The Social Justice Now Film Festival (SJNFF) has set its 2024 lineup. The festival is set to take place from Feb. 22-24.
This year, the festival programming includes a spotlight screening of BET+’s Kemba, directed by Kelley Kali and written by Christine Swanson.
Other projects include the documentary shorts How to Sue the Klan, from director John Beder, producers Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, and Raji Ramanathan, Underwater Projects, directed by Dream Hampton and Liv Havstad, and the world premiere of 848: The Criminalization of America, directed by Thomas Freeman, Jr.
The mission of the festival, presented by American Black Film Festival producers Jeff and Nicole Friday’s Film Life Foundation, is “to watch, to reflect and to take action.” Per its description, the fest “provides a unique platform to showcase content that confronts the social and economic issues – racism, criminal justice reform, equity, education, and immigration rights facing Black and Brown communities. Through content from established and emerging filmmakers, along with engaging post-screening talkbacks with activists, authors and academics, the festival aims to amplify critical issues and encourage social change.”
“We believe in the power of film as a vehicle for social change,” said Festival Director Melanie Sharee in a statement. “Thank you to SONY for believing in the mission of this festival and providing a home for filmmakers to share their perspectives, amplify marginalized voices and engage with the community.”
The festival takes place at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio lot in Culver City. Sony Pictures is the festival’s founding sponsor.
Check out the full lineup below:
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Narrative Feature| 87 min
Director: Kelley Kali
Writer: Christine Swanson
Produced by: MPI Original Films
Producers: Rob Pfaltzgraff, Lana Link, Stacey Parks
Executive Producers: Nick Reid, Kemba Smith, Constance Orlando, Maureen Guthman
Cast: Nesta Cooper, Siddiq Saunderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Michelle Hurd
A sheltered college student who falls in love with a man, only to learn he is a drug kingpin, finds herself in the middle of the government’s “war on drugs.”
Friday, February 23,2024
The Fight for Black Lives
Documentary Feature | 72 min | LA Premiere
Producer/Director: Micere Keels
This film chronicles the ways that racial stress and the American healthcare system disadvantage the health of Black Americans.
Saturday, February 24, 2024
848:The Criminalization of America
Documentary Feature | 76 min | World Premiere
Writer/Director: Thomas Freeman, Jr.
Producer: Demetrius Hill
Executive Producers: Akira Pray, Dr Ansari, Nathaniel Banks
A criminal justice documentary focusing on U.S. code 848 aka the Kingpin charge – this charge calls for “Drug Kingpins,” even non-violent ones, to spend life in prison. Even though the laws have changed, some non-violent offenders are still stuck in federal prison after serving more than 30 years. This is the story of the how, why and what we can do to help!
Short Film Collection I
How to Sue the Klan
Documentary | 35 min
Director/Producer: John Beder
Producers: Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, Raji Ramanathan
How to Sue the Klan is the story of how five Black women from Chattanooga used legal ingenuity to take on the Ku Klux Klan in a historic 1982 civil case, fighting to hold the Klan accountable for their crimes and bring justice to their community. The women’s victory set a legal precedent that continues to inspire the ongoing fight against organized hate.
Bienvenidos a Los Angeles
Narrative | 17 min
Writer/Director: Lisa Cole
Producers: Vivian Johnson, Cindy Lu, Jolene Mendes, Benjamin O’Keefe, Lolia Etomi
Cast: Destiny Faith Nelson, Stacey Patino, Ethan Mendez, Rashmi Rustagi, Yvonne Huff Lee
The timely story of Imani, a Nigerian single mother living in Los Angeles, who offers to help a perfect stranger reunite with her son. In doing so, Imani learns this simple act of kindness threatens to jeopardize her own path to citizenship.
Narrative |16 min
Writer/Director: Jamie Burton-Oare
Producer: Jamie Burton-Oare
Executive Producer: Shannon E. Riggs
Cast: Stephen Hill
For Eric, it is a normal day in his life/neighborhood. For the world, it’s the day Eric faces the reality of taking his last breath.
Short Film Collection II
Documentary | 28 min | World Premiere
Co-Directors: Dream Hampton, Liv Havstad
Norfolk, Virginia is sinking. The already insufficient sea wall ends where a public housing project, St. Paul’s, begins. St. Paul’s housing projects’ residents are Black people. Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base and there is currently no public plan to prevent it from going underwater.
Narrative | 16 min | LA Premiere
Director: Aristotle Torres
Writers: Aristotle Torres, Roderick Lawrence
Producer: Roderick Lawrence
Cast: Roderick Lawrence, Kara Young, Michael Park
Silas Jones is an accomplished, Black trial attorney on the cusp of making partner at a white-shoe law firm. Upon successfully defending a white woman charged with murdering a Black teen, Silas comes to a crossroads with his wife Kosi, an equally accomplished professor, as they prepare to attend the firm’s celebration. As the night progresses, Silas questions the legitimacy of his promotion. Will he make the ultimate sacrifice?
Musical Narrative | 13 min | LA Premiere
Writer/Director: Alexander Craven
Producers: Jeff Pifher, Shane Collins
Cast: Natalie Hanna Mendoza, John Robert Hall
When Elena and Cameron are ripped apart by an act of racism, both must stand up for what they believe to keep the door of love open.