April 13, 2024

The Social Justice Now Film Festival is poised with its 2024 film lineup. The festival takes place during Black History Month from Feb. 22-24.

This year, the SJNFF will spotlight the highly anticipated BET+ film Kemba, a film directed by Kelley Kali and written by Christine Swanson.

Notable projects include How to Sue the Klan, a documentary shorts from director John Beder, and producers including civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Cameron S. Mitchell, and Raji Ramanathan. Also Underwater Projects, which is directed by Dream Hampton and Liv Havstad, and the worldwide premiere of 848: The Criminalization of America, which Thomas Freeman, Jr, directs.

As reported in Shadow and Act, the festival’s mission, is presented by American Black Film Festival (ABFF) co-founders and producers Nicole and Jeff 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,” from Festival Director Melanie Sharee in an official 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 SJNF kicks off at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio lot in Culver City. The studio, is the festival’s founding sponsor.

Here is the full festival lineup:

Thursday, February 22, 2024

7 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 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 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 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 p.m.

Short Film Collection II

Underwater Projects 

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.

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. 

The post 2024 Lineup Announced for Social Justice Now Film Festival first appeared on The Source.

The post 2024 Lineup Announced for Social Justice Now Film Festival appeared first on The Source.

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