The San Francisco Black Film Festival XXI Tribute to Jeff Adachi

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi speaks at the Bay View 40th anniversary celebration in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library as Bay View publisher looks on approvingly. Jeff rare missed an opportunity to show his support for the Bay View. – Photo: Peter Menchini

by Wanda Sabir

The San Francisco Black Film Festival’s 21st anniversary season runs June 13-16, kicking off with a media preview, briefing and tribute to the late Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender and filmmaker, on June 12, 4-6 p.m. Kali O’Ray and Katera Crossley, SFBFF Festival co-directors want to honor a friend to the festival, whose work, “America Needs a Racial Facial,” debuted in 2016. Jacq Wilson, the brother of Jacque Wilson who worked with Jeff Adachi in the Public Defender’s Office, will be a part of the prison reform panel. Other panelists include California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, author of SB 1437, Supreme Court-winning civil rights attorney Pamela Price and former PUC Judge Karen Clopton.

Two short films will be screened that evening. “Disparity: A Tale of 2 Pushaz,” directed by Justin Givens, challenges the uneven and unfair mandatory sentencing laws for crack vs. powder cocaine. The director said that he became interested in the topic while at Arizona State College completing a degree in criminal justice and noticed how many people are serving lengthy sentences based on race. In the film, one character, Charlie, is convicted and sentenced based on his race, not the crime. In the town where Syd lives, the majority of his customers are white. The tag line is: Same story, different endings.

When Attorney General Eric Holder changed federal laws around sentencing mandates for crack vs. powder cocaine, the Black community cheered. The Fair Sentencing Act (2010) ended mandatory sentencing and the 2018 First Step Act expands job training and other programming aimed at reducing recidivism rates among federal prisoners; however, for the majority of prisoners in this nation in state prisons, these efforts to reduce mass incarceration do not affect them.

Another film that evening looks at state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 1437, the bill that made it possible for Neko Wilson’s release after spending nearly a decade in jail for a murder he did not commit. Wilson is the first Californian freed by SB 1437. However, as of May 2019, his release has been challenged. There are lawmakers who want him sent back to jail.

SFBFF supporters Yoko Coleman, Brett Harrison, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Jim Chabin, president of The Advanced Imaging Society, consult with co-director Kali O’Ray. – Photo: William Hammons

After the City and County of San Francisco settled the case on the shooting death of Mario Woods by SF police, once again, SFBFF programming addresses issues that face its constituency. Along with Justin Givens’ film will be screened the short documentary “Neko Wilson, Social Biography” by Raj Jayadev and Silicon Valley DeBug.

The tribute and briefing June 12, 2019, at Cinemark Theatres, 845 Mission St., across from the Fifth and Market Garage, is guaranteed to inspire dialogue, which is what SFBFF is known for: programming that “serves as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times to lead to a better understanding of and communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races and lifestyles.”

This year there are short and feature-length films covering a range of topics reflective of the diversity that is the pan-African Diaspora. The venues are within walking distance of one another in the Fillmore community. Tickets are just a click away. Visit www.sfbff.org. The media briefing and screening are free with RSVP at the website, where patrons can watch trailers.

This year SFBFF is introducing the Urban Pitch Fest, an opportunity for urban storytellers to pitch their stories for movies, television programs etc. to industry professionals. The new partnership with The Advanced Imaging Society will help to ensure the right people are in the room. Listen to Wanda’s Picks Radio June 5, 2019, for an interview with the SFBFF co-directors.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wanda@wandaspicks.com. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.