NEW VOICES IN BLACK CINEMA Opens With Dance Documentary FLEX IS KINGS
Photo: Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols’ Flex is Kings
NEW VOICES IN BLACK CINEMA at BAMcinématek
BAMcinématek and ActNow Foundation present the fourth annual New Voices in Black Cinema festival,
John Sayles in person for a 30th anniversary screening of
The Brother from Another Planet, this year’s New Black Classic
Three New York premieres, one world premiere, and special guests at most screenings
The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor for BAMcinématek and BAM Rose Cinemas.
Brooklyn, NY/Feb 27, 2014—From Thursday, March 27 through Sunday, March 30, BAMcinématek presents New Voices in Black Cinema, the fourth annual festival co-presented by the Fort Greene-based ActNow Foundation. Reflecting the wide spectrum of views and themes within the African diasporan communities in Brooklyn and beyond, the series features three New York premieres, one world premiere, and special guests at most screenings. Home to a variety of ActNow programs since 2009, BAMcinématek continues this partnership that provides a showcase for new and established voices in black independent cinema.
Martin Majeske, managing director for ActNow Foundation, says of the partnership with BAMcinématek, “ActNow is extremely excited to be moving into its fourth year with New Voices in Black Cinema. This year’s lineup features fantastic narrative and documentary films that showcase the depth and diversity of the African-American experience, and we can’t wait to share the work of such talented filmmakers with Brooklyn audiences.”
Opening the festival on Friday, March 27 is Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols’ inspiring documentary Flex is Kings (2013), exploring the flex dance movement in East New York. Flex reinvents movements from familiar dance styles such as popping, locking, and moonwalking by incorporating humorous flourishes as well as choreography that mimics real-life struggles on the streets of Brooklyn. Over a season of Battlefest, the dance style’s central competition, Flex is Kings showcases the artistry of a burgeoning movement and the DIY performers who have created a thriving community in a neighborhood of high crime and limited opportunities. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with directors Schoo and Nichols as well as the subjects of the film.
Among the New York premieres in New Voices in Black Cinema is Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie’s César-nominated animated film Aya of Yop City (2012—Mar 29), “a vividly drawn…intriguing snapshot of West African life in the 1970s, with a fanciful vintage soundtrack” (Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter), which was adapted from Abouet’s popular graphic novel series. Also screening in their New York premieres are James Richards’ The Bicycle (2013—Mar 29), about a young girl’s journey to find her stolen bicycle; and Tommy Oliver’s semi-autobiographical debut feature 1982 (2013—Mar 29), an emotional drama about a family torn apart by drug addiction starring Hill Harper (CSI: NY), Wayne Brady, and Ruby Dee. This official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival will be followed by a Q&A with Oliver and Harper. Making its world premiere in the festival is Darious J. Britt’s Unsound (2013—Mar 28), in which a young filmmaker resorts to extreme measures to help his mother through her mental illness.
This year’s documentary selections include Christine Turner’s Homegoings (2013—Mar 28), an “exquisitely tender documentary about a Harlem funeral director” (Hank Stuever, The Washington Post); Jason Osder’s Let the Fire Burn (2013—Mar 30), which follows the 1985 stand-off between radical black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia government, and won the Best Documentary Director award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival; Tamarat Makonnen’s comedic look at romance in African-American culture, In Search of the Black Knight (2013—Mar 29); and Maia Wechsler’s Melvin & Jean: An American Story (2012—Mar 28) in which two Americans look back at the lifelong consequences of a crime they committed 40 years earlier.
For this year’s New Black Classic selection, BAMcinématek and ActNow celebrate the 30th anniversary of John Sayles’ hilarious sci-fi satire of the immigrant experience, The Brother From Another Planet (1984—Mar 30). Sayles will appear in person for a Q&A following the screening. Other highlights include Julius Onah’s Spike Lee-produced thriller The Girl is in Trouble (2012—Mar 28); Sai Varadan’s An American in Hollywood (2013—Mar 27), starring J.D. Williams and Hassan Johnson of The Wire; Nicole Gomez Fisher’s coming-of-age comedy Sleeping with the Fishes (2013—Mar 30); and Bound Realities (Mar 30), a program of eight short films that walk the line between documentary and fiction.
Since its inception, ActNow Foundation has presented stories about race, love, family, cultural differences, self-empowerment, the corporate world, and the toils and aspirations of the working, middle, and upper classes, with a declared mission statement to “promote and preserve independent films and theater that reflect the infinite range of African diaspora images across the globe.” In addition to the New Voices in Black Cinema festival at BAMcinématek, ActNow Foundation curates the Short Film Collective and is currently working on theater productions for 2014.