Oct. 16, 2020


We wanted the 2020 PROXY [virtual] FALL FILM FESTIVAL to serve as a call to arms, to inspire folks to push back and demand a better and more just world in these times of layered crises. Our first two installments sought to highlight institutional efforts to dampen the vote and cement minority rule, to bring you to your feet in anger. This week, we’re taking a bit of a different approach. It’s important to allow ourselves time to breathe during these ceaselessly chaotic times. Our suggestions this week weave together portraiture, films and articles that tell human stories of connection, resilience, and creativity — to remind us of the comfort found in community.


Directed by Melizza Haizlip and Samuel D. Pollard, 2018 [not-rated]

MR. SOUL! is a celebration and examination of SOUL!, a groundbreaking Black variety show that showcased Black dancers, creators, writers and intellectuals produced by PBS from 1968 to 1973. Focusing on its creator and host Ellis Haizlip, the documentary deftly explores the dynamics of Black television at the time and the show’s cultural impact on American media. Inspiring, righteous, and hilarious, the film is a light shined on an often overlooked vanguard of variety television.

Watch online and support BAMPFA

Directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, 2020 [not-rated]

MISS JUNETEENTH is an intimate portrayal of the support system connecting a mother and daughter, and how it tests the relationship it was built to sustain. Turquoise is a single mother living in rural Texas, where she hopes her daughter Kai will win Miss Juneteenth – an annual beauty competition that includes a scholarship to a historically black college. Having won the competition in her youth, Turquoise wants her daughter to have – and perhaps make better use of – the opportunities that the title affords. The directorial debut of Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth showcases Peoples’s masterful ability to capture quiet, devastating moments on film.

Watch on YOUTUBE




The Washington Post has a well reported and beautifully shot project out this week covering 24-hours in the lives of American workers who cannot work from home, drawing attention to the myriad ways the pandemic has wrenched further the class divide. Spending time with a public defender in Memphis, a meatpacking union rep in Nebraska, and a Doordash driver in Davis, the multimedia story illuminates the pride and despair of daily work amidst a pandemic.


Street Spirit, the East Bay publication dedicated to covering homelessness and poverty from the perspective of those most impacted, has a semi-regular series on the vendors who sell their papers throughout the Bay Area. The feature from this summer on Ken Jones, a 70-year-old vendor who regularly sells on the streets near the Berkeley Repertory Theater, is a portrait of the transformative power of joy, faith, and positivity.


Critic-at-large Wesley Morris has a piece in the New York Times magazine beginning with a rumination on the most handsome of all COVID novelties – his quarantine mustache. What begins as a personal lambasting evolves into an thorough discussion on Black men’s facial hair, the role of respectability politics in the civil rights movement, the false safety of assimilation, the harm of a cultural system that equates “whiteness” with “goodness”, and Morris’ own experiences with Blackness as a gay Black man working in historically white institutions.




This week’s playlist, constructed by PROXY founder Douglas Burnham, is a meditation on the legacy of Ellis Haizlip and a celebration of the rich American history of Black artists and poets. Enjoy!

Listen on Spotify or Apple Music




Youth Spirit Artworks is a job training program in Berkeley that, along with publishing the Street Spirit newspaper, aims to empower and uplift low income and homeless youth in the Bay Area through art jobs and training. They have several ongoing projects in support of these goals, including a campaign to build 100 homes for homeless youths. You can check out their initiatives and support them financially here.


Food insecurity across the nation has exploded since the beginning of the pandemic, particularly in cities. The lack of a coordinated relief effort by the federal government puts the onus of support on local communities. We’ve highlighted these orgs before, but their work is as important now as ever – consider donating time or money to the SF + Marin Food Bank, GLIDE, or any number of other organizations working to relieve food insecurity in San Francisco.


STAMP OUT, John McNeil Studio’s interactive installation at PROXY, offers a cathartic way to support the US Postal Service and strengthen our democracy. Through November 3, buy some USPS stamps and join in literally stamping out corruption, racism, greed, fascism and nepotism.



As always we welcome your feedback and ideas. You can reach us at info@proxysf.com.