39th Annual Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival


12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Central Unitarian Church
205 Kinderkamack Road, Westwood, NJ, 07675


39th Annual Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival
Central Unitarian Church, Paramus, NJ
Sunday, January 19th, 2020


Selections focusing on Issues of Race and Social Justice from the Black Maria’s 2020 Festival Tour and the Global Insights Collection


Black Maria Film Festival Introduction


The Night Shift – Documentary – 2020

8 min. by Yumeng Guo, San Francisco, CA

“The Night Shift” is a short film about an extraordinary/ordinary night shift worker, Clemencia Cardoza, a Mexican-American woman who works in the city of San Francisco. While the city sleeps, Clemencia and many others like her, work hard to realize their dreams for a better life.


Substance – Animation – 2020

5 min. by Jamaal Bradley, Redmond, WA

Based on true events, “Substance” tells the story of Jason, the oldest of two boys who loves his home but battles with wanting to change his deteriorating community and his desire to leave it behind. Tension turns to anger as Jason and his brother John battle over John’s decision to embrace the drug culture while simultaneously endangering his daughter. Her symbolic gesture will change the future of the family and change her father’s “substance.”


Grace – Narrative – 2020

6 min. by Alexia Oldini, New York, NY

Grace is the story of the eviction of a young woman of color from her home.  Her subsequent encounters reveal the callousness of a society built to exploit the precarious situations of people like herself. In the end, she confronts her struggle head on, but finds it is difficult to overcome.


’63 Boycott – Documentary – 2019

30 min. by Gordon Quinn and Rachel Dickson, Chicago, IL

“Previously unseen 16mm footage of the boycott is combined with insights from the original participants and present-day protesters against school closings.

’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, and youth activism.


They Say I’m Your Teacher – Documentary – 2020

9 min. by Catherine Murphy, Portola Valley, CA

Bernice Robinson, a beautician from South Carolina, was the first teacher in the Citizenship Education Schools that taught literacy in order to pass voter registration requirements in the South during the mid-1950’s and 1960’s. She taught adults to read and write, understanding that registering to vote and engaging people in the issues that affected their lives was a key step toward changing the system.


Video – Narrative – Global Insights Collection – 2016

15 min. by Randy Yang, New York, NY

Two teenage African-American girls capture a woman’s racist remarks on video. The woman, concerned for her reputation, bargains with the two girls to delete the incriminating footage.


How Do You Raise a Black Child?Narrative – 2017 

4 min. by Seyi Peter-Thomas, South Orange, NJ

This short film adaptation of Cortney Lamar Charleston’s poem “How Do You Raise a Black Child?” paints an important portrait of everyday life for a young black man growing up in America. It is an impressionistic piece that explores the delicate balance parents must strike as they steer their children toward adulthood.


Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival

The films that become the centerpiece of the Black Maria Film Festival honor the vision of Thomas Edison, New Jersey inventor and creator of the motion picture.  It was his New Jersey studio, the world’s first, which he called the “Black Maria” from which we take our name. The Festival reaches out to diverse audiences in diverse settings including universities, museums, libraries, community organizations, and arts venues. The cutting edge, cross-genre work that makes up the Festival’s touring program, has been traveling across the country every year for decades.


We focus on short films – narrative, experimental, animation, and documentary – including those, which address issues and struggles within contemporary society such as the environment, public health, race and class, family, sustainability, and much more. These exceptional works range from animation, comedy, and drama to the exploration of pure form in film and video and are the heart and soul of the festival.


www.blackmariafilmfestival.org, office: 201.856-6565