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Movies that inform, movies that inspire
Beacon Hill Meaningful Movies

2ND TUESDAYS - Doors open at 7pm

Centilia at El Centro de la Raza

1660 Roberto Maestas Festival St (across the plaza from Tacos Chukis

Community discussion to follow.

With Special support from Jill and Joe McKinsrty



Beacon Hill Meaningful movies is a program of Beacon Arts

 and an affiliate of Meaningful Movies.

 Our program is supported by donations from the community. 

Your generosity is appreciated.

2017 Archive follows - for your browsing convenience. . .


Tribal Justice

November 14


Tribal Justice is a feature documentary about a little known, under reported but effective criminal justice reform movement in America today: the efforts of tribal courts to create alternative justice systems based on their traditions. In California, the state with the largest number of Indian people and tribes, two formidable Native American women are among those leading the way. Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the northwest coast, and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribe in the southeastern desert, are creating innovative systems that focus on restoring rather than punishing offenders in order to keep tribal members out of prison, prevent children from being taken from their communities, and stop the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues their young people.

Abby Abinanti is a fierce, lean, elder. Claudette White is younger, and her courtroom style is more conventional in form; but like Abby, her goal is to provide culturally relevant justice to the people who come before her. Observational footage of these judges' lives and work provides the backbone of the documentary, while the heart of the film follows offenders as their stories unfold over time, in and out of court. These other stories unfold over time, engaging viewers with the dedication of the judges, the humanity of the people who come before them, and a vision of justice that can actually work.

Through the film, audiences will gain a new understanding of tribal courts and their role in the survival of Indian people. The film will also inspire those working in the mainstream legal field to consider new ways of implementing problem-solving and restorative justice, lowering our staggering incarceration rates and enabling offenders to make reparations and rebuild their lives.

Command and Control

October 10

From Robert Kenner, the director of the groundbreaking film Food, Inc., comes Command and Control, the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, this chilling documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us. Filmed in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo in Arizona, the documentary features the minute-by-minute accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders who were on the scene that

night. Command and Control reveals the unlikely chain of events that caused the accident and the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States – a warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Woven through the Damascus story is a riveting history of America’s nuclear weapons program, from World War II through the Cold War, much of it based on recently declassified documents. A cautionary tale of freak accidents, near misses, human fallibility and extraordinary heroism, Command and Control forces viewers to confront the great dilemma that the U.S. has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: how do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?

Incarcerated Voices, The If Project

Sept 12

Personal stories and intimate struggles of women imprisoned at the Washington Corrections Center and the project, led by a local police officer, to help them heal and find forgiveness from society and for themselves.

"Landfill Harmonic"

August 10th

Double the fun tonight--great movie and a mini concert by the local group the Beaconettes! Program starts at 7:00.

“Landfill Harmonic” follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their community, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testimony to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.

"The Secret Life of Your Clothes"

July 13th


Each year, we give thousands of tons of our unwanted clothes to charity. But where do they actually go? It turns out most are exported to Africa. And even though we have given them away for free, our castoffs have created a multimillion-dollar industry and some of the world's poorest people pay good money to buy them.

In this revealing film, charismatic paralympian Ade Adepitan tells the fascinating story of the afterlife of our clothes. He follows the trail to Ghana, the biggest importer of our castoffs where thousands of tons of our old clothes arrive every week. Ade meets the people who make a living from our old clothes, from wholesalers and markets traders to the importers raking in more than the average yearly wage in a single day!


But not everyone is profiting. With cheaply made western clothes flooding the market, the local textile industry has been decimated. And the deluge of our clothes isn't just destroying jobs; it has an effect on Ghanaian culture. Western outfits are fast replacing traditional garb. Prepare to open your the secret life of your clothes.

Let’s have some fun at the movie!  Do you shop thrift stores, garage sales or consignment shops?  Wear your best bargain or favorite outfit, let’s brag together on our determination to stay away from fast fashion and the damage it does.  Also—special guests for the discussion circle include folks from Seattle’s longest continuous garment manufacturer (Filson) and local thrift Goodwill.

Sonic Sea: Sound, Song, Survival

Thursday, May 11


Sonic Sea:  Sound, Song, Survival


Sonic Sea is a documentary about the devastating impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life. The film begins with a mystery: the unexplained stranding and mass mortality of several species of whales in the Bahamas in March 2000. As the mystery unfolds, the film explores the critical role of sound in the sea, and the sudden, dramatic changes human activity is inflicting on the ocean's delicate acoustic habitat -- changes that threaten the ability of whales and other marine animals to prosper, to function, and ultimately, to survive. Sonic Sea features several charismatic scientists, including Ken Balcomb, the former Navy pilot and acoustics expert who proved to the world that naval sonar is killing whales, as well as the musician and environmental activist, Sting, whose moving interview connects the sonic world of marine life with our sonic world on land. The film offers solutions (and, by extension, hope) for a quieter ocean, and underscores that the ocean's destiny is inextricably bound with our own.

Guest speakers from the Orca Conservancy will join the discussion

East of Salinas

April 13

Every year in September Oscar Ramos, gets a new class of third grade students at Sherwood Elementary School, in the heart of Salinas Valley, California. For Oscar’s 3rd graders, it’s hard to imagine life beyond the fields that extend as far as the eye can see. Their parents work from sun up to sun down, cutting lettuce for American supermarkets. As a result, many of the kids have never been to the beach, even though it’s only twenty miles away.  They see gang violence too often.  They live in cramped apartments, often shared with other families. And they take on the day-to-day stresses of their parents: making ends meet, dealing with acute health issues often without insurance, fearing deportation.

Oscar knows first hand what migrant kids are up against.  He was seven, a year younger than his students, when he came to the Salinas Valley from Mexico.  One of eight children, he grew up in labor camps, picking onions and garlic in the fields with his family. In fourth grade his teacher told him if he worked hard he could have a different life. Oscar won a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. The day he earned his degree, he bought a car and drove home to the fields. He’s been teaching ever since.

Jose Anzaldo is Oscar’s most gifted student.  Jose’s parents work in the lettuce fields. He’s been in seven schools in three years, and he shares his one bedroom apartment with another family. But how do you teach students like Jose who have no place to do their homework?  How do you teach a kid who moves every few months?  This is what Oscar is up against every day.  Oscar not only teaches his students reading, math and science, he gives them access to a world beyond their reach.

Oscar helps José imagine a future beyond the lettuce fields where his parents work.  Despite the challenges of his migrant life, Jose excels in school. But José was born in Mexico–and he’s on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance–for José and many of million kids like him. East of Salinas asks: What is lost when kids like José are denied opportunities?

The Doctrine of Discovery

Unmasking the Domination Code

a film by Sheldon Wolfchild

March 9th


Many Americans grow up learning that this continent was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus. The concept of discovery, as if the land was empty prior to arrival and its indigenous inhabitants were somehow “less than” the explorers is, at its heart, racism and cultural superiority. 

The doctrine of discovery, a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, originated from various church documents in Christian Europe in the mid-1400s to justify the pattern of domination and oppression by European monarchies as they invasively arrived in the Western hemisphere.  It theologically asserted the right to claim the indigenous lands, territories, and resources on behalf of Christendom, and to subjugate native peoples around the world.

The U.S. Supreme Court used the doctrine to assert that the United States, as the successor of Great Britain, had inherited authority over all lands within our claimed boundaries. This decision allowed our government to legally ignore or invalidate any native claims to property and resources. To this day courts continue to cite this legal precedent. It is still being used by courts to decide property rights cases brought by Native Americans against the U.S. and against non-Natives.

Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony

February 10th

Following the Ninth is a documentary film about the global impact of Beethoven’s final symphony. The film, released in mid-2013, has screened in over 250 cities in the United States and around the globe, with more to come.

Written in 1824, near the end of Beethoven's life, the Ninth Symphony was composed by a man with little to be thankful for. Sick, alienated from almost everyone, and completely deaf, Beethoven had never managed to find love, nor create the family he’d always wanted. And yet, despite this, he managed to create an anthem of joy that embraces the transcendence of beauty over suffering.

Celebrated to this day for its ability to heal, repair, and brinpeople together across great divides, the Ninth has become an anthem of liberation and hope that has inspired many around the world:


At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth over loudspeakers as the army came in to crush their struggle for freedom.


In Chile, women living under the Pinochet dictatorship sang the Ninth at torture prisons, where men inside took hope when they heard their voices.


As the Berlin Wall came down in December 1989, it collapsed to the sound of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as an “Ode To Freedom.”

In Japan each December, the Ninth is performed hundreds of times, often with 10,000 people in the chorus. Following the Ninth gives us insight into the heightened importance of this massive communal Ninth, known as “Daiku,” in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

American Revolutionary, the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Friday, January 13th, 2017
Doors open at 6:15 pm at the Garden House

Grace Lee Boggs, who died at 100, was a Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be.  Rooted for 80 years in the labor, civil rights and Black Power movements, she challenged a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times.  Winner of six audience awards from film festivals around the world, including the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival.


Special guests for the evening will be local activists sharing their stories of making positive change.

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