This 21st edition of the African Diaspora International Film Festival, will be held from Nov 29 – Dec 15, in New York. Screenings will be held at various venues including, Columbia University – the Chapel and the Cowin Center, the Symphony Space – Thalia and Sharp Theatres, Quad Cinema, and Black Spectrum Theatre.
Director Norry Niven’s directorial debut, Chasing Shakespeare, will open this year’s Festival on November 29th, as a New York Premiere, at the Symphony Space in Manhattan. Director Dawn Porter’s documentary, Spies of the Mississippi, will close this year’s Festival on December 15, also as a New York Premiere, at the Symphony Space – Thalia Theatre. This year’s festival will also feature the New York Premiere and Gala Screening of Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, at the Cowin Center, on December 7. There will be Q&A sessions immediately following these films.
Caribbean Film Focus:
Here is a review of the Caribbean films being screened as part of this year’s Festival. Many of these films are being screened as a part of this year’s “Jamaicanity” and “Spotlight on Haiti” themes.
The Stuart Hall Project
Directed by John Akomfrah
UK | 2013 (95 mins)
Official selection Sundance 2013
JAMAICANITY: THE RESONANCE OF JAMAICA
Sun, Dec. 1 @ 4PM – Chapel – Tickets Here Thu, Dec. 12 @ 7PM – Quad – Tickers Here
Stuart Hall is one of the most influential and esteemed cultural theorists of a generation. A thinker and commentator, his peers include other giants of political commentary such as Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Alan Ginsberg, Michel Foucault and Gore Vidal. John Akomfrah’s sweeping and majestic film “The Stuart Hall Project” takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride through the upheavals, struggles and turning points that made the 20th century, the century of campaigning, and of global political and cultural change. For more information, visit the filmmaker’s website and the film’s FB page. Watch the trailer here:
Ayiti Toma: The Land of the Living
Directed by Joseph Hillel
Haiti/Canada, 2013 (82 mins)
US Premiere | SPOTLIGHT ON HAITI
Sat, Dec. 7 @ 5PM – Chapel – TICKETS HERE
Q&A after screening and reception.
Beyond Haiti, the country known for its natural disasters and humanitarian aid debacle, lies Ayiti Toma, “the country that is ours”. This documentary is an encounter with the magical Haitian people that arose from the darkness of slavery to create the first Black Republic. It presents Ayiti Toma, through Haitians, including politicians, intellectuals, vodou practitioners and youth from hard-hit neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, and through anthropologists, historians and aid workers, including actor Sean Penn. Their testimony portrays the vibrant Haitian culture as the key to the future if Haiti is to become Ayiti Toma. Watch the trailer here.
Thu, Dec. 12 @ 1PM – Quad – Tickets Here
Brother Howie is a Jamaican Rastafari who dreams of the land of his ancestors: Africa. On a journey in search of his roots and his identity he travels through three continents and – with great humor and sensitivity – discovers the world…and Africa.
Sat, Dec 7 @ 1PM – Chapel – TICKETS HERE
“Looking for Life” introduces the views to two women, Anne-Rose and Rosemene, who each has their own particular way of battling through life. The former makes lunches in a factory yard in Port-au-Prince and sells her meals to the factory workers; the latter is employed in the same factory as a production worker making pullovers and T-shirts. Every day Rosemene buys her midday meal on credit from Anne-Rose. Through the connection between these two women, the film shows part of their daily work and the constant battle for survival they experience, together with other women in Haiti. Going beyond this however, the film demonstrates the extent to which the importation of North American goods has brought about the collapse of Haitian regional production and ruined Haiti’s economy. The connection between the two topics of the film reveals the significant role that Haitian women of today play in an economy that has been bled dry.
Thu, Dec. 12 @ 9PM – Quad – Tickets Here
“Made in Jamaica” is a powerful portrait of the leaders of a Jamaican music movement that has become a worldwide phenomenon. The film tells the story of how artists on a small island nation in the Caribbean of only three million people took their human experience and turned it into songs full of emotion that resonate around the world. Reggae is Jamaica’s blues: a music of both desperation and hope. With interviews and musical performances by such artists as Capleton, Elephant Man, Bunny Wailer, Toots & the Maytals, Bounty Killer, Gregory Isaacs, Tanya Stephens, Beres Hammond, Third World, Lady Saw, Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, Joseph Current, Vybz Kartel, Shiah Coore, Koolant, Alaine, Doc Marshall, Brick & Lace, Blessed and Bogle. Watch the trailer here:
Thu, Dec. 12 @ 2:50 – Quad – Tickets Here
Born in Jamaica in 1898 Percival Howell built the first Rasta community of the Pinnacle. The First Rasta is a film about the man and the movement he created. For additional information, visit the filmmaker’s website and the film’s FB page. Watch the trailer here:
A chronicle of the philosophical and sometimes bloody struggles Grenadians have waged against colonialism and its long-lasting psychological influences. Grenadian leaders fought against colonialism in different ways. Julian Fedon freed 100 slaves to fight the British. Eric Gairy led the poor people in a massive strike and obtained many improvements for them. Maurice Bishop led a successful coup against Eric Gairy in 1979, promising education and societal reform. History tells the tale, however, that even as Grenadian leaders have struck blows at colonialism, they have at times employed the tools of oppression taught to them by their colonial masters.
Tula, the Revolt
Directed by Jeroen Leinders
Curacao/Netherlands, 2013 (100 mins)
Sun, Dec. 1 @ 6PM – Chapel – Tickets Here
Wed, Dec. 11 @ 5:15PM – Quad – Tickets Here
Sun, Dec. 15 @ 3:30PM – Thalia – Tickets Here
Starring Danny Glover, Tula, The Revolt, is an international English spoken feature length movie about the leader of the big slave uprising on the island of Curacao, a Dutch colony in 1795. It tells the true story of a man who dared to stand up against his oppressors leading his people in a peaceful march for freedom, equality and brotherhood. Although several movies on the broader subject of slavery have been made, there was never a movie on the essence of slave resistance. The revolt on Curacao began peacefully and was meant to be won by words, rather than arms. This makes this true story unique in its kind.
Loeti has spent years away from his village in French Guiana, working in extreme conditions. When the army cracks down on illegal gold mining in the Amazon forest, he is forced to flee and must use the skills he learned as a child to survive in the forest. His only hope is to find his way home to his people and reclaim his Maroon past and culture.
For more information, visit the film’s website. Watch the trailer here:
Fri, Nov. 29 @ 2PM – Chapel – Tickets Here
Thousands of teenage girls join the National Campaign for Literacy to help teach their country to read and write. Traveling to remote mountain regions, often against the will of their parents, they lived with their students for up to one year, teaching at night and on weekends. Over 700,000 illiterate adults learned to read & write that year. And the young teachers lives would never be the same. Watch the trailer here.
Mon, Dec. 9 @ 2:50PM – Quad – Tickets Here
Roy (Borger Breeveld) is a young black Surinamese studying in Amsterdam. When he learns that his mother is seriously ill, he borrows money from his Dutch girlfriend to return home. Surprisingly, Roy finds himself coping with an inner struggle when he sets foot on land in his native country. He had seemingly acclimated to the Netherlands, but he begins to have doubts about his cultural identity as he becomes re-acquainted not only with the history of his nation, but also of his parents and ancestors as well. Events then take a different turn when he scandalizes everyone by having a relationship with Rubia, a Hindu nurse from community is imbued with its own customs and rituals and sees the relationship between Rubia and Roy as a disgrace, proving that discrimination occurs among all groups.
Watch the trailer here:
Sat, Dec. 7 @ 4PM – Black Spectrum – Tickets Here
“Catch a Fire” tells the story of Deacon Paul Bogle, often described as a 19th century Malcom X. 30 years after the end of slavery in Jamaica, the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 provoked outrage in Victorian Britain shaping race and land attitudes. The story is constructed using extensive interviews with Paul Bogle’s grand son as well as archive material.
Sat, Dec 7 @ 3PM – Chapel – TICKETS HERE
Raoul Peck takes us on a two-year journey inside the challenging, contradictory, and colossal rebuilding efforts in post-earthquake Haiti. Through its provocative and radical point of view, “Fatal Assistance” offers a devastating indictment of the international community’s post-disaster idealism. The film dives headlong into the complexity of the reconstruction process and the practice and impact of worldwide humanitarian and development aid, revealing the disturbing extent of a general failure. We learn that a major portion of the money pledged to Haiti was never disbursed, nor made it into the actual reconstruction. “Fatal Assistance” leads us to one clear conclusion: current aid policies and practices in Haiti need to stop immediately.
Watch the trailer here:
The ADIFF was created in November, 1993, by the husband and wife team of Reinaldo Barroso-Spech & Diarah N’Daw-Spech, on the belief that education is power. He is an educator in foreign languages and Black Literature and she a financial consultant and university budget manager. They are of the reality that film is the truest medium for creating a fertile ground for education. The future of our communities of color is directly tied to the expansion of our experiences, the depth and breadth of our reach and interaction with other communities and the framework from which our talent can stand front and center. Our vision is to see an informed and talented community coming together to exchange ideas and strategies for improving our respective worlds.
ADIFF’s mission is to present films to diverse audiences, redesign the Black cinema experience, and strengthen the role of African and African descent directors in contemporary world cinema. In response to this mission, ADFF features the work of emerging and established filmmakers of color. Most important, ADIFF distinguishes itself through its presentation of outstanding works that shine a different or comprehensive light on African Diaspora life and culture –no matter what the filmmaker’s race or nationality.
By placing the spotlight on innovative films that would otherwise be ignored by traditional venues, the Festival offers a unique platform for conveying African Diaspora artistic styles and craft in film. The ADIFF is a bridge between diverse communities looking for works that cannot be found in other festivals and talented and visionary filmmakers and works that are part of Africa and the African Diaspora.
The ADIFF is paving the road in the new millennium by breaking through boundaries that keep our communities from knowing their own stories as well as each others. Moreover, filmmakers, writers, actors, producers, and other Festival artists share valuable moments of insight describing their craft, style, and vision in a series of post-screenings conversations the ADIFF features. By marking the methods that underscore the art of cinema, the Festival demystifies the traditionally “elite and exclusive” aura of the filming process. These forums give rise to spontaneous and meaningful interaction between the featured artists and the audience.