*These films contain material that may be unsuitable for younger children. LFJ recommends that educators and parents or caregivers preview the films before deciding to show them to students.
Let’s Eat, an award-winning short film by Dixon Wong, offers a beautiful and moving take on food as an intergenerational love language. This animated film, set primarily in the kitchen, follows a Chinese American immigrant mother and her daughter across a lifetime together as they share lovingly prepared meals. Viewers witness a lively preschool-aged daughter grow into a strong-willed teenager and then an adult. After the mother’s health declines, the daughter shares treasured food traditions with her own daughter. Without dialogue, the animation and music lend themselves to a deeply touching film emphasizing the importance of cultural traditions.
(8 min.) Available on YouTube • Elementary School
My Shadow Is Pink—based upon the book of the same name by Scott Stuart, who also directed this animated film—is just a bit more than nine minutes long but packs in a mighty amount of wonderful imagery as well as commentary on the power of a parent’s love and support. A school assignment, a little boy’s room where he meets his pink shadow, and his father’s looming presence are all depicted as some of the challenges young children can face in realizing and embracing their identities. This short film reflects a father’s real-life experience of care, concern and celebration of his child’s way of being in the world.
(9 min.) Available on YouTube • Elementary School
Otis’ Dream is a short docufilm from Unashamed Media Group based on the true story of Otis Moss Sr.’s determination to vote in Georgia in 1946 amid widespread voter suppression. Moss was turned away from three polling places, and he walked more than 15 miles attempting to exercise his right to vote. Although Moss never officially cast a ballot before his death, he passed his persistence and inherent civic action on to his son, grandson and great-grandson—who all participate in the film. This must-watch docufilm uplifts the importance of civic engagement and reminds us that, as voter suppression continues in the United States, we must #VoteTheDream.
(14 min.) Available on YouTube • Middle and High School
*The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks provides a fuller, more honest retelling of civil rights icon Rosa Parks’ work. This documentary, directed by Johanna Hamilton and Yoruba Richen, digs deep into Parks’ radical politics and courageous organizing that go beyond her becoming a catalyst in the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott. Along with archival footage of Parks’ interviews and speeches, family members, others who knew her and modern activists make appearances to shed light on her life. In addition, this film offers opportunities to examine how gender and class issues also affected the civil rights movement.
(96 min.) Available on Peacock • High School and Professional Development
*Descendant details the recovery of the last known relic of the transatlantic slave trade and confirms local residents’ oral histories. Descendants of Africatown—a community founded by formerly enslaved Africans in Mobile, Alabama—ponder what to do with this recovered history, who benefits from it and how to ensure they continue honoring their ancestors. Directed by Margaret Brown, this documentary highlights the value of truth-telling, healing from our past and reconciliation. It also underscores the uniqueness of descendants of enslaved Africans who can pinpoint their ancestors’ origins.
(109 min.) Available on Netflix • High School and Professional Development
“I never knew slavery as a white story” is how Rachel Boynton, director, producer and writer of Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are), responds to a question a Black child poses in this documentary. This realization echoes throughout the film as a myriad of voices from all parts of the United States—children, K-12 educators, scholars, artists, community members and more—grapple with the Civil War and “the narrative that connects us” as a nation. Carefully crafted, this documentary—which counts Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Brad Pitt among others as executive producers—offers viewers a wide range of perspectives about the past that shapes our country’s present.
(100 min.) Available on Peacock • High School and Professional Development