System of Care Cinema

The TA Partnership has shown the following movies as part of System of Care Cinema. You can buy most of these movies online, or rent them from your local movie rental retailer or online.

A Boy Called Twist

A contemporary interpretation of Dickens' "Oliver Twist" which is relocated to the poor streets of Cape Town. A mother dies in childbirth in the middle of nowhere. Fearing blame, the locals bury her in an unmarked grave and drop the baby at a rural orphanage. Now a teenager he runs into trouble and escapes to the city where he is caught up in a network of child pickpockets. His new friend Dodger teaches him the tricks of the trade, but the inexperienced Twist is caught trying to steal from Ebrahim Bassedien. There is a strange affinity between this old man (who has lost his daughter) and the young boy who never knew his mother. Bassedien takes Twist in and for a moment it seems that the trauma is over as the little boy encounters love for the first time in his short and brutal life. Enter Monks - the only person who knows Twist’s true identity. He is paying Fagin to keep the little boy marginalized, and prevent anybody from discovering that Twist is Bassedien’s grandson. The brutal gangster Bill Sykes, and his prostitute girlfriend, Nancy, steal Twist back for Fagin, and the struggle for a little boy’s soul begins in earnest.

Boys of Baraka

Devon, Montrey, Richard, and Romesh are just at that age — 12 and 13 years old — when boys start to become men. But in their hometown of Baltimore, one of the country’s most poverty-stricken cities for inner-city residents, African-American boys have a very high chance of being incarcerated or killed before they reach adulthood. The boys are offered an amazing opportunity in the form of the Baraka school, a project founded to break the cycle of violence through an innovative education program that literally removed young boys from low-performing public schools and unstable home environments. They travel with their classmates to rural Kenya in East Africa, where a teacher-student ratio of one to five, a strict disciplinary program and a comprehensive curriculum form the core of their new educational program. The Boys of Baraka follows along with their journey, and examines each boy’s transformation during this remarkable time.


Inspired by first-hand experience, Canvas handles the mental illness of a family member with sympathy and sensitivity. Ten-year-old towhead Chris lives on the Florida coast with his construction worker father, John, and amateur artist mother, Mary. Since a diagnosis of schizophrenia 18 months ago, Mary's behavior has grown increasingly erratic. John's insurance company refuses to cover her medication, and she refuses to take it. When Mary’s paranoid delusions result in institutionalization, John becomes Chris's sole caretaker. To take their minds off their problems, John starts building a sailboat and Chris picks up sewing. To the boy’s surprise, his customized T-shirts catch on with the local girls. For the Marino men, these creative pursuits help them to feel useful rather than helpless.

The Education of Little Tree

Little Tree is an 8-year-old Cherokee boy, who, during the time of the depression, loses his parents and starts to live with his Indian grandma and grandpa and learn the wisdom of the Cherokee way of life. The film documents his growth as befriends an older Cherokee who teaches him about the Trail of Tears, and his abuse after he is placed in a Native American school by the government. The movie provides a harsh look at the forced assimilation of Native Americans and the racism that Little Tree faces.

Half Nelson

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young inner-city junior high school teacher whose ideals wither and die in the face of reality. Rejecting the standard curriculum in favor of an edgier approach, Dan teaches his students how change works – on both a historical and personal scale – and how to think for themselves. Though Dan is brilliant, dynamic, and in control in the classroom, he spends his time outside school on the edge of consciousness. His disappointments and disillusionment have led to a serious drug habit. He juggles his hangovers and his homework, keeping his lives separated, until one of his troubled students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him getting high after school. From this awkward beginning, Dan and Drey stumble into an unexpected friendship. Despite the differences in their ages and situations, they are both at an important intersection. Depending on which way they turn – and which choices they make – their lives will change.

Hoop Dreams

Filmed over five years, Hoop Dreams follows two African-American boys in Chicago through high school to college, chronicling their lives and desires to make it big in the NBA. From playground pick-up games to college recruitment, the movie documents the obstacles William Gates and Arthur Agee face, including injuries, poverty, parental drug abuse, and inner-city violence. The film shows how monumental the odds against these two are, as well as how committed each of their families are to them and to their dreams, and the development of these secondary characters turns Hoop Dreams into an exceptional movie.

Lost Sparrow

The Billing family appeared to be a model family: devout, multiethnic, and prospering. The 10 children included adoptees: four Crow siblings, two boys and two girls, who’d come from a broken and violent home on a Montana reservation. In 1978, seven years after they became part of the Billing family, the boys, early adolescents, disappeared one night and were hit and killed by a freight train the next morning. They were buried nearby. Their deaths, still shocking in the memory of those living in the community at the time, were never explained. Thirty years later, Chris Billing uses a cross-country journey to re-bury his brothers where they were born, on the Crow reservation, as backdrop for unraveling the story of how and why they left their adoptive family. It also raises larger questions about the legitimacy of removing the children from the Crow community in the first place.

Mad Hot Ballroom

Eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. Told from their candid, sometimes hilarious perspectives, these kids are transformed, from reluctant participants to determined competitors, from typical urban kids to "ladies and gentlemen," on their way to try to compete in the final citywide competition. Providing unique insight into the incredible cultural diversity that is New York City, this film profiles several kids from three schools (out of 60) at this dynamic age, when becoming that "cool" teenager vies for position with familiar innocence, while they learn the merengue, rumba, tango, the foxtrot and swing.

Moving Beyond Survival Mode

Based on a national research project on the state of mind and mental health of low-income African Americans, this 45-minute documentary focuses on the stresses and challenges African American families living in poor and at-risk communities face daily, along with the huge and growing need for stronger mental wellness support systems. It showcases the voices of Americans who too often fall through the cracks. Young Black Americans-who feel beaten down by the struggle to survive poverty, broken homes, child abuse, violent communities, poor schools, institutional racism, police harassment and other social ills-share their stories and their emotional "injuries."


Magdalena is the daughter of a Mexican-American family who runs a storefront church in Echo Park, Los Angeles. With her fifteenth-birthday approaching, all she can think about is her boyfriend, her quinceañera dress, and the Hummer Limo she hopes will carry her on her special day. But a few months before the celebration, Magdalena falls pregnant. Forced out of her home by her religious father, Magdalena moves in with her great-great uncle, Tomas, an old man who makes his living by selling champurrado--a Mexican hot drink--in the street. Already living with him is Carlos, Magdalena's cousin, a tough cholo who was thrown out by his parents. The back house rental where Tomas has lived happily for many years is on a property that was recently purchased by an affluent white gay couple--pioneers of gentrification in the neighborhood. As Magdalena's pregnancy grows more visible, she, Carlos, and Tomas pull together as a family of outsiders. But the economics of the neighborhood are turning against them. Ultimately, this precipitates a crisis that threatens their way of life.


Rize reveals a groundbreaking dance phenomenon that’s exploding on the streets of South Central, Los Angeles. The aggressive and visually stunning dance modernizes moves indigenous to African tribal rituals and features mind-blowing, athletic movement sped up to impossible speeds. Rize tracks the fascinating evolution of the dance: we meet Tommy Johnson (Tommy the Clown), who first created the style as a response to the 1992 Rodney King riots and named it “Clowning”, as well as the kids who developed the movement into what they now call Krumping. The kids use dance as an alternative to gangs and hustling: they form their own troupes and paint their faces like warriors, meeting to outperform rival gangs of dancers or just to hone their skills. For the dancers, Krumping becomes a way of life – and, because it’s authentic expression, the dance becomes a vital part of who they are.


The story begins in 2003 when Jonathan learns that his schizophrenic mother, Renee, has overdosed on her lithium medication. He is catapulted back into his real and horrifying family legacy of rape, incest, abandonment, promiscuity, drug addiction, child abuse, and psychosis. As he grows up on camera, he finds the escapist balm of musical theater and B horror flicks and reconnects to life through a queer chosen family. Then a look into the future shows Jonathan as he confronts the symbiotic and almost unbearable love he shares with his beautiful and tragically damaged mother.


Tracy, a serious good student, finds herself needing to express her anger and resentment at her fractured family life. To rebel, she pursues a friendship with the reckless, alluring Evie, who seems to have all the freedom that Tracy desires. What follows is both harrowing and compelling: Tracy becomes enmeshed in a relationship with Evie that empowers Tracy and drags her deeper into the misery she wants to escape--and terrifies her mother, who struggles desperately to hold on to her daughter's love.