s largest trash city will transform you.

Nominated for a 2011 Oscar® for Best Documentary Feature. Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores” — or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Walker (Devil’s Playground, Blindsight, Countdown to Zero) has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.

Precious Knowledge 

Precious Knowledge reports from the frontlines of one of the most contentious battles in public education in recent memory, the fight over Mexican American studies programs in Arizona public schools. The film interweaves the stories of several students enrolled in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School with interviews with teachers, parents, school officials, and the lawmakers who wish to outlaw the classes.

While 48 percent of Mexican American students currently drop out of high school, Tucson High’s Mexican American Studies Program has become a national model of educational success, with 93 percent of enrolled students, on average, graduating from high school and 85 percent going on to attend college. The filmmakers spent an entire year in the classroom filming this innovative curriculum, documenting the transformative impact on students who became engaged, informed, and active in their communities.
As the nation turns its focus toward a wave of anti-immigration legislation in Arizona, the issue of ethnic chauvinism becomes a double-edged weapon in a simmering battle making front page news coast to coast. When Arizona lawmakers pass a bill giving unilateral power to the State Superintendent to abolish ethnic studies classes, teachers and student leaders fight to save the program using texts, Facebook, optimism, and a megaphone.
Lawmakers and politicians respond with a public relations campaign to discredit the students, claiming that a textbook used in the classes, Paulo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed teaches victimization and sedition. Officials ask that the classroom’s Che Guevara posters be replaced with portraits of founding father Benjamin Franklin. Meanwhile, the students answer back by fighting for what they believe is the future of public education for the entire nation, especially as the Latino demographic continues to grow.