Sponsored by Seattle's great Books to Prisoners—the all-volunteer organization that mails 15,000 packages of reading materials to prisoners each year—the Social Justice Film Festival packs 60 films exploring racism, criminal justice, and global human rights into four days of screenings all over town (from downtown's Cinerama and Market Theater to Ballard's Majestic Bay to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center). This year's official focus: prisoner justice, with a sub-focus on prestigious guests.
Among the highlights: Mothers of Bedford, Jenifer McShane's festival-opening documentary following the lives of five women (all mothers with young children) incarcerated in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Tula the Revolt, a high-drama action film about a historical slave uprising in Curacao (with star and social activist Danny Glover in attendance for a post-film Q&A!). Invisible Young, Steve Keller's documentary following four young adults who were all homeless teens on the streets of Seattle. And The Central Park Five with Sister Helen Prejean, featuring Ken Burns's brilliant documentary about the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989, followed by a talk by Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and tireless social justice activist, who will speak about the death penalty and her work to promote prisoner justice.
Meanwhile, SIFF Cinema Uptown welcomes the 21st annual Seattle Polish Film Festival, offering six days of Polish cinematic goodness with English subtitles. This year's opening night film: Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, a documentary examining the artist's troubled history, which will be immediately followed by Polanski's 1962 classic Knife in the Water, the psychodrama that introduced Polanski to the world and earned an Oscar nomination. Other films include You Are God, a documentary on the underground Polish hiphop group Paktofonika, and Tumult Over Lodz, an experimental film painting a portrait of the city of Lodz via stock footage, archival news broadcasts, film clips, and much, much more.
The Social Justice Film Festival runs Oct 10–13 at various locations; view the schedule at socialjusticefilmfestival.org. The Seattle Polish Film Festival runs Oct 11–13 and 18–20 at SIFF Cinema Uptown; find full info at polishfilms.org.