“BlaxploItalian,” the documentary exploring director Fred Kudjo Kuwornu’s quest to uncover Black film images in his native Italy, leading him to discover a century-long heritage of Black actors, native and foreign, in Italian cinema, will have a special screening in New York City on Tuesday, February 7th. This will be followed with screenings at Los Angeles’ Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF) on February 13th and 19th, in addition to others.
From the first, seemingly intentionally uncredited Black actor who appeared in Domenic Gaido’s ‘Salambo’ (1915), to World War II expats like John Kitzmiller (‘Without Pity’ - 1948), American stars turned Italian superstars like Fred Williamson (“The Inglorious Bastards” - 1978) and Woody Strode (“Black Jesus” - 1968), exotic 1970’s and ‘80’s screen beauties Zeudi Araya (“Il Corpo” (The Body) -1974) and Iris Peynado (“Nothing Left to Do But Cry” - 1984), and contemporary actors like Denny Mendez and Germano Gentile, the struggle for proper Black representation in Italian cinema, for simply wanting to play more than prostitutes, sorceresses, drug dealers and illiterate immigrants exists to this day.
'BlaxploItalian' featured interviewees Denny Mendez and Livio Beshir
Their virtually unknown (until now) fight mirrors those of Black actors here in America, throughout Europe, and beyond. Interviewees also include actors Fred Williamson, Harold Bradley Jr, Iris Pelligrini, Livio Beshir, Jonis Baschir and film & culture experts Dr. Ed Guerrero and Prof. Derek Duncan, to name a few.
Discover more about Black-Italian film heritage, and how this film is being used to demand proper diversity in cinema, on February 7th in New York at New York University's Casa Italia (RSVP for free here) and at PAFF (Feb. 13 & 19) here.
A Q&A with Kuwornu and special guests will take place following each screening.
The “BlaxploItalian” website lists even more USA and international screenings for February and beyond.
Check out the trailer below.