A New Movement in Black Cinema

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

Ava DuVernay, founder of AFFRM (Photo: Mariemaye)

It’s called AFFRM, and it stands for African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement. Started in 2011 by filmmaker and publicist Ava DuVernay (My Mic Sounds Nice), it is an attempt to bring black-themed movies to a wider viewing audience by releasing them in cities where the most popular African-American film festivals are already experiencing growing success. DuVernay’s wish is to expand theatrical distribution for black film using social media, email, and other grassroots distribution networks. In keeping with their dedication to quality, alternative independent films, the first one out the box from AFFRM is I Will Follow, a film written and directed by Ava DuVernay herself, which is scheduled for release on March 11, 2011. It will benefit from what AFFRM calls “a high-profile collaboration of the nation’s finest black film festivals.” Those festivals are LA’s Pan-African Film Festival,   « Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Roger Ross Williams, Academy Award-winning Director (“Music By Prudence”)

January 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

“It has totally changed my life,” says filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Music By Prudence. Afrofusion caught up with him at the posh B. Smith’s restaurant in Washington, DC a few days ago. Williams became the first black film director to win an Academy Award when Music By Prudence took the honors for Best Documentary Short at the 2010 Oscars. But Williams is not even talking about the Oscar that his film won, nor the several other accolades that followed the release of this remarkable documentary. It is a true testament to the power of independent documentary filmmaking that the effects of his initial encounter with a 21-year-old young woman with a punishing disability named Prudence Mabhena have reached far deeper than he ever could have imagined. How rare is it for an indie « Read the rest of this entry »

Africa’s World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures Recap: Great News Overlooked

January 21, 2011 § 6 Comments

It was supposed to be the most significant and talked-about cultural event in Africa in 2010 after the World Cup. The 3rd World Festival of Black Arts and Culture had thousands from around Africa and the black Diaspora flocking to Dakar, Senegal last December, but for some reason it ended up receiving scant attention in the mainstream media. And it was certainly not for lack of celebrity attendance; heads of state like Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia and Libya’s Gaddafi, entertainers like Wyclef Jean, Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Dead Prez, Manu Di Bango, Busta Rhymes, to name a few, all took part in the various events. Senegalese-American artist Akon was the festival’s closing act at a free concert on New Year’s Day. In fact, all the concerts were free. There were arts and craft shows, cinema, design, « Read the rest of this entry »

“The Greatest Black Man Who Ever Walked the African Continent”

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Patrice Lumumba (AP Photo)

Today, the 17th day of January 2011, the United States honors the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a public and federal holiday. Sadly, this day is also the 50th Anniversary of the brutal murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo. He once wrote: “Freedom is the ideal for which throughout history… throughout centuries, men have fought and died.” Sounds like something Dr. King would have said. Regardless, both men joined the fight, for which they both ended up assassinated. Lumumba has since become a symbol of Pan-African liberation, and a martyr in the eyes of many in the African Diaspora. Patrice Lumumba’s meteoric rise to prominence was the result of his almost uncanny ability to unite people. He had the kind of charisma and a powerful, persuasive oratorical skill that made his people rise above tribal differences and embrace the Congolese nationalism that his own party stood for. But for the Belgians – who had been in control of the Congo since the 1870s – « Read the rest of this entry »

Tinie Tempah leads Brit Awards 2011 nominations – Telegraph

January 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tinie Tempah

The Brit Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the US’s Grammy Awards, has a young hip hopper of Nigerian origin leading the pack of nominees. Patrick Okogwu – popularly known as Tinie Tempah, has been nominated in four categories. For Best British Male Solo artist he’s in rather prestigious company, with Robert Plant and Paul Weller also making the cut. He’s also in contention for British Album of the Year, Best British Single (for “Pass Out”) and Best British Breakthrough Act.

British critics hailed this year’s nominations as being free from too much pop – then I heard that international nominees include Katy Perry, Eminem, and Justin Bieber, and I « Read the rest of this entry »

California Newsreel Celebrates Zora Neale Hurston Month

January 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

Zora Neale Hurston (photo: Discover Black Heritage)

California Newsreel, which specializes in social justice films and documetaries, is celebrating the month of January as Zora Neale Hurston month. To say “Happy Birthday,” they are streaming for free the entire documentary: Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun on their website (see the preview above.) The film, written and produced by Kristy Andersen and directed by Sam Pollard, uses interesting interviews with scholars and rare film footage of the rural south (some of which was shot by Ms. Hurston herself) to paint an intricate portrait of this controversial writer, folklorist and anthropologist. It also features reenactments of a key 1943 radio interview. Zora Neale Hurston was born January 7, 1891, and « Read the rest of this entry »

Winnie The Opera: The Promo

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Winnie Mandela in 2010, and right, with former husband Nelson Mandela. Photo: AFP/Getty, AP

Her Xhosa name is “Nomzamo,” meaning “Trial (having a hard time in life.)” And what a life she has had! She became the face of a defiant resistance against the racist apartheid South African government when her husband Nelson Mandela was put in prison, and her supporters still call her the “Mother of the Nation.” In 2007 she was denied a visa to enter Canada to attend an opera based on her life, entitled The Passion of Winnie. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela won’t need one this year when  Winnie The Opera opens during Freedom Week in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 28, 2011. Show producer and librettist Warren Wilensky, who was also involved in 2007’s Passion, « Read the rest of this entry »

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