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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Join the City Club at #CIFF43 for the 2019 FilmForums

Julia Wang, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

Join the City Club at #CIFF43 for the 2019 FilmForums

The Cleveland International Film Festival is almost here and once again, your favorite free speech forum will be in attendance! We’re partnering with CIFF to bring you 9 FilmForums - moderated and interactive panel discussions exploring important, complex, and relevant social issues that cannot and should not be ignored. Find the featured films below but shh…save the conversation for after the film. See you at a theater soon!

To save $1 off any ticket, use code CITYCLUB.

The Pursuit
Thursday, March 28, 4:45 p.m.

If capitalism is the answer, then what is the question?

Award-winning economist, Arthur Brooks places himself at the intersection of culture and politics in PURSUIT, a thought-provoking documentary exploring our global economy and its impacts on the citizens of the world. The film travels the globe seeking understanding of impoverished communities and their progress – or stagnation – as a result of capitalism, socialistic ideals, and state-run welfare systems. While many immigrants to the United States and newly independent nations sought freedom from socialist governments to benefit from capitalism, the present-day political climate complicates both economies, leaving plenty of room for healthy discussion. Brooks visits the bustling streets of Mumbai, a once-thriving coal mining town in Kentucky, the presumably happiest nation of Denmark, a street rally in Barcelona, Spain, and an Indian monastery for a truly global view on these topics. Rather than embracing a definitive political stance, PURSUIT offers an opportunity for genuine conversation about individuals’ opinions, experiences, and views of the best ways we can all support each other – regardless of class or social status – in our pursuit of happiness.

Watch the trailer here.

Decade of Fire
Friday, March 29, 5:10 p.m.

How do we repair the damage of structural racism?

The South Bronx smoldered for nearly ten years. In the 1970s, the New York City borough lost almost 80% of its housing to fires, displacing 250,000 residents from their homes. Once a thriving, integrated community of African American, Irish, Italian, Hispanic, Jewish, and Puerto Rican families, the South Bronx fell victim to racially-targeted government policies and city-wide budget cuts. When redlining went into effect, barring minorities from obtaining mortgage loans or insurance policies, landlords continued to pocket rent checks but neglected to take care of their buildings. Aging structures susceptible to fires ignited years of devastating damage, with no end—or help—in sight. Neighborhood fire departments closed, while the media and public officials claimed the minority residents were somehow to blame for burning down their own communities. In this intense documentary, Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran explore why this block was forgotten and how dedicated residents continue to fight to save their neighborhoods in DECADE OF FIRE. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Watch the trailer here.

A Girl Named C, A New Documentary
Saturday, March 30, 4:00 p.m.

How do we find words for the unspeakable?

One in four girls and one in six boys in America will experience sexual assault before the age of 18. While the numbers are staggering, these victims are anything but statistics. A GIRL NAMED C, a documentary illustrating the life-altering rape of an 11-year-old, forces the uncomfortable topic of child sexual assault into the limelight. The unforgettable events C kept secret in her suburban New Jersey home sparked a change her parents noticed instantly. Their once joyful, caring daughter had become sullen, angry, and closed off. With no inkling of such a thing as rape nor any support from the school after their daughter’s mysterious transformation, the family relocates to Colorado for a fresh start. It isn’t until C feels some distance she is able to face her horror and allow the painful healing to begin. With an almost whimsical overlay of C’s actual drawings and self-portraits, the film marries a childlike artistry with the heart-wrenching toll of assault on a child and her entire family.

Hugh Hefner's After Dark: Speaking Out In America
Sunday, March 31, 11:20 a.m.

How far can we push boundaries before they push back?

While the old joke that some men only read Playboy for the articles is told with sarcasm, the truth is there was more to the late Hugh Hefner’s work than just centerfolds. His full revolutionary impact is revealed in this compelling documentary from Academy Award®-winning director Brigitte Berman. In 1959, Hefner started a television program called Playboy’s Penthouse. Set up to look like an apartment party, the variety show featured a slew of legendary performers. But it was its racial diversity that stood out most. Years before MTV was pressured to play black artists, Hefner gave them representation, regardless of the consequences. Despite it being the time of Jim Crow, everyone was treated as equals on Hefner’s show, much to the chagrin of some Americans. The program was canceled after two seasons, but reemerged later as Playboy After Dark, which continued to push for equality. In addition to performances from artists such as James Brown, Tina Turner, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Buddy Rich, the show featured candid conversations about censorship, racism, and progressive politics. Going beyond the bunnies, HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA examines Hefner’s unheralded role as civil rights activist.

Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain
Monday, April 1, 6:45 p.m.

Will blockchain change the world?

You may have heard the term cryptocurrency by now, but unless you’re a techie, you might be wondering how it works or what it’s even for. You’re not alone. Luckily, TRUST MACHINE: THE STORY OF BLOCKCHAIN—narrated by award-winning actress Rosario Dawson—serves to sort through the confusion. This well-researched documentary chronicles the incredible rise of Bitcoin, an internet currency based on a concept known as a blockchain. Using cryptography, the information contained in records (a.k.a. “blocks”) is resistant from modification or hacking. Money isn’t the only thing this technology can be used for. The film profiles start-ups that are applying it to social causes, medical records, identification purposes, copyright claims, and even voting. While this all sounds very promising, there are still many skeptics. Some simply find it too complex and/or view it as a sly tool for criminals. Others could be rendered obsolete if blockchain replaces existing infrastructure. Is the opposition for self-preservation, or are they right in characterizing cryptocurrency as an overhyped Ponzi scheme? Get the facts and decide for yourself after watching this compelling explanation of a misunderstood modern technology.

Watch the trailer here.

Roll Red Roll
Tuesday, April 2, 7:15 p.m.

What will it take to put a stop to rape culture?

In August 2012, true crime blogger Alexandria Goddard read a brief headline about two high school football players charged with sexual assault in Steubenville, Ohio. A former local, Goddard knew the city revered its high school football team, and her intuition suspected this story was bigger than the local news was reporting. After some in-depth social media sleuthing, Goddard untangled – and published – an elaborate web of time-stamped conversations, photos, and videos relating to the rape of a 16-year-old girl flinging the story into the international spotlight. Immaculately polished and profoundly unsettling, ROLL RED ROLL documents the details of the incident as it unfolded and inevitably divided a city into victim blamers and individuals in support of the case’s Jane Doe. The film’s video footage of police interviews and conversations with Goddard, lead investigator Detective J.P. Rigaud, students, families, and local residents reveal the deep-seated differences society holds in regards to rape culture and to what lengths we will go to protect some at the expense of others.

Watch the trailer here.

Right to Harm
Thursday, April 4, 4:50 p.m.

Who pays the real price for our food?

Directed by the team that brought us “Sustainable,” an essential rumination on the future of agriculture, Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher follow in that films footsteps with RIGHT TO HARM. This time around, he’s pointing his camera at factory farming and the toll it’s had on our country’s most vulnerable citizens. He takes on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (a.k.a. CAFOs), which are notorious for producing large amounts of untreated waste. Neighbors of these facilities have been subjected to a myriad of health issues, stemming from the harmful conditions there. This documentary chronicles the plight of five communities dealing with these extremely unfortunate circumstances. Their needs aren’t much; they’re basic necessities many of us take for granted, such as clean air and water. The lack of regulation and oversight into the offending companies is certainly discouraging. But instead of being apathetic, these brave citizens have decided to rise up and rally against the corporate behemoths who ignore their calls for change. It's harrowing to see the harm that’s been inflicted on them, but their inspiring resilience is beautifully captured in Wechsler's exceptionally compelling film.

Watch the trailer here.

The Providers
Friday, April 5, 4:25 p.m.

How should we serve the underserved?

The El Centro medical system covers 22,000 square miles of northern New Mexico, a largely rural and critically under-served area. While providing care regardless of condition or ability to pay, the system itself is at-risk. Employees leave continuously, opting for more profitable jobs, and funding for helping the sickest and most vulnerable is dwindling. Meet Matt, Chris, and Leslie. These doctors are devoted to this population, knowing how many lives illness, addiction, and neglect will claim without access to care. THE PROVIDERS focuses on the relationships with their patients and their fight to keep the system together. THE PROVIDERS takes no political or judgmental stance. Its incredible power generates from its humanity. While only examining a piece of the healthcare puzzle, its truths are nonetheless vast. In an age conspicuously lacking in heroes, here are three. This stunning documentary makes us grateful they are out there.

Watch the trailer here.

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People
Saturday, April 6, 11:10 a.m.

What is the value of the free press?

At the height of the Gilded Age, a period of time plagued by corruption and unethical business practices, Joseph Pulitzer was a champion of the working people and immigrants. Being an immigrant from humble roots himself, he used the success of his newspaper, The World, to give voice to the voiceless and to empower the disenfranchised. With his passion for democratic ideals, Pulitzer fought for the free press and essentially created the news as we know it today. The entire concept of reading the newspaper as a morning ritual was invented by Joseph Pulitzer. Though his list of accomplishments seems unending, Pulitzer was a complicated and imperfect man, known for his sharp temper, poor health, and long list of enemies and rivals. This film is narrated by Adam Driver and features Liev Schreiber as Joseph Pulitzer in re-enactments. With stories told by a variety of historians and experts, JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE is a fascinating look into the life, accomplishments, and legacy of the man behind the Pulitzer Prize.

Watch the trailer here.

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