About this program

The films in this program set out to see the change in our world, or to change the way we see our world – and in some instances, both descriptions apply. Together, they remind us of the long tradition and important function of documentary film as a catalyst for social and cultural change. 

The program features the following short films:

‘Claiming Connections’

Claiming Connections explores the grassroots efforts of Detroit-based groups that have emerged over the past several years to connect BIPOC families with the outdoors in the great state of Michigan. Directed by Nina Ignaczak. (2023) 

‘A Little Mexican Village’

“A Little Mexican Village” explores the simple and uneventful lives of a few older residents in a small, rural village: El Encino de La Paz, in Durango, Mexico. While tiny and impoverished, this village exemplifies the resilience of a very hardworking people, of which very few remain. Thousands of villages across rural Mexico just like El Encino embody a similar culture, economy and lifestyle of rustic simplicity. Given that nearly all young residents of such villages will leave, the stories of such a place must be told: before its few remaining residents, and the village itself, are gone. Directed by Jesus Arzola-Vega. (2019)

‘The Angel of East-side Addicts’

Forty-year-old Amanda is a complicated person. Her addiction to heroin (fentanyl) and crack often puts her in dangerous and compromising circumstances. Amanda represents the problem as a drug user, but she represents the solution to the recent overdose epidemic. Amanda is considered a secondary exchanger and helps a metro Detroit nonprofit agency distribute harm reduction materials, such as clean needles and Narcan, to the drug-using community — a place where employees of the organization can’t reach. Amanda helps other addicts stay alive, but can she help herself? Directed by Mandi Wright. (2023)

‘Sure As The Wind’

A documentary short film exploring the recent efforts of Darren Riley and the team at JustAir as they work alongside longstanding organizations, such as Green Door Initiative, to turn the tide of environmental injustice in communities surrounding Grand Rapids and Detroit. Directed by Mike Ambs and Greg Shewchuk. (2023)

‘Makeover Movie’

A pop culture essay film on the makeover movies we grew up loving — and all the ways they taught us that we needed to fix ourselves. For more than a hundred years, movie makeovers have promised audiences that with a little help, any ugly duckling can transform into the belle of the ball. Featuring clips from nearly a hundred films, “Makeover Movie” immerses us in the candy-colored and kinetic world of the makeover montage. Alongside these iconic images, women of color and queer women reflect on the racialized, heteronormative, and contradictory beauty standards at the core of the movie makeover. Directed by Sue Ding. (2022)


“WELL” depicts the story of one Black American family through 50 years as they fight to stay healthy through three different crises. Through the Tuskegee experiment, the Flint water crisis, and now COVID-19, the family has survived amidst endless obstacles to their health. After losing a loved one to COVID-19, they must reckon with the harm and distrust that has permeated their family for decades. Directed by Toni Cunningham & Eden Sabolboro. (2024)

This program was curated by Brendan Kredell, an Associate Professor and Director of Film Studies and Production at Oakland University.


7 p.m. Thu., April 11, Michigan Science Center (IMAX)

3 p.m. Sun., April 14, Michigan Science Center (Toyota Engineering)

Available virtually