The title Who Will Start Another Fire alludes to Malawian poet Jack Mapanje’s Before Chilembwe Tree (1981), in which he asks, “Who will start another fire?” By omitting the question mark and retaining his language, we propose an answer to his question.
Like Flying: A young Chinese-American girl navigates her childhood through her parents’ broken relationship.
Family Tree: We meet Nagawa, an 8 year old schoolgirl, whose day is almost like any other. She’s presenting a school project about her family tree to her classmates and teacher. According to Nagawa, her family consists of just herself, her Mum, and her Dad, who she only gets to see once a week. This is her normal. When her mother Margaret picks up Nagawa from school, she doesn’t have the heart to tell her daughter that her beloved father has been in a terrible accident. They arrive at the hospital to pay vigil. Her father, an Honourable in the Ugandan parliament is widely popular, and a few people are assembling outside the private ward— including his mistresses with his and their children. Nagawa doesn’t know any of these people and they don’t know her. What follows for Nagawa is an awkward, confusing and heartbreaking afternoon as her parents’ betrayal sets in.
Troublemaker: Obi is hot, bored, and desperate for something to do. When his best friend, Emeka, gives him a packet of firecrackers, the boys decide to have some fun. However, things escalate in unexpected ways, as Obi learns for the first time that actions have consequences, and that there are still things he cannot understand.
Polygraph: Based on a true story, Yasmine, an openly lesbian Arab nurse living in Tel Aviv, finds out that her lover Or, an intelligence officer in the Israeli army, has been reporting on their relationship. Their liaison is further strained by the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict and by Yasmine’s sister’s visit, who arrives from the West Bank not knowing that she is going to meet the occupying enemy at her own sister’s house.
The Lights Are On, No One’s Home: Mar, a trans woman who left home years ago, returns to her old neighborhood to find her childhood home. Upon her return, she’s confronted with the changes that gentrification has brought to the place she once knew so well. With all her old paths back home gone, she wanders the streets aimlessly. Memories of her early transition, the places she went, her family, her best friend and a drug addiction she can’t seem to shake resurface in unexpected and painful ways. Forced to contend with the ways in which she has remained static in a place that has seemingly changed overnight, she searches for a way to make peace with these changes or maybe just a familiar place to rest her head.
By Way of Canarsie: A wandering portrait of an oft-neglected shoreline community, By Way of Canarsie imagines possible futures at odds with a peaceful present. Through brief encounters, observational mise-en-scene, and expressive use of analog film, we begin to understand this predominantly black New York City neighborhood’s shared desires for recognition and respect. As some community members advocate for a commuter ferry at the local pier, others reflect on the current use of natural resources, the indigenous history, and the impending environmental concerns that encompass Canarsie’s relationship with the water as it exists today. The competing futures for Canarsie Pier present complications about how and for whom this public space serves.
The Rose of Manila: An imagining of the formative years of Imelda Marcos, who, as one half of the Marcos regime, would become infamous for embezzling billions from the country to sustain her extravagant lifestyle. Here, the fate of a young girl and an entire nation become entangled as the absent mother of a country is born.
Slip: A woman arrives home at the end of a regular day, but as she begins to turn in for the night, she is overcome with a sense of restlessness. Unable to fit inside her own world, she goes back out into the night. Her journey around a mostly vacant city, obscured by darkness, cascades in space and time, away from one feeling and in search of another.
Not Black Enough: A young African-American man struggling to find his identity within his community meets a persuasive relic of the past.