I'm very glad to have helped put this line-up of feature films together, with 10 New York premieres of some solid films! Excellent for a festival that's only in its 3rd year.
In the absence of the former head of ActNow Foundation, Aaron Ingram, who passed away last year, a hat-tip to Curtis Caesar John (who also does the This Week In Black TV posts here on S&A) and Marty Majeske, the legal eagle, and man behind the curtain! This should be a good year, as we look towards even greater years ahead!
The 10 New York premieres include films that we've highlighted here on S&A, like: Alain Gomis’ Aujourd’hui (Tey), Russ Parr’s The Undershepherd, Alfons Adetuyi’s High Chicago, Neil Drumming’s Big Words, Chinonye Chukwu’s alaskaLand, Andy Mundy-Castle’s The Fade and others.
I hope to see many of you New Yorkers there next month; the New Voices In Black Cinema Festival, presented by BAMcinématek and ActNow Foundation runs from February 15 – 18, at BAM Rose Cinemas, which is sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.
The rest of the story via press release below…
Brooklyn, NY/Jan 18, 2013—From Friday, February 15 through Monday, February 18, BAMcinématek presents New Voices in Black Cinema, the third annual festival presented by the Fort Greene-based ActNow Foundation. Reflecting the wide spectrum of views and themes within the African diasporan communities in Brooklyn and beyond, the series features 10 New York premieres and special guests at nearly every screening. Home to ActNow programs since 2009, BAMcinématek continues this partnership by providing a showcase for new and established voices in black independent cinema.
Curtis Caesar John, New Voices in Black Cinema Festival Director and head of film programming for ActNow Foundation, says of the partnership with BAMcinématek, “This is an exciting third year for us: we have more New York premieres than ever before, a fantastic mix of standout local talent as well as directors from Senegal, Italy, and Canada, and filmmakers who have been burning up the festival circuit.”
Among the 10 New York premieres in this year’s festival is Alain Gomis’ Aujourd’hui (Tey; 2012—Feb 16)—one of Film Comment’s best unreleased films of 2012—starring internationally acclaimed writer, musician, and spoken word poet Saul Williams as a man with just 24 hours to live, roaming the streets of Senegal in an existential daydream. Williams will appear in person for a Q&A after the screening, followed by a spoken word performance in BAMcafé. Also making their New York premieres are Russ Parr’s The Undershepherd (2012—Feb 17), a provocative portrait of a minister (Grey’s Anatomy’s Isaiah Washington) transformed into a ruthless businessman; Alfons Adetuyi’s High Chicago (2011—Feb 16), about a man who starts gambling to bankroll his dream of opening a drive-in in Africa; Neil Drumming’s Big Words (2012—Feb 15), premiering at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, which follows the reunion of a once-promising hip-hop trio on the eve of Obama’s history-making election; and Chinonye Chukwu’s stirring family drama alaskaLand (2012—Feb 17).
New Voices in Black Cinema also boasts a number of award-winning films and festival selections, including Adam Leon’s debut feature Gimme the Loot (2012—Feb 18)—winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize, nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, and an official selection at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Leon’s “funny, smart-mouthed, high-energy comedy” (J. Hoberman), which has drawn comparisons as diverse as Ozu and commedia all’italiana, follows a pair of teenage graffiti artists who hatch a plan to get revenge on a rival gang by tagging a New York landmark. Also screening is the devastating new documentary The Central Park Five (2012—Feb 17), “a concise, informative, and upsetting chronicle” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times) of the persecution of five young black and Latino men wrongly accused of the 1989 rape and assault of the Central Park Jogger—a crime which galvanized the city. Legendary documentarian Ken Burns along with his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon investigate their long journey to exoneration in this official selection of Toronto and Telluride. Several of the five will appear in person for a Q&A following the screening.
Screening on Sunday, February 17 is Joshua Sanchez’s acclaimed ensemble drama Four (2012), which takes place in the course of one evening when a black, middle-aged married man goes on an Internet date with a white teenage boy, and his precocious young daughter pursues a man of her own. Based on the play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Christopher Shinn and starring The Wire’s Wendell Pierce (nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in the film), “the film’s unblinking, nonjudgmental focus on this illegal relationship, and its extremely articulate and pointed dialogue, put it squarely in the post-New Queer Cinema tradition” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times).
This year’s documentary selections include Andy Mundy-Castle’s The Fade (2012—Feb 15), which connects the stories of four barbers in Ghana, Jamaica, the US, and the UK; Oliver Hardt’s The United States of Hoodoo (2012—Feb 16), which explores the influence of African religion on American artists such as Nick Cave, Darius James, and Ishmael Reed; and Jason Orr’s FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade (2012—Feb 16), an examination of the fabric of soul music and the challenges it faces in the mainstream music industry, featuring interviews with Erykah Badu, Cee Lo Green, Cornel West, and more; all making their New York premieres.