This past December, Mount Tamalpais College hosted our first International Film Festival inside San Quentin. The festival focused on screening movies made by, or featuring, people with disabilities and took place over five days. There were films from the United States, Malawi, Egypt, and India, to name a few, and over 100 students came to the film festival.
The festival began on Thursday with a screening of Crip Camp, which tells the story of a groundbreaking summer camp for teens with disabilities. The camp proves to be so inspiring that a group of its alumni join the radical disability rights movement to advocate for historic legislation changes. This event was presented in partnership with California Humanities, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. After the screening, there was a panel discussion with the producers of Crip Camp and team members from Cal Humanities.
The fourth day of the festival featured a marathon of short films from Honduras, the United Kingdom, Australia, Colombia, Myanmar, Japan, and Latvia! The films were presented in partnership with Superfest which is the longest-running disability film festival in the world. Since it first debuted in a small Los Angeles showcase in 1970 it has become an eagerly anticipated international event—hosted by Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State. It was a huge honor to be able to have the Director of the Superfest Disability Film Festival, Emily Smith Beitiks, join us afterward for a discussion.
Our International Film Festival concluded with a screening of Friendly Signs, a short documentary written, directed, and produced by MTC alumnus Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, while he was at San Quentin. The film follows MTC student Tommy Wickerd as he decides to try to make San Quentin a friendly space by teaching sign language to anyone who wants to learn (including the correction officers) and documents the struggles he faces while trying to get a class started in a prison. We are so proud of Tommy and Rahsaan’s work!
Thank you to Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP for sponsoring MTC’s first International Film Festival and making it a resounding success. Your support has played a crucial role in bringing diverse and compelling cinematic experiences to the San Quentin community and we are so grateful for your partnership!