Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Transcending: the Wat Misaka Story,The 90th Minute, Jesse Owens, In Her Corner, Blind Ambition & Black Power Salute in 3rd Annual RightsFest at Tribeca Cinemas, September 6-8, 2012

The Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education brings its third annual RightsFest, a traveling, pan-ethnic, civil rights film festival, to New York City’s Tribeca Cinemas from September 6-8, 2012.
Inspired by the national dialogue about sports and equality during the height of “Linsanity” in February, the 40th anniversary of Title IX in June, and Oscar Pistorius’ historic participation in the London Olympics, RightsFest 2012 shines a spotlight on civil rights and sports. This year’s festival offers six documentary films about athletes who face equal challenges on and off the track, field or court, due to their race, gender or disability.

Opening night: Thursday, September 6
The 90th Minute (24 min) compels viewers to think about the way we value women’s sports. More than a decade after the 1999 Women’s World Cup, when players like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain inspired girls across the country to take up soccer, the Women’s Professional Soccer league still cannot survive. In May, just months after The 90th Minute’s release, the WPS folded completely.
* Director Jun Stinson will join a Q&A discussion following the screening.

Jesse Owens (56 min), a 2012 American Experience film produced by Firelight Media (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), delves beyond the sprinter’s stunning performance at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany to tell the story of the son of a sharecropper who becomes a world champion, only to be confronted by the harsh realities of celebrity.
* Director Laurens Grant will join a Q&A discussion following the screening.

Centerpiece presentations: Friday, September 7
Transcending: the Wat Misaka Story (50 min) chronicles the journey of the first minority basketball player in the NBA. Amidst a hostile racial climate that incarcerated 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during World War II, Misaka prevails as a top college basketball player who is ultimately drafted by the New York Knicks in 1947.
* Co-directors Christine Toy Johnson and Bruce Alan Johnson will join a Q&A discussion following the screening.

In Her Corner (43 min) profiles 2012 Olympic bronze medal boxer Marlen Esparza. The 2012 Olympic Games were the first to allow women’s boxing, the last female sport to be included in the world’s most prestigious sporting competition. In Her Corner reflects the lives and many struggles of female boxers in this country.
* CNN host Soledad O’Brien will join a Q&A discussion following the screening.

Closing night: Saturday, September 8
Blind Ambition (12 min) introduces us to Simon Hill, a Paralympic soccer player who competes in England’s blind football league. In the world of professional soccer, celebrities and endorsements often drown out individual stories of struggle and sacrifice. Blind Ambition is a refreshingly beautiful portrait of one man’s pure love of the game.

Black Power Salute (58 min) examines one of the most iconic sports images ever captured: the raised fists of two sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, as they receive their medals during the 1968 Olympics. With the world watching, this single gesture of courage forces the spotlight onto the harsh reality faced by Black Americans.
* Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith, along with director Geoff Small, will join a Q&A discussion following the screening.

Screenings are at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $8.00 per night and available for purchase at

About RightsFest
RightsFest is a traveling, pan-ethnic, civil rights film festival sponsored by the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education. The annual RightsFest brings audiences a diverse range of social justice films as well as panels to discuss civil rights, activism, filmmaking, and community-bridging solutions. RightsFest 2012 is made possible by funding from Open Society Foundations. 2012 Community Co-sponsors include the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian CineVision, Black Documentary Collective, DV Republic, Firelight Media, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

About the Korematsu Institute
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education is a program of the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. The Korematsu Institute is dedicated to advancing pan-ethnic civil and human rights through education. Founded in the name of the late civil rights hero Fred Korematsu, the Korematsu Institute develops and distributes free curriculum about Asian American history to teachers around the country. In 2010, the Institute led community efforts to pass California’s Fred Korematsu Day, the first day in US history named after an Asian American. Fred Korematsu is celebrated every January 30, on Mr. Korematsu’s birthday. For more information, visit or

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Epic Theatre Presents Jeanne Sakata’s Hold These Truths, starring Joel de la Fuente, May 20-21, 2012
President Obama Names Asian American Civil Rights Hero Gordon Hirabayashi Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Remembering Civil Rights Leader Gordon Hirabayashi,1918- 2012
Fred Korematsu, American Hero and Civil Rights Activist Dies at 86
Fred Korematsu Becomes First Asian American in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Civil Rights Exhibition
Photos: A.B. Cruz III and Lillian Kimura Receive 2011 AALDEF Justice in Action Awards
Reverend Jesse Jackson & Beau Sia slated for 1st Annual Fred Korematsu Day Celebration at UC Berkeley
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Fred Korematsu Day Bill, Bill Establishes January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution
Making the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution Bill a Reality
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on