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
NETHERLANDS AND USA / 1984 / ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 96 MIN
Set in Brooklyn, New York this Dutch film is based on a true story that appeared on a New York newspaper in 1980.
Desirée lives in the past. A series of flashbacks expose us to her psychologically troubled childhood very much affected by a promiscous mother. Her present life evolves around three people: her employer Mrs. Resnick, Freddy, her lover and Father Siego, leader of the church "The True Confessors".
Desirée's relationship with each one of these characters is at the origin of her falling apart. Freddy is an insecure black man who finishes their love affair with a sad note, Father Siego is the leader of a rigid narrow-minded religious sect and Mrs Resnick is a racist, prejudiced white woman who feels black people are inferior and incapable of living their own live.
Rejected by all because of her pregnancy, Desirée blames her child as the source of evil. She is then possessed by evil and wants to exorcise it. The only way is to get rid of her daughter...
Conceived as an effort to alter the way African-American children see themselves and their ancestors, this docu-drama highlights the inventive and inspired contributions of African-Americans in the 1840s, the period leading to the Civil War in American History.
Developed in collaboration with Florida-based historian Mary Fears to produce a historically accurate portrayal of the brave, compelling lives of African American skilled craftsmen, artists, inventors, and Union spies, the film is certain to enthrall young audiences with this overlooked facet of history.
"This is an incredibly powerful piece for kids to see. Black kids, white kids, whatever. . . they need to see this. It really does fill the gap. It reminds us all of the incredible intelligence, artistry, craftsmanship, and heart of the people of color who were subjected to all kinds of horrors. The emphasis on this movie is not about the horror of slavery, though it is obviously a factor, but about the contributions and skills of the black population dealing with that horror. We can all use the message that we can rise above our surroundings. Children, especially children of color but whites as well, need to see and experience these stories that will make them proud and remind them of their heritage. Well done Tyrone Young and the rest of all those involved." - Dr. Scott Sheperd
HOGTOWN is set in 1919 Chicago against the backdrop of the race riots of that year. The story follows an investigation into the disappearance of a millionaire theatre owner during a snowstorm. HOGTOWN is a murder mystery that celebrates the most American of American cities while exploring the intimate lives of many of its people. This period piece is much more a period-less piece, shot in black and white in the often undisguised contemporary city. The film involves a multi-racial, ensemble cast of more than 70 characters, a full symphony orchestra score, and evolves directly from the ensemble process of the making our previous feature, Chicago Heights (now The Last Soul on a Summer Night).
CANADA AND HAITI / 2004 / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITILES / 96 MIN
Newly arrived in Montréal, and determined to conquer North America by charming blond-haired women, Gégé, a Haitian in his thirties, lands up at Fanfan's - his nostalgic uncle who has given up poetry for a good old taxicab and dreams of returning to his homeland. Over the course of one night filled with humor and friendship -- highlighted by a party attended by twins Andrée and Denise, two Quebecers with contrasting charms -- the two fun-loving guys take stock of their lives, memories and fantasies. Meanwhile, on television, various celebrities draw up a comic portrait of North American society.
"A shrewd, funny, humane and very well-written and acted comedy from Haitian-born Montreal writer Dany Laferriere (author of "How To Make Love To a Negro Without Getting Tired" and "On the Verge of a Fever"), who makes a lively directorial debut with this comic-dramatic tale." ~ Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
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
SOUTH AFRICA AND GERMANY / 2011 / ENGLISH / 90 MIN
Miriam Makeba was one of the first African musicians who won international stardom and whose music was always anchored in her traditional South African roots. Miriam Makeba was forced into exile in 1959.
She sang for John F. Kennedy, performed with Harry Belafonte and Nina Simone, was married to Hugh Masekela and also Stokely Carmichael.
Her life was tumultuous. She always stood for truth and justice. She fought for the oppressed most importantly for black Africans, as a campaigner against apartheid. She died November 2008 after a concert in Italy.
Mika Kaurismäki's documentary, traces fifty years of her music and her performing life. Through rare archive footage of her performances and through interviews with her contemporaries we discover the remarkable journey of Miriam Makeba.
DIRECTOR AND CAST
Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Starring: Hugh Masekela
Starring: Angélique Kidjo
Starring: Harry Belafonte
DIRECTED BY NTANDAZO "DIDI" GCINGCA
SOUTH AFRICA / 1999 / ENGLISH / 17 MIN
Aces is the story of a young man who fights against the battering of his mother by his drunken father. The situation escalates until Ace desperately stabs his father to death, and is sent to jail for a period of 15 years. Nine years later he is out on parole. He kills again within a day's time of his release.
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.
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.
Documentary on the life and legacy of the first African American to achieve national fame as a writer. Born to former slaves in Dayton, Ohio, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), is best remembered for his poem, “We Wear the Mask” and for lines from “Sympathy” that became the title of Maya Angelou’s famous autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
A clip of Angelou reciting Dunbar’s poem on the David Frost Show is featured. Dunbar’s story is also the story of the African American experience around the turn of the century. The man Abolitionist Frederick Douglass called “The most promising young colored man in America” wrote widely published essays critical of Jim Crow Laws, lynching and what was commonly called “The Negro Problem.”
Yet, to earn a living, Dunbar worked as an elevator boy and wrote poems and stories utilizing “Plantation Dialect.” He also composed songs for Broadway that bordered on blackface minstrelsy. Directed by Frederick Lewis, 105mins, 2020, USA, Documentary, English
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.
USA / 2017 / ENGLISH AND SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES / 47 MIN
This latest documentary by the Dean of Afro-Cuban Cinema Sergio Giral investigates the black Cuban exile community in South Florida, since the first wave of political refugees in the 1959 revolutionary aftermath, to today. It tracks its presence throughout the region, and highlights its contribution to Miami's civic culture through testimonies and visual documentation.
Confronted with a series of racially charged incidents, a young black man must overcome rage, alienation, and hopelessness in order to find his own humanity.
The young black man, simply identified as “Man,” must resolve the personal meaning of his blackness when his white boss orders him to commit fraud to benefit the corporation. Struggling with an overwhelming sense of shame for going through with the illegal demand, Man seeks consolation by discussing his unease with a black former friend and his white fiancé. Those conversations lead only to further confusion and frustrations...
Following on the footstep of the LA Rebellion filmmakers, Skinner Myers tells a very personal and intimate Black story in a radically non-traditional cinematic style as a means to express freely his feelings as a Black man in America.
By Skinner Myers, USA, 2021, 72min, Drama, English
"A superb character study of a black man, how he sees himself and how he was treated by society, it is surreal yet real and terrifying." ~ Ulkar Alakbarova, moviemovesme.com
"Remaining asleep to Myers as an African-American is a sin, but so is to be completely awake to the point where love for the self is all but embraced. In this impassioned, vigorous, lucid cinematic journey, the bleak, bruised-yet-fighting spirit of one Kendrick Lamar’s and every other prominent African artist strikes like lightning, and resonates like thunder. Like the greats, Myers, is a voice in his lane to place one’s focus on; his artistry effortlessly commanding, a feat implying many more to be accomplished in a budding career in American independent filmmaking." ~ LOUIE BAHAROM, cinephiliaph.wordpress.com
A Mexican-American girl struggles to keep her identity when her mother forces her to bleach her skin. White Like the Moon is a revealing film about a dilemma not very well known outside Latino communities; that of the myth of the light skin superiority in Indigenous and Indigenous descendant communities.