This year’s Langston Hughes African American Film Festival features films spanning the globe, with narrative and documentary films from Africa to South America and others that address the U.S. immigrant experience.
Highlights include tonight’s film Dimanche a Brazzaville, a documentary with “insight into the lives and style of sapeurs, magic-wielding wrestlers, political hip hop artists, and a politically engaged radio DJ in Congo.”
In the closing night film, Restless City, Nigerian born director Andrew Dosnmu presents “an immigrant’s love story to Harlem: its bustling streets, its inherent danger and its potent sexuality.”
Here’s a rundown of other films of international interest in the festival:
AN UNCOMMON WOMAN (Une Femme Pas Comme les Autres) — Tuesday 1pm
Burkina Faso, 2009. In French with English subtitles.
Mina is tired of her husband’s infidelity and decides to take a drastic decision: She takes a second husband. Based on his conversations with women involved in polygamist relationships, he illustrates – to very funny effects – the daily life of two persons – in this case two men – who share a spouse. On a comedic tone, Abdoulaye Dao tells us a story of jealousy, infidelity, romance and revenge. An Uncommon Woman was a success in its native Burkina Faso and is cast with some the best actors of Burkinabe cinema.
TRUE GODS HAVE BONES (Los Dioses Verdad Tienen Huesos) — Wednesday 1pm
Guinea Bissau/Portugual, 2011. In Creole, Portuguese, English, Spanish with English subtitles.
Life in Guinea Bissau is difficult because it is one of the poorest countries on earth. Children with severe health problems have to be evacuated to Europe as their only chance for survival. The day-to-day lives of 5 people of different races, beliefs & backgrounds (including a Black doctor from Guinea Bissau) reveal the complications of carrying out these evacuations. These difficulties are caused by bureaucracy & political instability.
MY LAST DAY WITHOUT YOU — Wednesday 9pm
USA, 2011. In English, German.
When a young business executive, NIKLAS (28), is sent from Frankfurt to New York to shut down a division of his firm, he doesn’t realize his life is about to be turned upside-down in one single day. By 9:30am he has done what he was tasked to do. But his flight back to Frankfurt doesn’t leave for another 11 hours. In this time, seemingly by chance, he meets and falls for LETICIA (25), a beautiful African-American secretary and aspiring singer. The only problem…unbeknownst to him, she’s one of the people he just fired. They end up back in Brooklyn, where he meets her father, a pastor, and begins to realize who she is. Unable to tell her the truth, he stumbles through a romantic few hours of eating, walking through Brooklyn streets, and listening to her play music in her new apartment.
In the same vein as cross-cultural love stories such as BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) and ONCE (2006), MY LAST DAY WITHOUT YOU mines the humor and conflict that arises when two individuals – seemingly so different – are thrown together by a force they fight but ultimately cannot control…
AUDRE LORDE-THE BERLIN YEARS 1984 to 1992 — Friday 9pm
Germany, 2012. In English and German with English subtitles.
This film demonstrates how noted theorist, essayist, poet, and lesbian activist Audre Lorde’s ideas about human differences inspired the development of a Black German movement and the growth of consciousness around racism among white women—a subject few people outside of Germany are aware of. The project is a very timely one given the renewed US-EU struggles against racism and around race and ethnic integration. Audre Lorde’s work and legacy are central to US-German cross-cultural exchanges and coalition building in the context of the Black diaspora.
ZANZIBAR DANCE, TRANCE, & DEVOTION: AN ANTHOLOGY OF ZANZIBARI DANCES ON FILM — Saturday 4pm
Tanzania/USA, 2011. KiSwahili songs lyrics with English subtitles and English voice-over.
A collection of vibrant dance and music of interest to scholars, dancers and others. Dallal documented a group of former clove farmers from the island of Pemba as they showed the rarely seen dances of harvest, rhythmic stick fighting, and others that called forth the spirits. She traveled to villages, filming a tribe of matrilineal women, a village that attributes their good fortune to an 800 year old spiritual practice, and another where they incorporate pantomime with drumming while wearing vintage sunglasses and military uniforms.
Post screening discussion with filmmaker Tamalyn Dallal
THE STORY OF LOVER’S ROCK — Saturday 7pm
United Kingdom/Great Britain, 2011. In English.
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 LOT LIKE YOU — Sunday 4pm
Eliaichi Kimaro (USA/Tanzania, 2011) 81 minutes. Swahili, Kichagga and English, with subtitles. Genre: documentary. General audience. Local filmmaker present for Filmmaker Talkback.
A Lot Like You raises questions about the cultures we choose to pass down and reveals how simply bearing witness to another’s suffering can break silences that have lasted lifetimes. Seattle-based filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro is a mixed-race, first-generation American with a Tanzanian father and Korean mother. When Eli was older and in an interracial relationship of her own, she wanted to better understand this world her father had left behind when he was 18. When Dr. Kimaro retired and moved back to Tanzania for good, Eli followed him to make a film about this culture she would one day pass down to her own children.
Post screening discussion with filmmaker Eliaichi Kimaro
RESTLESS CITY — Sunday 7pm
USA, 2012. In English.
Nigerian born director Andrew Dosnmu’s Restless City struggles to reconcile the sky-high promises of the American Dream with the gritty reality of life in New York. Djibril (Alassane Sy) is a young Senegalese immigrant trying to make a life for himself in the unforgiving streets of Harlem, sticking around in the big city in hope of kicking off his recording career. In the meantime, he dabbles in small jobs, selling CDs on the street and acting as a courier on his moped. But when a meeting with beautiful, vulnerable Trini (Sky Grey) in pimp Bekay’s apartment, changes his life forever.
Reception and discussion with Executivre Producer and co-star Tony Okungbowa included in ticket price: $20
Showings are at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in the Central District (104 17th Avenue South). Most shows are $8, or $5 for youth and senior citizens.
See Langston Hughes African American Film Festival for tickets and complete schedule.