The Matatu Film Festival returns to Oakland, CA September 23 – 26 with a slate of multidisciplinary works that “amplify the walk of ordinary people.”
Re-branded as the Matatu Festival of Stories, this year’s installment includes music and performance as well as film.
More from the press release below:
The MATATU journey continues throughout the week with the new Ethio Sci-Fi thriller Crumbs, Fashion House Marga Weimans-a woman of color’s perspective on working in high fashion, and the North American premiere of Black President, Mpumelelo Mcata’s new film produced in South Africa on the subject of “Black Guilt”.
MATATU is not complete without performances by Mark de Clive-Lowe and Shafiq Husayn, of Sa-Ra Creative Partners, and the festival’s closing night performance by the Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancers, among other highlights.
OPENING NIGHT: An Evening with Saul Williams
The festival launches Wednesday, September 23 with a two-part evening featuring musician, poet and writer Saul Williams, and curators of the #MATATU15 music program, Black Spirituals. The music performance is prefaced with only the second U.S. screening of Necktie Youth, which premiered at TriBeCa Film Festival earlier in the year.
A pre-festival dinner is hosted by Saul Williams and James Beard Leadership Award recipient Bryant Terry at Miss Ollie’s (901 Washington St., Oakland, CA 94607) on Tuesday, September 22. The Opening Night film screening and performance Wednesday, September 23 at Starline Social Club (645 W. Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612).
CLOSING NIGHT: Black President with Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Zakir Hussain
#MATATU15 concludes with the Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancers in an excerpt of “RASA,” music by Zakir Hussain, followed by the North American premiere of Black President, directed by Mpumelelo Mcata and premiered at the 65th Berlinale.
Necktie Youth – Wednesday, 9/23 at 7PM at Starline Social Club
Jabz and September are two twenty-something suburbanites drifting through a day of drugs, sex, and philosophizing in their privileged Johannesburg neighborhood. Gorgeously shot using rich black-and-white photography, the story is anchored by the live-streamed suicide of their friend Emily. Jabz and September are ill equipped to handle the tragedy that interrupts the hollowness of their daily lives.A first-time director, 23-year-old Sibs Shongwe-La Mer depicts a raw, unique, and captivating post-apartheid Johannesburg. Facing adulthood and forced to confront a changing society today’s disaffected youth ultimately confronts a hard truth that can’t be ignored.
Romeo is Bleeding – Thursday, 9/24 at 7PM at Starline Social Club
A fatal turf war between neighborhoods haunts the city of Richmond, CA. Donté Clark transcends the violence in his hometown by writing poetry about his experiences. Using his voice to inspire those around him, he and the like-minded youth of the city mount an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the hope of starting a real dialogue about violence in the city. Will Richmond force Donté to compromise his idealistic ambitions? Or will Donté end Richmond’s cycle of trauma?
Incorruptible – Thursday, 9/24 at 7:30PM at The Flight Deck
In the Spring of 2011, Senegal was pitched into crisis when President Abdoulaye Wade decided to change the constitution to allow for a third term. An artist-led youth movement erupted to protect one of Africa’ oldest and most stable democracies. In a time where democracy is under siege in many parts of the world, ‘Incorruptible’ (formerly ‘An African Spring’) offers a positive, hopeful example while at the same time honestly examining the sustainability of a people’s movement, and the role that youth are taking in shaping the future of their own country.
Red Leaves – Friday, 9/25 at 7PM at The Flight Deck
Meseganio Tadela, 74, is a hard, obstinate, and nervous man. He immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia 28 years ago with his family. He has chosen to zealously retain his culture, talks very little, and hardly speaks Hebrew. After losing his wife, he is afraid of dying and being alone. Meseganio sets out on a journey that leads him through his children’s homes. He comes to realize that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class that believes in retaining Ethiopian culture. The harsh reality hits him in the face. Having come to know some of life’s new realities, he tries to survive according to his own ways.
ASNI: Courage, Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia – Friday, 9/25 at 7PM at Starline Social Club
Perhaps considered the Billie Holiday of Ethiopia, the Edith Piaf of France, Asnaketch Worku lived her life on the edge of her artistry, over the edge of her passions. Yet to separate Asnaketch from the social and political climate of conservative Ethiopia was impossible, particularly in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Artists in that time were looked down upon, called derogatorily, Azmari, or “not going to heaven.” ASNI is as much about Ethiopia, its music and culture, as it is about Asnaketch, a substantive part of the fabric of Ethiopia, past and present.
Fashion House Marga Weimans – Saturday, 9/26 at 5PM at The Flight Deck
Just as Marga Weimans (1970) was about to graduate in public administration, this native of Rotterdam decided to change course and focus on realising her dream: to become a fashion designer. Without conforming to the existing boundaries of haute couture, she has succeeded in creating trends in both the fashion and art worlds. This candid portrait follows Weimans during a turbulent, successful year in which dreams sometimes clash with reality. She creates a retrospective exhibition for the Groninger Museum, presents a new collection at FashionWeek Amsterdam and also undergoes significant personal growth.
Stretch and Bobbito – Saturday, 9/26 at 7PM at Starline Social Club
During the 1990s, Stretch and Bobbito introduced the world to an unsigned Nas, Biggie, Wu-Tang, and Big Pun as well as an unknown Jay-Z, Eminem, and the Fugees. The total record sales for all the artists that premiered on their radio show exceed 300 million. The late night program had a cult following in the art/fashion world and prison population, as well. All would loyally tune in for the humor just as much for the music. Stretch and Bobbito brought a unique audience together, and created a platform that changed music forever.
Crumbs – Saturday, 9/26 at 7:30PM at The Flight Deck
The first ever Ethiopian post-apocalyptic sci-fi feature, CRUMBS tells the story of a diminutive superhero who embarks on a surreal journey when a spaceship hovering above starts showing signs of activity.
Black President – Saturday, 9/26 at 9:30PM at Starline Social Club
What is Black Guilt? In this film we question the responsibility of African artists in an ever more globalised universe, where we maybe find ourselves “playing catch up” to the West as opposed to following our own paths. Are we victims of our past – forever beholden to our so called arrested development or is our superpower our burden? How much do these complexes and relationships to the ghost of our continent’s violent collective history of oppression, exploitation and struggle haunt us? Is there such a thing as Post Colonialism or indeed Neo Colonialism if Colonialism never ended in the first place? How will this end? When will we lynch these ideas?
Partnering with KQED, Blavity, and Sons and Brothers, the MATATU Festival of Stories takes guests on a matatu journey, exploring some of the world’s most spectacular stories. Tickets begin at $12 for each event. Come aboard! Visit matatufestival.org. Share your story online @matatufestival, #MATATU15 or http://facebook.com/matatufestival.