Facets Teaching Resources

African & African-American History

Celebrate African and African American lives with these inspiring films for elementary, middle, and high school.


Film still from Through My Eyes program

Through My Eyes P

Animated/Live-Action/Documentary Shorts Program
Grades 1–3 (Ages 6–8)

All world language films screened with English subtitles read aloud.
75-minute program includes media education

Themes: Civil Rights, courage, family, communities, prejudice, rural and urban daily life

Explore African and African American lives in this profound and entertaining shorts program, which provides insight into the lives of others. In Nelson Mandela (animated short film, narrated by Forest Whitaker) the leader never lost sight of his vision, and with enormous courage changed the world. Rosa Parks was an inspiration to the cause for social justice. Revisit her bold act of American civil disobedience when this brave woman stood up for her beliefs. In Miss Devine, the award-winning animated documentary from StoryCorps, characters reflect on their Sundays in the South, with remembrances of their beloved teacher. In Angelina's Film, follow along in the footsteps of daily Sudanese rural life, when a girl and her friends band together to search for a lost animal. Join the characters in these short films and view new worlds—through their eyes.

Miss Devine (USA)
Mommy Look! (France)
Snowflake (Russia)
Jonah and the Crab (USA)
Nelson Mandela (USA)
Angelina's Film (South Sudan)
Rosa (USA)

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Film still from Stories and  Storytellers program

Stories and Storytellers M

Animated/Live-Action/Documentary Shorts Program
Grades 4–6 (Ages 9–12)

All world language films screened with English subtitles.
75-minute program includes media education.

Themes: Rural and urban daily life, tolerance, respect, storytelling, generations

The characters from around the world in this shorts collection have stories to tell and to pass along. In The Other Side, Annie and Clover share a new friendship during Segregation, one quiet conversation at a time. In Show Way we learn of the "Trails to the North", the Underground Railroad paths that could lead a family to freedom embroidered as patterns in quilts, a legacy passed down for generations. In the delightful documentary Calling Quilombola, children in rural and urban Brazil trade observations about their lives, via "telephone". And in Mwansa the Great, a brother and sister have vivid imaginations nurtured by memories of their father. Whether a story is embroidered, written, or oral—everyone has a tale to tell!

The Other Side (USA)
Mo's Bows (USA)
Show Way (USA)
Achia's Film (Uganda)
Calling Quilombola (Brazil)
Nelson Mandela (USA)

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Film still from Zarafa

Zarafa M V

Animated Feature Film (France)
Directed by: Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie
Grades 4–6 (Ages 9–11)

Screened in French, with English subtitles.
90-minute program includes media education.

Inspired by a true story and the beloved French children's book, Zarafa is an adventure gorgeously animated and beautifully told. Maki, a young African boy, escapes the clutches of an evil slave trader. After outwitting his captors, Maki befriends Hassan, a soldier from Alexandria, and Zarafa, a giraffe from Africa, who help him find his good friend Soula and return to his village in Africa. With the help of old and new techniques, Maki and his friends also attempt to destroy the evil trader and help Zarafa escape from her captivity in a French zoo. The characters in Zarafa perform tremendous acts of courage while crossing Africa and Europe. Together they create a fun and adventurous story that keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats!

Best of Fest winner, 2012.

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Film still from Showing the Way program

Showing the Way M

Animated/Live-Action/Animated Documentary Shorts Program
Grades 6–8 (Ages 11–14)

All world language films screened with English subtitles.
85-minute program includes media education.

Themes: Civil Disobedience, courage, respect, tolerance, prejudice, segregation, career goals, family.

The characters in this shorts collection are unafraid to dream big—and inspire others along the way. In Nelson Mandela (narrated by Forest Whitaker) we meet the man who never lost sight of his vision of equality, and with enormous courage changed the world. In the animated documentary Eyes on the Stars a boy reads "science", not "science fiction" and doesn't let anyone else write his life story in his search to become an astronaut. In The Bake Shop Ghost, a young woman is determined to realize her life's goal to open her own bake shop, despite a troublesome obstacle in her path. See how the past can shape the future as these characters "Dare to Dream".

Miss Devine (USA)
Show Way (USA)
Eyes on the Stars (USA)
Coretta Scott (USA)
A More Perfect Union (USA)
Nelson Mandela (USA)
Mo's Bows (USA)
Andrew with Great Fanfare (Germany)

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Film still from Andrew with Great Fanfare program

Journeys and Journals

Grades 6–8 (Ages 11–14)

All world language films screened with English subtitles.
76-minute program includes media education

Themes: Rural and urban daily life, tolerance, respect, storytelling, generations

The real-life and fictional characters in this collection of short films are self-possessed and in charge, noting their influences and taking stock along the way. In the first film, (a 2015 Fest Favorite) Moziah has the right stuff to move his one-man business to the next level. Then, in Fight the Bad Things, an Afro-European girl adapts to new surroundings by writing her own song based on recent experiences—and finds a sympathetic friend in the process. Fourteen-year-old Andrew Gordon has one goal: to be the Roots of Music Marching Band's drum major for the upcoming Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. Through training, daily efforts, and encouragement from his loving grandmother, he strives to achieve his goal. Balancing schoolwork, personal goals, while searching for his inner leadership to manifest itself is not easy, does he have what it takes?

Moe Can Tie a Bow (Germany)
Fight the Bad Things (Finalnd)
N'djekoh (France)
Andrew with Great Fanfare (Germany)

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Film still from the animation program

African & African American Animation HS M

Animation/Animated Documentary Shorts Program
Grades 9+ (Ages 14+)

All world language films screened with English subtitles.
90-minute program includes media education.

Themes: Travel, reflection, cross-cultural exchanges, rural life, coming-of-age, career aspirations, family origins

The young men and women in this selection of short, animated films speak from their own experiences and their own hearts. In ,em>What's Fufu? Nigerian teen Yemmi reflects on her heritage versus her present-day life in London with foster parents. In the documentary Pondering, passersby note whether they prefer their present circumstances or look to emigrate from Africa. In N'djekoh a young woman looks back on her childhood and the memories of her mother. And in Journey to Cape Verde, a traveler checks out of digital life completely, to get in touch with the rhythm and flow of African daily life. The animation "palette" from across the globe paints the lives of characters of African descent in many ways. From watercolor to oil painting, from hand-drawn to computer animation, come along with these characters as they set off on their journeys—and find out more about themselves on the way.

Miss Devine (USA)
What's Fufu? (England)
Snowflake (Russia)
Hisab (Ethiopia)
Pondering (Belgium/Burkina Faso)
N'djekoh (France)
Sharaf (Sweden)
Journey to Cape Verde (Portugal)

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All films are official selections from the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, and all programs include an introduction and post-screening discussion led by one of our trained media educators. Curriculum aligned with the Common Core is also provided to teachers prior to the day of screening.

Flexible scheduling throughout the day—come to us or let us come to you! To book your group please contact groups@facets.org or 773.281.9075 ext. 3040.