Film Life Foundation Social Justice Now Film Festival Announces 2024 Lineup

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Set to Run February 22-24, SJNFF Showcases Storytelling and Conversations that Challenge, Motivate and Inspire Change

Featuring Kemba – Inspired by the Life Story of Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Kemba Smith

LOS ANGELES, (February 12, 2024) – The Social Justice Now Film Festival (SJNFF), presented by the Film Life Foundation, today announced its lineup of official narrative, documentary features and short films. The festival will run February 22-24, 2024, at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio lot in Culver City. Sony Pictures is the event’s Founding Sponsor.

This year’s program will feature impactful spotlight screenings including the BET+ Original Film Kemba, directed by Kelley Kali and written by Christine Swanson, both ABFF Alums; documentary shorts How to Sue the Klan, by Emmy nominated director John Beder, producers Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, and Raji Ramanathan, Underwater Projects, directed by Dream Hampton and Liz Havstad; and the world premiere of 848: The Criminalization of America, directed by Thomas Freeman, Jr.

With the mission “to watch, to reflect and to take action,” the Social Justice Now Film Festival 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. 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 schedule for the Social Justice Now Film Festival is below or visit https://socialjusticenowfilmfestival.org/films/. To attend visit Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/social-justice-now-film-festival-78794526593. Follow SJNFF @socialjusticenowfilmfestival

Thursday, February 22, 2024

7:00 p.m.
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

7:00 p.m.
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

1:00 p.m.

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!

4:00 p.m.
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.

7:00 p.m.
Short Film Collection II

Underwater Projects
Documentary | 28 min | World Premiere
Co-Directors: Dream Hampton, Liz 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.

Silent Partner
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.

About The Social Justice Now Film Festival
The Social Justice Now Film Festival presented by the Film Life Foundation is dedicated to showcasing content that confronts racism and heightens awareness of the social and economic issues that negatively affect Black and Brown people in the United States. Sony Pictures is SJNFF’s founding sponsor.

About Film Life Foundation
The Film Life Foundation (FLF) is a nonprofit organization founded by American Black Film Festival producers Jeff and Nicole Friday. Based in Los Angeles, the organization is dedicated to spearheading diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry, as well as bringing people of different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives closer together through the transformative medium of film. The foundation’s work is centered on cause-oriented programs in the areas of social justice, education, professional development and cultural exchange. For more information, visit www.filmlifefoundation.org

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. Sony Pictures Television operates dozens of wholly-owned or joint-venture production companies around the world. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, 3000 Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, Sony Pictures International Productions, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html

Media Contact:
Chelsye J. Burrows
[email protected]

2024 SJNFF Images