For Hawaiians, the hula is not just a dance, but a way of life. While most Americans know only the stereotypes of grass skirts and coconut bras, the hula is a living tradition that tells of the rich history and spirituality of Hawai'i through music, language, and dance. American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai’i discovers a renaissance of Hawaiian culture as it continues to grow in California. Following three kumu hula, or master hula teachers, the film celebrates the perpetuation of a culture from the very traditional to the contemporary as it evolves on distant shores. Revealing the survival of Hawai'i's indigenous culture from near-destruction, American Aloha is a reminder of the power of reclaiming tradition for communities creating a home away from home. (1 hour)
Boomtown is a lively visit to the Suquamish Nation, near Seattle, where selling fireworks has become a tradition for some Suquamish tribal members. For 30 years, this part of Indian country has sold fireworks that are officially banned off the reservation, attracting non-Indian buyers from near and far. On July 4th, the Suquamish tribe plays host to one of the most enjoyable and unpredictable fireworks shows around. In a place where federal, state and local policies routinely collide with Native sovereignty, Boomtown focuses on this animated enterprise, offering a special glimpse into contemporary Indian life, where Native tradition meets today's economic realities with uniquely successful results. (1 hour)
In vivid vérité detail, My American Girls: A Dominican Story captures the joys and struggles over a year in the lives of the Ortiz family, first-generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Both funny and touching, Matthews’ film captures the rewards — and costs — of pursuing the American dream. From hard-working parents who imagine retiring to their rural homeland to fast-tracking American-born daughters caught between their parents’ values and their own, the film encompasses the contradictions of contemporary immigrant life. (1 hour)
Winner of over 10 international awards including the Prix Italia and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, Silverlake Life: The View From Here is an extraordinary video diary about living with AIDS. This landmark film documents, with guts and humor, the love and dedication of longtime companions Tom Joslin and Mark Massi. From the emotional challenge of living with a fatal illness to the frustration of maintaining daily routines, this is a powerful tale of love, commitment, mortality and the strength of the human spirit. (2 hours)
Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong was a performer for most of his 94 years, ever since his father carved his first fiddle from a wooden crate. Sweet Old Song plays like one of the ballads that flowed effortlessly from the funny and irrepressible Armstrong, who passed away in 2003. At the film's center are the two great loves of Howard's life: his music and artist Barbara Ward, age 60. Their two-decade romance was a creative partnership yielding new work and an outpouring of memories. Their experiences are captured in Armstrong's lively paintings and stories of nearly a century of American life. As they take on life's challenges, Howard and Barbara defy our most basic assumptions about what it means to grow older. (1 hour)
True Lives is presented by American Documentary, Inc. and the National Education Telecommunications Association.