CANADA & NIGERIA/ 2019/ ROMANTIC COMEDY/ ENGLISH/ 115 MIN
2 Weeks in Lagos is a turbulent and thrilling journey into the lives of Ejikeme and Lola. Their lives collide when Ejikeme an investment banker comes home from the United States with Lola’s brother Charlie to invest in Nigerian businesses. 2 Weeks in Lagos captures the excitement, vibrancy, and complexity of everyday life in Lagos, a dynamic city where anything is possible in 2 Weeks.
“Nigerian filmmaker Kathryn Fasegha’s sophomore feature is one of those great surprises that remind us why we love movies. Through the simple premise of two families coming to terms to decide their future and legacy, focusing on the romantic bridge between the youngsters, the director conceives a heart-warming, enchanted, funny and perceptive look at family values, faith, integrity, pure love and capital interests.” ~ Brazilian Press
“2 Weeks in Lagos paints a dynamic and vigorous canvas of the city and its vibrancy. Efficiently performed by a stellar cast, well written with accurate humor and unexpected twists, it’s an accomplished, sensitive and timely romantic comedy.” ~ Brazilian Press
BRAZIL / 2011 / PORTUGUESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 95 MIN
Loving and revealing documentary about Afro-Brazilian scholar/writer/activist /politician Abdias do Nascimento (1914-2011), a significant figure in and leader of Brazil’s Black movement who founded the Black Experimental Theater in 1944 and was very active in the international Pan-African Movement.
Angelica, after a long absence from Puerto Rico, returns home when her father, Wilfredo, suffers a stroke. This unexpected return and her father's illness force Angelica to re-evaluate her relationship with her mother and family members who don't accept her because of her skin color. She must face herself and discovers that she does not know who she is. After her father's death, Angelica must decide whether to return to the comfort of her previous life, dissatisfied, but secure, or set on an adventurous path to rediscover herself as an independent, modern, strong, black, and Puerto Rican woman.
Directed by Marisol Gómez-Mouakad, Puerto Rico, 2016, 100min, Drama, English & Spanish w/English subtitles
"Purposely challenging the Eurocentric beauty standards that blatantly plague Latin America on and off screen, Puerto Rican director Marisol Gómez-Mouakad sets out to tell the story of an empowered Afro-Latina fighting colorism at home in her debut feature Angélica." ~ Remezcla
“People talk about racism and sexism in the U.S.,” Gómez-Mouakad explains. “They may not do much, but in talking about it they are at least addressing the problem. In Puerto Rico — and across the Caribbean and Latin America — there is a lot of denial. If you do talk about the issues, you are accused of being over sensitive. But words have power and words can hurt.” ~ director Marisol Gómez-Mouakad
"In addition to the theme of racism, the film touches upon the implications of machismo in a patriarchal society from the perspective of women." ~ Repeating Islands
"Another glorious, glorious portrait on race and the roles women play—by pressure, by tradition, by choice. " ~ Guilie Castillo Oriard
Narrated by former United States Attorney General Eric Holder whose father is from Barbados, the Errol Barrow docudrama, BARROW: FREEDOM FIGHTER tells the story of The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow who successfully led Barbados to independence on November 30th, 1966 after more than 300 years as a British colony.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Marcia Weekes
Cast: Eric Holder, Adrian Holmes, Lisa Arrindell-Anderson, Robert Riley
Revealing films that give a voice to black women in the developing world: * Sexy Money is a wrenching testimony of the challenges faced by two women in Nigeria struggling to navigate a corrupt and ruthless capitalist and sexist environment. * Looking for Life follows two Haitian women's daily work and the constant battle for survival that they lead together with other women in Haiti.
SEXY MONEY presents a subtle indictment of the social reality of poor women in contemporary Nigeria.
A reflection of the difficult social conditions of women in many societies in different parts of the world, SEXY MONEYexplores frontally with much sensitivity and compassion the broken hopes and hard choices of poor Nigerian women as they struggle to reintegrate Nigerian society with dignity after being expelled from Europe where they were looking for a better life. Directed by Karin Junger, 2014, 85 min, Nigeria/ Netherlands, documentary, English.
LOOKING FOR LIFE
LOOKING FOR LIFE introduces the viewer to two women, Anne-Rose and Rosemene, who each one has their own particular way of battling through life. The former makes lunches in a factory yard in Port-au-Prince and sells her meals to the factory workers on credit; the latter is employed in the same factory as a production worker making pullovers and T-shirts. By Claudette Coulanges, 1999, Haiti/Germany, Documentary, 60min, Haitian Creole w/ English subtitles.
CAPE VERDE / 2007 / CREOLE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 77 MIN
Praïa, Cape verde. Laura, Flavia and Bela are childhood friends. Each leads her own life and they sometimes meet to dance, dine and have fun. But one day the calm rivers of their lives break their banks and become wild torrents: Ricardo, Flavia's husband, rapes his pupil Indira, Laura's 13-year old eldest daughter. A film that takes a critical look at the lives of women in Cape Verde.
CHAD / 1999 / ARABIC DIALECT AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 26 MIN
Eleven year old Mariam works as a domestic to provide for her guardian, her unemployed Uncle Djimet, and his family. Mariam wakes up early each day to go to work while Djimet, his wife Isabelle and their children are still asleep. Mariam works as an all-purpose maid, housekeeper, cook and baby sitter for the Nadji family. With her many tasks, she is constantly under pressure from Nadji and his son Moussa, and must answer to the whims of his wife, and young children. One day, Mariam is arrested for having unwittingly thrown rubbish in a prohibited place. She is detained for five days in prison without her uncle or employer even inquiring of her whereabouts. "Childhood destroyed" denounces the living conditions of young girls in Chad in a delicate yet powerful way.
SENEGAL AND FRANCE / 1999 / WOLOF WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 52 MIN
Public vans provide the traditional and sole means of city transportation in Dakar, Senegal. In a frenzy of activity, from the outskirts to downtown, people from all walks of life as well as fruits, vegetables, chickens, etc. are transported daily in these public vans. Colobane Express opens a window on a slice of life in the busy urban metropolis where drivers and their trainees are always on the go, managing relationships, incidents and conflicts, dealing with the competition and providing an invaluable service to demanding yet loving customers.
CHAD / 1994 / ARABIC ND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 22 MIN
Images presented in Feminine Dilemma are almost unsustainable to watch. One witnesses the circumcision operation performed on two young girls as women surrounding them in a courtyard clap their hands, dance and sing "you will not cry or we will never forgive you". Following this harrowing sequence, the film presents a series of interviews with religious leaders, women group representatives, health workers, everyday people and the girls themselves and asks the question: why female circumcision? Should it be performed and how? And what are the consequences? Following the making of this film, scandal broke and threats and attacks against the filmmaker followed. But once the dust settled, a debate started in Chad which allowed for open discussions of a topic that is still taboo in many parts of the world today. As for the filmmaker, Zara M. Yacoub, she will remain marked for life by her experiences making and defending this very courageous and disturbing documentary.
TUNISIA AND FRANCE / 2016 / ARABIC AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 92 MIN
Seeking refuge from her Islamist radical brother whom she informed on, a young woman arrives in France illegally following Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution and discovers a new world of both hope and danger, in the fourth feature from writer-director Raja Amari (Satin Rouge, Buried Secrets).
In the turbulent aftermath of the Tunisian revolution, young Samia (Sarra Hannachi) flees her homeland. She braves hostile seas in the crossing to France, but once there she finds that her struggles have only just begun. With no friends, no family, and - most crucially - no immigration papers, Samia has to figure out how to make a life and a living in a foreign land.
She meets a young man, Imed (Salim Kechiouche, Blue is the Warmest Color), and soon finds work in the employ of the elegant Leila (the inimitable Hiam Abbass, subject of an In Conversation With event at the Festival this year). But her presence in Leila's middle-class household triggers a shift in its dynamics, and soon Samia is enmeshed in a web of sexual tension.
Timely as it is, Foreign Body seems to typify a media narrative of forced mass migration: desperate, distressing, impossible. The film transcends this sweeping, reductive thinking due to the way director Raja Amari immerses her camera in Samia's new reality. She shoots with a close, handheld aesthetic that makes abstraction and generalization all but impossible, bringing us the story of a unique young woman.
Hannachi portrays her character's inner turmoil brilliantly. Samia is sometimes ragged and sometimes refined, ranging from stoic to sensual, but this is not because she's unstable. Rather, it's because of her ability to change in response to different situations and environments - an ability born of necessity. This is a woman determined to survive at all costs.
Legendary Aboriginal actor and Australian icon David Gulpilil's life has been one of dueling lifestyles, with his jet-setting movie star life on a completely different plane from his life as an Aboriginal village elder, and director Darlene Johnson manages to capture intimate details from both lifestyles in her 2003 biographical documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood. At the age of 17, Gulpilil made history as the first Aboriginal actor to appear on film -- in Nicolas Roeg's 1971 Walkabout -- which, in turn, led to an historic acting career that culminated in his receiving numerous awards and an Order of Australia medal. All the while, Gulpilil remained true to his culture by accepting his tribal responsibilities, which include living in a primitive house and procuring his household's daily food and water. As Johnson films a number of very candid encounters with the actor in both settings -- David lives in a tent shed and is quite open about the lack of facilities in his abode and the exploitation he’s experienced during his career -- she documents the class differences that still exist between the indigenous population of Australia versus the relatively new white population.
JOSEPHINE BAKER: BLACK DIVA IN A WHITE MAN'S WORLD
DIRECTED BYANNETTE VON WANGENHEIM
GERMANY, U.S. AND FRANCE / 2006 / ENGLISH, GERMAN, AND FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 45 MIN
A tender, revealing documentary about one of the most famous and popular performing artists of the 20th century. Her legendary banana belt dance created theatre history; her song “J’ai deux amours” became a classic, and her hymn.
The film focuses on her life and work from a perspective that analyses images of Black people in popular culture. It portrays the artist in the mirror of European colonial clichés and presents her as a resistance fighter, an ambulance driver during WWII, and an outspoken activist against racial discrimination involved in the worldwide Black Consciousness movement of the 20th century.
The award-winning drama Kuessipan by Myriam Verreault was adapted from the acclaimed novel Kuessipanand co-written with the novel’s First Nation Canadian author Naomi Fontaine. Kuessipan means "your turn" in the Innu language, a title chosen to mark the notion that it is the Innu people's turn to tell their story.
“The Innu voice is ever present, which is so important as it offers a glimpse into their lives without a Colonial perspective. It's a feature that, while seemingly an obvious advantage, is hardly ever utilized for similar films. It means that audiences can enter the world in a respectful manner - which isn't to say the film shies away from the issues, but it does mean that those issues are approached in a confident and dignified way” writes Joel Kalkopf in his review for Switch.
The story follows two girls who grow up as best friends in a Quebec Innu community. While Mikuan has a loving family, Shaniss is picking up the pieces of her shattered childhood. As children, they promised each other to be lifelong friends. But as they mature, their lives take different paths, and their personal ambitions diverge leading them to a cultural and identity clash that tests their bond.
Directed by Myriam Verreault, Canada, 2019, 117min, Drama, Montagnais, French, English w/English subtitles
"Kuessipan is quiet and mesmerizing and tragic and full of hope. It is a triumph, and a privilege to spend time with." ~ Globe and Mail
"Myriam Verreault excels at crafting a film told through an Indigenous lens that discusses universal themes of friendship, identity, love, and heartbreak." ~ Exclaim!
"Kuessipan is a beautiful, un-sensationalized look at young womanhood, friendship and community." ~ NOW Toronto
"Heartbreakingly exploring Indigenous identity and the bonds that root us to a community, Kuessipan is a bold ode to young womanhood." ~ MUBI
She was ahead of her time, a genius. During an era when Jazz was the nation's popular music, Mary Lou Williams was one of its greatest innovators. As both a pianist and composer, she was a font of daring and creativity who helped shape the sound of 20th century America. And like the dynamic, turbulent nation in which she lived, Williams seemed to redefine herself with every passing decade.
From child prodigy to "Boogie-Woogie Queen" to groundbreaking composer to mentoring some of the greatest musicians of all time, Mary Lou Williams never ceased to astound those who heard her play. But away from the piano, Williams was a woman in a "man's world," a black person in a "whites only" society, an ambitious artist who dared to be different, and who struggled against the imperatives of being a "star." Above all, she did not fit the (still) prevailing notions of where genius comes from or what it looks like. Time and again, she pushed back against a world that said, "You can't" and said, "I can." It nearly cost her everything.
Fatem, sixth month pregnant, leaves her village perched in the mountains, to fill a frame with empty glasses for the elder of her village, the only person who can decipher the letters sent by members of the villagers’ families who have gone to work in the cities. She moves from station to station to arrive in town in the middle of a protest. This will turn her trip into a peaceful revolution that she is hardly aware of.
Directed by Sanaa Akroud, Morocco 2020, 86min, drama, Arabic w/English subtitles
"A beautifully observed meditation on faith, perseverance and integrity, Moroccan director Sanae Akroud’s sophomore feature is an immersive and heart-breaking unique female saga. " ~ The Brazilian
"This film, which carries beautiful qualities of image and lighting, speaks of poverty, of the feminine condition and of a happiness so simple that one can hardly grasp its meaning nowadays. ~ La Presse
"Fatem is played by Sanaa Akroud, also the film's director. Akroud was in the acclaimed 2011 Egyptian film "Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story". In "Myopia" she is brilliant as our unsettlingly passive villager, whether inquiring about a letter from an absent husband or when wandering innocently through the city in search of an eyeglass shop." ~ Barbara Nimri Aziz
"She will be questioned by the police, defended by an association, interviewed by a journalist… She is accused of having endangered her baby, she is asked some of the most intrusive questions, but each person applies their own way of thinking - myopia of a society incapable of perceiving its difference. Agressive police officers falsely accused, activists urging her to press charges, sensationalist journalist who transforms news, even a listening minister… none understand that she only wants to fix the glasses." ~ Olivier Barlet
"It is in listening to these women that Sanaa Akroud wrote this script which she both interprets and directs. Apart from the interviews, she does it with few words. Wolfango Alfi's sequence shots respond to this desire to account for the time taken by everyday acts. They contribute to the open-mindedness called for by this film without a clear message, if not to invite people to understand that an equivocation is not a limit but a complexity." ~ Olivier Barlet
"This story is sure to resonate with many American viewers learning about the depth of racial disparities and the flaws in U.S. democracy where agents of ‘liberal’ society and opposition parties once again reach out to Black and Brown Americans and immigrants with shallow promises of equality and reform." ~ Barbara Nimri Aziz
PARIS NOIR: AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS
DIRECTED BY JOANNE BURKE
U.S.A. AND FRANCE / 2017 / ENGLISH / 60 MIN
Paris Noir - African Americans in the City of Light is an exciting, enlightening documentary on the presence of African Americans in Paris from WWI to the early 1960s.
The film touches on:
- Josephine Baker, Bricktop and Sidney Bechet - Writers Langston Hughes and Claude McKay - The connections forged with top African and Caribbean writers and intellectuals Leopold Senghor, Aimé Cesaire, and the Nardal Sisters - The achievements and challenges of artists in Montparnasse - The exploitation and growing self-determination of people of color from and in France's vast overseas empire
Looking back today at their astounding achievements and the beneficial cultural exchange between France and Black America stirs up lively conversation. These jazz musicians, writers, artists, intellectuals - they launched the appreciation of Black culture worldwide.
CUBA AND SWITZERLAND / 2005 / SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 76 MIN
Sara Gomez, An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker is a rich, multilayered documentary about Afro-Cuban director Sarah Gomez. Born in 1943, she studied literature, piano, and Afro-Cuban ethnography before becoming the first female Cuban filmmaker. A woman of great intelligence, independence and generosity, she was a revolutionary filmmaker with intersecting concerns about the Afro-Cuban community and the value of its cultural traditions, women's issues, and the treatment of the marginalized sectors of society. Through archival footage of her works and interviews with her children and husband Germinal Hernandez, cast members of her best-know film De cierta manera,as well as colleagues and friends, we get closer to a filmmaker who invented new landscapes and brought together opposite worlds.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Alessandra Muller
Starring: Sara Gómez
Part of 2-set DVD Afro-Cuba: Yesterday and Todaywhich also includes The last Rumba of Papa Montero.
NIGERIA AND THE NETHERLANDS / 2014 / ENGLISH / 85 MIN
A reflection of the difficult social conditions of women in many societies in different parts of the world, SEXY MONEY explores frontally with much sensitivity and compassion the broken hopes and hard choices of poor Nigerian women as they struggle to reintegrate Nigerian society with dignity after being expelled from Europe where they were looking for a better life.
SEXY MONEY presents a subtle indictment of the social reality of poor women in contemporary Nigeria. In recent years, a growing number of Nigerian women, among other West African women, have settled in the suburbs of major cities in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. The women go there in order to escape poverty. But for most of them, the European adventure is a disappointment that ends when they fly back to their native countries empty-handed.
The film listens to these women talk about their European adventure and follows the development of two women in particular who, after returning to Nigeria, try to build a new life. There are countless obstacles. The film exposes the challenges these women face while celebrating their resilience.
Music, as a source of pleasure and beauty plays an important role in the lives of these women and also in the film, with songs especially composed for it by Nneka, one of Nigeria’s best.
Ghofrane, 25, is a young Black Tunisian woman. A committed activist who speaks her mind, she embodies Tunisia's current political upheaval. As a victim of racial discrimination, Ghofrane decides to go into politics.
We follow her extraordinary path, ranging from acting on her ambition to be in politics to disillusion. Through her attempts to persuade both close friends and complete strangers to vote for her, her campaign reveals the many faces of a country seeking to forge a new identity.
In its own unique way, this documentary sheds light on the place of women and Black people in Tunisia's changing society.
Directed by Raja Amari, Tunisia, 2020, 90min, documentary, Arabic and French w/English subtitles
* IDFA 2020 - World Premiere
"Binous' determination to be an agent of change lends the film an engaging, upbeat energy that enhances its appeal..." ~ Screen International
"Effortlessly balancing the personal and the political - and the invisible line between them - the filmmaker offers a glimpse into the future of a better Tunisia through Binous's unique odyssey." ~ Film Inquiry
"As a Black woman from a working-class neighborhood in Tunisia, 25-year-old Ghofrane Binous has spent her whole life dealing with class inequality, racism, and sex discrimination. Following an extremely racist incident in 2018 while working as a flight attendant, she posted a cry for help on social media that was widely viewed, then joined a women’s movement and became politically active. The film follows this charismatic figure in the run-up to the 2019 national elections—during the turbulent campaign period, on the way to countless meetings, and in heated conversations with family members, friends, and party members.
The camera stays close to this young woman who is keen to perpetuate the myth of her own invulnerability—and maybe that’s exactly what she needs to do to rise to the top. The backdrop to her political ambition is a divided society where people have little confidence in their own democracy. Connecting it all is the voice-over in which Binous shares her vision of life, and her motivations for becoming politically active in a paternalistic, segregated society where women generally draw the shortest straw." IDFA
Life of women after military service is seldom portrayed in films. The drama Stand Down Soldier tells the story of Sergeant Stacy Armstrong who returns home from three deployments suffering with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Soon after her return, she and her husband realize their 20-year marriage is about to be another casualty of war. Infidelity, addiction, and a tragic accident test the couple’s commitment.
This fiction film explores some of the issues many returning soldiers confront in their civil life including mental health issues, loneliness, and drug addiction.
Writer, director, producer, and lead actress in STAND DOWN SOLDIER, Jeryl is an actress best known for her portrayal of Jacqui in The Walking Dead.
She started writing the award-winning script for "Stand Down Soldier" after conversations with female family members and friends from her home state of SC who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It was both revelatory and refreshing to see that a film about a soldier’s return home from active duty in Iraq is focused on a woman.” ~ Highbrow Magazine Read Full Review HERE
“Stand Down Soldier is a poignant film about an African-American female soldier back to civilian life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This film took me by surprise, and I really enjoyed it.” ~ Film Monthly.
CUBA/ 2008/ ENGLISH, FRENCH SUBTITLES/HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY/ 52 MINS
The Black Mozart in Cuba is the latest act in the rehabilitation of the memory of this extraordinary human being. The film skillfully combines biographical information with performances of his works.
Born in Guadeloupe of a Senegalese enslaved woman and a French nobleman, Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), became one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. He influenced the music and political life of his time. He was a genius composer and conductor, a virtuoso violinist, the best fencer in Europe, as well as the first black general in the French army. For 200 years after his death his music was rarely heard, due in part to Napoleon’s efforts to erase his existence from history. Today, his music is being rediscovered and played by orchestras and music groups around the world. In this documentary, Cuba dedicates a week of cultural activities to his memory and welcomes Saint Georges as “a great hero of the Caribbean.”
Forty years after Bob Marley's death, it is time to pay tribute to Leonard Percival Howell, The First Rasta At the beginning of the last century, the young Leonard Percival Howell (1893- 1981) left Jamaica, became a sailor and traveled the world. On his way, he chanced upon all the ideas that stirred his time. From Bolshevism to New Thought, from Gandhi to Anarchism, from Garveyism to psychoanalysis, he sought to find his promised land. With this cocktail of ideas Leonard "Going" Howell returned to Jamaica and founded Pinnacle, the first Rasta community.
Going far beyond the standard imagery of Rasta ”ganja, reggae, and dreadlocks” this cultural history offers an uncensored vision of a movement with complex roots and the exceptional journey of a man who taught an enslaved people how to be proud and impose their culture on the world. In the 1920s Leonard Percival Howell and the First Rastas had a revelation concerning the divinity of Haile Selassie, king of Ethiopia, that established the vision for the most popular mystical movement of the 20th century, Rastafarianism. Although jailed, ridiculed, and treated as insane, Howell, also known as the Gong, established a Rasta community of 4,500 members, the first agro-industrial enterprise devoted to producing marijuana. In the late 1950s the community was dispersed, disseminating Rasta teachings throughout the ghettos of the island. A young singer named Bob Marley adopted Howell's message, and through Marley's visions, reggae made its explosion in the music world.
FRANCE / 2004 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 90 MIN
Europe's racial make-up is quickly changing. French-Algerian filmmaker Yamina Benguigui is hoping to start a conversation about affirmative action - a policy that does not exist in France today. Benguigui's Le Plafond de Verre (Glass Ceiling) presents a series of sometimes very emotional first-hand accounts of discrimination against mostly black and North African Arab who are trying to find jobs. The documentary offers poignant and revealing accounts of discrimination faced by these full-fledged French citizens who are also children of immigrant parents.
"Now that I am out there looking for work, I cannot forget that I am not French like other French people." — Nesrine Yahia
"Politicians in France are mostly horrified to even think about such policies ( implementing an American-style affirmative action program with quotas) because they go against what are called the values of the republic. I think that unless there is pressure from the ground up, politics in France will never change." — Yamina Benguigui