From February 19-24, BAMcinématek, in collaboration with the African Diaspora Film Festival, presents The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival. This six-day series showcases 18 films that enjoyed popular acclaim during the 17th annual African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF).
With a variety of dramatic and documentary films from around the globe, the series spotlights the diversity of filmmaking in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora.
This year’s The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival brings together films from countries including Nigeria, Jamaica, South Africa, Bolivia, Cuba, Senegal, Martinique, Egypt, and the US.
Of the dramatic features, highlights include ADFF 2009’s opening night film “Nothing but the Truth,” directed by and starring acclaimed actor and playwright John Kani, and is based on Kani’s own play about apartheid South Africa. Other fiction films include “Arugba” (2008), a provocative allegory by Nigerian director Tunde Kelani; Dominique Cabrera’s French thriller “When the City Bites” (2009), starring Bamako‘s Aïssa Maïga; “The Journey of the Lion” (Fritz Baumann, 1992), about a Jamaican Rastafarian who travels across three continents in search of his roots and “Stolen Kisses” (2009) by Egyptian filmmaker Khaled El Hagar, a subversive domestic drama set in modern Cairo.
Documentaries in this year’s lineup include “Up from the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream” (James Schaub, 2009) and “Blues March – Soldier Jon Hendricks” (Malte Rauch, 2009). The former investigates migration of African Americans from the Southern US to the North during and after World War II, while the latter is a portrait of legendary jazz vocalist Hendricks (of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross) who fought in Europe in WWII, battling racial discrimination in the process.
Additional highlights include the pair of films in the African Leaders program — “Amilcar Cabral” (Ana Ramos Lisboa, 2001), chronicling the revolutionary’s life and the uprising in Guinea-Bissau, and “Frantz Fanon: His Life, His Struggle, His Work” (Chiekh Djemai, 2001), a portrait of the Martinique-born philosopher and leader of the anti-colonial movement in Africa, which details his involvement in the Algerian revolution. The Cultures of Resistance program presents two Latin American films: “With A Stroke of the Chaveta” (Pam Sporn, 2007), about the tradition of lectores, or readers, who work in cigar factories in Cuba, and “Solidarity in Saya: An Afro-Bolivian Music Movement” (Maya Jensen, 2009), about Afro-Bolivian rural villagers in La Paz.
Two music documentaries examine the intersection of art and politics. In “Made in Jamaica” (Jerome Laperrousaz, 2006) interviews and musical performances with reggae and dancehall artists such as Gregory Isaacs, Bounty Killer, Toots & the Maytals, Vybz Kartel, Sly & Robbie, Elephant Man, Bunny Wailer, Lady Saw, and more are used to examine issues such as ghetto violence, slavery, and colonialism. “Youssou N’dour: Return to Gorée” (Pierre-Yves Borgeaud, 2006) explores the connections between African music and jazz and culminates with a performance by the Senegalese singer on the island of Gorée, from which many Africans were deported to the Americas as slaves.
Work by New York-based filmmakers includes “Anomaly” (2009) by Jessica Chen Drammeh (part of the Identity Stories program), which investigates multiracial identity in the US from various perspectives, and “Pro-Black Sheep” (2009) by Clayton Broomes Jr, a narrative film about the progress of black leadership in the US.
There will be Q&As with filmmakers at select screenings.
BAM Rose Cinemas is at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene. Tickets are $12 per screening; $9 for seniors (65 and over), children (ages five to 11) and students (25 and under with ID). For a complete list of films, including screening dates and times and special programming, call 718-636-4100 or visit www.bam.org.