The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival
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BAMcinématek Presents The Best of the African Diaspora
BAMcinématek Presents The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival, February 11-17, Featuring a Selection of Black Independent Films from Around the World
For the third consecutive year, the ADFF brings the best films from their recent festival to BAM
Brooklyn, January 5, 2005-From February 11-17, BAMcinématek, the repertory film program at BAM Rose Cinemas, in collaboration with The African Diaspora Film Festival, presents The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival. This one-week series showcases fourteen films that enjoyed critical and popular acclaim during the twelfth annual African Diaspora Film Festival, representing black filmmaking from five continents and an extraordinary range of subjects and artistic approaches.
Created in 1993 by the husband and wife team of Reinaldo Barroso-Spech and Diarah N'Daw-Spech, the ADFF has long been delighting audiences with U.S. and world premieres of independent films, including features, documentaries, animation, and shorts. The New York Times applauds the Spechs' "international sensibilities" and their penchant for promoting work such as 2002's series favorite, the animated Kirikou and the Sorceress (this popular film returns to the series this year).
"The ADFF is a bridge," say the Spechs "between diverse communities looking for works that cannot be found in other festivals, and talented and visionary filmmakers and works that are part of the African Diaspora." ADFF's ultimate ambition is to see an "informed and talented community come together to exchange ideas and strategies for improving our respective worlds." "The black cinema experience in the U.S. has traditionally been very incomplete," explains N'Daw-Spech. "A lot of films that come from Hollywood present a very limited vision of what the black experience is. Our goal is to present quality products and expand that vision through film." "Films can play a role beyond that of just entertaining people," says Barroso-Spech, "and they can lead to more than just education, they can lead to redemption." About The Best of the ADFF Films
The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival begins with Denying Brazil (February 11 and 17), winner of numerous international documentary festival awards, and about› which Phil Hall of Filmthreat says, "As a sociological dissection on how popular entertainment can shape racial prejudice and help to build racial justice, Denying Brazil is a strong and significant work of intelligence." Other films that explore Afro-Latino societies include AfroArgentines (February 13 and 17), the 2003 winner of Best Documentary, Festival Latino Americano de Cine e Video, Brazil, which screens with African Blood, an exploration of the little known Afro-Mestizo culture of Mexico's Costa Chica region.
Showing February 11 is Lord Have Mercy, Frances-Anne Solomon's groundbreaking Canadian sitcom set in Toronto's Caribbean community, which screens with Jaydee's short comedy, Closure. Also set among Caribbean immigrants in Canada is novelist Dany Laferriňre's comedy How To Conquer America in One Night (February 12 and 15), which Variety calls "wittily scribed and engagingly thesped."
Making a return to the African Diaspora Film Festival is Rolf de Heer's The Tracker (February 11 and 14), which screens with Gulpilil: One Red Blood, Darlene Johnson's documentary tribute to Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil, star of The Tracker, Rabbit-Proof Fence, and Walkabout. Called "insightful" by The Guardian, Gulpilil made the documentary "to show people my life and how I really live it."
Screening February 11, 14, and 15 is Mya B's Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality, a four-part documentary that explores the often ignored issues of female sexuality in African-American culture.
Other highlights of The Best of the ADFF include Kabala (February 13 and 15), winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2003 FESPACO Pan-African Film Festival; and Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death (February 13 and 14), which has been condemned by the Belgian government for its portrayal of King Leopold II. "There is no doubt Congo's history, and White King, Red Rubber, Black Death are almost too upsetting to bear," says the BBC. "However, Leopold did leave, albeit unwittingly, one positive legacy-the birth of modern humanitarianism. The campaign to reveal the truth behind Leopold's 'secret society of murderers,' led by diplomat Roger Casement, and a former shipping clerk Ed Morel, became the first mass human rights movement."
The series concludes February 17 (also showing February 12) with the just completed Raise Your Voice: Sweet Honey in the Rock, Stanley Nelson's inspiring documentary about the legendary a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.
The complete schedule for The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival follows.
BAM Rose Cinemas "offers one of the most civilized movie-going experiences in the city," according to The New York Times. General admission tickets to BAM Rose Cinemas are $10. Tickets are $7 for students 25 and under (with valid I.D. Monday-Thursday, except holidays) seniors, and children under twelve, and $6 for BAM Cinema Club members. Tickets are available at the BAM Rose Cinemas box office, by phone at 718.777.FILM (order by "name of movie" option), or online at www.bam.org. For more information, call the BAMcinématek hotline at 718.636.4100 or visit www.bam.org. The Best of the African Diaspora schedule
Friday, February 11 at 2pm Thursday, February 17 at 4:30pm Denying Brazil (2000), Brazil, 92 min, Portuguese with English subtitles Directed by Joel Zito Araujo A documentary film about the taboos, stereotypes, and struggles of black actors in Brazilian television "soaps." Based on his own memories and on a sturdy body of research evidence, the director analyzes race relations in Brazilian soap operas, calling attention to their likely influence on black people's identity-forming processes. Denying Brazil won the Best Documentary Feature Screenplay, 2001 National Documentaries Competition, Brazilian Ministry of Culture; the Best Film of the Brazilian Competition and Best Research, 6th International Documentary Film Festival -It's All True 2001, Sďo Paulo/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the Gilberto Freire Film Award and Best Screenplay, 5th Recife Film Festival, 2001, Recife, Brazil.
Friday, February 11 at 4:30pm* Lord Have Mercy (2003), Canada, 46min Directed by Frances-Anne Solomon This film is created from two episodes of this popular Canadian sitcom. The story is about a comic situation in a Caribbean church in Toronto. Screens with Closure (2004), U.S., 9min Directed by Jaydee Closure is a short film about a woman looking for love in all the wrong places. *A Q&A with the director of Closure will follow the screening.
Friday, February 11 at 6pm Monday, February 14 at 9:15pm The Tracker (2002), Australia, 98min Directed by Rolf de Heer Set in 1922 Australia, The Tracker evokes the American Wild West-merciless, untamed, and deadly for the uninitiated and non-whites alike. David Gulpilil (Rabbit-Proof Fence) soars as the enigmatic, seemingly gullible Aborigine who has been commissioned to lead three white officers of the law through the outback in search of a native charged with the murder of a white woman. Screens with Gulpilil: One Red Blood (2002), Australia, 56min Directed by Darlene Johnson This documentary on actor David Gulpilil shows him leading a spartan and demanding life in tribal Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory, where he balances community obligations with the demands of being an internationally respected film actor. Gulpilil: One Red Blood charts David Gulpilil's career from his origins as a tribal man who spoke no English through his transformation to a movie star. Although he had less work during the 1980s, Gulpilil is once again in the spotlight with recent leading roles in the acclaimed feature films Rabbit- Proof Fence and The Tracker.
Friday, February 11 at 9:15pm* Monday, February 14 at 6:50pm* Tuesday, February 15 at 4:30pm Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality (2004), U.S., 75min Directed by Mya B. Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality is a four-part documentary that boldly examines sexual taboos in American society from a woman's perspective. Fifteen black women in Chicago from all ages, backgrounds, and professions speak out for the first time about their sexual wants, needs, and desires, aiming to clarify historical sexual misconceptions about black women and reveal the truth about their sexuality in their own words. *A Q&A will follow the February 11 and 14 screenings. Saturday, February 12 at 2pm Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998), France, 74 min Directed by Michel Ocelot This animated film recounts the tale of tiny Kirikou, born in an African village on which Karaba the Sorceress has placed a terrible curse. Kirikou sets out on a quest to free his village of the curse and find out the secret of why Karaba is so wicked. A blend of African folktales, Kirikou depicts a precocious newborn infant who battles ignorance and evil with endearing perseverance. Kirikou's stunning visuals are accented by a traditional music soundtrack by African music giant Youssou N'Dour of Senegal. The film won the Grand Prize for best animated feature, International Festival of Animated Film in Annecy, France; and First Prize from both children's and adults' juries, Chicago International Children's Film Festival.›
Saturday, February 12 at 4:30pm* Sunday, February 13 at 2pm* Au Pair Chocolat (2004), U.S., 90min Directed by Benson McGrath Au Pair Chocolat is a funny, socially conscious comedy about Tawney Washington-a Harlem girl hired as an au pair by an upscale family on the posh island of Martha's Vineyard, who brings to the job a lot more baggage than her suitcase.› *A Q&A will follow both screenings.
Saturday, February 12 at 6:50pm* Thursday, February 17 at 9:15pm** Raise Your Voice: Sweet Honey in the Rock (2004), U.S., 100 min Directed by Stanley Nelson This documentary is an intimate portrait of legendary African-American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, highlighting its extraordinary sound and unwavering message of social justice. It explores the mission that has guided this group for 30 years, one that asserts the power of voice and song in comprehending the human condition, and gathering the courage to transform it. *A Q&A with Sweet Honey in the Rock member Carol Maillard **A Q&A with director Stanley Nelson
Saturday, February 12 at 9:30pm* Tuesday, February 15 at 9:15pm* How To Conquer America in One Night (2004), Haiti/Canada, 90min, French with English subtitles Directed by Dany Laferriňre Montreal-based, Haitian-born Dany Laferriňre is a prolific writer (How To Make Love To a Negro Without Getting Tired, On The Verge Of A Fever) whose books have been the basis for critically acclaimed films. Now as a director Mr. Laferriňre has created a hilarious comedy about the life of Haitians in Montreal. In How to Conquer America in One Night Gegé arrives in Montreal determined to conquer the city by charming blond women. *A Q&A will follow both screenings.
Sunday, February 13 at 4:30pm Monday, February 14 at 4:30pm Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death (2003), U.K., 84 min Directed by Peter Bate The horrific story of Belgium's colonization of the Congo was ignored for over half a century. Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death shows King Leopold II's private colony as a labor camp of astonishing brutality. From 1885 to 1908, Leopold posed as the protector of Africans fleeing Arab slave-traders. In reality, he was carving out a rubber empire rooted in terror. Families were held as hostages, starving to death if the men failed to produce enough wild rubber. Children's hands were chopped off in punishment for late deliveries. The Belgian government has denounced this documentary as a "tendentious diatribe" for depicting King Leopold II as the moral forebear of Adolf Hitler, responsible for the death of 10 million people in his rapacious exploitation of the Congo. Sunday, February 13 at 6:50pm Thursday, February 17 at 6:50pm AfroArgentines (2002), Argentina, 75 min, Spanish with English subtitles Directed by Diego Ceballos and Jorge Fortes Are there any black people in Argentina? Many Argentines will answer "no" to that question. AfroArgentines explores the long presence of people of African descent in one of the most Europeanized countries in Latin America. Screens with African Blood (2004), Mexico, 25 min, Spanish with English subtitles Directed by Roberto Olivares Mexican identity is generally thought to be comprised from indigenous and European cultures. However, this definition excludes a very important component: African ancestry. The documentary African Blood uncovers these forgotten roots, through testimonies, reflections, and powerful cultural expressions made by people of African descent who live in Mexico's Costa Chica region, in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. These are the people who carry this great legacy: the Afro-Mestizo, or Afro-Mexican culture.
Sunday, February 13 at 9:15pm Tuesday, February 15 at 6:50pm Kabala (2002), Mali, 107 min, Bambara with English subtitles Directed by Assane Kouyaté In a little Mandé village, the sacred well has dried up and the elders refuse any human intervention to solve the problem. Hamalla, the outcast son of Babji, is back after four years in the Land of the Mines. His expertise could be used to bring water back to the village. Conflict arises when the elders refuse Hamalla's intervention to help with the dried, sacred well. Director Assane Kouyaté takes us on a journey laced with conflict and jealousy, and pits traditional solutions against modern approaches. Kabala is reminiscent of the work of such important African filmmakers such as Iddrissa Ouedraogo, Ousmane Sembene, and Cheick Oumar Sissoko, who have depicted the complexities of African society.›
Other related BAM programming:
Dance-Africa 2005, May 27-29 BAM's longest running performance series-and America's largest and most vibrant celebration of African and African American dance, music, film, and culture-continues with the 28th annual DanceAfrica festival. Under the artistic direction of Founding Elder Chuck Davis, DanceAfrica 2005 Rhythmic Heritage: Going Full Circle will include a multitude of events including dance performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, the popular outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar, a sculpture exhibition in the BAMgarden (between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street at St. Felix Street), a film series at BAM Rose Cinemas, and an African dance party at BAMcafé with live music.
Steiner Studios is the presenting sponsor for BAMcinématek. Leadership support is provided by The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust. BAM Rose Cinemas is named in recognition of a major gift in honor of Jonathan F.P. and Diana Calthorpe Rose. BAM Rose Cinemas would also like to acknowledge the generous support of The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, Richard B. Fisher and Jeanne Donovan Fisher, James Ottaway, Jr., Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and Bloomberg Radio AM1130. Additional support is provided by The Liman Foundation and The Grodzins Fund.
BAMcinématek would like to offer special thanks to Diarah N'Daw-Spech and Reinaldo Barroso-Spech/ArtMattan Productions.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas, BAMcafé, and Shakespeare & Co. BAMshop are located in the Peter Jay Sharp Building at 30 Lafayette Avenue (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place) in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. BAM Harvey Theater is located two blocks from the main building at 651 Fulton Street (between Ashland and Rockwell Places). BAM Rose Cinemas is Brooklyn's only movie house dedicated to first-run independent and foreign film and repertory programming. BAMcafé, operated by Great Performances, also features an eclectic mix of spoken word and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. A $21 three-course dinner at BAMcafé is available Thu-Sat for BAM Rose Cinemas ticket holders (day of screening only). BAMcafé is open Thursday-Saturday from 5pm-closing. Additionally, BAMcafé is open two hours prior to all Howard Gilman Opera House and Harvey Theater performances.
For ticket and BAMbus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit www.bam.org .
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