Saturday, December 21, 2019


New York, NY (December 12, 2019)- The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan announces the launch of a brand-new film festival next month: Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival, which will present impactful films to engage the community toward a more democratic, inclusive, and just society. The festival, which will run January 16-20, 2020, explores various themes of inequality, injustice, advocacy and social responsibility, and sheds a light on timely social issues, including racial discrimination, LGTBQIA rights, environmental and water justice, immigrant rights and religious intolerance. 
Timed to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the festival, through films, special events, and conversations, aims to inspire participants to reflect, and take action in order to create a community of civic-minded individuals eager to make a collective change. In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, the festival’s ultimate goal is to promote social action that leads to positive change in our society and beyond. 
Isaac Zablocki, senior director of the JCC’s Carole Zabar Film Center said,
"We selected films for the Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festivalthat touch on some of the most important topics that are relevant to our community today. We believe films can impact like no other form of communication and can help reshape our society by inspiring towards action."
The festival’s Opening Night selection will be Anthony Mandler’s timely criminal justice story, ALL RISE (formerly known as “Monster”), about Steve Harmon, a young black teenager, honors student and aspiring filmmaker, who is charged with felony murder. Adapted from the best-selling novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Mandler’s debut film premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and stars Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jennifer Ehle, Jeffrey Wright and Tim Blake Nelson. “All Rise” will screen Thursday, January 16 at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A and the opening night reception. 
The festival’s Closing Night selection will be a special screening of Kasi Lemmons’ narrative feature, HARRIET, which tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. The inspiring biopic, which stars Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn and Janelle Monáe, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and opened in theaters nationwide last month. The film will screen on Monday, January 20 at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A. 
Sheryl Parker, director of the JCC’s Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility said
"This festival is about much more than showing timely films on important issues. Our goal at Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival is to show great films that inspire people to want to do something  — and then provide them with concrete ways to move from inspiration to meaningful action."  
Other highlights from the festival lineup include:
The East Coast premiere of Leana Hosea’s eye-opening documentary THIRST FOR JUSTICEwhich explores the devastating fallout felt by communities across the U.S. (from Flint, Michigan to the Navajo Nation)whose water supplies have been contaminated and where our most precious of resources, clean drinking water, is not being treated as a basic human right; Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Barnett’s dynamic and transformative documentary CHANGING THE GAME, which takes us into the lives of three transgender high school athletes—all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths experiencing both success and fierce resistance in the world of sports; Linda Goldstein’s thought-provoking documentary WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS, which follows a group of 8 to 12-year-old girls of color in Oakland, CA, called the Radical Monarchs--a social justice-oriented alternative to the Girl Scouts--whose mission is to create and inspire a new generation of social justice activists; Adam Zucker’s compelling documentary AMERICAN MUSLIM, a film about being Muslim in the Age of Trump; Billy McMillin’s debut documentary film THE ALL-AMERICANS, about the East LA Classic--an annual football game between the country’s fiercest high school football rivals, James A. Garfield High School and Theodore Roosevelt High School, located in the nation’s largest Latino immigrant community—and the personal obstacles some of their players face while they strive to make sense of their place in today’s America; Jacqueline Olive’s debut feature documentary ALWAYS IN SEASON, which follows the harrowing story of a mother as she dives deeper into her son’s horrific murder and sparks a national conversation to find justice for his case; and Barak Goodman Chris Durrance’s stirring documentary film SLAY THE DRAGON about a secretive, high-tech gerrymandering initiative launched 10 years ago which threatens to undermine our democracy and hailed by Variety as “the most important political film of the year”.

All films will be followed by conversations with filmmakers and activists. Tickets go on sale December 12. To learn more, visit or call 646.505.5708.


To further engage the community toward action, the festival will host a variety of events throughout the weekend including:

Shabbat Shabbang: Presented in Partnership with Cinematters
Our dinners will include films, panels, and music that inspires social action—taking the spiritual practice of breaking bread together and using our shared time to explore social justice, history, current and political happenings, and other matters of interest to Jewish and NYC audiences. Pre-registration required. 
Friday, January 17 | 7 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan| $18 per person
Cinematters R&R: Shabbat at the JCC
An amazing opportunity to experience the Cinematters Festival as a family and as a community, R&R is an incredible alternative to the typical New York Saturday and it’s all free! Suitable for adults and children, this day will include films and artists, storytelling, the Peace of Heart Choir, text study on social justice, art, yoga, musical performance, discussions, panels, open play, and more. 
Saturday, January 18 | 2–5 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan| Free
Cinematters Social Justice Fair
Meet face-to-face with representatives from community organizations doing powerful social justice work across a wide variety of issues, including climate change, housing justice, immigrant and refugee rights, and more! Come find a way to plug in, get connected, and take action.
Sunday, January 19 | Noon–5 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan| Free
From Intention to Action: A Morning of Advocacy + Service
Join us on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a morning of learning, reflection, service, and action to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Participate in workshops on how to take action on immigrant rights, environmental justice, racial equity, and more; or participate in hands-on service projects, including cooking a meal for the B’nai Jeshurun/Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew Homeless Shelter.
MLK Day: Monday, January 20 | 11 a.m.–2 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan | Free
Activism Café
Join us on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a creative series of conversations about the most critical issues of our time. Learn from artists and experts doing the work, and leave with a deeper understanding of how you can commit to making a change in the world. Endless coffee included.
MLK Day: Monday, January 20 | 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan| Free
For up-to-date schedule and speaker information, visit
The full list, schedule & descriptions of Cinematters festival titles:
All Rise
**Opening Night**
Dir. Anthony Mandler 
98 min | Narrative 
“Monster” is what the prosecutor calls 17-year-old honors student and aspiring filmmaker Steve Harmon, charged with felony murder. But is Steve really a monster? Adapted from the best-selling novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers.
Thursday, January 16 | 7 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Followed by Opening Night Reception
The All-Americans
Dir. Billy McMillin
98 min | Documentary
Every year, in the nation’s largest Latino immigrant community, a game between the country’s fiercest high school football rivals draws over 25,000 spectators. The All-Americansfollows four players struggling to find their place in today’s America, as they prepare to play in the East LA Classic.
Sunday, January 19 | 4:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Always in Season 
Dir. Jacqueline Olive
90 min | Documentary
Claudia Lacy moves from paralyzing grief to leading the fight for justice for her son, Lennon. Lennon’s case, and the suspicions surrounding it, intersects with stories of other communities committed to breaking the silence of their own recent histories and leading the way to justice.  
Check website for screening details
American Muslim
Dir. Adam Zucker
82 min | Documentary 
Under the 18-month duration of the Muslim ban, five Muslim-Americans in New York City confront the Age of Trump.
Friday, January 17 | 7 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Changing the Game 
Dir. Michael Barnett
95 min | Documentary
This dynamic documentary takes us into the lives of three transgender high school athletes—all at different stages of their athletic seasons, personal lives, and unique paths experiencing both success and fierce resistance in the world of sports.
Saturday, January 18 | 5 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
College Behind Bars
Dir. Lynn Novick
45 min | Documentary (Highlights)
This four-part documentary film series directed by filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, tells the story of a small group of incarcerated men and women struggling to earn college degrees and turn their lives around in one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the United States – the Bard Prison Initiative. Highlights from the series will be shown.
Friday, January 17 | 7 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Slay the Dragon
Dir. Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance 
101 min | Documentary
A secretive, high-tech gerrymandering initiative launched 10 years ago threatens to undermine our democracy. Slay the Dragon follows everyday people as they fight to make their votes matter.
Saturday, January 18 | 7:30 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Thirst for Justice 
**East Coast Premiere**
Dir. Leana Hosea
70 min | Documentary 
In the face of official denial and repression, extraordinary citizens fight for clean water. Can they succeed?
Sunday, January 19 | 2 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality 
**Special Screening**
Dir. Peter Kunhardt, George Kunhardt + Teddy Kunhardt
101 min | Documentary
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, advocates on behalf of the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. This intimate portrait follows his struggle to create greater fairness in the system and shows how racial injustice emerged, evolved, and continues to threaten the country.
Monday, January 20 | 2 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
We Are the Radical Monarchs 
Dir. Linda Goldstein Knowlton
97 min | Documentary
Meet the Radical Monarchs, a group of young girls of color at the front lines of social justice in Oakland, started by two fierce queer women of color. We follow them as they face the challenge to grow the organization, before and after the 2016 election. 
Saturday, January 18 | 2 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
**Closing Night | Special Screening**
Dir. Kasi Lemmons
125 min | Narrative 
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriettells the tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
Monday, January 20 | 5 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Pre-Screening Closing Night Reception | 4 p.m. | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Main Screening Venue:
334 Amsterdam Ave. (at 76th St.)
New York, NY 10023
**Additional screenings at participating venues will be announced online. 
Available online at www.cinematters.filmor call 646.505.5708
General admission film tickets: $15
Student tickets: $7 with valid student ID
Festival Pass: $50 (Good for five general admission tickets based on availability.)
Opening Night (Film + Reception): $36
Closing Night (Film + Reception): $18 
About Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival
The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival presents impactful films thatengage the community toward a more democratic, inclusive, and just society. The festival explores themes of inequality, injustice, and social responsibility. Through films, special events, and conversations, we aim to inspire participants to reflect and take action in order to create a community of civic-minded individuals eager to make a collective change. In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, our goal is to promote social action that leads to positive change in our society and beyond.  
About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. The cornerstone of progressive programming in Manhattan, the JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that extend beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at

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