New and worth noting…
In the Radiant City. How long must people suffer for past mistakes, and how does a family find a pathway to forgiveness? These are some questions at the heart of this thoroughly engaging and flawlessly made drama. Twenty years before the action begins, a 17-year-old boy killed a child by setting fire to a house. He was sent to prison based on the testimony of his younger brother. Now, the older man is up for parole.
Timecode. Luna and Diego are parking lot security guards, but this delightfully unique, Oscar-nominated, 15-minute feature from Spain shows us that there is much more to these two than their drab uniforms might suggest.
Sing. Faced with an imperious teacher, members of a children’s choir invent a creative way to stand up for each other in this charming 25-minute short feature from Hungary.
4.1 Miles (22 minutes) and Watani: My Homeland (39 minutes) are two powerful short documentaries about what Syrian refugees face.
Ixcanul. In this Guatemalan feature film that gains authenticity from a mostly non-professional cast, a 17-year-old girl in a remote village faces one cultural and economic obstacle after another as she tries to follow her dreams.
The Other Son. Two boys have been raised for their first 18 years on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Then, their families learn that their sons were born in the same hospital and mistakenly switched.
Graduation. A Romanian doctor has long dreamed that his daughter will go to a university abroad and escape their country’s bleakness and corruption. But in trying to realize that dream, will he become part of the system he wants her to escape?
Acts and Intermissions. An hour-long collage of words and images centered on anarchist Emma Goldman draws on archival footage, reenactment, and current events.
Fatima. A Muslim immigrant to France and her two daughters each follow different paths as they try to build a life in their new home.
The Watermelon Woman. Remastered for its 20th anniversary, this pioneering film follows a young black lesbian filmmaker trying to make a documentary about an elusive African American actress from the 1930s.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Random House). The lives of two couples intersect in this timely novel – a Lehman Brothers executive and his wife on the eve of the 2008 Wall Street crash, and two hard-working immigrants from Cameroon who end up working for them.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Ballentine). A very readable and suspenseful novel (despite an implausible ending) doubles as a thought-provoking introduction for white readers to issues of racism and implicit bias.
City of Grit and Gold by Maud Macrory Powell (Allium). This short novel can work for everyone from middle-school students to adults as it recounts from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl how her family becomes divided by a strike for the 8-hour day by mostly immigrant workers in 1886 in Chicago.
From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Haymarket). Throughout U.S. history, black activists and their allies have found that confronting issues of race requires also confronting issues of class, gender, and economic justice.
Where the Line is Drawn by Raja Shehadeh (The New Press). A leading Palestinian writer tells how occupation of his country has affected him personally over the past 40 years and describes the ups and downs of his long friendship with a Jew living in Israel.
The Vanishing Middle Class by Peter Temin (MIT). Some of the economic, political, and historical roots of the increasing divide between America’s top 1% in wealth and those at the bottom and in the shrinking middle are explored.
All the Real Indians Died Off by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Beacon). Two scholars refute 21 myths about Native Americans commonly taught in U.S. schools, media, and pop culture.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins (HarperCollins). Sixteen short stories by the African American director of the 1982 film, Losing Ground, evoke relationships and experiences during the civil rights era and beyond.
Look by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf). A poet of Iranian descent writes powerfully about the impacts of war, both in the Middle East and here in the U.S. Some poems are built around phrases in the U.S. military’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Others are in the form of censored letters from military prison, with key words missing.
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies (Houghton Mifflin). Chinese-American experiences are explored in this novel through four lives in four time periods – a worker in the California gold rush and building of the railroads; a Hollywood actress in the 1920s; Vincent Chin, killed by Detroit auto workers who thought he was Japanese; and a half- Chinese man who goes with his wife to adopt a baby in China.
In Wild Trust by Jeff Fair, photographs by Larry Aumiller (University of Alaska). Text and photos share the insider experiences of the long-time director of an Alaskan state sanctuary for brown bears.
Red: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau (Princeton). One in a series of beautifully reproduced art books about individual colors, this one traces the use of red throughout the history of European societies as culture and art trends evolved.
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded by Unite (Duke University). Back in print with a new foreword, this classic collection of essays describes how foundation and government funding discourages some nonprofits from fighting for fundamental change.
Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein (Akashic). The main character in this romantic tale is a woman who is a traveling speaker for women’s rights before and during World War I and the fight for women’s suffrage.
Hitler’s American Model by James Q. Whitman (Princeton). In the 1930s, the German Nazis drew on American laws and practices on race as they laid the groundwork for the Holocaust.
Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman (University of Alaska). The writings of a scientist who studied wolves for 43 years shed light on many misconceptions about their social life and hunting habits, and about what humans must do to keep from making them extinct.
Sweet Lorain by The U-Liners. Spirited songs, most with some political angle, performed by a talented band.
The Beautiful Not Yet by Carrie Newcomer. A CD and accompanying book of lyrics and poems that have spiritual overtones, including “You Can Do This Hard Thing,” “Help in Hard Times,” and “Slender Thread” about staying connected.
Graveyard Whistling by Old 97s (ATO). Some fresh songwriting, including “She Hates Everybody (But Me).”
Do What Your Heart Say To by Scott Ramminger. Songs like “Give a Pencil to a Fish” are backed by a lively ensemble that sometimes sounds like The Band or Eric Clapton.