Ain't No Back to a Merry-Go-Round

When Howard University students sat on the gilded horses of a Maryland merry-go-round in June 1960, the arrests made headlines in the nascent “Sit-Down Movement.” Since 1909 Glen Echo Amusement Park was a whites-only recreation destination for metropolitan Washington. Across the road lay a largely Jewish housing cooperative whose residents jumped into the fray, joining the Howard students’ protest. Despite sweltering heat and violent counterprotesters from the American Nazi Party, Black students marched with white supporters for ten weeks. Picketing together led to partying together, unionists collaborating with student leaders, young people becoming radicalized, and future giants of the Civil Rights Movement being born. With never-before-seen footage, and immersive storytelling by Emmy-winning director Ilana Trachtman, four living protesters rescue this untold story, revealing the price—and the power—of heeding the impulse to activism. Ain’t No Back to a Merry-Go-Round is a timely cinematic excavation of this little-known Civil Rights story.

Recipient of a 2022 JFI Completion Grant

West Coast Premiere

Ilana Trachtman has produced/directed Emmy award-winning programs for 30 years; exploring worlds for PBS, HBO, ABC, Showtime, Lifetime, Discovery, A&E, and the Sundance channel. PBS prime-time directing credits include the independent feature MARIACHI HIGH; BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA hosted by Henry Louis Gates; TEXAS RANCH HOUSE; and producing for HISTORY DETECTIVES and READING RAINBOW. Ilana's independent feature PRAYING WITH LIOR screened theatrically in 60 cities here and abroad, garnered multiple Audience Awards, won the Grand Prix at the International Disability Film Festival, and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Most recently, Ilana produced and directed THE PURSUIT: 50 YEARS IN THE FIGHT FOR LGBT RIGHTS for WHYY (Mid-Atlantic Emmy for Best Documentary,) and co-produced STAND UP AND SHOUT: SONGS FROM A PHILLY HIGH SCHOOL for HBO.

Co-sponsored by Sheri Cohen and Charles Green and by Craig Harrison's Expressions of Excellence

All-Festival Pass

$345 Members / $395 General Public

The best way to explore SFJFF in style. The All Festival Pass gives you priority entry to every moment of SFJFF44 at every venue, including Special Presentations, regular screenings, and online. Become a JFI member at the Patron level and receive an All Festival Pass in addition to a year's worth of member benefits!