When a Chapman College film professor challenged his students to submit their work to Mountainfilm, there were no guarantees. The student work was judged alongside all others submitted. One student film, however, rose to the top. Bobby Moser and MJ Lat’s We Come from Jambiani takes on the subject of the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, a deeply impoverished land whose people are at the mercy of inhospitable forces outside their control, and looks at the Zanzibar Action Project (ZAP), an aid undertaking that provides relief in the only way that outside aid can ever truly work—based on what the people themselves deem their needs to be. In addition to beautiful cinematography, the pace, sensitivity and incision of this film combine to reveal a true talent in the making.
Linguists have never before seen the likes of Jessie Little Doe. A member of a Native American tribe called the Wampanoag, Little Doe resuscitated that tribe’s language, which had been dead for over a century. Inspired by a dream, Little Doe set out to make her dream real. The Wampanoag people were some of the first to greet the Pilgrims when they landed in the New World; hence there exists a thick record of documents written in or translated to Wampanoag, including the Bible in its entirety. Aided by these documents, as well as the award of a MacArthur Grant, Little Doe pieced together linguistic clues to her ancestors’ spoken word. In an age when hundreds of languages die each year, the story of one woman’s journey to bring back her ancestral language is a hopeful tale made most poignant through the first hesitant words of a child: Little Doe’s daughter, the first native speaker of Wampanoag in over a century.