An initiative elevating stories and histories of the struggle for justice in Philadelphia and beyond


No Mud, No Lotus

A series of screenings presented in collaboration with Louverture Films that seeks to generate discussions about cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality and as a resistance to constructed realities

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania

Contributing Institutions

Barnes Foundation, Department of Fine Arts and Cinema & Media Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania


Joslyn Barnes, Eduardo Cadava, and Aaron Levy

Opens to public


On the web


Slought and the SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce No Mud, No Lotus, a screening series in collaboration with Louverture Films from November 2018 through April 2019. This retrospective features a series of twelve full-length screenings and related discussions with filmmakers at partner institutions across Philadelphia.

No Mud, No Lotus aims to facilitate conversation about how filmmakers, thinkers, and activists can use film and photography to engage and record some of the most devastating and urgent issues of our day—among others, the human costs of inequality and poverty, imprisonment and drug wars, the arms trade, racism and discrimination, ethnic, religious, and cultural conflict, the plight of refugees and migrations across all sorts of borders, and the devastating effects of capitalist imperialisms of all kinds—and help us imagine ways of overcoming them, or at least of understanding them better. This project takes its title from Thich Nhat Hanh's No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering (2014), which explores how we might embrace tenderness and recognize something beyond the seemingly endless destruction that increasingly appears to surround us. The series asks how cinema can help us acknowledge injustice and enable us to come together to lessen the world's suffering through collective action.

Co-founded by actor Danny Glover and film producer Joslyn Barnes, Louverture Films takes its name and inspiration from the leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint Louverture -- famous for always creating an "opening" in the face of enormous obstacles. Louverture Films partners with progressive filmmakers and producers around the world and particularly from the global South, and pro-actively supports the employment and training of cast and crew from communities of color in the United States. Since 2005, they have produced over 36 independent films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value, and artistic integrity. They have insisted on cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality, as a means of resistance to constructed realities, and as a way to create meaning in an era in which agency is increasingly receding.

An opening event on Monday, November 12, 2018 from 6:30-9:30pm at Zellerbach Theatre at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will feature a special screening of Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018). It will be followed by a conversation with actor Danny Glover and producer Joslyn Barnes, co-founders of Louverture Films, and Robb Moss, a member of the edit team, moderated by legal scholar Patricia J. Williams.

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No Mud, No Lotus, the inaugural project of the Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, is produced by Slought and presented in partnership with the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Department of Fine Arts and the Howard A. Silverstein and Patricia Bleznak Silverstein Photography Lecture Series in the School of Design, and the Cinema & Media Studies Program and the Center for Africana Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Part of Slought's ongoing project Photographies of Conflict, which engages contemporary discourses on art, resistance and memorialization, it is curated by Joslyn Barnes, Eduardo Cadava, and Aaron Levy, and generously funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation.

"They addressed that world from within it, and on cultural grounds they disputed and challenged its authority by presenting alternative versions of it, dramatically, argumentatively, and intimately."
— Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1993

"I want liberty and equality to reign."
— Toussaint Louverture, 1791

Films include:

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018), directed by RaMell Ross

White Sun (2016), directed by Deepak Rauniyar

Strong Island (2017), directed by Yance Ford

The Narrow Frame of Midnight (2014), directed by Tala Hadid

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011), directed by Göran Olsson

Shadow World (2016), directed by Johan Grimonprez

Bamako​ (2006), directed by Abderrahmane Sissako

Trouble the Water (2008), directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Zama (2017), directed by Lucrecia Martel

The House I Live In (2012), directed by Eugene Jarecki

Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Fall 2018