FAIR Film Festival 2021

The 2021 FAIR Film Festival has ended.

The Films:

How Jack Became Black

This groundbreaking documentary opens simply: a multiracial father is stunned when his mixed race son is denied enrollment to an elementary school for refusing to check a “race box.” Why did race matter so much? To find out, the father journeys into uncharted territory where he takes on identity politics and the result is an emotional, unbiased look at race that Adam Carolla called “eye-opening.”

Accidental Courtesy

Musician Daryl Davis has an unusual hobby. He’s played all over the world with legends like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but it’s what Daryl does in his free time that sets him apart. Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the Ku Klux Klan—something few black men can say. In his travels, he’s collected robes and other artifacts from friends who have left the Klan, building a collection piece by piece, story by story, person by person in hopes of eventually opening a “Museum of the Klan”. In Accidental Courtesy, Daryl’s journey takes him across the country, from DC to California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama, from old friends who have left the Klan, to friends still active in the organization, including a current Imperial Wizard of the KKK. In an age of digital disconnection, Daryl’s method is rooted in personal interaction and we as viewers reap the rewards.

Witness Project

Witness Project is a short documentary series created in partnership with Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) that records the experiences of a number of individuals who were – and in some cases still are – victims of persecution by collectivist regimes in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Witness Project aims to cultivate empathy and understanding from a wider audience that may be unfamiliar with the history of collectivist tyranny, dramatizing each witness’s experience and wisdom in an easily understood personal narrative. Director Hawk Jensen has found that this approach is much more effective at drawing viewers into the reality of these stories rather than numbing the audience with a catalog of unspeakable horrors from yesteryear that may shock but ultimately are so outside viewers’ personal experiences that they fail to truly inform the audience’s worldviews. The three Witness Project episodes featured in the FAIR film festival are Witness Project: China featuring Anastasia Lin, Witness Project: Cuba featuring Rosa María Payá, and Witness Project: Albania featuring Elida Dakoli. These episodes reflect the stress and sacrifice families must endure together at the hands of closed societies. 

Better Left Unsaid

The premise behind Better Left Unsaid lies in the unconfined analysis of the often violent extremism of today’s Western political landscape. As liberal democracy becomes increasingly challenged in the West, we expose the dangerous tactics employed by the radical-left and far-right, alike. In a world where political polarization frames the way in which we live, a new path forward of unity is needed more than ever before. The value of the film lies in its impact, brevity and digestibility — as we confront the philosophical underpinnings of the radical left and their extreme right counterpart.

The Woke Reformation

There has been a new reformation of public thought, and it needs to be understood and dismantled. The Woke Reformation is a documentary series for those concerned about the new cultish religion of Wokeness.  The series will help people understand the origins of Woke ideology, why it has spread so rapidly, and what everyone can do to push back.

The series is dedicated to Peter Boghossian, and features people like him, Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, Douglas Murray, Asra Nomani and more.

The Panelists:

Daryl Davis

As a race relations expert, Daryl has received acclaim for his book, Klan-Destine Relationships and his documentary Accidental Courtesy from many sources including CNN, NBC, Good Morning America, TLC, NPR, The Washington Post, and many others. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Elliott-Black Award, the MLK Award and the Bridge Builder Award among many others. Filled with exciting encounters and sometimes amusing anecdotes, Daryl’s impassioned lectures leave an audience feeling empowered to confront their own prejudices and overcome their fears.

Melissa Chen

Melissa Chen is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), and the New York Editor for Spectator USA, the American edition of the oldest English language magazine in publication. She is a board member at Ideas Beyond Borders, which makes inaccessible ideas freely accessible to those who speak Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish. She serves as Editor at Global Conversations. Her past appearances have included: Joe Rogan Experience, Oslo Freedom Forum, Rubin Report, Fox Nation, Triggernometry, MythCon, and more. She studied Computational Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Computational Biology at Boston University, and worked at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Erec Smith

Erec Smith is co-founder and co-editor of Free Black Thought, a small group of citizens, parents, techies, and scholars, amplifying heterodox black voices rarely heard on mainstream platforms. He is a Writing Fellow for Heterodox Academy, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, York College of Pennsylvania, and author of the 2020 book, A Critique of Anti-racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment.

Eli Steele

Eli Steele is the filmmaker behind How Jack Became Black. His career highlights include What’s Bugging Seth, winner of ten film festivals, and Katrina, an MTV Network pilot which won him the Breakthrough Filmmakers award. His latest film, How Jack Became Black, was born out of a Los Angeles Times op-ed where he wondered what America would be like in 2050 when multiracials — like himself and his children — account for 20% of the population. It took five years to film How Jack Became Black.

John Wood, Jr.

John Wood Jr. is a national leader for Braver Angels, a former nominee for congress, former Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, musical artist and a noted writer and speaker on subjects including racial and political reconciliation.

Takyrica Kokoszka

Takyrica Kokoszka is a Math Teacher in Chicago and the mother of 2 biracial children. She dreams of a world where she and her children are judged for the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Takyrica enjoys reading, her family, and crossfit. She resides in Oak Park, IL with her husband and children.

Noah Ornstein

Noah is a feature film producer and General Counsel for Sound & Vision. He is a producer of the forthcoming and highly anticipated political documentary on the antecedents and impacts of the Trump era from Sound & Vision entitled This Is Not Normal.  In addition to his work at Sound & Vision Noah is an expert in housing issues, residential modular construction, and structural concrete.  Noah received his JD and MBA from UCLA and majored in Political Science and History at Tufts.

Matt Ornstein

Matt Ornstein founded Sound & Vision Productions in 2006. Since then, Sound and Vision has produced and developed music videos, commercials, and short and feature length films. Sound & Vision produced the Matt Ornstein directed film Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America which won the SXSW  Documentary Jury Prize in 2016 and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick in 2016 and was distributed by PBS and Netflix. Most recently Matt has directed and produced the highly anticipated feature political documentary This Is Not Normal starring David Frum, Sam Harris, Anne Applebaum, Fareed Zakaria, Marc Cuban, Garry Kasaprov, Michael Steele, Dan Rather and many more. This Is Not Normal will be in wide distribution in 2021. Matt is in development on multiple documentary series and features and is also the Creative Director of Sound and Vision. He is a frequent guest lecturer and has directed music videos for artists including Radiohead, Daft Punk, Penguin Prison, Cobra Starship, Ashtar Command, and Harmar Superstar. Matt studied film at Bard College.

Hawk Jensen

Hawk Jensen is an award-winning journalist, writer, producer, director, editor, and artist with over 22 years experience as a filmmaker.  During his early career, he worked extensively with Disney, Warner Brothers, LivePlanet, and Bad Robot working on various feature films and television series.  Seeking more meaningful storytelling than mainstream entertainment, Jensen has spent the better part of a decade focused on documentary films within the human rights and human freedom advocacy communities including Reason, Freethink, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), the Moving Picture Institute (MPI), CubaDecide, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), amongst others.  

Rosa María Payá

Rosa María Payá is a Cuban activist for freedom and human rights.  She is the executive director of the Foundation for Panamerican Democracy and is the coordinator of Cuba Decide, an international campaign that seeks to carry out a plebiscite in favor of the first free and multiparty elections in Cuba in 67 years.  She is also the daughter of Oswald Paya who founded the Christian Liberation Movement and ultimately lost his life under suspicious circumstances while attempting to better the future of his fellow Cubans.

Desh Amila

Desh Amila is a Documentary film maker and serial entrepreneur. His first documentary, Islam and the Future of Tolerance featuring Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, became the #1 iTunes download Worldwide (Documentary category) during its release in 2018, and can be found on Amazon Prime. In 2011. Amila founded Think Inc., a first of its kind ‘edutainment’ company that tours intellectuals throughout Australia and New Zealand. The company’s debut event was a conference held in Melbourne, featuring speakers such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, historian of science Michael Shermer, political activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the late socio-political critic Christopher Hitchens. In 2018, Amila sold Think Inc., and launched a new events and media company, This is 42.

Curt Jaimungal

Born in Trinidad, raised in Toronto, Curt Jaimungal became interested in filmmaking while studying mathematical physics at the University of Toronto, where he founded the largest growing club on campus, the University of Toronto Television. From humble beginnings, he began his first feature film at 26, which focused on mental health issues. I’m Okay, a film about the depression, self-hate, and suicidal ideations that follow the loss of a long term relationship, had several screenings in Toronto even years after the film’s release. Subsequently, he became interested in philosophy and psychology while starting Toronto’s first film incubator – indiefilmTO – where he taught filmmakers how to overcome psychological barriers that hold them back from filmmaking. Observing increasing political extremism, Curt began to suspect there is more to what motivates the extremes than the ostensible nobleness they proclaim, sending him on a journey that has led to Better Left Unsaid.

Travis Brown

Travis Brown has been making films since 2010. One of his primary passions is philosophy, and, as a skeptic and free-thinker, the majority of his work focuses on the ubiquitous problems of dogma, faith and credulity. Since leaving his religious faith behind, he has been increasingly interested in how religious and political ideology shapes our view of reality, how ideology affects our conversations and what it does to relationships and society as a whole. He’s interested in finding ways to effectively discuss tough issues and doing so in a way that actually strengthens relationships rather than damages them.

Peter Boghossian

Dr. Peter Boghossian is the author of How to Have Impossible Conversations, and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR). He is a full time faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Portland State University, an Affiliated Assistant Professor at Oregon Health Science University in the Department of General Internal Medicine, and a visiting fellow at Reason Foundation think tank. He’s an international speaker for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason and the Center for Inquiry, and has an extensive publication record across multiple domains of thought. His popular pieces have been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, The Spectator, City Journal, The American Mind, The Philosophers’ Magazine, the LA Times, National Review, USA Today, New Statesman, etc. He’s the creator of the Atheos app. How to Have Impossible Conversations has been translated translations into Mandarin, Polish, German, and Romanian.

Sam Lingle

Sam Lingle was born and raised in Portland Oregon, and is the Director at SL FILMS. He established a name for himself in Portland as a music video director since 2011 and has been credited for establishing a strong video presence for the Portland hip-hop community. After moving into commercials for local favorites like Koi Fusion he found a new passion for advertising and marketing. He formed SL FILMS  with business and production partner, Zack Packard and together they continue to push their capabilities forward.