ALA Film and Media Round Table announces 2022 Notable Films for Adults

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/01/2022


Michael Pasqualoni

Chair, Notable Films for Adults Committee

Film and Media Round Table (FMRT)

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Film and Media Round Table: Notable Films for Adults Committee has compiled its 2022 list of Notable Films, a list of 12 outstanding films released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults. Its purpose is to call attention to recent releases that make a significant contribution to the world of film. The list is compiled for use by librarians and the general adult populace.

The Notable Films for Adults Committee selected 12 outstanding titles from among 33 nominees for this year’s list, submitted by librarians spanning multi-type libraries. The availability of closed captions (CC) and/or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) is preferred; inclusion of the same is indicated below.

Alice Street (2020, dir. Spencer Wilkinson) 70 minutes. Endangered Ideas Media. DVD.  Available from The Video Project. CC. Artists Pancho Peskador and Desi Mundo form a partnership to tackle a four-story mural in the heart of Oakland, California. Situated at a unique intersection where Chinese and Afro-Diasporic communities face the threat of displacement and gentrification, the mural takes shape while overcoming numerous obstacles. The community rallies around the mural, which becomes a source of neighborhood pride and a spark to protect cultural arts.

Belly of the Beast (2020, dir. Erika Cohn) 81 minutes. ITVS International. DVD. Available from Women Make Movies.  CC. Filmed over seven years, with extraordinary access and intimate accounts from current and former incarcerated women, this film exposes a pattern of inadequate health care, sexual, and coercive sterilization targeting women of color in California’s women’s prisons.

Colectiv (Collective) (2020, dir. Alexander Nanau) 109 minutes. Alexander Nanau Productions. DVD. CC. After a fire in a Romanian nightclub, burn victims begin dying in hospitals of wounds that were not life threatening. Journalists investigate a dysfunctional and corrupt medical system in Romania.

The Donut King (2020, dir. Alice Gu) 94 minutes. Logan Industry. DVD. Distributed by Kino Lorber, Educational and Non-Theatrical Sales. CC. Tells the story of Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian immigrant in southern California living the American Dream by starting a family business of donut shops.

How It Feels To Be Free (2021, dir. Yoruba Richen) 113 mins. YAP film. PBS American Masters. DVD.  Available from PBS.  CC. SDH. A celebration of six iconic African American women entertainers who were trailblazers that changed American culture through their films, fashion, music, and politics. They challenged the entertainment industry’s racist stereotypes and inspired a new generation.  

Missing in Brooks County (2020, dir. Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss) 81 & 60 minutes. ITVS (Independent Lens).  DVD and educational streaming.  CC. Available from Good Docs.  Family members search for loved ones in a heartbreaking chronicle of deprivations and the frequent deadly results that face undocumented immigrants as they cross harsh territories on foot within one of the poorest areas of south Texas.  Features the role of human rights advocates, rancher border patrols, and forensic anthropologists.

Mr.Soul! (2018, dir, Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard) 104 minutes. Shoes in the Bed Productions. Educational streaming. Available from Film Platform. CC. An inspiring documentary that follows the groundbreaking PBS television program “Soul!” and its pioneering creator Ellis Haizlip. Airing in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, “Soul!” was revolutionary era programming that from 1969 until 1973 depicted Black artistry and life in a way not yet seen on television. Mr. Soul! is a celebration of and an ode to Blackness. 

Orchestrating Change (2020, dir. Margie Friedman and Barbara Multer-Wellin) 85 minutes. Orchestrating Change, LLC. DVD and educational streaming. Available from Bullfrog Films. CC. SDH. Follows the Me2/Orchestra and its award winning conductor, the world’s only orchestra created by and for people living with mental illness and their supporters, as they combat stigmatization through their performances. 

The Reason I Jump (2020, dir. Jerry Rothwell) 82 minutes. Distributed by Kino Lorber, Educational and Non-Theatrical Sales. DVD, Blu-ray and educational streaming. Available from various distributors. CC. SDH. Based on the groundbreaking book written by Naoki Higashida, the film creates an immersive experience for all viewers, through the lens of what autism feels like for five non-verbal youth and their families.

Sisters Rising (2020, dir. Willow O’Feral and James B. Heck) 59 minutes. Haptic Pictures. DVD and educational streaming. Available from Women Make Movies. CC. Six Native American sexual assault survivors advocate for tribal sovereignty against the backdrop of ongoing violence against Indigenous women in the United States.

Stray (2020, dir. Elizabeth Lo) 73 minutes. Magnolia Pictures. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC. Provides a quiet commentary on human society through the eyes of three stray dogs as they separately wander the streets of Istanbul. Their journeys merge as they bond with a group of young Syrian migrants whose experiences mirror their own.

Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street (2021, dir. Marilyn Agrelo) 107 minutes. HBO Documentary Films. DVD. CC. SDH. Available from various distributors. This documentary takes a nostalgic look at the beloved children’s educational program Sesame Street. Street Gang explores the innovative creation of a children’s television show that would portray inner city life, while educating and entertaining children like never before.  The film chronicles Sesame Street’s popularity and legacy.

The Notable Films for Adults Committee members are:

Elizabeth Ajunwa, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Glenarden, Maryland

Barbara Carlson, Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library, New York

Tiffany Chai, Armacost Library, University of Redlands, California

Kate Jones, Penfield Library, State University of New York at Oswego, New York

Brenda Kinzinger, Baltimore County Public Library, Maryland

Bryan McGeary, Penn State University, Pennsylvania

Molly Mooney, Columbia Basin College, Washington

Michael Pasqualoni (chair), Syracuse University Libraries, New York