And so it begins today, in Brooklyn, New York – the New Voices In Black Cinema Festival, presented by BAMcinématek and ActNow Foundation, which runs from February 15 – 18, at BAM Rose Cinemas, which is sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.
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 over the weekend, starting today. I'll be at tonight's premiere of Big Words, which will be followed by a Q&A with the director, and the cast! So that should be a treat for those in attendance.
In fact, several of the screenings will be followed by Q&As with key cast and crew, so check the full schedule for details.
I'll be moderating 2 Q&As – Alain Gomis’ Aujourd’hui (Tey), for which the filmmaker, and 2 of its cast members (star Saul Williams, and co-star Anisia Uzeyman); and Russ Parr's The Undershepherd, which Russ will be present for.
The full lineup of films follows below, so please check it out. And for tickets, visit the New Voices In Black Cinema page on BAM's website HERE.
You're encouraged to plan ahead, because tickets tend to sell fast, especially for in-demand screenings, and NY premieres.
18 IUS SOLI
2011, Fred Kuwornu, Italy, 50 mins. – NY Premiere!
This documentary examines the law that denies citizenship to young people born in Italy of immigrant parents because they have no Italian blood. It follows 18 stories of girls and boys born and raised in Italy whose parents are originally from African, Asian, and South American countries, but who moved to and have long lived in different areas of Italy.
BEALE STREET BLUES (25 min) – Controversial documentary about struggling blues musicians on Beale Street in Memphis, TN – home to classic blues clubs and players. Directed by Kecia Benson.
2012, Chinonye Chukwu, USA, 76 mins. – NY Premiere!
Chukwuma, an Alaska-raised Nigerian struggles to balance his cultural heritage with the pressures of the larger world around him. After a family tragedy forces a two-year estrangement from his younger sister, the siblings reconnect in their hometown with their time creating new frictions yet inching toward reconciliation.
2012, Alain Gomis, Senegal/France, 86 mins. – NY Premiere!
With Saul Williams, Aissa Maiga, Anisia Uzeyman, and Djolof Mbengue.
Today is the last day of his life. He knows this to be true even though he is strong and healthy. Nonetheless Satché (played by American actor-musician Saül Williams) accepts his imminent death as he walks through the streets of his home town in Senegal taking in the sites of his past as if he were looking at them for the last time: his parents' house, his first love, the friends of his youth, his wife and children, but seeing them and himself from an entirely new, and often banal, reality.
With Dorian Missick ("Southland", Two Weeks Notice), Gbenga Akinnagbe ("The Wire", The Taking of Pelham 123), Darien Silles-Evans ("Cosby", Rivers Wash Over Me) and Yaya Alafia (The Kids Are All Right)
Brooklyn, 2008. On the eve of Obama's history-making election, three friends, once members of a promising hip-hop trio, cross paths once again and discover that some things never change. Former frontman John, once known as "Big Words", is now a struggling IT guy who raps only to himself. James is a publicist living with his boyfriend, far removed from the days when he rhymed about getting girls. DJ Malik still spins records, but he wants the old days back. Together again, the guys reckon with the past and dreams deferred.
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. They spent between six and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, resulting in their convictions being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories, an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.
An intimate portrait of four Afro-descendent barbers across the world over seven days. Set in Ghana, Jamaica, USA and the UK, the film interweaves their stories and examines the polarized opposites of the locations. Creating an international dialog of the colorful lives of four men who do they same thing in different time zones, with very different realities.
With Wendell Pierce ("The Wire", Night Catches Us), Aja Naomi King (Damsels in Distress), Emory Cohen ("Smash"), EJ Bonilla (Yelling To The Sky) and Yolonda Ross ('Treme')
A steamy July 4th night brings four people together in two tales of seduction and conflicted desire. Joe is a black, middle-aged, married man out on an Internet date with June, a white teenage boy. Abigayle is Joe's precocious daughter, out herself with a hot, wisecracking, Latino basketball player named Dexter. As the two couples get to know each other intimately, their realities are tested, and the outcome is bracing.
Funk Jazz Kafe: DIARY OF A DECADE
This film is the story of a cultural legend as told by the innovators of an important, and in some cases overlooked, era in Black culture. Spanning the late 1980's through to the early 2000's, this story goes deep into the fabric of soul music, it's definitions, it's pioneers, it's offspring, it's movements, the challenges with the "mainstream" industry as well as the evolution of the FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival.
GIMME THE LOOT
Malcolm and Sofia, two determined teens from the Bronx, are the ultimate graffiti-writers. When a rival gang buffs their latest masterpiece, they must hatch a plan to get revenge by tagging an iconic NYC landmark, but they need to raise $500 to pull off their spectacular scheme.
A windswept northern mining town is the background to this tale of winners and losers when a man who schemes on a grand scale but lives small makes a risky leap for the big time. Sam (Salmon), 42 years old, a hard-drinking father of three, ex-Navy man, ex-miner, and soon to be ex-husband, takes to gambling at poker full time to bankroll his crazy plan to open a drive-in theater in Nigeria. A commanding performance by charismatic actor Salmon, who made his reputation in three James Bond films, makes Sam never less than compelling to watch as his life comes close to spiraling out of control in the grip of his cherished dream.
THE KILL HOLE
The shadow of war follows a troubled Iraq War vet as he is forced to pursue one of his own into the Pacific Northwest wilderness to finally confront a war crime that has haunted them both.
2012, Goddey Asemota, USA, 78 mins – – NY Premiere!
Lance and Dame are aspiring fashion designers who sell custom shirts on the streets of SoHo. Because of their love for fashion the two are consistently questioned about their sexuality. As a gag they make a shirt with NO HOMO written on the front to address their sexuality questions, and sell them at their stand. What happens next is a chain of events that's leads to the unlikely meteoric rise through the world fashion.
Shows with Harriet Returns (9 min) Harriet Tubman comes back to life to try and free young black men from the 'mental slavery' that they contribute to today with the repeated use of the N-word and the way they sag their pants but meets her match in two young NYC rappers. Directed by Marquis Smalls.
STONES IN THE SUN
With Edwidge Danticant (author of Krik? Krak!), Thierry Saintine (Honeysuckle), and Patricia Rhinvil
In the midst of political violence, a young couple, two sisters and a father and son are driven from Haiti to New York, where they must confront the truths of their interlocked pasts.
With Isaiah Washington, Lamman Rucker, Malinda Williams and Vanessa Bell Calloway
A controversial tale of two ministers, LC (Washington) and Roland (Rucker), best friends and brothers in Christ. When the head preacher of their church plans his retirement, mild-mannered LC becomes overcome by his access to power, money earned through his ministry, and slowly transforms into a ruthless business man.
UNITED STATES OF HOODOO
Featuring Darius James and Ishmael Reed, Danny Simmons, Nick Cave, Val Jeanty, Shantrelle P. Lewis, Kanene Holder, David "Goat" Carson, and Hassan Sekou Allen
A road trip to the black roots of American culture, The United States of Hoodoo is a film about how African based spirituality has influenced America´s popular culture. The film shakes up traditional and stereotypical ways of thinking about race, religion, and rationality. Through meetings with musicians, writers and artists, miracle healers, gumbo cooks and Mississippi Blues men, this documentary explores a culture which has always drawn on a unique mix of different ethnic influences to produce its cultural diversity, allure, and vitality.
UNBREAKABLE (93 min)
From awkward encounters to mystical ones and from back alley life or death negotiations to family dynamics that threatens one's morality, this year's gripping selection of short films explore the complex relationships between generations, whether it be your family bonded by blood but not much else, the family of friends who've got your back, or the family you pass on the streets in your neighborhood every day.
BARBASOL by Ralph Scott
RECORD/Play by Jesse Atlas
SAUDADE by Evita Castine
FORT GREENE by Jordan Thomas
KARIM by Carl Seaton
EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY by Natale Paul & Terence Nance
NIGGA…NIGGA…NIGGA! by Michael Blevins
MAKE ME A DOORWAY by Jesse Terrell Brooks