Straight From Sundance

These three films come to HRAFF straight from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Our Programming Manager, Lauren Valmadre attended the festival to scope out  powerful human rights stories from the highly esteemed showcase.  It is with great pleasure that we present these films following their incredibly well-received premieres at Sundance.


Saturday 7 May 4pm at ACMI Melbourne

She inspired generations, pushed boundaries and never ceased in her long fight for freedom for all. Although she is most well noted for her poetry, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise celebrates her multiple talents including singing, dancing, filmmaking, academia and civil rights activism.



This overview of Maya Angelou’s work was made over a four-year period, which enabled filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn-Whack to interview Angelou several times before her 2014 death at age 86. The film conveys her strong voice through both her poetry and her activism, covering her close ties to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Other appearances include Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Common – an Angelou admirer who has faced off with her over his use of the n word in his rhymes. The inclusion of archival footage, interviews and recitals achieves a thorough visual portrait of a prolific life.

“Angelou had a formidable voice and a forceful personality, which made for a dramatic life. Since so much of that life was filmed and photographed, this bio-doc can’t help but have a visual flair.”  – Screen Daily



Women's right filmsHOOLIGAN SPARROW
Wednesday 18 May 6 pm at ACMI Melbourne

We follow Hooligan Sparrow and her fellow human rights activists as they travel to seek justice for six elementary school girls who have been sexually abused by their principal. First-time filmmaker Nanfu Wang becomes targeted by the Chinese government along side her protagonist.



Filmmaker Nanfu Wang’s feature-film debut, Hooligan Sparrow has been included in IFP’s Filmmaker Lab, the Sundance Institute’s Creative Producing Summit and Lab, Sundance Catalyst Forum, and DOK.Incubator in Leipzig, Germany.

After drawing the attention of the Chinese government whilst documenting the activism of her protagonist, Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow, Wang bravely shot much of the film guerrilla-style. She faced the added challenge of getting the footage out of China.

“At one point, I tried to ship a hard drive full of footage back to the U.S., which is where I live currently. Luckily the person at the shipping office told me that all media mail is inspected before it leaves China. I ended up having friends bring the drives one by one to the States during different trips.”

– Nanfu Wang
The resulting film is a powerful statement against the oppression of the Chinese government. This lead to an emotionally-charged Q&A session following its premiere  at Sundance, when Wang addressed her personal situation of no longer being able to return to China to visit her extended family.

“As stressful, challenging and frightening as making my film often was, my film’s subjects experienced much more severe consequences than I did,” said Wang. In the film we witness the eviction of Hooligan Sparrow from her apartment, and the eventual abandonment of Sparrow, her daughter and all of their belongings by the side of the road. This inspired the Chinese artist and activist, Ai WeiWei (previously showcased at HRAFF in the film The Look of Silence) to track down all of these possessions and create an installation, displaying each item on gallery walls.

“The film has a rough-hewn quality to it, but these raw and heart-pounding scenes are filled with dread and evoke an immediate sense of chaos and violence.” – Indiewire



Closing Night Thusday 19 May 7 pm at ACMI Melbourne
Also showing in BrisbanePerth, Canberra, Alice Springs and Sydney.

At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called “bad kids.”


The Bad Kids received the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking at Sundance 2016.

The award-winning filmmakers Keith Fulton (Producer/Director/Sound) and Lou Pepe (Producer/Director/Cinematographer) are alumni of the Sundance Institute’s Writing and Directing Labs. Their previous films include Lost in La Mancha and Brothers of the Head. With The Bad Kids they were invited to participate in the 2014 Sundance Catalyst Forum and have recently become recipients of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program Grant.

“It is the greatest hope of any documentarian to gain intimate access to a subject that dramatically represents a pressing human issue.  At Black Rock High we have found precisely that.  It is a school that tackles head-on America’s most serious education problem: intractable, generational poverty.  About such a crisis, one can make a film that speechifies and rattles off facts and figures, but at Black Rock we have the opportunity to create a moving and immersive drama that brings to life an inspiring attempt to combat this issue.”

– Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe

It is with the support of the U.S. Consulate that we have been able to bring filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe to the Melbourne session of The Bad Kids. Join us on Thursday 19 May for a post-film Q&A with the filmmakers.


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