Film festival set for Long Beach

LONG BEACH - The second annual Hope and Freedom Film Festival returns on Saturday, May 21, and begins at 10 a.m. in the Art Theater at 2025 East 4th Street in Long Beach. Admission is free.The mission of the Hope and Freedom Film Festival is to help create a society where all individuals have equal rights, according to Festival Director Kevin Johnson. "The festival encourages submissions that further the broad goals of ensuring political, social, educational and economic equality for all people," explained Johnson, a faculty member in the Communication Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach. "The festival seeks to reward entries from all skill levels that use the power of cinema to inspire hope in the pursuit of freedom from hatred, discrimination and oppressive conditions." Topics of this year's films include the rebirth of the hip-hop nation, the struggles of transgendered people and such documentaries as "Killing Memories," which follows five veterans who return to Vietnam in order to cope with wartime traumas. Several of the screenings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers and cast of the films. Johnson hopes to generate awareness and organization for struggles facing people around the world today. "This festival's goal is to create an environment where people can come together, have fun, and celebrate," he said. "We want to create a climate of fun and cooperation that encourages working together to make society a better place to live." He also hopes the festival will help to expose area residents to new ideas. "The festival is an opportunity for audiences to find a new perspective on the world. This year, the festival will highlight a 2010 documentary titled 'Finding Kind' about girl-on-girl bullying. Issues like these are not often covered by mainstream mass media, and I measure this festival's success by exposure to ideas like these." Johnson said he measures the festival's success by several variables. "One thing I hope for is greater visibility for such documentaries as happened last year with 'Humble Beauty,' an hour-long film that tells the stories of a group of talented homeless and formerly homeless men and women who create art -- fine arts painting - on Los Angeles' Skid Row," he pointed out. The goal for the festival is simple - to create a good event. "Eventually," Johnson said, "our vision for this event is to have a double-stage film, arts and music festival that would extend all the way down 4th Street from Junipero to Cherry."

********** Published: May 12, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 4