Film Festival 2021

November 8th - 13th 2021

Welcome to TRF's 2nd Annual Film Festival

Trauma Research Foundation is pleased to present the 2021 Film Festival. This year we will be showcasing a variety of films that explore the process of healing from trauma from different sources and perspectives. Each film showing will be followed by a live Q&A session with key members of the film and experts in the field of trauma. Access to the films will be available for a week after the event.

We hope you can join us for one or all of the films!

Please note:  This is a virtual event.  Films will be shown at scheduled times but attendees will have access to all films until November 20th.  

Learn More about our 2021 lineup

The Bad Kids

The Bad Kids is an observational documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal’s mission to realize the potential of these students whom the system has deemed lost causes.  Employing a verité approach during a year at the school, our film follows Principal Vonda Viland as she coaches three at-risk teens––a new father who can’t support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home––through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their goal of a high school Diploma.

Live Q&A @ 7:35 pm ET with:

  • Vonda Viland, Principal, Black Rock Continuation High School
  • Lou Bergholz, Managing Partner and Founder, Edgework Consulting
  • Kevin Coleman, Director of Education at Shakespeare & Company

A Place to Breathe

A Place to Breathe explores the universality of trauma and resilience through the eyes of immigrant and refugee healthcare practitioners and patients. This feature-length documentary intertwines the personal journeys of those who are transcending their own obstacles by healing others. Combining cinema vérité and animation, the film highlights the creative strategies by which immigrant communities in the U.S. survive and thrive.  The film weaves together the arcs of Rodrigue (DR Congo), Socheat (Cambodia), Norma (Guatemala), and the young couple Edgar and Yania (Mexico and Uruguay) as they pursue their dreams of supporting their communities’ healing. Common ground and chance connections join these unique stories as the film humanizes those who have migrated here, sharing their wisdom and perspectives that enrich and strengthen our communities. This is more critical than ever with the devastating effects that COVID-19 is having on communities of color and immigrant populations. A PLACE TO BREATHE moves audiences to envision new understandings of wellness for all.

Live Q&A @ 7:40 pm ET with:

  • Michelle Grace Steinberg, Filmmaker and Integrative Health Care Provider
  • Rodrigue Kalambayi, Student and​​Refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo

Out of State

Shipped thousands of miles away from the tropical islands of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two native Hawaiians discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. It’s from this unlikely setting that David and Hale finish their terms and return to Hawaii, hoping for a fresh start. Eager to prove to themselves and to their families that this experience has changed them forever, David and Hale struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking the question: can you really go home again?

Live Q&A with:

  • Ciara Lacy, Filmmaker
  • Bessel van der Kolk, MD

The IF Project

The If Project is a feature length documentary that follows a group of inmates incarcerated in a maximum- security women’s prison who are part of a writing workshop co-created by a Seattle police detective and a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence. The writing workshop provides access to an emotional depth and intimacy we are not often afforded with those behind bars. We journey with them as they take a brutally honest look into their past and work to explore, often for the first time, what exactly led them to prison. These stories serve as a launching point to follow three of the women in the program as they are released, reunited with their families and faced with life on the outside. Most astoundingly, they do all of this with a police officer by their side every step of the way. We watch as a lasting bond is formed and this unlikely partnership between cop and convict unfolds. What the The If Project allows us is an intimate journey into a world of the locked away and forgotten. It opens our eyes to the real struggles of those who are trying to reenter society – and the many obstacles they face.

Live Q&A @ 7:40 pm ET with:

  • Kim Bogucki, co-founder of The IF Project
  • La’Keisha “KeWee” Hamilton, community Relations Coordinator for The IF Project
  • Dr. Felisa Bryant, Director of Programs for The IF Project


Of the 440,000 kids in foster care in the U.S., more than a quarter are over age 12. Adoption rates for these older kids are abysmally low. What happens when you’re “too old” to get adopted? After 20 years in foster care, Noel Anaya was never adopted. He was determined to investigate what went wrong, and finds the answers in his first documentary film.

Unadopted starts with Anaya untangling his own unique story, which leads him to a wider examination that reveals the social welfare system’s silent but pervasive systemic bias against families of color, and teenagers aka “older youth.”

While most young adults look to their parents for answers about identity and upbringing, Anaya turns to court records, social workers, and most importantly, three California teens who reveal the critical decisions they’re currently making to secure a “forever family” — or not.

Live Q&A @ 6:45 pm ET with:

  • Noel Anaya, Public speaker and film featured story
  • Paula Neudorf,  Documentary filmmaker and journalist
  • Arianna LaPenne, Documentary director 

Mott Haven

An intimate portrait of a “second chance” high school in the South Bronx, where social worker J.C. Hall is given the opportunity to create a music studio in the old storage room. When one of the students who helped build the studio is murdered in front of the school, the group sets out to hold a show in his honor. The film follows the youth as they prepare, all while processing their grief, overcoming individual obstacles and working towards graduating high school, in a district where 49% of kids live below the poverty line.

Live Q&A @ 8:20 pm ET with:

  • JC Hall, LMSW, EXAT , Hip Hop artist and clinical social worker, Hip Hop Therapy Studio
  • Vianna Morrison, Bronx native and rapper
  • Ephraim Weir, Rapper and model

Standing Still | Still Standing

‘Standing Standing/Still Standing’ is a short documentary that captures the real-time transformations of three people for whom a paraplegic yoga instructor with an unconventional method is a last hope.

Live Q&A @ 12:50 pm ET with:

  • Matthew Sanford, Founder and President of Mind Body Solutions
  • Andrew Walton, Film Director
  • Angelique Lele, Film Subject

Breathing Love into a Community

A documentary portrait of the Holistic Life Foundation and its mission bringing the benefits of mindfulness, yoga and put simply, love, to the inner-city neighborhood of west Baltimore, where two of the three founders were born and raised.

Live Q&A @ 2:05 pm ET with:

  • Ross Robinson, Manager of Training, Program Implementation, and Quality at HLF
  • Ra’mon Brown, HLF yoga instructor and Mindful Moment Program Specialist

Limited spaces available


Sign Up

This event is a community-building fundraising event. There will be 8 films shown over 6 days and we suggest donating $50 for the entire festival or $10-$25 per film that you choose to watch.  Please note that there is no minimum donation requirement, and the dollar amount can be adjusted in the box below. You will need to enter your email to receive a link to join us for the event.

Your donation supports the filmmakers and their causes as well as  Trauma Research Foundation’s mutually aligned projects. We strive to make our programming accessible to all, and we appreciate your donations as they give us the opportunity to provide scholarships to those in need. 

Thank you!