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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Free Film Series Kicks-Off at UCR - Culver Center of the Arts, Riverside, CA

The UCR Culver Center of the Arts is an amazing little cultural jewel right at the end of the pedestrian art walk near the court house in downtown Riverside. They often have interesting films scheduled for their intimate little theater, and many of the screenings are FREE. The Film for Thought summer series running July 20th - August 12th is no different. With documentaries, shorts, and features that explore intersecting themes of inequality, diversity, religion and history, this is one film series you don't want to miss.

Friday, July 20th - 7pm: The Economics of Happiness features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change. The documentary describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance - and, far from the old institutions of power, they're starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm - an economics of localization.

Saturday, July 21st at 3pm & 7pm: From acclaimed director Steve James (The Interrupters), this Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves - and their bank's legacy in the Chinatown community - over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Friday, July 27th at 7pm: A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries - and path of promise toward the American dream - Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities examines the impact Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had on American history, culture, and national identity.

Race to Nowhere Saturday, July 28th at 3pm: Featuring the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve, Race to Nowhere points to a silent epidemic in our schools. Through the testimony of educators, parents and education experts, it reveals an education system in which cheating has become commonplace; students have become disengaged; stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant; and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Night School, Saturday, July 28th at 7pm: Indianapolis has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. For adult learners Greg, Melissa and Shynika, finally earning their high school diplomas could be a life-changing achievement. Emmy award-winning director Andrew Cohn’s absorbing documentary observes their individual pursuits, fraught with the challenges of daily life and the systemic roadblocks faced by many low income Americans.

Let me repeat: admission is free for everyone of these films! No reservations are required. However, seating is first come, first serve. And since this is a rather small space, you'll want to be sure to get there early. The series is sponsored by the Advancing Intercultural Studies project and the UCR Center for Ideas and Society through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Take a chance and broaden your cultural experience this summer. You've got nothing to lose after all. It's free!

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