Feb 21 2019

CASA Goes to the Movies (2019 Edition)

With the Oscars approaching, we’ve taken a look at of some of the movies nominated for awards (and a few we wish were nominated) and how they’re relevant to the work we do at CASA. The films released over the past year are widely diverse, telling the stories of minorities and marginalized populations, and covering topics from drug addiction to systemic racism. Here are some of our staff-recommended films of the year.


"Blindspotting covers a wide range of systemic racism issues that exist in the world of criminal justice: from the overrepresentation of black men in the prison system; to police shootings of unarmed black people; to white privilege clearly evident in the comparison of the two main characters and their experiences with criminal justice. I particularly enjoyed the movie’s use of rap and verse to tell its story, breaking from reality and allowing lead actor Daveed Digs to share his incredible talents while releasing his character’s intense emotions through art. I know one our most popular TAPP [Teen Advocacy and Permanency Project] meet-ups each year is when Austin Bat Cave joins us to host a hip hop and poetry writing workshop. I feel like this movie not only covers so many issues our teens may face, but also does so in a way many of them would hope to be able to express themselves."

- Callie Langford, Director of Communications

Beautiful Boy

"Beautiful Boy is a film based on the heartbreaking memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff. As a successful young adult, Nic becomes addicted to methamphetamines and spirals out of control. The film tells the story of how David struggles to help Nic cope with drug addiction—and how David’s unflinching love for his son may not even be enough motivation for Nic seek help. David and Nic’s stories ring true for most of America—many of us have friends, family, and acquaintances who have struggled with addiction. The story also rings true for many families involved in the child welfare system, and children who have been removed from their homes due to drug abuse. It is of utmost importance that Hollywood keeps telling stories like David and Nic’s so that we can collectively educate ourselves about how to help those that are struggling."

- Ashika Sethi, Marketing Coordinator

Black Panther

"Black Panther exhibited an impressive depth of characters and storyline; especially when it gave the audience a glimpse of Erik Killmonger’s story. A Wakandan child living in America, Erik was already isolated from his homeland from birth; but after his father’s death, his only remaining link to culture and family was suddenly gone. This loss becomes the driving force behind all of Erik’s ambition to force his way in to what he believes is his rightful place on the throne of Wakanda.

CASA volunteers and staff will pick up on several themes in Black Panther that relate to our casework. But I think one of the biggest takeaways is seeing the difference between having the chance to belong somewhere and embrace your heritage (T’Challa’s experience) and the ramifications of being cut off from your family and culture (Erik Killmonger’s experience)."

- Sara Blake, Community Engagement Coordinator

Three Identical Strangers

"I saw Three Identical Strangers and could not help but think about the importance of trying to find family for our children. The triplets in this case learned as adults that they had siblings and not even their adopted family knew about it. The documentary also brings to mind how essential CASA’s Family Engagement program is to the children we serve."

- Florencia Grauer, Senior Child Advocacy Specialist

"This is the story of identical triplets who were separated at birth and adopted by separate families and who found each other when they were 19. It touches on issues of adoption, the importance of family staying together, and the loss that is experienced when children are separated. It also poses some important questions regarding ethics in scientific studies."

- Audrey Sherman, former Associate Director of Advocacy 

If Beale Street Could Talk

"From the incredibly talented direction of Barry Jenkins comes If Beale Street Could Talk, based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name. The film delves into the story of a young African-American couple, Tish and Fonny, as Tish tries to prove Fonny’s innocence for a crime he was wrongly convicted of while also caring for the imminent birth of their child. This is a story that needs to be told as it sheds light on how systemic racism plays a role in criminal justice, a system that directly affects the children and families we serve at CASA."

- Ashika Sethi, Marketing Coordinator


"Based on a true story, BlacKkKlansman follows an African American police officer who works undercover to join the KKK and subvert a planned attack. BlacKkKlansman skillfully blends drama and comedy to face the very serious issue of racism. The comedic points of the film create an accessible entrance point for audiences, who are then brought into the drama of the story and the heavy reality of racism. Based on historical events, the film serves as a reminder that racism is not only part of the past but sadly lives on as a real issue in the present and remains an issue in the child welfare system. BlacKkKlansman is a powerful dramedy that I highly recommend."

- Victoria Young, Events Manager

Boy Erased

"Youth who identify as LGBTQ are overrepresented in the foster care system. They’re also more likely to be mistreated and experience verbal or physical harassment while in the system. This often comes as a result of being kicked out of their house after coming out to their family. While Boy Erased doesn’t end in a foster care scenario, it does follow the true story of author Garrard Conley’s experiences with gay conversion therapy in 2004. It sheds light on the challenges of growing up LGBTQ, especially in a more conservative or religious environment. I not only recommend watching this film (it’s beautifully done with really strong acting from Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman), but also reading the recent study released in the journal Pediatrics that confirms the overrepresentation and mistreatment of LGBTQ youth in foster care."

- Callie Langford, Director of Communications


"Shoplifters tells the story of a family living in poverty in Japan who survive by working low-status jobs such as cleaning and construction, by receiving government benefits, and by shoplifting. Early on in the film, the father and son characters find a little girl who has been abused and take her home, and from that point on, the movie begins to gently raise questions about the ties that bind family. It provides a clear-eyed and loving look at the experience of a family whose behavior breaks many cultural norms and is also a wonderful study of the way children seek safety and connection and the way they learn to tell right from wrong. The story is told in a way that is funny and light, but I can’t stop thinking about the hard questions it raises."

- Diana McCue, Advocacy Program Manager

Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse

"This film is a living comic book, with a dazzling pop-art animation style, a sublime voice cast, and a story that gracefully weaves action with character depth & poignance. Meet Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino teenager from Brooklyn and your new favorite Spider-Man. Introduced in the comics in 2011, this is Miles’ first foray into the mainstream. And I cannot imagine a more beautiful way to meet this kid (and so many more Spider-People). This film effortlessly recreates years of comic storylines in under two hours without losing momentum or your attention. Spider-Verse leaves any true believer with a sense that absolutely anyone can be Spider-Man. For me, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best Spider-Man film of them all."

- Ryan Broussard, Training Specialist

You know we at CASA love superheroes, so seeing such a fun movie that also breaks the mold in terms of superhero diversity made us very happy. We can’t wait to see a Spider Ham or a Spider Robot at the 2019 CASA Superhero Run on September 15 (save the date)!


"This movie is not only beautiful (and nominated for a ton of awards), but it’s such an important story of privilege and how skin color, socioeconomic class, birthplace and so many other uncontrollable factors can have such a strong impact on the direction of someone’s life. I have recommended it countless times since seeing it."

- Callie Langford, Director of Communications

2019 Culture & Diversity CASA Recommends February

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