The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival


MMFF 2021: "Alliances"

What is possible when we align ourselves with others?  How can we join hands across seemingly cavernous divides?  What personal and collective transformations emerge when we rise above our own concerns and strive to see the world through others’ eyes? The 28th annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival explores the power and promise of Alliances, presenting an international program of films that offer compelling visions of connection with people, ecologies, and ideas beyond private aspirations and individual interests. The films this season address themes of community, solidarity, and partnerships for social justice, environmental advocacy, and other endeavors to achieve a common good or confront a prevailing ill. Join us this spring in a celebration of films that spark empathy, bridge difference, and inspire dedication to dreams held in common. 

The 2021 festival will be entirely online.  Weekly screenings will be via on-demand streaming in the days preceding the livestream discussion and Q&A with filmmakers and guests. Livestream events wil be each Wednesday beginning February 17 and continuing to Apri 7. All films are accompanied by critical, contextualizing introductions by scholars and filmmakers.  All events— screenings, introductions, audience Q&As and conversations with filmmakers and guests—are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, livestream events begin at 7:30pm. Due to varying time zones for guests, some livestream events will be scheduled earlier in the day and recorded for those unable to the attend the earlier time.  

Daniel Pope, Fesitval Director
Nefeli Forni Zervoudaki, Assistant Curator 


February 17 - April 7

The theme for the 28th annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival is “Alliances.”  What is possible when we align ourselves with others?  How can we join hands across seemingly cavernous divides?  What personal and collective transformations emerge when we rise above our own concerns and strive to see the world through others’ eyes? The 28th annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival explores the power and promise of Alliances, with an international program of films that address themes of community, solidarity, and partnerships for social justice, environmental advocacy, intersectional alliance, and other collective efforts to achieve a common good, address a prevailing ill, or otherwise realize shared aspirations.  The 2021 “virtual” festival will be entirely online beginning in February and continuing into April.  

Feb 17 
The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song
(2021, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writer, host, and executive producer, Christopher Bryson and Shayla Harris are producer/directors, USA, in English)

Guests: Stacey Holman (series producer/director) and Shayla Harris (producer/director)
Introduced by: Amilcar Shabbazz, UMass Amherst

Black History Month

"This moving four-hour, two-part series from executive producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage. Featuring interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, Cornel West, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Rev. William Barber II, BeBe Winans, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie and more." (PBS)

In partnership with New England Public Media.

Feb 24 
(2020, Cecilia Aldarondo, Puerto Rico/USA, 91 mins, in English and Spanish w/ English subtitles)
Guest: Cecilia Aldarondo (director)
Introduced by: Patricia Montoya, UMass Amherst

"Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall is a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the US colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. Landfall examines the kinship of these two storms—one environmental, the other economic—juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. Featuring intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, Landfall reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: When the world falls apart, who do we become?"

In partnership with the Feinberg Series "Planet on a Precipice: Histories and Futures of the Environmental Emergency," UMass Amherst.


March 3
Picture a Scientist 
(2020, Sharron Shattuck and Ian Cheney, USA, 95 mins, in English)

Guests: Sharron Shattuck and Ian Cheney (directors)
Introducer: Jeanne Hardy, UMass Amherst, Chemistry

International Women's Day is March 8th, 2021 theme: #ChooseToChallenge

"PICTURE A SCIENTIST chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries - including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists - who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all." (Official website)

In connection with panel discussion: Women in Science

March 10
Bandar Band 
(2020, Manijeh Hekmat, Iran/Germany, 75 mins, in Farsi w/ English subtitles)
Guest: Manijeh Hekmat (director)  
Introduced by: Maryam Zehtabi Sabeti Moqaddam, University of Virginia

"Filmed during the catastrophic floods of 2019 , Bandar Band is a road movie of aspiring musicians journeying across Iran to compete in a talent contest.  Pregnant Mahla along with the other members of Bandar Band, her husband and one of their closest friends, starts her journey to Tehran from a southern province just when they have lost all they had in the flood. They still keep their hopes alive, however every road they take leads to a dead-end in a flood-stricken land. They intend to go to Tehran, but they wonder if it is just another turn around a vicious circle." (Official website)

March 17 

Forensickness and Desktop Documentaries

Guest: Chloé Galibert-Laîné 
Introduced by: Barbara Zecchi, UMass Amherst

“In an attempt to analyse Chris Kennedy's 'Watching the Detectives', a researcher dives into a massive archive of media produced after the Boston attacks. Her online wanderings offer a performative exploration of the history of critical thinking and the ruthless politics of truth production.”


March 24 
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus / Slučajna raskoš prozirnog vodenog rebusa

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus / Slučajna raskoš prozirnog vodenog rebusa

Guest: Dalibor Baric

In this animated experimental film, “Martin tried to fight the system, and now he’s on the run. Sara is a conceptual artist. Together they join the revolutionary commune in the countryside. The police are on their trail. Inspector Ambroz knows the right questions are more important than the answers. Because maybe none of this is true.”


March 31
Your Mother's Comfort / Aconchego da tua mãe
(2020, Adam Golub, United States/Brazil, 75 mins, in Portuguese w/ English subtitles)

Guests: Adam Golub (director) and Indianara Siqueira 
Introduced by: Nefeli Forni Zervoudaki

International Trans Day of Visibility

"'We transgender are the revolution!' Indianara Siqueira, trans activist and politician, admonishes her political party for ousting her days before the 2018 Brazilian national elections. In the same election cycle extreme-Right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is a forerunner for president of the republic. Indianara is the mother of a homeless shelter and community center for trans sex workers called Nem House in the center of Rio de Janeiro. Nem House is a squat and facing the threat of eviction Indianara occupies a colonial palace near Nem House to bargain with the city to save the house. As Brazilian democracy crumbles around her she fights to save her community from the uncertain streets." (Official website)

April 7 [in negotiation]
Lucky Chan-sil / Chan-sil-yi-neun bok-do man-chi
(2020, Kim Cho-hee, South Korea, 96 mins, in Korean w/ English subtitles)

Guest: Kim Cho-hee (director) [awaiting confirmation]
Introduced by: Irhe Sohn, Smith College

A comedy/drama about women in cinema in South Korea, directed by film producer (for Hong Sang-soo) Kim Cho-hee. "After a sudden death of the director she worked with for a long time, a film producer Chan-sil is now unemployed. Jobless and moneyless, she begins to work as a cleaning lady at an actress' place. By chance, she meets a young man who teaches French to the actress. Chan-sil is strongly attracted to him while her old anxieties begin to emerge; her already-gone-youth, screwed love, and broken career..." (Official website)



A note on COVID-19 preparedness:

The Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival is closely monitoring the developments of the novel coronavirus and is following University procedures. The festival will be entirely online this year. See the UMass Amherst coronavirus information page for updates.