Film history: African arts festival adds movies to its lineup

Fan-tastic: The five-day run of the International African Arts Festival, opening on June 30 in Fort Greene, will feature a large market with Afican clothing and crafts.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

An old festival learns new flicks!

When the International African Arts Festival returns to Brooklyn for the 47th time this month, it will add a new element — a documentary film festival. The chairman of the Festival, running at Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene from June 30 to July 4, said that adding movies to the annual celebration of African music and culture has been in the works for a long time.

“It’s been something we’ve discussed for years,” said Segun Shabaka.“It’s going to feature films from all over the African Diaspora,”

The schedule is still being finalized, said Shabaka, but two or three films will screen during each day of the festival, for a total of 12 to 15 films.

Shabaka hopes the films, which are all documentaries or focused on a particular time period, will give viewers a new look at the African continent and its people.

“We’re trying to bring in a historical perspective for the audience — that’s the objective,” said Shabaka.

In addition to the movies, the festival will feature Brooklyn dance troupes KowTeff African Dance Company and Ishangi Family African Dancers, along with a market area for African crafts, and musicians from Cuba, Cape Verde, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The festival’s opening night will feature a tribute to jazz musician John Coltrane, performed by the Reggie Workman Ensemble.

The festival prides itself celebrating the wide variety of African cultures represented in Brooklyn, said Shabaka.

“We are truly a pan-African celebration. We have different food vendors, artisans, patrons, performers, and everybody diverse in the African world, so we pull in a diverse crowd,” said Shabaka. “We are preserving and honoring our heritage, and this is a celebration of African culture — from Africa to its Diaspora.”

The festival’s theme this year is solidarity, and a series of panels on June 30 will discuss common issues that affect people of African descent all around the world. Shabaka sees solidarity as vital to the festival’s goal of celebrating and bringing together all sorts of Diasporic cultures.

“Every year we pick a theme that is relevant to the African world and when we think about what we should be doing — it’s solidarity,” he said. “It should be on our minds, because we have to keep finding ways to come together as African people, and see our struggle as a collective. Culture is just one of the ways we celebrate each other and who we are, and this is like a celebration towards solidarity.”

International African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park [Navy Street between Flushing and Park avenues in Fort Greene, (718) 638-6700,]. June 30–July 4, 10 am–9 pm. $5 suggested donation ($2 kids).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Updated 5:42 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Sublima from East Flatbush says:
It doesn’t surprise me that this festival only focuses on “mainstream” items, while totally ignoring alternative and minority contributions. Perhaps the people behind it could take a moment to consider their PRIVILLEGE, and spend less time oppressing others!
June 13, 2018, 7:02 am
Ms CeeMae from Crown Heights says:
Great idea to enclude films. This will keep folks globally enriched while spending days visiting commodore barry park for this well rounded presentation .. if its not what you want they allow you to present it. .
June 24, 2018, 9:39 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: