WHAT NOW? Towards Artist-Led Movements – SJFF Shorts [In-Person Only]

Sat Oct 01:
5:30pm – Happy Hour
7.00pm – Short Film Showcase

Free RSVP!

Admission to this event is free with an in-person ticket, but you must RSVP separately to these offsite events within the Eventbrite registration form in order to attend.


Common Field welcomes you to a special short film showcase curated by Social Justice Film Festival on the occasion of WHAT NOW? Towards Artist-Led Movements.

Common Field, which has connected, supported, and advocated for a network of independent arts organizations and organizers since 2015, convenes in Seattle for their final gathering Friday, Sep 30 – Sunday, Oct 2, 2022. Organized in collaboration with an incredible Seattle team, the event hopes to harness the momentum of existing work, and the potential to grow from within decentralized, artist-driven movements, created by and for communities.


Featured Films:

Behind These Walls

CW: talk of violence

Behind These Walls documents the experience of Sean “Dino” Johnson through his own unsparing words. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Johnson served a 15-year prison sentence for a drug-related charge. His conviction occurred during the national war on drugs, and before New York State began to reform its notorious Rockefeller drug laws. While incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Johnson discovered the prison’s theater program and was initially skeptical, saying “We are in a maximum security facility and you want me to run around in tights talking about to be or not to be?” Johnson takes the leap though, and the film’s archival excerpts of his in-prison performances alongside his compelling narrative reveal how the dramatic arts impacted his ability to self-correct and express empathy. He describes his mental and emotional transformation as liberating, concluding “I found my freedom behind those walls.”

(Susan Margolin, US, 2021, 6 min)

To Repair 修理

In a moment of extreme division within the United States, a Japanese American artist creates work that honors the family story of a Black American friend alongside that of her own community. In doing so, she reveals how the two communities’ rhyming reparations movements and histories can create deep solidarity and healing.

(Erin Shigaki, US, 2021, 5 min, in English)

When Mama & Me Lived Outside: One Family's Journey Through Homelessness

Tiny Gray-Garcia’s heartbreaking true story about growing up on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland with her mother, Mama Dee. Based on her children’s book of the same name with illustrations by Ace Robles and music score by Lottie Johnston.

(Peter Menchini, US, 2021, 8 min, in English)

Therefore, Socrates is Mortal

Facing the climate crisis, Louise, a philosophy teacher, turns words into action.

(Alexandre Isabelle, Canada, 2021, 12 min, in French with English subtitles)

New-Chah-Nulth: Reclaiming Tradition

CW: stories of residential schools and racism may be triggering

The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Vancouver Island, BC are decolonizing indigenous education. They are integrating language, tradition, and land-based skills into their school curriculum to save their culture from the brink of extinction and offer a different future for the next generations.

There are few elders left who speak Nuu-chah-nulth, the traditional language of the First Nations peoples along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Many are survivors of the last residential school in BC, which closed in 1983. As more knowledge keepers pass on every year, the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations are fighting to keep their culture alive. “What happens when we go? What happens when we pass away?” asks an elder.

For over a thousand years, the 14 tribes that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth nations have lived in balance with nature. Now, we see them turning to land-based skills as a tool for cultural reclamation. We meet a fisherwomen, a culture & language teacher, and a totem pole carver. All three committed to passing down their knowledge.

They believe that only when the next generation is reconnected with their true identity will their potential be realized. That education can be a part of the solution, if more space is made for indigenous ways of knowing in the classroom. “It was lost within schools, allow them to relearn within the school system,” suggests another elder.

The Nuu-chah-nulth are part of a shifting tide across Canada, who are fighting earnestly for their land, rights and sovereignty, with each community doing what they can to heal wounds from the past and reclaim what was stolen.

(Michael Morash, Canada, 2021, 17 min, in English)

Becoming Black Lawyers

CW: discussion of race and slavery

When these five Black lawyers set out on their journeys to receive a professional legal education, they did not realize that they would have to struggle against additional battles even more challenging than the rigors of learning the law in a hypercompetitive environment. They discover the contradictions of studying in an institution that idealistically represents “justice” for all.

(Evangeline Mitchell, US, 2021, 25 min, in English)

About WHAT NOW? Towards Artist-Led Movements

WHAT NOW?—a hybrid gathering designed by a Seattle team of artists and organizers led by Vee Hua 華婷婷 and Julie-C Chang Schulman, in partnership with Common Field—is organized to envision the transformative possibilities birthed in moments of uncertainty. Onsite and online programs will be holistic and interactive to maximize the engagement and utility of resources, and will seek to strengthen creative ecosystems by exploring The Role of Artists and Structures of Support in this work. Sessions will include peer-to-peer workshops, collaborative arts network mapping sessions, facilitated conversations, and moments of embodied practice. A combination of virtual and in-person programs will bring local and national voices together across regions to share the work that’s working, and dream the models for our futures.

For a detailed program overview and more on our Partners, organizers, advisors, presenters and session facilitators, please visit the WHAT NOW? page on CommonField.org.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and communication access real-time (CART) captioning will be provided for all sessions, onsite and online. We welcome you to review our event accessibility, venue health and safety guidelines, and Common Field’s Community Care Agreements on our website.

Please note: in-person tickets are designed to engage local and regional arts organizers who live within driving distance of Seattle’s Central District. Online tickets, in turn, are meant for members of the broader national audience who live outside this region.


About Social Justice Film Festival

Presented by the Social Justice Film Institute, Northwest Film Forum, and the Meaningful Movies Project, the 2022 Social Justice Film Festival is a celebration of the power of people and film to push for change within their homes and communities.

This year’s program runs from September 28 to October 2 and features a competitive, curated selection of short and feature films that highlight many of today’s key human crises. Taken together, the genre-spanning films ask how we activate and create refuge in response to crisis.

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Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave,

Seattle, WA 98122

206 329 2629

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