New Mini-Festival Focuses on Diversity

Posted by Larry Geeson

The Ojai Film Festival will present its 22nd consecutive event celebrating independent films from around the world LIVE in Ojai, November 5-8, 2021. A new mini-festival within the umbrella of the 22nd Annual Ojai Film Festival reflects the theme “Enriching the Human Spirit through Film.” This inaugural “Diversity and Inclusion for Social Impact and Vision” program explores the breadth of “diversity.” At the same time it examines “intersectionality,” aspects of a person’s identity that may cause conflict yet create an opportunity for understanding marginalized communities.

“Intersectionality” observes overlapping factors, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientations, that cause discrimination. It also establishes ways to show sensitivity to shared social hardships. “Diversity” encompasses acceptance and understanding by recognizing our individual differences. Together these promote learning about one another to move beyond simple tolerance, and to embrace the rich dimensions of diversity contained within everybody.

This mini-festival consists of thirteen films sprinkled throughout the Festival, plus a dynamic two-part panel. The first panel focuses on Women in Filmmaking, highlighting career gains. The second panel centers on LGBTQ+ Representation, where filmmakers discuss the growth of queer visibility on Film & TV. announced soon.

Films competing in the 2021 Diversity category:

  • Streets of Lagos by Dom West (Documentary Short) gives a rare insight into the lives of Nigeria’s first generation of rollerbladers.

  • At the Ready by Maisie Crow (Documentary Feature). For most teenagers, the sound of gunshots ringing through hallways is their worst nightmare, but for criminal justice students at Horizon High, it’s the first step toward achieving their American Dream. At The Ready follows three Mexican-American students as they embark on a career path to become police officers and Border Patrol agents.

  • Missing in Brooks County by Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss (Documentary Feature) families search for their missing loved ones in the vast ranch lands of Brooks County, Texas, the site of more migrant deaths than anywhere else in the country.

  • Jasmine Road by Warren Sulatucky (Narrative Feature) a widowed conservative cowboy takes in a Syrian refugee family of Arabic ice cream makers.

  • Storm Lake by Jery Risius & Beth Levison (Documentary Feature) Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Art Cullen and his family fight to unite and inform their rural Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper.

  • The Recess by Navid Nikkhah Azad (Narrative Short) Sahar is determined to attend an AFC Champions League football match in spite of the national ban on women to enter football stadiums in Iran. Sahar disguises herself as a boy with the help of her friends. Things take a tragic turn when Sahar’s disguise is uncovered. Inspired by true events, The Recess explores gender oppression in Iranian society.


  • Voice Above Water by Dana Frankoff (Documentary Short) Wayan uses his fishing boat and net to pull trash from the water in hopes of being able to fish again.

  • FreeBird by Michael Joseph McDonald & Joe Bluhm (Animation)A boy with Down’s Syndrome grows to adulthood under the loving care of his mother. Although the boy experiences his share of challenges—including an absent father and a classroom bully—he finds love and acceptance thanks to his mother’s support. Years later, roles are reversed when the boy, now an adult, returns home to care for his aging mother.

  • Mommy or Daddy by John H. LaDue Jr. & Jennifer Ladue (Documentary Feature) a Filipino-Japanese mother finds she is not alone on her journey to be reunited with her son.

  • SFUMATO by Amirali Mirderikvand (Documentary Short) in Iran the eldest child a rural family helps them a lot in life, but continues to face difficulties and obstacles.

  • All the World is Sleeping by Ryan Lacen (Narrative Feature) a mother sinks in her addiction while struggling to surface for her daughter.

  • The Forgotten Place by Oscar Rene Lozoya (Narrative Short) Eric wants to find a friend but doesn’t know how.

Not to miss! On Sunday, November 7th, the Ojai Film Festival will present its first Social Impact and Vision Award, sponsored by Panavision.

Tickets and packages are available here.

Trained actor-director, producer-writer Eshaana Sheth at the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival. Sheth screened her film The Butter Knife to rave reviews. (Photo Credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

(Source: Ojai Film News)

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