Get Ready for a Very Special Journey.
AfroPop has delighted audiences for eight seasons. Season nine’s stories are just as beautifully and poignantly told but will take audiences closer to the emotional and spiritual heart of the people, places and cultures of Rwanda, Ethiopia and even here in the U.S.
Watch the trailer to see what’s to come in season nine with your host, Nikki Beharie.
ABOUT THE HOST
Nikki Beharie will next be seen as the female lead in Will Packer Productions remake of Jacob’s Ladder, directed by David M. Rosenthal. She recently starred in the hit Fox series Sleepy Hollow for producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, for which she was nominated for an NAACP Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series,” in addition to “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” for 42 and Entertainer of the Year. Beharie starred with Michael Fassbender in Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen’s feature Shame and began her career on Broadway opposite Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def in John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. She was also the lead of the critically acclaimed feature American Violet opposite Alfre Woodard and Tim Blake Nelson for Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Host: Nikki Beharie
An American Ascent
AN AMERICAN ASCENT documents the first African-American expedition to tackle Denali (aka Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest peak), while shedding light on the complex relationship many African-Americans have with the outdoors. As the United States transitions to a “minority majority” nation, a staggering number of people of color do not identify with America’s wild places. By embarking on the grueling multi-week climb of 20,237ft Denali, nine African-American climbers try to bridge this “adventure gap” – challenging outdated notions of what adventure looks like by changing the face of America’s biggest and baddest mountain on the 100th anniversary of its first summit.
Intore (The Chosen)
INTORE offers a powerful and rare look at how Rwanda survived its tragic past by regaining its identity through music, dance, and the resilience of a new generation.
It’s a story of triumph, survival, hope, and a lesson in how to forgive and live, through the eyes of a mother whose grief gives hope; an artist who chose to forgive rather than seek revenge; a maestro who brings together the National Ballet with an incredible touch of ge- nius; and a young man who’s determination and hard work has given the Rwandan culture a new dimension of identity and celebration. Through these characters and others, viewers will bear witness to how the nation rose above the ashes of a horrific 1994 genocide, to become a world model of post-conflict peace and unity.
The film features music performances from Rwanda’s top traditional and commercial artists in music and dance, interwoven with poignant interviews from genocide survivors and perpetrators who sit side-by-side; plus Rwandan leaders and legends.
Produced by Rwanda Cinema Center, and Park Hill Entertainment in Association with the Kwetu Film Institute & the Rwanda Media Project.
My Father's Land
Papa Jah, a humble Haitian gardener, has lived in the Bahamas for 40 years. As his marginalized community faces a strict new deportation policy and growing xenophobia in the Bahamas, he returns to Haiti, to reunite with his 103 years old father and the land he left behind.
Every day during exam season, as the sun sets over Conakry, Guinea, hundreds of school children begin a nightly pilgrimage to the airport, petrol stations and wealthy parts of the city, searching for light. This evocative documentary tells the story of these children’s inspiring struggle for education in the face of the country’s own fight for change.
Pangaea is a short film written and directed by Olivia Peace. It tells the story of a young girl, trapped on the roof of her house during the days following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. The film aims to comment on the lives of the children whose lives were drastically changed by the aftermath of the hurricane and the flooding that followed it, as well as on the role of those who experienced the events on television from the safety of their own living rooms. Pangaea was shot by a group of Northwestern University students over the course of a week in New Orleans, LA.
One man’s journey to bring about a progressive cultural shift that will end the killing of children in the Omo Valley.
In Ethiopia’s Omo valley, children are being killed horrifically under an ancient tradition known as ‘mingi’. Teeth growing in a certain order can bring a child a death sentence. One young tribesman strives for change through education and adopting the cursed children. But challenging tribal superstition isn’t easy and as he battles to save lives, things are not all that they seem.
Under Kara tradition, any child born with the feared mingi curse must be sacrificed. “Every mingi child must be killed. We do this for the protection of our people” explains Dore Akir, leader of the Kara. A baby is Mingi if it is born out of wedlock, without the blessing of the elders, or if its teeth emerge in a specific order, and any child with the curse is sacrificed shortly after birth, or often left to die in the forest.
This practice of killing mingi children is ingrained in the Kara culture, and has taken place for generations. But now Lale Labuko, one of the first of the tribe to receive a formal education, has returned to the village to end the practice and save the ‘cursed’ children.
Host: Jussie Smollett
AfroPop has delighted audiences for seven seasons. Season eight’s stories are just as beautifully and poignantly told but will take audiences closer to the emotional and spiritual heart of the people, places and cultures of Trinidad, East and West Africa and even here in the U.S. and Europe.
Click here to watch a playlist of behind-the-scenes AfroPop videos, including interviews with the show’s producers, filmmakers and this season’s host, Jussie Smollett.
Days of Hope
As immigration and refugee concerns dominate the news, AfroPoP takes on migration and asylum head on. The series begins its journey on the Saharan shores of the Atlantic Ocean as an African immigrant sets off to Europe with buoyant expectations of a better life. Director Ditte Haarløv Johnsen’s Days of Hope (January 18) is a nuanced look at the unflinching courage of three West African migrants who cross the Sahara desert and Atlantic Ocean in a search for opportunity and safety.
Pan! Our Music Odyssey
The next stop is the Caribbean with Pan! Our Music Odyssey (January 25), a joyful celebration of the melodious steel drum. Directors Jérôme Guiot and Thierry Teston explore the magical instrument from its development in Trinidad to its celebration around the world, as bands from across the globe gather to compete in the ultimate steel band competition: Panorama.
Heading to São Vicente in Cape Verde, we meet Tchinda, a transgender woman who is so cherished that her name has become synonymous with LBGT people in the area. Pablo García Pérez de Lara and Marc Serena’s Tchindas (February 1) follows the celebrated character, out and proud since 1998, as she and her cohorts prepare for the beloved annual carnival.
The festivities continue as AfroPoP travels to Oakland, California—a city with a reputation as one of the most dangerous in America—as it works to rebrand itself through its successful First Fridays monthly street festival. The murder of a young Black man sends the city reeling, threatening the very survival of this community celebration and, perhaps, the town’s very renaissance. First Fridays (February 8) by N’Jeri Eaton and Mario Furloni follows six Oakland figures as their lives connect one Friday at this showcase of art and culture.
The journey ends on the ultimate expression of hope—our youth—with shorts from the west and east coasts of Africa (Monday, February 15). Nosarieme Garrick’s My Africa Is, set in the bustling, modern city of Nairobi, introduces viewers to dynamic youth envisioning a new Kenya—designers, inventors and musicians changing the face of their communities through innovation and entrepreneurship. Terence Nance and Blitz the Ambassador’s Native Sun helps viewers see Ghana through the eyes and dreams of an eight-year-old in search of his father.
My Africa Is
My Africa Is peers into the soul and spirit of Nairobi through three stories of innovation. Viewers will meet game developers who create African superheroes to inspire Kenyan youth; a self-taught engineer who builds drones as a solution to Kenya’s poaching problems and trans youth in the technology to build human capacity; and two rock band that are part of a growing rock scene in Nairobi. Along the way, viewers will be introduced to the city, a restless and bustling metropolis with a musicality and energy that only locals can fathom. Meet the Africa that most don’t know but which is the reality of millions.
Host: Yaya DaCosta
Join host Yaya DaCosta for the seventh season of this engaging documentary series – the only series on public television dedicated to stories from the African Diaspora. Five brilliant explorations reach you this season from filmmakers all around the globe – from Jamaica to the Sinai. From the tale of a mother trying to save her unborn child from the HIV virus in The Carrier (Zambia), young soccer playing women changing their country in Senegal (Ladies Turn), a heartbreaking story of kidnap for ransom in the Sinai in “Sound of Torture,” as LGBT activists try to survive or make it out of Jamaica in “The Abominable Crime,” and Afropunk, the hippest music festival around brings their video production “The Triptych” artfully documenting the lives of three contemporary artists of note, Wangechi Mutu, Baron Clairborne and Sandford Biggers. This is a jam-packed season!
Told through the eyes of an increasingly empowered heroine, The Carrier is a powerful and moving portrait of an unconventional family, set against the backdrop of the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia. This lyrical film follows Mutinta Mweemba, a 28-year-old subsistence farmer living in a polygamous marriage. After learning she is HIV positive and pregnant, Mutinta sets out to keep her unborn child virus-free and to break the cycle of transmission.
In 2009, in Senegal, where “football is king,” a women’s football street tournament is organized for the first time by the association Ladies’ Turn. Despite the passionate commitment of Seyni, the former captain of the women’s national team, and of the women and men that fight at her side, the game is far from won.
Defying taboos and prejudices, the girls play on the fields for a growing audience. Will they be allowed to go all the way and play the game they love?
Sound of Torture
Since Europe closed its borders in 2006, thousands of Eritrean refugees have fled their military dictator-ruled country towards Israel. The only way out is across the Sinai desert in Egypt. There, many are kidnapped by Bedouin smugglers and taken to camps where they are tortured and raped as they are forced to call their relatives begging for ransom for their release.
AFROPUNK Presents the Triptych
AFROPUNK presents the Triptych is a unique and profound documentary film series profiling some of the most outspoken visual artists of our time: artists whose talent spans the gamut from interdisciplinary to photography and performance. Produced by AFROPUNK Pictures, the documentary is itself a work of art, featuring three intimate 25-minute conversations with three bold and culturally resonant voices in art. Each monologue is a reflection of their life experiences, letting the viewer discover how their observations have shaped the art they create.
The first in the series features Sanford Biggers, Wangechi Mutu and Barron Claiborne—contemporaries, luminaries and friends. Their keen reflections on the world are at once startling and insightful.
The Abominable Crime
The Abominable Crime, at heart, is a story about a mother’s love for her child and an activist’s troubled love for his country. It gives voice to Jamaicans like Simone Edwards, who survives an anti-gay shooting, and Maurice Tomlinson, a leading activist who is forced to flee the country after being outed.
Told as they unfold, these personal accounts take the audience on an emotional journey traversing four years and five countries. Their stories expose the roots of homophobia in Jamaican society, reveal the deep psychological and social impacts of discrimination on the lives of gays and lesbians and offer intimate first-person perspectives on the risks and challenges of seeking asylum abroad.
Host: Anthony Mackie
Acclaimed actor Anthony Mackie adds TV host to his resume as he joins “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.” The star, best known for his roles in “8 Mile,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Pain & Gain,” will emcee the sixth season of the documentary program. This season “AfroPoP” cuts to New York City to examine the birthplace of the worldwide pickup basketball phenomenon with Bobbito García and Kevin Couliau’s “Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC,” co-presented by Latino Public Broadcasting. “AfroPoP” hoofs it across America and India to catch the dynamic collaboration of two dance masters, Indian Kathak guru Pandit Chitresh Das and African-American tap star Jason Samuels Smith, with “Upaj: Improvise” by Hoku Uchiyama, co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media.
The series then journeys to Africa for a special look at Sierra Leone with two films: Rebecca Richman Cohen’s “War Don Don” (“The War Is Over”), an inside view of the U.N. special court trial of senior rebel leader Issa Sesay for his role in the country’s 10-year conflict, and Daan Veldhuizen’s “Stories from Lakka Beach,” which captures the engaging stories of a colorful mix of villagers in the post-conflict nation. “AfroPoP” rounds the bases with “Boys of Summer” by Keith Aumont and a scrappy but determined band of young ballplayers on the Caribbean island of Curaçao who are trying to make it to the Little League World Series for the eighth year in a row.
“As an actor I’ve been blessed to be immersed in various world cultures, so I’m honored to have a role in sharing compelling stories like these with people across America,” said Mackie. “Film is such a powerful tool in bringing understanding and harmony to people of all backgrounds and life experiences.”
Doin' It In the Park
“Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC,” explores the history, culture and social impact of New York’s summer b-ball scene, widely recognized as the worldwide mecca of the sport, where pickup basketball is not just a sport but a way of life. There are 700+ outdoor courts, and an estimated 500,000 players, the most loyal of which approach the game as a religion, and the playground as their church.
Made possible by a partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting
“Upaj: Improvise” follows two dance masters—Indian Kathak guru Pandit Chitresh Das and African-American tap star Jason Samuels Smith—as they join forces for an extraordinary artistic collaboration, “India Jazz Suites.” Though they are from two different worlds, the two share a special bond, a desire to preserve their dance traditions. Directed by Hoku Uchiyama, the film is co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media.
by Hoku Uchiyama
Made possible by a partnership with Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
War Don Don
In the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, U.N. soldiers guard a heavily fortified building known as the “special court.” Inside, Issa Sesay awaits his trial. Prosecutors say Sesay is a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. His defenders say he is a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone.
Boys of Summer
Winner of the Latin American Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, “Boys of Summer” is a feature documentary film about the Curaçao Little League All-Stars, a team that has competed at the Little League World Series for an incredible seven consecutive years. Over the course of one summer the boys face injuries and obstacles in an attempt to keep the winning streak alive. From a tiny Caribbean island that was once a slave trade center, this is a story of national pride beating all the odds.
For three years, filmmakers Rachèle Magloire and Chantal Regnault followed members of a unique group of outcasts in Haiti: criminal deportees from North America. Since 1996, the United States has implemented a policy of repatriation of all foreign residents who have been convicted of crimes. A new life begins for these deportees in an environment that is both completely unfamiliar and quite hostile. Most have not been on Haitian soil since they left as very young children. Many no longer have family on the island and speak little, if any, Creole. Some struggle with addiction and others are coping with mental illness. Most have very limited financial means with which to manage any sort of reintegration. And Haitians are generally less than welcoming. They know that these North Americans have committed crimes and view them with suspicion. Through a series of individual portraits, DEPORTED gives voice to the former offenders and their families. Viewers are left to ponder the multifaceted impact of repatriation and whether it creates more problems than it solves.
Stories from Lakka Beach
A picturesque village having one of the finest beaches in Africa, Lakka developed into the epicenter of West African tourism. Ravaged by civil war, Lakka Beach’s tourist industry came to a standstill. But village life continues; and, in “Stories from Lakka Beach,” the voice of the villagers—including a fisherman, a carver, a restaurant owner, a local politician and an aspiring rapper—reveal a profound and different side of a war-torn community in a now-peaceful Sierra Leone. “Stories from Lakka Beach” won the Best Cinematography award from American Cinematographer magazine.
A twenty- year- old Haitian woman, Sandrine and her brother thirteen -year- old brother Etienne are being transported from Haiti to the Bahamas in the hold of a dilapidated wooden vessel filled with sever al other immigrants in search of a better life. During the journey, a young woman gets violently ill. A rule of the sea in transportin g persons dictates that when a person gets violently ill; they have to be thrown off the boat to limit spread of disease. Sandrine protests this rule but the woman is thrown overboard nonetheless. Shortly thereafter, Sandrine notices that her brother is exhibiting the same symptoms of the unlucky woman so Sandrine will have to use her smarts and strength to save her brother’s life.
AUNTIE is a middle-aged seamstress and respected caregiver in her rural Barbadian community. 12-year-old KERA is her latest ward and a special child to whom she has grown uncharacteristically close. Seven years after Kera’s mother emigrates to England in search of a better life, Auntie is confronted with the day she long dreaded when the plane ticket arrives that will reunite Kera with her mom.
To learn more about the filmmaker and the issues tackled in “Auntie”, click here to read the blog post on BlackPublicMedia.org.
A teacher asks his pupils what they want to do when they grow up. While his classmates answer lightly and with great fun, Tom a quiet 10-year-old boy slips away. When his turn comes to speak, Tom embarks himself upon a striking monologue. With passion, humor and bewildering maturity he describes three possible life choices that will inevitably lead him to dramatic ends. At the end of his monologue Tom gets back to the essence of the question and answers with cleverness and panache.
For more information on issues in the film, and to learn more about the filmmaker, visit this blog post on BlackPublicMedia.org.
John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins was an ordinary man of modest means. He was a good father, grandfather and husband; an obedient public servant. Yet the most vivid part of his life was lived in was a small workshop beneath his house. In there, at the end of his workday, he made things. From simple push toys to elaborate 1/16th scale waterline battle ship models and dockyards, miniature furniture and dolls houses, he painstakingly constructed everything from scratch, sometimes spending upwards of a year on a single model. Smallman is an exploration of the worlds, both real and imagined, that Kenwyn Rawlins made, as told by his son Richard.
Host: Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe steps into a new role this winter as host of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, an innovative documentary series highlighting contemporary life, art and pop culture in the African Diaspora. Best known for her Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated depiction of “Precious” in the Lee Daniels film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Sidibe also made waves with her hilarious performance in Tower Heist opposite Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. The fifth season of AfroPoP, produced by Black Public Media premiered in January, 2013.
An African Election
Director Jarreth Merz captures the passions of a young democracy in this behind-the-scenes look at the complex political machinery of a third world nation struggling to legitimize itseld to its first world contemporaries. At stake in Ghana’s 2008 presidential race are the fates of the country’s two major political parties, one tied to the incumbent and the other tied to a national hero who served as the country’s first elected leader. The film follows they key players for almost three months to provide an unprecedented insider’s view of the political, economic and social forces at work in the West African nation. The journey reveals not only the twists and turns of an unpredictable contest, but also the pride and humanity of the larger-than-life politicians, party operatives and citizens who battle for the soul of their country.
Premieres January 29th on WORLD Channel. Almost two decades after the end of apartheid three young activists living in a shanty town take the South African government to court for forced evictions in their township, fighting political odds that put even their lives at risk. Directed by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza.
A Lot Like You
Premieres January 22nd on the WORLD Channel. In this award-winning and very personal documentary a young woman probes her interracial roots to find some difficult truths about her own past and her father’s male-dominated East African culture. Directed by Eliaichi Kimaro.
Made possible by a partnership with Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
Premieres February 26th on WORLD Channel. In this family reunion documentary turned international political thriller a pair of journalists discover the existence of slavery in a refugee camp. In their journey to tell a story of modern day slavery they themselves become the story. Directed by Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw.
Host: Wyatt Cenac
Join funny man Wyatt Cenac host of season 4.0 of AfroPoP as the documentaries take us to Mali, where a young man tries to build a green solar panel business bringing electricity to villages; Brazil, with filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris exploring his roots and stories of identity; Trinidad & Tobago where the legendary Calypso Rose takes stock of her passion for calypso music; and Los Angeles’ punk rock scene as the inimitable Fishbone comes barreling through with their own brand of chaos and music.
The Olutunmbi’s is the eight month endeavor by filmmaker Temitope Olutunmbi to document and explore his relationship with religious faith and family. The piece is a cerebral and poetic take on the journey to come of age. Through a blend of observational, verite and conventional documentary techniques, the film unfolds in a series of overlapping sequences.
This structure allows the film to be read in numerous ways by the viewer. My intention however was to explore my relationship between my family and the spiritual beliefs I was raised with in the best way I could. Therefore the depiction of my family in this film is in no way a complete representation of their life and should not be read as such. Despite any ideological differences expressed in this film, I would like any and all viewers of this film to know the deep respect and love I have for my family. The film was a necessary journey of reflection and expression of my relationship with my family and has allowed me to grow as a son and an artist.
From the shifting faultlines of Hollywood fantasies and the economic and racial tensions of Reagan’s America, Fishbone rose to become one of the most original bands of the last 25 years. With a blistering combination of punk and funk they demolished the walls of genre and challenged the racial stereotypes and political order of the music industry and the nation. Telling it like it is, the iconic Laurence Fishburne narrates EVERYDAY SUNSHINE, a story about music, history, fear, courage and funking on the one.
Burning in the Sun
At a crossroad in life, 26-year-old Daniel Dembélé returns to his homeland of Mali and starts a local business building solar panels. Daniel’s unprecedented goal: to electrify rural communities, 99% of which live without power. Burning in the Sun tells his story of growing the budding idea into a viable company and of Daniel’s impact on his first customers in the tiny village of Banko. Taking controversial stances on climate change, poverty, and African self-sufficiency, the film explores what it means to grow up as a man, and what it takes to prosper as a nation.
Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle
Calypso Rose is the ambassador of Caribbean music. A living legend of calypso, this charismatic artist has often been compared to great black singers such as Aretha Franklin, Cesaria Evoria or Miriam Makeba. Born in 1940 in a fishing village on the island of Tobago, Calypso Rose began singing at the age of 15. Since then she has been sharing, with her relentless energy and legendary happy spirit, her stories of daily life in the Caribbean, and singing her repertoire on stages around the world. Moving along the thread that links her universe with the world, Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle helps us to experience the dreams and disappointments of this amazing and prolific female artist.
E Minha Cara (That's My Face)
A mythopoetic feast of self-discovery that crosses three continents and three generations, That’s My Face traces the filmmaker’s journey to Salvador Da Bahia, the African heart and soul of Brazil, as he seeks the identity of the spirits who haunt his dreams. Paralleling the journey his mother made twenty years earlier to Tanzania in search of a mythic motherland, the film incorporates an innovative sound design that uses rap and hip-hop strategies of multi-voice sampling.
AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, as a series, celebrates the cultural and historical growth that has occurred in the last generation using films tailored to a world audience from insightful, artful and often unique local perspectives. These films are always carefully selected to portray a more balanced view of Africa than you’ll get on the nightly news and to provide fuel for what must be a global conversation on the present day realities and contemporary lifestyles of Africans, both on the continent and in the Diaspora.
AfroPoP is a US-based public television show featuring independent documentaries and short films about life, art, and culture from the contemporary African Diaspora. The African Diaspora includes Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, South America, Europe, the US, and anywhere people of African descent have made a significant contribution to the culture. AfroPoP is the only series on US public television that focuses solely on stories from the African Diaspora.
Haiti: One Day, One Destiny
Haitian-American filmmaker, Michele Stephenson visits Haiti six weeks after one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes. There to document the personal stories of the Haitian people, Michele gives us a glimpse of the emotional impact this tragedy has from the prospective of the thousands of Haitians living outside of Haiti who have been engaged in the recovery from the onset and will most likely be the ones to continue it once the story has retreated from the world stage.
Mrs. Goundo's Daughter
Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter is the story of a young mother’s quest to keep her baby daughter healthy and whole. It is also the story of the African tradition of female genital cutting—which dates back thousands of years—and how it affects people’s lives in just two of the many places where the practice is being debated today. To stay in the U.S., Malian immigrant Mrs. Goundo must persuade an immigration judge that her two-year-old daughter Djenebou, born in the U.S., will most certainly suffer clitoral excision if Goundo is deported to Mali where up to 85% of women and girls are excised. The film also focuses on people from both sides of the argument in Mali: activists fighting to the end the practice and traditionalists who defend excisions.
Nora is based on true stories from the life of dancer Nora Chipaumire, who was born in Zimbabwe in 1965. Using performance and dance, Nora brings her history to life in a swiftly-moving poem of sound and image, offering an insight into both her life and Zimbabwe’s history and political struggles.
The Other Side of the Water: Journey of a Haitian Rara Band
The Other Side of the Water follows a 20-year journey of the Haitian-American community, told through the lens of a vodou-based walking band in Brooklyn. The music is called rara: part-carnival, part-vodou ceremony, and part-grassroots protest. Rara originally served as a voice of the slaves in their revolt against the French and continued on as the voice of those struggling against ongoing dictatorship in Haiti. The Other Side of the Water focuses on the journey of the poetic visionary Pé Yves, a leader of the rara movement in New York since the late ‘80s, as he strives to keep this musical art form alive while encountering attacks from the Haitian Christian community and new ideas from younger members of the rara movement.
Uprooted explores the effect of Colombia’s civil war on the people of the Colombian Pacific region, an area that, for centuries, remained exclusively a mining frontier on the periphery of the nation’s development. The majority of the population—freed and runaway slaves and indigenous peoples—lived in relatively dispersed communities up and down the river basin, where their livelihoods depended on agriculture, gold panning, fishing and the collection of shellfish in the river deltas. However, the Colombian Pacific has become a new frontier for development and as Colombia’s civil war has escalated, violence and mass displacement have become all too common as struggles for land and resources intensify. At the center of Uprooted are Noris, a mother and community leader, and her family, displaced since 1996 and living in a refugee shelter on the outskirts of Quibdó, a growing city on the Pacific Coast. This documentary is an intimate portrayal of the tragedy of uprooting; a beautifully detailed tale about struggle and resilience; a bittersweet story of loss, love, family, and dreams.
125 Franco's Blvd.
When a community is in the process of development and gentrification, what happens to the art and culture that represents the people of that community? With colorful strokes, Franco the Great has been painting murals on the storefront roll-down gates (riot gates) on 125th Street in Harlem for 40 years. A rezoning legislation and recently passed city law threaten to remove those gates along with the art and culture that is painted on them. Who will step up and preserve Franco’s art in the wake of big plans to change Harlem?
Sanza Hanza: King Surfer
Sanza Hanza, a Zulu dialect term for King Surfer, is a short documentary following V.I.R.U.S (Very Intelligent Riders Usually Survive), a gang of young train surfers in the South African slums of Soweto. Born out of a restless desire to embrace life (and death) after years of oppression, it is here that you will find train surfing—the semi-suicidal act of climbing outside, on top and under the city’s public trains while in full flight. Sanza Hanza intimately captures the bleak, almost existential outlook exhibited by many of the best train surfers as they search for the ultimate ride.
Rise Up: Reggae Underground
RiseUp is a journey into the heart of Jamaica—the island that gave birth to the worldwide cultural phenomenon of reggae. In a society where talent abounds and opportunity is scarce, three courageous artists fight to rise up from obscurity and write themselves into the pages of history. With music and appearances by legends Lee “Scratch” Perry, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, RiseUp follows artists who demonstrate the raw power of hope and courage in a land which is largely unseen, but certainly not unsung. The film won the 2009 American Film Institute/Discovery Silverdocs Best Music Documentary Award.
Host: Anika Noni Rose
The Fighting Spirit
Boxing is show business with blood—a tough sport, which has always found its top competitors from the poorest neighborhoods. Bukom, a tiny district in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, is one such locale. Grounded in a long cultural tradition of wrestling that over the years developed into boxing, the tiny fishing village trains young people to fight—and win.
Mandisa was produced as part of the National Black Programming Consortium’s New Media Institute: Africa project when it traveled to Durban South Africa in 2008. Working with the local arts center, Ekhaya Multi Arts Center, in the township of Kwa Mashu, students were tasked with capturing interesting short documentary stories about South Africa.
Mandisa tells the story of a young woman who works at the arts center and also trains as an artist/poet. It chronicles her determination to get her younger sister a better life, and documents the artistic youth environment that fuels her creativity in Kwa Mashu.
Black to Our Roots
Living in a housing project in Atlanta, Georgia, 17-year-old Sylvia Dorsey is frustrated by the drug abuse and violence that surrounds her. Black To Our Roots is the inspirational story of the journey Sylvia takes to explore her ancestral home in Ghana in an attempt to escape the cycle of violence and poverty of her Atlanta neighborhood.
In the wake of one of the worst natural and humanitarian disasters ever to visit American shores, nearly 600 African Americans were airlifted to the almost entirely white state of Utah…without their knowledge. Desert Bayou seeks to examine whether two cultures can come together in a time of utter chaos, or whether their differences prove too great a challenge to overcome.
Moving to the Beat
Moving to the Beat explores how youth in Africa and America are using hip hop music to communicate with one another and as a language for social change. The documentary follows Rebel Soulz, a hip hop group from Portland, Oregon, as they journey to Freetown, Sierra Leone to bring the radical roots of American hip hop to the motherland of Africa.
Host: Idris Elba
10 Days In Africa
In a wonderfully textured narrative style, African American filmmaker Regi Allen makes a sojourn to three West African countries to discover for himself the truth behind the myths that separate black identity in Africa from black identity in the Diaspora. With a critical lens often pointed at himself, Allen creates an intoxicatingly chaotic film that raises as many questions as it answers. Filled with deeply moving cinematic stills and 8MM footage, 10 Days In Africa is a song of love intended to heal many wounds, while weaving a complicated path to his firmer understanding of black identity.
Hip Hop Revolution
Using an experimental narrative style, South African filmmaker Weaam Williams has infused her film with a texture and life that breathes with every cut. “Hip Hop Revolution” is first an exploration of the lives of a generation so touched by this genre and its culture that they are inspired to question, survive and conquer an unjust political system.
Freedom in South Africa after 1994 means the freedom for Tumelo and Dominique to express themselves in ways that genuinely baffle their parents. For these two female, hip-hop disc jockeys from rather conservative backgrounds, 1994 signalled the beginning of a journey to personal freedom. On the other hand, Tumelo’s endearingly nostalgic father sees this as the point at which the youth became aware of their rights, causing society’s values to crumble. In Mix, the tension between attaining personal freedom and satisfying family obligations is played out as an almost total communication breakdown between parents and daughter, between young and old, and between siblings.
Welcome to Nollywood
“Welcome To Nollywood” is an artful and insightful documentary on the hustle and bustle of the quickly growing Nigerian movie industry, the third largest film producer in the world. With engaging interviews from leading industry professionals and intriguing behind-the-scenes footage, Meltzer’s depiction is entertaining, complex and a must-see for all who seek to know why this evolving industry is grabbing such large audiences around the world.
Elton is a boy of 13 who sings opera in Hermanus, a small seaside town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, popular with tourists for whale sightings. His love of opera music begins after his cousin gives him a tape by Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. His passion leads Elton from performing solo stints at open-air festivals to opening acts for established opera singers from nearby Cape Town. Elton’s quest to become an acclaimed opera singer is set against the backdrop of his life as a young teenager. He and his opera-singing friends are harassed by authorities and beaten by police, who prefer to retain foreign tourists at the expense of local black buskers.
We Will Not Die Like Dogs
We Will Not Die Like Dogs is a feature length documentary film which profiles AIDS activists from the four African countries of Nigeria, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Zambia. Providing intimately honest and provocative testimonies from individuals who are living face-to-face with the epidemic on a daily basis – including 2 HIV-positive women who fight against stigma and discrimination, a doctor working tirelessly caring for HIV-infected children in the rural villages, and a reggae artist who uses his status amongst youth and the media to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.