By Alison Willmore | Indiewire January 2, 2014 at 5:6PM
"AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange," the annual television series featuring documentaries about the African Diaspora, is now in its sixth season. The 2013 lineup will be hosted by Anthony Mackie, and will run weekly on the World Channel from January 13th through February 10th.
The series is produced by National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and co-presented by American Public Television (APT), who will distribute “AfroPoP” to additional public television stations in February. The series kicks off with "Doin' It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC," the debut film from directors and pick-up basketball crusaders Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau. The line-up is below:
MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2014, 8 PM (ET/PT): Doin’ It in the Park; Pick-Up Basketball, NYC
by Bobbito García and Kevin Couliau
“Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC,” explores the history, culture and social impact of New York’s summer b-ball scene, widely recognized as the worldwide mecca of the sport, where pickup basketball is not just a sport but a way of life. There are 700+ outdoor courts, and an estimated 500,000 players, the most loyal of which approach the game as a religion, and the playground as their church. “Doin’ It in the Park” lovingly uncovers this movement through the voices of playground legends, NBA athletes and, most importantly, the common ballplayer, who all day looks forward to calling “next” (game) at his local schoolyard. The film is winner of the Audience Award for Best Feature 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival and Best Documentary at 2012 New Jersey International Film Festival.
MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2014, 8 PM (ET/PT): Upaj: Improvise
by Hoku Uchiyama
”Upaj” means “improvise” in the Hindi language and this film explores the birth and journey of “India Jazz Suites,” a phenomenal East-meets-West collaboration featuring Indian Kathak master and guru Pandit Chitresh Das and tap star Jason Samuels Smith. Das is a 62-year-old artist who exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of Kathak, classical, storytelling dance of North India. Jason is a 28-year-old African-American tap dancer hailing from the freestyle, streetwise American tradition of contemporary tap. As the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops that bridges continents, generations, cultures and communities. Soon Das’s and Smith’s poignant personal stories unfold—stories wrought with loss, struggle and perseverance. As the two artists tell their truths and come to terms with their demons, they show us that our struggles are worthwhile, and “Upaj: Improvise” paves the way for hope and redemption.
MONDAY, JANUARY 27, 2014, 8 PM (ET/PT): War Don Don
by Rebecca Richman Cohen
In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, U.N. soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the “special court.” Inside, Issa Sesay awaits his trial. Prosecutors say Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. With unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims and, from behind bars, Sesay himself, War Don Don puts international justice on trial for the world to see—finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, but also opaque.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2014, 8 PM (ET/PT): Stories from Lakka Beach
by Daan Veldhuizen
A picturesque village having one of the finest beaches in Africa, Lakka developed into the epicenter of West African tourism. Ravaged by civil war, Lakka Beach’s tourist industry came to a standstill. But village life continues; and, in “Stories from Lakka Beach,” the voice of the villagers—including a fisherman, a carver, a restaurant owner, a local politician and an aspiring rapper—reveal a profound and different side of a war-torn community in a now-peaceful Sierra Leone. “Stories from Lakka Beach” won the Best Cinematography award from American Cinematographer magazine.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2014, 8 PM (ET/PT): Boys of Summer
by Keith Aumont
Winner of the Latin American Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, “Boys of Summer” is a feature documentary film about the Curaçao Little League All-Stars, a team that has competed at the Little League World Series for an incredible seven consecutive years. Over the course of one summer the boys face injuries and obstacles in an attempt to keep the winning streak alive. From a tiny Caribbean island that was once a slave trade center, this is a story of national pride beating all the odds.