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Ojay New Mini Festival Focuses on Diversity

 20th annual Ojai Film Festival October 31 to Novmeber 10

A new mini-festival within the umbrella of the 22nd Annual Ojai Film Festival reflects the theme “Enriching the Human Spirit through Film.” This inaugural “Diversity and Inclusion for Social Impact and Vision” program explores the breadth of “diversity.” At the same time it examines “intersectionality,” aspects of a person’s identity that may cause conflict yet create an opportunity for understanding marginalized communities


“Intersectionality” observes overlapping factors, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientations, that cause discrimination. It also establishes ways to show sensitivity to shared social hardships. “Diversity” encompasses acceptance and understanding by recognizing our individual differences. Together these promote learning about one another to move beyond simple tolerance, and to embrace the rich dimensions of diversity contained within everybody.

This mini-festival consists of thirteen films sprinkled throughout the Festival, plus a dynamic two-part panel. The first panel focuses on Women in Filmmaking, highlighting career gains. The second panel centers on LGBTQ+ Representation, where filmmakers discuss the growth of queer visibility on Film & TV. Panelists announced soon.

Films competing in the 2021 Diversity category:

  • Streets of Lagos by Dom West (Documentary Short) gives a rare insight into the lives of Nigeria’s first generation of rollerbladers.
  • At the Ready by Maisie Crow (Documentary Feature) follows three Mexican-American students as they embark on a career path to become police officers and Border Patrol agents.
  • Missing in Brooks County by Lisa Molomot & Jeff Bemiss (Documentary Feature) families search for their missing loved ones in the vast ranch lands of Brooks County, Texas, the site of more migrant deaths than anywhere else in the country.
  • Jasmine Road by Warren Sulatucky (Narrative Feature) a widowed conservative cowboy takes in a Syrian refugee family of Arabic ice cream makers.
  • Storm Lake by Jery Risius & Beth Levison (Documentary Feature) Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Art Cullen and his family fight to unite and inform their rural Iowan farming community through their biweekly newspaper.
  • The Recess by Navid Nikkhah Azad (Narrative Short) Sahar is determined to attend an AFC Champions League football match in spite of the national ban on women to enter football stadiums in Iran.
  • Voice Above Water by Dana Frankoff (Documentary Short) Wayan uses his fishing boat and net to pull trash from the water in hopes of being able to fish again.Finding Justice: The Untold Story of Women’s Fight for the Vote by Amanda Owen (Documentary Short) a band of intrepid women turn their one-ton bronze bell into a celebrated icon of the women’s suffrage movement.
  • FreeBird by Michael Joseph McDonald & Joe Bluhm (Animation) a coming-of-age story of a boy with Down Syndrome who learns to navigate the world
  • Mommy or Daddy by John H. LaDue Jr. & Jennifer Ladue (Documentary Feature) a Filipino-Japanese mother finds she is not alone on her journey to be reunited with her son.
  • SFUMATO by Amirali Mirderikvand (Documentary Short) in Iran the eldest child a rural family helps them a lot in life, but continues to face difficulties and obstacles.
  • All the World is Sleeping by Ryan Lacen (Narrative Feature) a mother sinks in her addiction while struggling to surface for her daughter.
  • The Forgotten Place by Oscar Rene Lozoya (Narrative Short) Eric wants to find a friend but doesn’t know how.



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