ENCORE 6 – I Am Bisha; The Issue of Mr. O’Dell; Girl-Hearted


I Am Bisha
What options do victimized populations have left when faced with a genocidal oppressor? One brave young Sudanese artist offers an answer in this short film directed by Roopa Gogineni. Ganja, the 26-year-old pacifist son of a rebel commander, travels across the Nuba Mountains of Sudan with a puppet of the dictatorial president Omar al-Bashir. In his performances, some of which include the participation of villagers, he satirizes “Bisha” and his ruthless and corrupt political dealings. Not only does he provide a modicum of hope and joy to the villages that have been ravaged by the Sudanese government’s bombs, but with his webcasts of the performances, he keeps the spirit of resistance alive. AM

The Issue of Mr. O’Dell
In his mid-90s, Jack O’Dell is one of the oldest living participants of the civil rights movement and perhaps one of its least celebrated leaders—and still as outspoken as ever. A self-proclaimed supporter of both the 1950s Communist Party and the 1960s civil rights movement, O’Dell was executive assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of King’s most trusted advisers in the years before the March on Washington. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy named him the number five Communist in the United States. This film tells the significant story of Jack O’Dell and the circumstances that led him to become part of the legacy of trailblazing, unsung heroes in American history. The issue of Mr. O’Dell is complicated at best. TD

Gracefully, and with open hearts, seven-year-old Nori and her mother, Josephin, reflect on their experiences together and on the ways they’ve traversed society’s expectations of them—and, perhaps more importantly, their own expectations of one another. Nori, born a boy, is actually a girl. Comfortable amid the gentle spaces of childhood—parks, performances, and the costume shop where Josephin is employed—Nori shines with assurance about her identity, while Josephin is forthcoming about the ambiguities she’s faced and the difficulties of learning to let her daughter take the lead. A film whose heart reaches past its 37 minutes, Girl-Hearted feels as though we’ve been let into an inner world. Harsh realities may play right around the edges, but we’re allowed to linger in the imaginative territory where only Nori and Josephin rule and where, despite the occasional humorous spat, their guiding principle might ultimately be the love they share.  SD

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