Film Screening: Arc of Justice

Event Details

  • Date:
  • Venue: Dance Palace
    503 B Street, Point Reyes Station, CA, 94956, United States
  • Venue: Dance Palace

A screening about a community creating housing and economic opportunity. Post-film discussion with CLAM and the filmmakers about housing in West Marin. Co-sponsored by CLAM, Main Street Moms and Black Mountain Circle. 

Arc of Justice traces the remarkable journey of New Communities, Inc. (NCI) in southwest Georgia, a story of racial justice, community organizing, and perseverance in the face of enormous obstacles. It chronicles the remarkable journey of the first community land trust and its struggle for social justice and economic empowerment.

NCI was created in 1969 in Albany, Georgia by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Congressman John Lewis,  and Charles and Shirley Sherrod, to help secure economic independence for African American families.  For 15 years, NCI cooperatively farmed nearly 6,000 acres, the largest tract of land in the United States owned by African Americans at the time, but racist opposition prevented them from implementing plans to build 500 affordable homes as part of their community land trust.

Unable to secure government loans to cope with the impact of successive years of drought, NCI  lost the land to foreclosure in 1985. But 25 years later it was given new life as a result of a successful class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of African American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for loan discrimination. With the settlement, the original founders purchased a 1,600-acre plantation once owned by the largest slave owner and richest man in Georgia. NCI is now growing pecans and using the antebellum mansion on the property as a retreat and training center, still committed to its original mission of promoting racial justice and economic development.

Watch the trailer.


Helen S. Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and painter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work as a documentary filmmaker follows draws on is a long and diverse history of activism and professional work with cultural, educational and community development organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and a master’s degree in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

From 1992-2004, Helen was co-director of Women’s Educational Media (now called Groundspark) a nonprofit organization specializing in the production and distribution of social issue documentaries. She is the co-creator and executive producer of the acclaimed Respect for All Project, a program that produces cutting edge films, curriculum guides and training resources to help prevent prejudice among young people.

Helen’s producing credits include the first three films in the Respect for All series: It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School (1996); That’s a Family! (2000); and Let’s Get Real (2003). With Mark Lipman, she recently produced and directed the award-winning feature documentary States of Grace (2014). Helen has also directed, produced and/or executive produced documentaries for public interest organizations, including Homes & Hands: Community Land Trusts in Action, (1998) and Streets of Dreams: Development Without Displacement in Communities of Color (2013).

Through Open Studio Productions, Helen continues to make independent and commissioned films. She is a long-standing member of New Day Films, a national cooperative of independent filmmakers who self-distribute social issue documentaries.


Mark Lipman has worked as a documentary filmmaker for over thirty years, exploring a wide range of subjects from domestic violence to human sexuality to affordable housing and community organizing. His films have been broadcast nationally on public television and won numerous awards. His producing credits include To Have and To Hold (1981), the first documentary to look at domestic violence through the experiences of men; Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street (1996), a film about the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s successful efforts to revitalize a Boston neighborhood devastated by redlining, arson and illegal dumping; Father’s Day (2003), an experimental documentary about the death of Mark’s father; and Gaining Ground (2013), a sequel to Holding Ground that explores DSNI’s success in preventing foreclosures and fostering youth leadership.

Mark has produced media for non-profit organizations throughout New England including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where he documented the creation of new artwork by internationally renowned artists-in-residence. As a freelance editor, he has worked for the NOVA series at WGBH/Boston and for many other Boston-area companies.  After moving to San Francisco in 2004, and forming Open Studio Productions with Helen, they produced Streets of Dreams: Development Without Displacement in Communities of Color (2013); and the award-winning feature documentary States of Grace (2014).

Mark also has extensive experience designing and implementing audience engagement campaigns for his films. The Ford Foundation included Holding Ground as one of ten case studies in an evaluation of its most successful media grants over the prior twenty years. Since 1981 he has been an active member of New Day Films, a national cooperative of social issue filmmakers who collaborate in the distribution of their films, serving several times as its chief financial officer and as a member of its steering committee.  Mark has an MFA in filmmaking from the Massachusetts College of Art and a BA in psychology from Harvard University.