This seven film/eight month curriculum at the Smith Rafael Film Center serves students from urban & suburban communities throughout the Bay Area. This repeating group of about 100 students views and examines a selection of international films that address universal coming-of-age issues. Students have the opportunity to speak to the films’ directors, or to the individuals featured in the films, participating in lively post-film Q&A sessions and small group break-out discussions. The first meeting is a “Wake Up” designed by Generation Waking Up to stimulate discussion about who they are, and to deal with issues such as race, religion, ethnicity and social views, preparing the participants for a year’s worth of conversation amongst themselves. The aim of this program is for students to learn about themselves and to expand their world view through exposure to other cultures and ideas.


A PLACE IN THE WORLD is for grades 10-12. Participating schools are chosen from different Bay Area locations and with as much diversity in the student body as possible. Past participating schools have been Downtown Continuation High School, Richmond Leadership High, Oakland’s Oasis program, Oakland Envision Academy, San Francisco Arts & Technology High School and the TEAM program of Tamiscal High School. All schools are required to commit to the full eight month/once a month program.

All films and discussions take place at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.

Study guides and clips for all films are provided and sent out two weeks prior to an event for class preparations. CFI staff also visits the schools prior to the program’s start to familiarize students with the program and to answer questions. On the event date: the film is shown; discussion conducted with director or principal speaker; small group break-out with adult discussion leaders for personal reflection.

2015 • 2016 PROGRAM


OCTOBER 21, 2015

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Inocente is an intensely personal and vibrant coming of age documentary about a young artist’s fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its extraordinary sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past Inocente is both a timeless story about the transformative power of art and a timely snapshot of the new face of homelessness in America, children. Neither sentimental nor sensational, Inocente will immerse you in the very real, day-to-day existence of a young girl who is battling a war that we rarely see. The challenges are staggering, but the hope in Inocente’s story proves that the hand she has been dealt does not define her, her dreams do. (Documentary, 2012, 40 min)


NOVEMBER 9, 2015

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From her childhood bedroom in the Chicago suburbs, Ala’a, an American teenage girl from an immigrant Syrian family, uses social media to coordinate the revolution in Syria. Armed with Facebook, Twitter, Skype and camera phones, she helps her social network –“on the ground” in Syria– brave snipers and shelling in the streets to show the world the human rights atrocities of a dictator.

But just because the world can see the violence doesn’t mean the world can help. As the revolution rages on, everyone in Ala’a’s network must decide what is the most effective way to fight a dictator: social media or AK-47s. Cinema for Peace Justice Award—Cinema for Peace Foundation Berlin; Golden Butterfly in Student’s Choice category, Amnesty International’s Movies That Matter, The Hague.

SPEAKERAla’a Basatneh, Film Subject


DECEMBER 7, 2015

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Documentary following Susan Tom of Fairfield, California and her 11 adopted special needs children.

SPEAKERSusan Tom, Film Subject


JANUARY 20, 2016

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A German film based on a true story. In spring 1967, in Palo Alto, California, history teacher Ron Jones conducted an experiment with his class of 15-year-olds to sample the experience of the attraction and rise of the Nazis in Germany before World War II.  In a matter of days the experiment began to get out of control, as those attracted to the movement became aggressive zealots and the rigid rules invited confusion and chaos.  This story has attracted considerable attention over the years through films, books, plays and musicals, and verges on urban legend.  It serves as a teaching tool, to facilitate discussion of those uncomfortable topics of history, human nature, psychology, group behavior, intolerance and hate.
(Drama narrative in German with English subs, 2008, 107 min) Director: Dennis Gansel

SPEAKERRon Jones, True life inspiration for this dramatic German film


FEBRUARY 24, 2016

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A teenager from an Arab village in the north of Israel disconnects himself from humans following a violent attack that he experienced. As a last resort before hospitalization in a Mental Institution, he is taken by his devoted father to be treated with Dolphins in Eilat. Morad starts speaking again after months of silence, but he erases his past and refuses to go home to his awaiting mother. This documentary about the devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul, and about the healing powers of nature and of love. (Documentary, 2011, 72 min) Directors: Dni Menkin & Yanatan Nir

SPEAKERDani Menkin, Director


MARCH 9, 2016

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A filmmaker in his sixties – an inner city coach’s son estranged in his youth from his now-deceased father – spends 5 years on ball fields in inner city Oakland and Havana, following the lives of two extraordinary youth coaches and their players. Life for both coaches and players are filled with challenges of poverty, death, health, and heartbreak. In 2010, Coach Roscoe Bryant and nine Oakland players travel to Havana to play Coach Nicolas’ team. For the next week, the players and coaches eat, dance, swim, argue and play baseball together. Real friendships form. But when a parent of one of the players is murdered in Oakland, it brings back the reality of the inescapable challenges of life in the inner city. (Documentary, 2013, 91 min) Director: Eugene Corr

SPEAKERSEugene Corr, Director and Coach Roscoe Bryant, Film Subject


APRIL 20, 2016

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A fatal turf war between neighborhoods haunts the city of Richmond, CA. Donté Clark transcends the violence in his hometown by writing poetry about his experiences. Using his voice to inspire those around him, he and the like-minded youth of the city mount an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the hope of starting a real dialogue about violence in the city. Will Richmond force Donté to compromise his idealistic ambitions? Or will Donté end Richmond’s cycle of trauma? Director: Jason Zeldes

SPEAKERDonté Clark, Poet and Film Subject


MAY 16, 2016

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Once Shana (Sunshine O’Donovan) played violin side by side with her mother, joyfully accompanying the Wolf Clan’s ceremonies and celebrations. But with her mom’s passing, the magic disappears from her life. Then one day, as she plays her violin under the ancestor tree, Shana senses the presence of the wolf, drawn by her music. That music, her teacher’s belief in her gift and its link to a rich and sacred First Nations legacy, and the wolf’s guidance break down Shana’s walls, sending her on a vision quest and offering her a chance for a brighter future. Italian-Swiss writer/director Nino Jacusso traveled to Canada to make this tender coming-of age drama that is populated by a cast that includes many of The People of the Creeks from Merritt, British Columbia, and graced by an evocative soundscape that emphasizes not just Shana’s music, but her connection to the natural world. Director: Nino Jacusso

SPEAKERSSunshine O’Donovan and Delilah Dick, Film Leads