Five documentary films showcasing various aspects of life in the United States will be shown during the American Film Showcase festival that opens on February 23 at the Pobeda movie theater in Minsk and lasts until Friday, February 27. Two movie experts from the United States will be special guests at the festival. Director and film producer Jean-Michel Dissard will present his own film “I Learn America” and will be joined by the film expert Michael Renov to respond to the questions from the audience. Admission is free. Screenings start at 18:30.
1. I Learn America
Directors: Jean-Michel Dissard, Gitte Peng
Running Time: 90 minutes
In I Learn America five resilient immigrant teenagers come together over a year at the International High School at Lafayette and struggle to learn their new land. The students strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, confront the universal trials of adolescence, and search for a future they can claim as their own. Through these five vibrant young people, their stories and struggles, and their willingness to open their lives and share them with us, we “learn America.”
Director: Evan Leong
Running Time: 89 minutes
In February 2012, an entire nation of basketball fans unexpectedly went “Linsane.” Stuck in the mire of a disappointing season, the New York Knicks did what no other NBA team had thought about doing—they gave backup point guard Jeremy Lin an opportunity to prove himself. He took full advantage, scoring more points in his first five NBA starts than any other player in the modern era, and created a legitimate public frenzy in the process. Prior to this now-legendary run, Lin had faced adversity in his career at every turn. He wasn’t offered a scholarship by any major university, nor was he drafted by any NBA team after a standout collegiate career at Harvard. Director Evan Jackson Leong embarked on this documentary before Jeremy Lin was a household name, following the future star as he struggled to find his place in a league where Asian American players are few and far between. More than just a film for basketball addicts, Linsanity serves as an insightful study of the way we perceive race in America and shows what is possible if someone believes in himself.
3. Spinning Plates
Director: Joseph Levy
Running Time: 93 minutes
Spinning Plates is a documentary about three extraordinary restaurants and the incredible people who bring them to life. A world-renowned chef competes for the ultimate restaurant prize in Chicago, while privately battling a life-threatening condition. A 150-year-old restaurant in Iowa is still standing only because of an unbreakable bond with the community. And a fledgling Mexican restaurant in Tucson struggles as its owners risk everything to survive and provide for their young daughter. Their unforgettable stories of family, legacy, passion and survival come together to reveal how meaningful food can be, and the power it has to connect us to one another.
Director: Jason DaSilva
Running Time: 85 minutes
In 2006, 25-year-old Jason DaSilva was on vacation at the beach with family when, suddenly, he fell down. He couldn’t get back up. His legs had stopped working; his disease could no longer be ignored. Just a few months earlier doctors had told him that he had multiple sclerosis, which could lead to loss of vision and muscle control, as well as a myriad of other complications. Jason tried exercise to help cope, but the problem only worsened. After his dispiriting fall on the beach, he turned to his Mom, who reminded him that, despite his disease, he was still a fortunate kid who had the opportunity to pursue the things he loved most: art and filmmaking. Jason picked up the camera, turned it on his declining body, and set out on a worldwide journey in search of healing, self-discovery, and love. An emotional documentary filled with unexpected moments of humor and joy, When I Walk is a life-affirming film driven by a young man’s determination to survive—and to make sense of a devastating disease through the art of cinema.
5. The Other Shore
Director: Timothy Wheeler
Running Time: 95 minutes
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.