Continuing on with the day-to-day happenings at the ongoing African Diaspora International Film Festival here in NYC…
Here are a few highlights from today's lineup.
Algeria: At 6pm at Teachers College, Tagnawittude – The traditional practice of trance has captivated French filmmaker Rahma Benhamou El Madani ever since she was a small girl watching her mother meditate and enter a state of self-induced hypnosis to 'Gnawa' music. Years later, she discovers the band Gnawa Diffusion which plays a blend of 'Gnawa' music, fused with Western and Arabic elements. Motivated by her discovery, El Madani sets out on an odyssey to Morocco, Algeria and Mali to discover the roots of this fascinating ancient and haunting sound. A Q&A with director El Madani after the screening!
Haiti: At 8pm, also at Teachers College, Jacques Roumain: Passion For A Country – This exploration of Haitian society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries focuses on the tormented life of one of Haiti's most important authors and prominent political figures, Jacques Roumain. In his perceptive writings, Roumain raised questions about the issues facing Haiti that remain relevant today. Some of Jacques Roumain's best writings were translated by the legendary African-American poet Langston Hughes. The question is raised: what legacy has Jacques Roumain left for the future of Haitian youth?
And films highlighted yesterday that are screening again today, if you missed them yesterday…
Menelik Shabazz's The Story Of Lovers Rock, at Quad Cinema, screening at 9:40PM tonight, and every night for the next 7 days or so; see it while you can. Lovers Rock, often dubbed 'romantic reggae' is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it. Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance- known as 'scrubbing'- at parties and clubs. This dance provided a coping mechanism for what was happening on the streets. Lovers Rock developed into a successful sound with national UK hits and was influential to British bands (Police, Culture Club, UB40). These influences underline the impact the music was making in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarized the times. The film sheds light on a forgotten period of British music, social and political history.
A Q&A with director Menelik Shabazz will follow the screening.
Earlier in the day, screening at 1pm and also at 7:25pm, also at Quad Cinema, Independent Spirit Award nominee, An African Election.
An unprecedented insider's view of the political, economic and social forces at work in Ghana during the 2008 presidential elections depicting the pride and humanity of the larger-than-life politicians, party operatives and citizens who battle for the soul of their country.
A Q&A with director Jarreth Merz will follow after the screening.
And lastly, The First Rasta, screening at the Quad at 5:25pm. Thirty 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.
Those are just a few highlights on the program for today. Download the full schedule HERE if you haven't already.
I am terribly behind on catching up with all these films (and those not mentioned that are scheduled to screen at the festival); but luckily I have screeners for just about all of them courtesy of the festival, and plan to do a lot of watching this weekend, followed by write-ups of each which will be posted here on S&A.