In “Baobab Flowers,” African diaspora women challenge Education Inequality

June 2, 2016 § 1 Comment

BF Still

In the ever changing world of filmmaking, from the technologies used in its creation to the way we view the end product, a few things remain constant. For artists of color the world over, especially those of African descent, one of these is the importance of telling our own stories. Brazilian filmmaker Gabriela Watson obviously takes this very seriously; in her new documentary film Baobab Flowers, she tackles the problem of education inequality from an African Diaspora perspective by following two women high school teachers in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Philadelphia, USA. It is a film that seeks to show the endemic  problem of low quality education in underserved black communities worldwide by focusing on two unrelated women who are nonetheless similar in their approach to teaching and to their relationships with their students, and also in their struggle to overcome such abject inequality. « Read the rest of this entry »

Skype Interview with Carolina Moraes-Liu, Director of Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you’ve ever visited Brazil, chances are you haven’t been to Salvador da Bahia, especially if you’re a tourist. It is the largest black city outside of Africa, yet until recently standards of beauty have been decidedly European. Carolina Moraes-Liu, a Bahia native, noticed an attitudinal change amongst black women when she returned home after several years, and – being the true documentary filmmaker that she is – decided to investigate further. The result is Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê, an ode to the beauty of black women, and a lively and realistic study of black identity and social change. The documentary follows three women competing to be Carnival Queen of the Ilê Aiyê, the Afro-Brazilian group that has been behind this positive shift in black consciousness and black female self-esteem. Featuring colorful African-style costumes and  Afro-Brazilian song and dance, « Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Reid Offers Scholarships to Diaspora Filmmakers in London

March 31, 2011 § 2 Comments

Tim Reid addresses filmmakers at the British Film Institute Southbank in London

It certainly feels like an age since I posted here; my apologies. Travel sometimes does that to you. I spent a few days in the UK on my way to Sierra Leone, and as you may know, the internet in Freetown is pretty patchy…. In any case I was invited to a great event by my friend Makeda in London just before I left. It was an event organized by the Black World Cinema Collective and the Legacy Media Institute. Producer, filmmaker and actor Tim Reid, popularly known for his role in the TV series Frank’s Place, was talking extensively about the African Diaspora. Delivering a presentation entitled “Cultural Propaganda for Purpose and Profit,” he asserted that emerging black filmmakers have the advantage of a unique cultural experience in telling their own stories. Reid was at the British « Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with AFROCUBA’s DJ Asho

March 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

On the first anniversary of AFROCUBA, DJ Asho sat down with Afrofusion to talk about how he developed the idea for the event, and how far it has come since the first edition. On Thursday February 10 at Sutra Lounge in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, the event kicked off with a screening of the classic documentary Cuando Los Espiritus Bailan Mambo (When the Spirits Dance Mambo), by Marta Morena Vega. The night also included a live (and lively), very « Read the rest of this entry »

Reggae Britannia – BBC4 Doc Celebrates Reggae’s Influence on British Music and Culture | i-reggae

February 15, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s quite simply the story of black music in the 20th century, isn’t it? A music style is created and developed. It is ridiculed, ignored and rejected by the industry’s white establishment. It grows in popularity. It is embraced by rebellious white youth. It is co-opted by white musicians. Booyah! It’s suddenly “great sounding music, let’s play some records, shall we?” If you watch the new BBC4 documentary Reggae Britannia, you’ll find that that’s essentially what happened in the UK with the music from Jamaica called reggae. “We completely plundered reggae, without remorse,” admits Stewart Copeland of British rock band The Police, who came to prominence in the mid-70s. But in the 1960s, reggae artists and performers had the darndest time getting any pay for their records, and definitely no play on the radio. “A lot of the deejays had a snobbery towards Jamaican music, and sometimes it bordered on racialism,” says author Steve « 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 »

“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 »

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 »

Wanuri Kahiu’s New Film: Ger Duany – Retrace

December 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

Wanuri Kahiu (Photo by Chris King)

Found out about this on Neo Griot… It took a lot out of Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu to get her science fiction short film Pumzi made. She was already an award-winning film director, who’d scooped up five trophies at the African Movie Academy Awards for her first film From a Whisper. But Pumzi ended up premiering at Sundance Film Festival, and winning at Cannes and Carthage (Tunisia). Well, this time she’s delving into documentary filmmaking, and it could be her greatest challenge yet. The film, Ger Duany – Retrace, follows Ger, a former Sudanese child soldier now living in New York who wants to « Read the rest of this entry »

AFROCUBA! Yo Soy, del Son a la Salsa: Special Film Screening!

November 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

Question: What exactly is “Salsa?” If you do not know, think you know, or know you know, you’ll still be in for a surprise if you haven’t yet seen the documentary movie Yo Soy, del Son a la Salsa (1997). You can watch it for FREE(!) Thursday night at Sutra Lounge in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC, at a special DC edition of AFROCUBA! According to several reviews, it is the most thorough historical treatment given on film to the dance music we now call Salsa. Many practitioners continue to disagree over what exactly it is – Celia Cruz, the great Afro-Cuban singer  « Read the rest of this entry »

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