PacRim 2016 Diversity Mini Film Festival

Film Festival

Curator – Laura Blum

Photo Laura Blum

Laura Blum is a curator, journalist and producer based in Manhattan. Laura has curated numerous film series, including a critically acclaimed Czech film retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. She covers movies and art for the Grumbacher arts site and writes a film blog at  Her independent production credits include The Cry and Becoming Barack, and in her former position as head of film and TV development at Sony BMG Music Entertainment, she collaborated on music-themed documentaries from John Denver Remembered to P!nk in Europe. Laura co-edited the global bestseller Mating in Captivity, collaborated on the national bestseller The Thanksgiving Celebration and contributed to More Than a Movie: Ethics in Entertainment. She regularly speaks about film for universities, cinema clubs and festivals, including Wesleyan University, Talk Cinema and the Furman Film Series.

In her early career as political analyst, she spent nearly a decade writing and reporting in the Middle East, North Africa and France, including positions as author and researcher with The Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and The Hebrew University’s Truman Institute. Laura holds an M.A. in Middle Eastern and International Affairs from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a B.A. in History and Art Design from Duke University. She is fluent in French, Spanish and Hebrew, and proficient in Arabic.

Film Schedule & Synopsis

2e: Twice Exceptional

2e: Twice Exceptional (54 min, USA) 2015

Monday, 8:00 am – 9:00 am

Twice Exceptional follows the personal journeys of a unique group of high school students in Los Angeles who have been identified as “twice exceptional” – gifted or highly gifted. An honest, up-close look at what it’s like to be – or to be the parent or teacher of — a gifted young person coming to terms with a learning difference.

Directed by: Thomas Ropelewsky,

Photo: Owen Suskind

Life, Animated (91 min, USA) 2016

Monday, 9:00 am – 10:45 am

At three years old, a chatty, energetic little boy named Owen Suskind ceased to speak, disappearing into autism with apparently no way out. Almost four years passed and the only stimuli that engaged Owen were Disney films.

Life, Animated tells the remarkable story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. With an arsenal of narratives at his disposal, Owen rises to meet the challenges of adulthood in this moving coming-of-age tale.

Directed by: Roger Ross Williams,

Photo: Margarita Straw Poster

Margarita, with a Straw (100 min, India, Hindi with English subtitles) 2014

Monday, 10:45 am – 12:30 pm

Laila is a young romantic, a secret rebel in a wheelchair. Undeterred by cerebral palsy, she embarks on a journey of sexual discovery. Her exhilarating adventures cause a rift both within herself and with those she is closest to. Ultimately, it is in the intensity of these bonds that she finds the strength to be truly herself.

Directed by: Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar

Right Footed Movie

Right Footed (82 min, USA/Ethiopia/Philippines) 2015

Monday, 12:45 pm – 2:45 pm, Q&A session director Nick Spark to follow

Born without arms as the result of a severe birth defect, Jessica Cox never allowed herself to believe that she couldn’t accomplish her dreams. Directed by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Nick Spark, Right Footed chronicles Jessica’s amazing story of overcoming adversity and follows her over a period of two years as she becomes a mentor for children with disabilities and their families, and a disability rights advocate working in the United States and abroad.

Directed by: Nick Spark,

Nick Spark will be in attendance!

Photo: Nick Spark


NICK SPARK is a Los Angeles based writer and documentarian with a long standing passion for unconventional characters, including the oft-overlooked female heroine.

The Legend of Pancho Barnes which he produced and wrote profiles gender-bending pilot Florence “Pancho” Barnes, a forgotten rival of Amelia Earhart’s.

It won the L.A. area Emmy in 2010, screened in numerous film festivals and continues to air on public television stations in the USA and abroad. An accomplished writer of non-fiction and history, Nick was the associate editor for Wings and Airpower magazines.

He has also appeared on PBS’ History Detectives, Japan’s NHK and National Public Radio concerning his research projects. He is an MFA graduate of the U.S.C.

School of Cinematic Arts and has an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He also has the distinction of having won the student Emmy Award at U.S.C. as a grad student, and as an undergrad at the U of A, both for documentary films.

Photo: Becoming Bulletproof

Becoming Bulletproof (82 min, USA) 2014

Monday, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Becoming Bulletproof documents the making of an original Western film called Bulletproof. Bulletproof features actors with and without disabilities who meet every year at Zeno Mountain Farm (ZMF) to write, produce, and star in original short films. Becoming Bulletproof chronicles the genesis of a riveting film and a personally and socially transformative experience.

Directed by: Michael Barnett,

Touched with Fire Movie

Spike Lee presents Touched with Fire (110 min, USA) 2015

Monday, 5:15 pm – 7:00 pm (Not Captioned)

Touched with Fire stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, they pursue their passion, which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love.

Directed by: Paul Dalio,

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