Category Archives: New films

Black Film Center/Archive Fall 2016 Preview

Black Film Center/Archive’s Fall Preview, 2016

The Black Film Center/Archive is pleased to announce its Fall semester programming for the 2016-2017 academic year. Below you will find information about both upcoming film screenings as well as artist and scholar visits. We’d like to thank the IU Cinema, The Media School, and our many other campus partners  for their support in the planning of these events. For more on event times and locations, please visit the BFC/A’s “Events” page. And for additional information or any questions regarding these events, please contact the Black Film Center/Archive by phone at (812) 855-6041 or by email at bfca@indiana.edu.

September, 2016

20th African Film Festival Traveling Series, September 12 – September 15, 2016 

Curated by New York’s African Film Festival, this 20th edition of the AFF traveling series celebrates the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent.  Festival director Mahen Bonetti writes that the eight films in the series represent “a unique opportunity to examine the ways in which African men and women have broken through borders with films and narratives that form part of the global imagination. These films reflect a new era of filmmaking, led by the emerging generation of directors whose work embodies a new direction in African cinema.”

The series at IU kicks off with a feature presentation of Dare Fasasi’s Head Gone on September 12 at the IU Cinema, and continues over the following three days with screenings in the Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B) at the BFC/A.

The 20th African Film Festival Traveling Series is sponsored by IU Libraries Media Services, Black Film Center/Archive, the African Studies program, The Media School’s cinema and media arts program, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the IU Cinema.  Special thanks are due to Monique Threatt of the IUB Libraries Media Services and Alimah Boyd of the African Film Festival, Inc.

Screenings: 

  • Monday, September 12, 7:00 pm at the IU Cinema
    • Head Gone (2014) Directed by Dare Fasasi, Nigeria/Sweden, 111 min. In English & Pidgin with English subtitles.

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      Head Gone (2014)

  • Tuesday, September 13, 6:00 pm at the BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
    • Red Leaves (2014) Directed by Bazi Gete, Israel, 80 min. In Hebrew and Amharic with English subtitles.4fecf3_4eb91ae3f3f94ad89d135478bbbb4473
  • Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 pm at the BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
    • *6:00 pm Afripedia: Ghana (2014), Directed by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe, Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

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      Afripedia:Ghana (2014)

    • *6:30 pm Afripedia: Kenya (2014), Directed by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe, Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

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      Afripedia, Kenya (2014)

    • 7:00 pm The Longest Kiss (2013) Directed by Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque, Sudan, 72 min. In English and Arabic with English subtitles.

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      The Longest Kiss (2013)

*for more information on Afripedia, take a look at okayafrica’s coverage of this documentary series.

  • Thursday, September 15, 6:30 pm at the BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
    • 4:00 pm Cholo (2014) Directed by Muzna Almusafer, Oman, 21 min. In Swahili with English subtitles.

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      Cholo (2014)

    • 4:30 pm Panic Button (2014) Directed by Libby Dougherty, South Africa, 25 min. In English.

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      Panic Button (2014)

    • 5:00 pm The Prophecy (2015) Directed by Marcia Juzga, Senegal, 20 min. In French & Wolof with English subtitles.the_prophecy_9

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      The Prophecy (2015)

October, 2016

  • Monday, October 3, 2016 6:00 p.m.
  • A Talk with Dr. Gerald Butters

Gerald Butters, PhD: Dr. Gerald Butters is a professor of history at Aurora University. His areas of specialization are film history, U.S. social and cultural history, and gender and race studies. Additionally, Dr. Butters is a co-editor of the forthcoming Beyond Blaxploitation, which is the first book-length anthology of scholarly work on blaxploitation film, which “sustains the momentum that Blaxploitation scholarship has recently gained, giving the films an even more prominent place in cinema history.” One of the chapters of the book was written by Indiana University’s very own, Dr. Vivian Halloran, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature.

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Gerald C. Butters, Author and Scholar

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Beyond Blaxpoitation (forthcoming release, December, 2016)

VERSAILLES ’73: AFRICAN AMERICAN BEAUTY AND DESIGN IN THE WORLD’S EYE, with Deborah Riley Draper, October 10-11

Themester, Fall 2016: “Beauty”

Writer/historian Tanisha C. Ford and filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper will revisit a watershed moment in fashion history, 1973’s Grand Divertissement à Versailles, to open a broader exploration of beauty culture as a force in the cultural and political expression of black women. The Versailles show, a meeting of French and American designers, challenged the race-based beauty ideals of the Parisian fashion establishment with the introduction of African American models and design to the world stage. Public events will include a Jorgensen guest filmmaker lecture by Draper and a screening of Draper’s award-winning documentary, Versailles’73: American Fashion Revolution, which explores the inextricable links between race, beauty, fashion, politics, and advocacy.

  • October 10, 2016, 3:00 p.m. at the IU Cinema
    • Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture with Deborah Riley Draper
  • October 10, 2016, 7:00 p.m. at the IU Cinema
    • Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution (2012) 91 minutes, Directed by Deborah Riley Draper

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      Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution (2012)

Director Deborah Riley Draper is scheduled to be present at the screening for a conversation to follow the film.  

In addition to these Themester programs, Deborah Riley Draper will present a second program at the IU Cinema:

  • October 11, 2016, 7:00 p.m. at the IU Cinema
    • Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016) 90 min. Directed by Deborah Riley Draper

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      Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016)

These events are sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive with Themester at the College of Arts and Sciences, the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection, the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, the National Sports Journalism Center, the Center for Documentary Research and Practice, The Media School’s cinema and media arts program, the Department of History, and the IU Cinema.  Special thanks to Emma Young.

About Deborah Riley Draper:  Named one of Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch” in 2016, the veteran advertising executive Deborah Riley Draper has launched her career as a documentary filmmaker with two features. From the impact of the first Black models in the world of high fashion to the early African American Olympians who inspired on the field and beyond, Draper’s work presents the perspectives of Black American cultural icons that have contributed to shaping American history, often in ways that are not yet fully recognized.

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Deborah Riley Draper, Filmmaker

#BlackPanthersMatter, October 17 and 22, 2016 

Founded 50 years ago on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense created the foundational iconography of Black radicalism in the United States. Their revolutionary aesthetics and self-controlled image established them in the nation’s eye: black berets, Afros, leather jackets and militarized organization. #BlackPanthersMatter brings together four films that highlight the depth behind the visuals, both by relating the Black Panthers outward to contemporary Black lives and by turning inwards to the emotional experiences of the movement’s founders.

  • October 17, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
    • Off The Pig (1968) 14 minutes Produced by Newsreel Films
    • A Huey P. Newton Story (2001) 86 minutes Directed by Spike Lee
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A Huey P. Newton Story (1991)

  • October 22, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
    • May Day (1969) 13 minutes Produced by Newsreel Films
    • The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011) 100 minutes Directed by Göran Olsson

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      The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

#BlackPanthersMatter is sponsored by: the Black Film Center/Archive, the Cinema and Media Studies unit at The Media School, and the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies.

December, 2016

Julie Dash: Daughters of the Dust 25th Anniversary (December 8-9, 2016)

Julie Dash’s rich filmography explores the spectrum of Black women’s experience across wide swaths of geography and time. 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking film Daughters of the Dust, and the Black Film Center/Archive is excited to sponsor a screening of the newly released digital restoration print, along with a selection of short films from her time as part of the UCLA-based Black cinema revolution of the late 1960s to late 1980s, known today as the L.A. Rebellion.

 

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Filmmaker and author, Julie Dash

  • December 8, 2016, 7:00 p.m.at IU Cinema
    • L.A. Rebellion Shorts: Four Women (1975), Diary of an African Nun (1977), and Illusions (1982) Directed by Julie Dash

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      Diary of an African Nun (1977)

  • December 9, 2016, at IU Cinema
    • 3:00 p.m. Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture with Julie Dash
    • 6:30 p.m. Daughters of the Dust (1991) 112 minutes Directed by Julie Dash
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Daughters of The Dust (1991)

Julie Dash Daughters of the Dust 25th Anniversary is sponsored by: the Black Film Center/Archive, The Media School’s cinema and media arts program, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and the IU Cinema.

 

 


SEMBENE! directors Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman visit Indiana University, Oct. 19-20

With a filmography spanning over forty years, Senegal’s Ousmane Sembène (1923-2007) earned international renown as a revolutionary artist and as the “Father of African Cinema” for his indigenized filmmaking practice. Sembène eschewed Western languages and narrative style for a new cinematic aesthetic drawing from African storytelling traditions, performed in African languages (Wolof, Diola, Bambara), and expressly produced for African audiences. Sembène has been heard to say: “Africa is my ‘audience’ while the West and the ‘rest’ are only targeted as ‘markets.’” Fifty years on from his first feature production, the Black Film Center/Archive and IU Cinema celebrate his legacy with a series featuring a new documentary and digital restorations of two of his earliest films.

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In addition to the October 19 screenings of La Noire De … (Black Girl) and Borom Sarret (The Wanderer), the new biographical documentary Sembène! will be shown at IU Cinema on Tuesday, October 20th, with filmmakers Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman scheduled to attend. This will follow a roundtable discussion with BFC/A director Michael T. Martin.

Reviewing its 2015 premiere at Sundance, Bilge Ebiri wrote that, of all the festival’s entries this year, “no film demonstrated the power of cinema more resonantly than Sembène!” The documentary chronicles Ousmane Sembène’s fascinating life as a militant artist, self-taught novelist, and “Father of African Cinema.” Using rare archival footage, animation, and the firsthand experience of Sembène expert and colleague Samba Gadjigo, the filmmakers present an honest and complex portrait of a man whose significance to modern African culture cannot be overstated.

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Jason Silverman and Samba Gadjigo

 

Sembène! emerges also as Gadjigo’s story, as he recounts the ways that Sembène’s work transformed his life. The Mount Holyoke professor was born in Senegal, where his life was changed by Sembène’s novel, God’s Bits of Wood. After earning his PhD from the University of Illinois, Gadjigo returned to Africa to connect with the artist who had such a formative impact on his life. “We worked together for 17 years,” Gadjigo told Indiewire. “and it was an honor to help him bring his stories into the world. On the day of his death, I promised that I would not let his stories be forgotten. That’s why we made this film.”

Jason Silverman, who is the director of the cinemathèque at the Center of Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, reached out to Samba Gadjigo as part of an effort to include more African film in the center’s programming. “I knew Jason was so knowledgeable about the cinema world,” Gadjigo told BOMB Magazine, “so I told him I had all this [Sembène] material and wanted him to help me organize it. A film really wasn’t the idea so much as building a website to share all this material with the world. He looked at me and said, ‘No. We should make a movie!’”

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Ousmane Sembène

 

In conjunction with the IU Cinema and BFC/A screening series, Sembène: Father of African Cinema, Black Film Center/Archive director Michael T. Martin will moderate a roundtable discussion of Sembène’s work and legacy. This discussion will follow from the previous evening’s screenings of the World Cinema Project‘s digital restorations of La Noire De … (Black Girl) and Borom Sarret (The Wanderer).

Roundtable discussion participants include:

Akin Adesokan, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Samba Gadjigo, Professor of French, Mount Holyoke College, and Co-Director of Sembène! (2015)

Eileen Julien, Director, Institute for Advanced Study, and Professor of French and Comparative Literature

Michael T. Martin, Director, Black Film Center/Archive, and Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, The Media School

Jason Silverman, Cinematheque Director, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, and Co-Director of Sembène! (2015)

The event is free, and begins at 3:30 PM, before the evening’s screening of Sembène!  This series is sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive, The Media School, the Cinema and Media Studies program, and the departments of African Studies, French and Italian, and Comparative Literature.

~Jezy Gray


Celine Sciamma’s GIRLHOOD at the IU Cinema this week, May 28-30

Girlhood is a mesmerizing exercise in the enlightenment that can happen when a filmmaker shifts the male cinematic gaze ever so slightly and uncovers what looks like a whole new world.”–Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

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Marieme/ Vic with her “bande de filles”

Director Celine Sciamma calls Girlhood (original title: Bande de Filles) the conclusion of her unplanned coming-of-age trilogy, following her 2006 debut Water Lilies and 2011’s Tomboy. Sciamma’s films bear little relation to the easily digestible, feel-good dramadies often associated with the coming-of-age moniker; instead, they draw from the genre’s strength–juxtaposing universal experiences of love, friendship, fear, and struggle with the particularities of an individual’s development–to bring to light stories and perspectives that are often neglected, both in reality and onscreen. Sciamma’s first two films explore queer sexuality and gender identity; Girlhood follows the everyday lives of France’s lower-class women of color. As Sue Harris writes in her Sight & Sound review: “This is no quietly incremental coming-of-age narrative, but a brash, at times distressing series of snapshots of the life of undereducated black working-class girls on the bottom rung of every social and economic ladder.”

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Karidja Touré as Marieme

Featuring non-professional actresses discovered at casting calls in the working class suburbs of Paris, the film follows a young teen named Marieme (Karidja Touré) as she transforms herself into “Vic” through her entry into a gang of teenage girls who commit petty crimes together but also watch out for one another, defending against the isolation and insecurity that stems from abusive personal relationships and their marginalized status in contemporary French society.

GIRLHOOD is playing at the Indiana University Cinema on May 28th and 29th at 7PM, and May 30th at 3PM. The Blu-ray edition of the film will also be available as part of the Black Film Center/ Archive’s permanent collection.


Roger Ross Williams’ GOD LOVES UGANDA at IU Cinema

“I thought about following the activists – brave and admirable men and women…But I was more curious about the people who, in effect, wanted to kill me.”

– Roger Ross Williams, Director/Producer, GOD LOVES UGANDA

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Roger Ross Williams

On Sunday, September 7th, at 3:00 PM, the Indiana University Cinema will present a free screening of GOD LOVES UGANDA, the 2013 documentary produced and directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams (MUSIC BY PRUDENCE).  Eric Love, Director, Office of Diversity Education, and Barbara Dennis, Associate Professor in the School of Education, will be present for a discussion after the film.  This event is sponsored by IU’s GLBT Student Support Services, the Office of Diversity Education (a unit of the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Multicultural Affairs), the Commission on Multicultural Understanding, the Black Film Center/Archive, and IU Cinema.

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Bishop Christopher Senyonjo visiting a rural school in Uganda. Photo Credit: Crispin Buxton

From the film’s website:

As an American-influenced bill to make homosexuality punishable by death wins widespread support, tension in Uganda mounts and an atmosphere of murderous hatred takes hold. The film reveals the conflicting motives of faith and greed, ecstasy and egotism, among Ugandan ministers, American evangelical leaders and the foot soldiers of a theology that sees Uganda as ground zero in a battle for billions of souls.

Through verité, interviews, and hidden camera footage – and with unprecedented access – GOD LOVES UGANDA takes viewers inside the evangelical movement in both the US and Uganda.

For more information, please visit the IU Cinema website at http://www.cinema.indiana.edu/?post_type=film&p=7009.

 

 


BFC/A staffer Joyce Bevins wins film award

The Black Film Center/Archive congratulates Joyce “Eli” and Jean “Lu” Bevins on receiving the Elfenworks Social Justice Award from the Campus MovieFest Hollywood (CMF) for their short film, Systematic Living.  Eli, a second-year Masters student in the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, recently joined the BFC/A staff as a summer archive assistant.

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Campus MovieFest (CMF), the world’s largest student film festival, hosted its 13th annual CMF Hollywood student film summit from June 19-22, 2014 at Universal Studios. Each student contestant delivers a 5 minute-or less-short film, with only a week to shoot the film and submit it. Speaking about the event, the CMF website stated:

Nearly 1,000 student filmmakers, family and friends from 60 participating college campuses attended the weekend of events including educational workshops, advanced screenings, networking and professional opportunities, screenings of over 200 in-competition short films, and the glamorous red carpet CMF Hollywood Awards at the Universal Globe Theatre!

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Systematic Living was submitted by Eli Lu Productions, the production company that Eli started in 2009 with her twin sister, Jean “Lu” Bevins. Their film, Systematic Living, is about a young woman who uses spoken word to spread hope and change as her dreams are a constant reminder of her harsh reality, as she lives in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. The short was filmed, directed, and produced by Jean, while Eli edited, wrote, directed, and starred in the film as the character Niya. As a winner, the sisters will receive $10,000 toward their next film project and their film will be aired on Virgin America Airlines.

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BFC/A staff member Katrina Overby had the opportunity to interview Joyce “Eli” Bevins about her filmmaking career and her inspiration for her film, Systematic Living. Below is a portion of their conversation that took place via email:

KO: First off, congratulations on your award! How long have you been into filmmaking?

JB: Thank you. Well my twin sister and I started Eli Lu Productions in 2009 on the campus of Elizabeth City State University. However, in our first couple of years we only focused on writing, directing and producing stage plays that eventually led to filmmaking. We decided to film one of our stage plays as a web series in 2011-2012 to reach a larger audience. Following the web series we began doing short films and documentaries. And that is pretty much how we got involved in filmmaking.

KO: When or how did you find out about the Campus MovieFest (CMF) and when did you decide that you wanted to enter a film into the contest? What made you choose the social justice category?

JB: A cast member of mine in the “Revolution” emergent theater experience showcase here on campus introduced me to CMF. He explained that students have to shoot and submit their films in less than a week for the competition. At that moment my sister and I decided that we were up for the challenge and wanted to express our creativity through film. We decided to enter the social justice category because we wanted to create a film that changes the way people think and a film that would bring awareness to poverty, crime, and injustice in America. Also, we recently produced the “Mill Creek Documentary: Past, Present, and Future” film in Philadelphia, PA, which highlights issues surrounding poverty and crime that once plague the Mill Creek Community. We thought about this film and decided that we wanted to create another film that will empower and influence change.

 KO: As your film Systematic Living discusses the struggle of economic disadvantages, poverty, injustice, and crime, where did you get the inspiration for the theme of the film? Where was the location of the film?

 JB: The concept “systematic living” is a term my sister created and would often use back in high school to explain our economy. The inspiration for the film comes from our experience of growing up in West Philadelphia. Unfortunately, some areas in Philadelphia have high crime rates, poverty and blight. These things would often keep us up at night, from loud gunshots in the middle of the night to sirens that would often meet us in our dreams. From looking at our economy, even I used to question if it was possible to dream physically and metaphorically. So we wanted our film to be the voice of the youth growing up in such environments. That is where the inspiration came from. We filmed everything in Bloomington and around IU’s campus for the most part. For the competition we were ONLY allowed to use about 30 seconds of old footage. The shots of poverty are actually from our Mill Creek Documentary that we filmed in Philadelphia.

KO: How did you decide to use poetry as a way to interpret and present the message of the film? Was this an original piece written by you?

JB: My sister and I are both poets. We often use poetry as a way of expression, storytelling and even the way we often dealt/deal with pain. We decided to use poetry to convey the message to our audience because we figured this medium would be captivating. We also wanted our audience to be moved by the poem. And yes, the poem was an original piece that I wrote. Honestly, it was written from the point of view of how I once felt as a teen and how many others felt/feel.

KO: How long was the process for putting this film together? In terms of writing the script, filming, and editing?

JB: Well, originally we wanted to cast people to act out the story line but since we were against time and could not find actors in one week, my sister and I decided to do a “one-man-show”. We altered the story so that I could do all the parts including pulling the trigger, and playing the homeless person, etc. We did two days of filming on the 3rd day of the filming week. Walking across campus we would just say, “Oh lets film here or there”. A lot of the filming was just on the spot shots from walking across campus or around Bloomington. The night before submission we decided not to finish the project but changed our minds around midnight. I stayed up all night with no sleep to get it finished. To be exact I finished editing just a little over two hours before it was due.

KO: Were you and your sister on the “same page” in terms of how you wanted the film to look aesthetically and what you wanted the message to be? Who was the “brains” behind the project?

JB: My sister and I agreed on the overall theme and category that we wanted to enter for the competition. However, we kept changing the story line because we did not have the actors to portray the story. We had plenty of disagreements during the filming process. We did not think that we would be able to get our message across with no actors. This is one of the reasons why we decided not to finish the project the night before but eventually changed our minds and allowed the poem to deliver the message.

KO: What is your next film project you’re working on?

JB: My sister and I are currently working on our first thriller and screenplay that we wrote together called “When Karma Calls”. We are also planning to work on a poetry web show in the fall. Separately we both have our own screenplays that we are working on.

 ~Katrina Overby

 

 

Please see the following link to view Systematic Living:

http://www.campusmoviefest.com/movies/32749-systematic-living (video: Systematic Living)

Follow this link to Eli Lu Productions website:

http://www.eliluproductions.com/

Resources:

http://www.campusmoviefest.com/hollywood/ (CMF Website)


Summer 2014 Black Film Festivals

Summer-time is upon us and many of you are more than likely seeking ways to make your summer productive, yet fun and adventurous. If this is the case, there are several Black film festivals that will be taking place during the summer and running into the fall season! We highlight a few of these below.  This post should encourage you take time during your vacations to visit and participate in the following fantastic, unique, and sometimes FREE Black film festivals with your family and friends!

African Diaspora International Film Festival: June 13 – June 19

 

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The 12thAnnual African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF) in Chicago is already underway; it began on June 13th and will run until June 19th at the Facets Multimedia Cinematheque. The ADIFF website notes:

ADFF’s mission is to present these films to diverse audiences, redesign the Black cinema experience, and strengthen the role of African and African descent directors in contemporary world cinema. In response to this mission, ADFF features the work of emerging and established filmmakers of color. Most important, ADFF distinguishes itself through its presentation of outstanding works that shine a different or comprehensive light on African Diaspora life and culture –no matter what the filmmaker’s race or nationality.

 For more information visit: http://nyadiff.org/

For schedule of events visit: http://nyadiff.org/adiff-2013-schedule/

 

American Black Film Festival (ABFF): June 19 – June 22

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Film Life’s 18th Annual American Black Film Festival will take place June 19th through June 22nd in the diverse metropolis of New York City. The 2014 ABFF Ambassador is actor Morris Chestnut, and the opening night screening is “Think Like A Man Too” directed by Tim Story and by legendary comedian Steve Harvey. Jeff Friday, the Founder and CEO of Film Life Inc. stated on the website:

The Black experience is an integral part of American culture; and the universal appeal of Black stories is becoming more apparent as African Americans make substantial inroads into the motion picture industry. As we look to the future, it is our goal to not only support Black filmmakers, but to promote their work for everyone’s enjoyment! The ABFF is committed to broadening the mainstream embrace of Black culture, to have as great an impact through cinema as we have had through music, fashion and sports.

For information visit: http://www.abff.com/

And view the festival trailer here:

 

Newark Black Film Festival: June 25 – July 30

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The Newark Black Film Festival (NBFF) will be kicking off its 40thseason at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey on June 25th running 6 weeks until July 30th. The NBFF Bank of America Opening Reception is on June 25th at 5:30 pm (To RSVP: rsvp@newarkmuseum.org) and will the festival will open with the screening of the 2010 film “Freedom Riders” directed by Stanley Nelson at 7pm that evening. Adult screenings are every Wednesday at 7pm and are FREE to the public (first-come, first-serve)! The website states:

Since its inception in 1974, the Newark Black Film Festival (NBFF) has become known among its peers as the longest running black film festival in the United States. Throughout the years, it has continued to provide a progressive public forum for hundreds of emerging writers, directors, producers, performers and film buffs who enjoy African American and African Diaspora cinema. Screening in the summer months, the films that are shown reflect the full diversity of the black experience in America, both past and present. Each film selection encompasses a wide range of cinematic forms and formulas, from documentary to the avant-garde, for youth and adults.

 The youth screenings for the NBFF will be on Mondays at The Newark Public Library beginning on July 7th, and Wednesdays at the Newark Museum starting on July 9th. The youth screenings will open with the screening of the film “Mrs. Katz and Tush” at 10:30am on July 7th.

This year, the NBFF will be awarding inspiring filmmakers with their biennial Paul Robeson Awards, first established in 1985 to honor the spirit of renowned activist, performer, and athlete Paul Robeson.

For adult schedule visit: http://www.newarkmuseum.org/nbffschedule.html#Adult

For youth schedule visit: http://www.newarkmuseum.org/NBFFYouth.html#Youth

 

Black Alphabet Film Festival: July 2 – July 3

AlphabetBlack Alphabet hosts its second annual Black Alphabet Film Festival held on July 2nd (at The DuSable Museum) and July 3rd (at The Center on Halsted) in the vibrant city of Chicago, IL. The BAFF is committed to promoting and showcasing films by and about the Black LGBTQ/SGL community. On the Black Alphabet website, they state the following in regards to their vision:

Beyond LGBTQ or SGL, we tell our stories with each letter of the alphabet. Our mission is to empower our community, celebrate our achievements and foster our future. We do this through the support of culture, art, entrepreneurship, and health. Our aim is to create and encourage a new dialogue of what it means to be Black: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer or Questioning, Same Gender Loving, as well as Allies and the identities beyond. We are Black Alphabet: Building on our past, uniting in the present, affirming a prosperous future. Let no story be told without us.

For more information visit: http://blackalphabet.org/

 

BlackStar Film Festival: July 31 – August 3

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The third annual BlackStar Film Festival will be hosted from July 31st to August 3rd at different venues throughout “University City” – West Philadelphia –including International House Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Art at University of Pennsylvania, Scribe Video Center, and World Café Live. The BSFF website states:

The BlackStar Film Festival is a celebration of cinema focused on work by and about people of African descent in a global context. BlackStar highlights films that are often overlooked from emerging, established, and mid-career directors, writers and producers working in narrative, documentary, experimental and music video filmmaking.

The BSFF includes a film and screenplay competition for the following categories: Short Documentary, Short Narrative, Feature Documentary, Feature Narrative, Short Screenplay Competition, and BlackStar Special Jury Prize. Among some of the jurors for the competition are directors Terence Nance and Pet Chatmon and producer Warrington Hudlin.

For more information visit: http://blackstarfest.org/

 

Black Harvest International Film Festival: August 1 – August 28

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The 20th annual Black Harvest International Film Festival will be held at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago, IL, during the entire month of August, from August 1st to August 28th. Films screened during the BHIFF tell stories, raise questions, spark lively discussions or touch on issues that relate to the Black African, African American, and African diasporic experience.

For advanced ticket information visit: http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest_2014

 

Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival: August 5 – August 9

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Run&Shoot Filmworks will be hosting their 12th annual Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF), located in the beautiful Martha’s Vineyard for five days, August 5th through August 9th.

Husband and wife team Floyd Rance and Stephanie Tavares-Rance founded the MVAAFF in 2002 under Run & Shoot Filmworks, a national transmedia company founded by Floyd Rance. An accomplished filmmaker, Floyd Rance has worked on several projects with Spike Lee and worked on the first season of long time running show “Law and Order.” Stephanie Tavares-Rance started her own public relations/event planning company Crescendo and has worked with clients such as HBO and Showtime. In regards to the festival, the MVAAFF website stated:

In 2002, RSF established the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival which was designed to provide an upscale platform dedicated to showcasing and honoring emerging filmmakers in a relaxed environment.

For more information visit: http://www.mvaaff.com/

For festival itinerary visit: http://www.mvaaff.com/festival-itinerary

~Katrina Overby


New Orleans Connections: VANISHING PEARLS Director Nailah Jefferson interviewed by Eileen Julien

NailahHeadshotlowresNailah Jefferson’s powerful documentary Vanishing Pearls examines the effects of the oil and gas industry on a small African American oyster fishing community in Louisiana’s gulf coast. After a world premiere at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, and theatrical openings in New York and Los Angeles, Vanishing Pearls will screen at the Indiana University Cinema for one night only on Thursday, June 5 at 7pm.

Last month IU professor and New Orleans native Eileen Julien talked to Jefferson about her film. Below is the portion of their conversation that took place over email.

Eileen Julien: You have said that you wanted to tell the story of Pointe à la Hache—“if not to save this community, then to let the world know a place like this once existed.” Tell us about this place.  What is so special and compelling to you about Pointe à la Hache?

Nailah Jefferson: I grew up in New Orleans, just about 60 miles away from Pointe à la Hache.  Even though the distance between the two doesn’t seem that far, the way of living is a world apart. Pointe à la Hache is a community that is still very much dependent on the land and water. It’s been that way for over a century.  The families that still live in Pointe à la Hache were some of the first African American and Creole families to settle there following slavery.  They gained their independence through fishing and farming and were able to build a sustainable community.  To this day, the community still literally grows and harvests much of its own food.  That’s not because technology passed them by.  It was and still is a choice of many to stay in the “country”, as they refer to it, and live a simple life where legacy and tradition trump technology and innovation.

What I found to be most interesting though, is that they harvest my seafood.  I never knew it was these small families businesses, just 60 miles away, that were responsible for the seafood I enjoyed at home in New Orleans all my life.

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EJ: Is there a scene or sequence of the film that you find especially satisfying and why so?

NJ: There are two scenes I’m quite satisfied with.  The first would be the history of the African American oystermen and their struggle to become independent.  That’s a story that somehow eluded the Louisiana history books.  So, for the first time we are bringing that story to the masses.  The second would be when oyster season finally opens.  The season finally reopened in October 2011, 17 months after the BP Spill.  I’d heard the fishermen’s stories about harvesting oysters, but never witnessed it.  So, going out on the water with the guys just before dawn and seeing the sun rise on the bay was a magnificent sight.  Finally reaching our destination and watching them, after over a year of waiting, drop dredge and get back to work, was a thrill.  I think everyone on the boat that day was experiencing a mix of emotions – excited, nervous, hopeful, scared. That was probably my favorite shoot.

EJ: Film scholars claim that documentaries don’t just “tell the truth” or give objective testimonies: they actually present a point of view, they make arguments.  What arguments does Vanishing Pearls make?

NJ: Vanishing Pearls definitely does make an argument.  I’d say the argument is that the community of Pointe à la Hache, contrary to BP’s reports, has not economically or ecologically rebounded from the devastation caused by the BP oil spill. Furthermore, BP has not taken full responsibility for the devastation caused by their spill and unfortunately our elected officials are not assuring that BP will be held accountable so that communities like Pointe à la Hache and others still suffering along the Gulf Coast get justice.

EJ: Your film tells a Louisiana story—about family, the environment, ways of life, and even the history of Louisiana racism.  It is a very local story, but would you agree that it transcends its place of locality, that it is also the story of many communities around our “globalized” world?

NJ: Yes, I believe Vanishing Pearls does transcend Louisiana.  In many places throughout the US and beyond, oil and gas companies are allowed to exploit natural resources, ravage lands and put communities at risk all for the economic advancement of those companies.  This happens from Russia to Nigeria, North Dakota to Ohio.  Unfortunately, the story of big oil and gas’s abuse is a global one and not just the story of Pointe à la Hache fishermen as told in Vanishing Pearls.

EJ: What are the challenges and joys of documentary filmmaking?  Is documentary filmmaking becoming more important?

NJ: There are many challenges of documentary filmmaking, but they are far outweighed by the joys.  Raising money is a challenge, getting people to buy into your vision is a challenge, but connecting with your characters and being enlightened by new subjects and different ways of life is such a joy.  Relating to people and learning that no matter how different we may seem or live or speak or look, we all have one common goal and that is to be happy.  That realization was renewed every day that I got to talk to the people of Pointe à la Hache, and for that I am very grateful. Documentary filmmaking is very important because as we all become more connected to our devices and phones and various pads and tablets, we are truly less humanly connected. Documentaries reinforce that human touch and the experience of engaging people.  They reinforce the human connection that we are losing.

EJ: Are there particular hardships and advantages to being a black female director at this time?

NJ: I actually think there are fear mongers out there who try to tell you it’s hard.  They’ll try to tell you that your project can’t be too black or too foreign to the status quo because no one will watch or relate.  But again, the point of documentaries, at least one of the points, is to open people up to another perspective, one they’ve never seen or contemplated.  So, my belief is that the more uncommon or unfamiliar the view, the more you actually have to offer. In my book, being a minority, both black and female, is advantageous.

Note: special thanks to African American Film Festival Releasing Movement’s Mercedes Cooper for facilitating this interview.

Check out the film’s trailer here: