Organizing a Community

In the mid-1980s, Barack Obama left a promising and well-paid New York business career to work as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. That decision was furthered, in some measure, by a brief phone conversation with the Kenyan half-sister he had never met face to face. Nigerian director Branwen Okpako’s The Education of Auma Obama (7 p.m. Friday at the Roxie Theater) introduces us to this highly accomplished and quietly powerful woman, who’s presently channeling her energies and experience into supporting community organizers in her native country. Big names also mix with no-names at the San Francisco International Women’s Film Festival, in what’s become a matter of tradition as well as principle. Okpako’s feature-length documentary shares tonight’s opening-night spotlight with “Making Herstory: Young Women in the Director’s Chair” (5:30 p.m. at the Ninth Street Independent Film Center), a program of short films by next-generation filmmakers. The weekend festival includes events designed explicitly to allow mid-career directors to share tips, advice, and painfully accrued wisdom to their sisters on the way up. Check the statistics on the paucity of female directors in Hollywood and it’s clear that community organizing is still needed in a major way.
April 13-15, 2012

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