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Difficult But Important: Three Documentaries to See at SIFF

Transitioning genders, a summer in Newtown and the effects of childhood trauma

Published on: May 20, 2016

As parents, it is all too easy to focus on our children’s development while neglecting our own growth. But making the effort to keep ourselves informed is equally valuable to us and to our children, as we benefit from new knowledge and they see us modeling a life of continuous learning. 

The Seattle International Film Festival’s mission statement is to “create experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. It is through the art of cinema that we foster a community that is more informed, aware and alive.”

Well-made documentaries epitomize that mission, and going to the movies is such an enjoyable way to learn something new. That’s why we can’t wait to see these three documentaries screening at SIFF. They may not be particularly child-friendly, but all three are of significant interest to families. And you might not have a chance to see them anywhere else.  

Finding Kim

Many of us never even heard the word “transgender” when we were kids, but transgender issues are everywhere in the news lately and our kids have questions. So much discrimination has been justified with the question, “What am I supposed to tell my kids?” when the obvious answer is “the truth.” But you can only tell the truth if you know it. 

Finding Kim gives us an opportunity to develop in ourselves some of the empathy we hope to encourage in our children. Director Aaron Bear follows Seattle local Kim B. through the female-to-male transition process as the 50-year-old overcomes a lifetime of bullying and addiction to finally become comfortable in his own skin.

The film combines Kim B.’s experiences with interviews with activists in the LGBTQ community, including a surgeon specializing in transgender procedures and Seattle's own Dan Savage. Bear and Kim B. will be in attendance at both screenings.

Screening times: Monday, May 23, 6:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown; Tuesday, May 31, 3:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown. Director and film’s star in attendance at both screenings.

Language: English (filmed in the U.S.)

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Midsummer in Newtown

When we hear about events like the Sandy Hook massacre, our hearts immediately go out to everyone involved. As parents, we wonder how life could go on for parents who have suffered such a loss. In Midsummer in Newtown, director Lloyd Kramer broadens that question to include the entire community, with a special focus on children. He finds the answer in the healing power of art. One year after the shooting, the community is united by a theater director to help produce a rock musical version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Kramer will be in attendance at both screenings.

Screening times: Saturday, May 21, 3:30 p.m., Majestic Bay; Sunday, May 22, 5:30 p.m., SIFF Uptown. Director in attendance at both screenings.

Language: English (filmed in the U.S.)

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Resilience Trailer - KPJR Films from KPJR FILMS LLC on Vimeo.

Also concerned with the question of resilience, but approaching it from a scientific perspective, this film by documentarian James Redford studies the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) on child development, education and long-term health.

In Resilience, Redford explores the outcomes of a trauma-sensitive guidance program based on research that ties ACE, including unremembered traumas, to long-term health issues. He travels to San Francisco, New Haven and Washington state documenting efforts to utilize this integrated approach to health.

Parents of children who have experienced trauma will be most interested in learning about the outcomes of these research-based programs, but in a state where education is criminally underfunded, identifying the most effective approach for healing from ACE has the potential to benefit everyone. Redford will be in attendance at both screenings.

Screening times: Saturday, May 21, 3 p.m., SIFF Uptown; Sunday, May 22, 1 p.m., Majestic Bay. Director in attendance at both screenings.

Language: English (filmed in the U.S.)

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