Shadow and Act has learned that ARRAY Releasing is partnering with Ehtiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima for the 4K restoration of his seminal 1993 film, Sankofa. The film will be re-released by ARRAY Sept. 24 in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand on Netflix. This is the second of Gerima's films to be re-released through ARRAY; the first, 1982's Ashes and Embers, was re-released in 2016.
The film relates "the untold history of Black resistance, developed from 20 years of research into the trans-Atlantic trade of enslaved African people" through the lens of an African American fashion model on assignment in Ghana. According to the official description:
"SANKOFA follows Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), a Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Cape Coast, Ghana. Through Mr. Gerima’s imaginative storytelling, she undergoes a journey back in time to a plantation in North America. There she becomes Shola, an enslaved African woman who labors in the master’s house and experiences the horrors of slavery firsthand. In becoming Shola, Mona recovers and confronts her ancestral identity and experience. While enduring monstrous trauma at the hands of white men who owned people for profit, Shola’s interactions with her fellow enslaved Africans are rich with humanity, respect and dignity for one another. Most notably, she connects with Shango (Mutabaruka), a rebellious African man who toils in the fields, and Nunu (Alexandra Duah), one of the few of the enslaved to remember her life in Africa before being stolen and terrorized by European traders."
The film was initially ovelrooked by distributors, leading to Gerima to self-distribute his film through his and wife Shirikiana Gerima's independent distribution company. Through their grassroots efforts within African American communities, Sankofa had success with sold-out screenings across the nation. The film was also selected by the Berlin International Film Festival and the AFI Film Festival in 1993.
ARRAY President Tilane Jones said in a statement about Haile Gerima and his family choosing ARRAY Releasing as the company to spearhead Sankofa's restoration.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gerima are trailblazers of independent filmmaking and grassroots distribution in the Black cinematic diaspora,” said Jones. “ARRAY Releasing is abundantly honored and proud to have been selected by The Gerimas to introduce their landmark film to new audiences with a remastered re-release of the masterpiece, Sankofa.”
Sankofa's Los Angeles re-release debut will take place on the ARRAY Creative Campus Sept. 24. A screening of Gerima's Ashes and Embers will occur the following day. Tickets are free for the public and can be secured through registration at arrayplay.com. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis and viewers must bring proof of vaccination.
Gerima will also be honored by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Sept. 25 with the inaugural Vantage Award. The honor is part of the Academy's opening gala.