Resilience,” says San Francisco filmmaker Helen Cohen, “is a little bit of an overused word.”
But it is a theme she can’t seem to avoid these days — in daily life and politics, in Judaism and in her art.
The subjects of “Arc of Justice,” the latest documentary from Cohen and her husband, Mark Lipman, embody resilience. The 22-minute film, playing March 25 in the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, tells the tragic yet ultimately triumphant story of New Communities, a collective of black farmers in Georgia.
New Communities grew out of the civil rights movement. After a voter registration campaign in southwest Georgia led to mass evictions of black people from the land where they lived and worked, the civil rights organizers made it their mission to secure independent land and economic opportunity for African Americans in the area.
In 1969 New Communities formed the first community land trust (CLT), a nonprofit organization that acquires land and sells or leases out the properties on it at permanently affordable rates. The original New Communities members developed the model after taking a formative trip to Israel, where they toured kibbutzes and moshavs.
The group launched a collective farm near Albany, Georgia, but years of racist attacks, denial of credit and drought led to its eventual foreclosure in the 1980s.
See more at Jewish News.