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Define American Film Festival

  • About This Program

    Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture presents the second annual Define American Film Festival May 11-13, 2017, in partnership with Define American. All festival events will be held at the Gantt Center. The Define American Film Festival will focus on the intersectionality of interrelated communities, including stories of immigration, women, LGBTQ communities, and racial identity.

    Films highlighted include:

    • Dolores,” about civil rights activist and icon Dolores Huerta.
    • Meet the Patels,” a romantic comedy/documentary about the family of Charlottean Ravi Patel.
    • White People,” which Define American Co-Founder & CEO Jose Antonio Vargas directed and hosted for MTV.
    •  “Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African?” which explores how African women here and in West Africa wrestle with concepts like race, complexion, gender, and heritage and includes interviews with actress Issa Rae and others.
    • Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America,” which focuses on the story of North Carolina resident Moises Serrano.

    The festival will also highlight relevant short films like “Rita Mahtoubian is Not a Terrorist,” original short films by the media organization #EmergingUS and panel discussions with filmmakers and actors including Moises Serrano and director Tiffany Rhynard.

    Why Charlotte

    • Charlotte was selected because of the booming immigrant population in North Carolina.
    • The Gantt Center was identified as a partner because its programming around social justice and civil rights issues mirror some of the topics addressed in the DAFF Films
    • The Gantt Center understands the importance of telling America’s whole story.
    • Between 1990 and 2014, North Carolina's immigrant population has more than tripled with almost 750,000 immigrants calling North Carolina their home.
    • Charlotte has become "a major immigrant gateway," according to Brookings

    Define American Film Festival 2017 Films

    Thursday, May 11th at 7:00 PM

    DOLORES sheds light on this enigmatic, intensely private woman who is among the most important activists in American history. The film follows Dolores Huerta's fascinating life, from the fearless young woman confronting teamsters on violent picket lines to the activist grandmother nearly beaten to death by a San Francisco police squad. With unprecedented access to both Dolores and her children, the film reveals the raw, personal stories behind the public figure. It portrays a woman both heroic and flawed, working tirelessly for social change even as her eleven children longed to have her at home. The film revisits Dolores Huertas work in advocating for brown power and feminism to LGBTQ rights and environmental justice. Dolores provides a look at the barriers faced by women and people of color within the very communities they're fighting for.

    Panelists: Dolores Huerta, Paola Mendoza, Brittany Packnett
    Moderator: Kim Bui

    Friday, May 12th at 3:00 PM

    Letting his DNA makeup inform his travel itinerary, the Puerto Rican musician formerly known as Rene Perez Joglar embarks on a globetrotting journey of self-discovery in the ambitious, eponymous Residenté. The result makes for a diverse, highly personal musical odyssey which, while undeniably inspired, occasionally is structurally thrown off course by its inherent wanderlust.

    Panelists: Oliver Merino, Zun Lee
    Moderator: Damian Woetzl

    Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African
    Friday, May 12th at 5:00 PM

    A documentary film that explores the complex identity formations of young African women living in America and West Africa who identify bi-culturally. It specifically looks at how they wrestle with concepts of race, complexion, gender, and heritage among other issues.

    Panelists: Nadia Sasso, Desirée Venn Frederic, Jonathan Jayes-Green
    Moderator: TBD

    Meet The Patels
    Friday, May 12th at 8:00 PM

    Meet the Patels is a funny and lighthearted film about how a family's culture intersects with the love life of an Indian-American man. Meet The Patels – which features the Charlotte-based Patel family - uses humor to address a timely social issue: Directors, sister and brother team, Geeta and Ravi Patel began to explore and document the societal pressures of marriage in their first-generation Indian American family. Through research in India and America, they discovered that their Indian Issue was more of an American Issue: the majority of Americans with strong cultural and religious roots shared a serious psychological conflict when it came to dating (and marrying) outside of their skin color, culture, religion, and ethnicity.

    Panelists: Kalia Abiade, Vasant Patel
    Moderator: Taz Ahmed

    Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America
    Saturday, May 13th at 1:00 PM

    Moises’ story is a transformational journey from depression and despair to a life of passion and purpose. At his lowest point, he meets several undocumented immigrant activists who encourage him to publicly share his story outside the Yadkin County Courthouse. Although a big risk, speaking out sparks a sense of purpose for Moises and leads him, along with other activists, to establish El Cambio, an organization committed to immigrant and migrant rights in North Carolina. Viewers can readily connect to his passion, complexity, and all-around likability. His story relates directly to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., and LGBTQ individuals fighting for equality and civil rights.

    Panelists: Moises Serrano, Tiffany Rhynard, Cristina Morales
    Moderator: Bishop Tonyia Rawls

    White People
    Saturday, May 13th at 4:00 PM

    Pulitzer Prize-winning filmmaker and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas teams up with 5 young people across the country to dig deeper into what it really means to be white in our country and why it matters.

    Panelists: Ian Nelson, Shauna Siggelkow, Ronnie Cho
    Moderator: Marcus Ellsberg

    Panel: Stories We Tell – How Immigrants are Portrayed in Popular Culture
    Saturday, May 13th at 8:00 PM

    Panelists: Cristela Alonzo, Lorraine Ali, Nico Santos, April Reign, Kashif Shaikh
    Moderator: Melissa Harris-Perry

    Define American Film Festival Schedule

    Thursday, May 11

    • 6:00 PM – Doors open
    • 6:50 PM – Opening Remarks, Define American with Founder & CEO, Jose Antonio Vargas.
    • 7:00 PM – EU Short Unlicensed
    • 7:10 PM – Film - Dolores
    • 8:40 PM – Panel Discussion - Dolores
    • 9:15-11:00 PM – Opening Night Reception

    Friday, May 12

    • 2:00 PM – Doors open
    • 3:00 PM – Film - Residenté
    • 4:30 PM – Panel Discussion - Residenté
    • 5:00 PM – Short film - The Good Immigrant
    • 5:10 PM – Film - Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African?
    • 6:00 PM – Panel Discussion - Am I: Too African to be American or Too American to be African?
    • 8:00 PM – Short film - Rita Mahtoubian is Not a Terrorist
    • 8:10 PM – Film - Meet the Patels
    • 9:35 PM – Panel Discussion - Meet the Patels

    Saturday, May 13

    • 12:00 PM – Doors open
    • 1:00 PM – Short film - TransLatina Project
    • 1:10 PM – Film - Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America
    • 2:40 PM – Panel Discussion - Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America
    • 4:00 PM – EU short film - The White Box
    • 4:10 PM – Film - White People
    • 5:40 PM – Panel Discussion - White People
    • 8:00 PM -  Panel discussion - Immigration and Entertainment

    Share your thoughts with us on social media using the hashtags #DAFF and #DAFFatGantt.

    For additional details view the press release here.

    For more information about Define American Film Festival, click here.

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