Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema From UCLA
Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema From UCLA

The African Diaspora International Film Festival, which runs until December 11 in New York City will close with Zeinabu Irene Davis’ film Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema From UCLA.  The need to have an alternative voice is the aim of this documentary that tells the story of a small group of critically acclaimed, but relatively unknown black filmmakers who wanted to change the black film narrative in the USA. They were named by historians the filmmakers of the Los Angeles Rebellion. All of the filmmakers associated with this movement – including Zeinabu – attended UCLA between the “Watts riots” of 1965 and the “urban uprising” in LA that followed the Rodney King verdict in 1992.

Headlined by Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Jamaa Fanaka, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodberry, Barbara McCullough, Ben Caldwell, Alile Sharon Larkin and Larry Clark, the LA Rebellion filmmakers collectively imagined and created a black cinema against the conventions of Hollywood and Blaxploitation films. They are the first sustained movement in the United States by a collective of minority filmmakers who reimagined the production process to represent, reflect and enrich the daily lives of people in their own communities.

As part of this movement, and as a scholar of cinema herself, Zeinabu brings viewers into the lives and work of these makers with both intimacy and context. The project includes compelling and demonstrative examples of their work, and interviews with most of the makers, scholars, and critics. Younger, contemporary makers of “New Black Cinema” speak about the lasting influence of these creators. And we see them today as Zeinabu captures their continued activism, collective artistic production, and continued struggle.

On Sunday, December 11, Zeinabu Irene Davis’ silent film Compensation will screen prior to the Closing Night NY Premiere screening of Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema From UCLA to be followed by a panel discussion with director Zeinabu Davis and 3 other LA Rebellion filmmakers. The event, which also features a VIP Reception, will be held at Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street starting at 4:30pm.


ADIFF Gala Screening While We Live
Sweden based Burkinabe filmmaker Dani Kouyaté (Keita, The Heritage of the Griot, Sia, The Dream of the Python) will present his latest fiction film While We Live, an entertaining and thoughtful family drama that travels between Sweden and Gambia to explores issues of family dynamics and identity.

USA/Cuban documentary Ghost Town to Havana
There is much talk about Cuba lately. However, the films coming out of this new interaction between Cuba and the USA are still limited and often plagued by clichés. Not so with Ghost Town to Havana by Eugene Corr, an incredible social commentary that explore through the game of baseball how both Cuba and the USA nurture their youths. Mr. Corr will be on hand to discuss his film after the screenings.

Black Ballerina, a selection in the DANCING WHILE BLACK Program
The troubles and tribulations of Black aspiring ballerinas is the content of the film Black Ballerina by Frances McElroy, a very rich work of historic footage, interviews and reflection on the conditions of race relations and art in the United States of America. “Diversity in the dance world is a necessity” writes John Soltes of the Hollywood Soapbox, “Black Ballerina is an important documentary that asks important questions about this traditional and beloved art form.”

Slavery in Spain is unveiled in Gurumbe: Afro-Andalusian Memories
the African presence in Spain and Portugal and the state of affairs of race relations in Spain are explored in this great, intellectually rigorous and well documented documentary. Gurumbe: Afro-Andalusian Memories by M. Angel Rosales describes the African influences on the development of Flamenco and goes into areas of Spanish culture – including the practice of slavery in Spain – seldom covered in Spanish films.

Other films not to be missed this closing weekend include Khaled El Hagar’s Sins of the Flesh, a love story set in the backdrop of the Egyptian Revolution; Opening Night Film Everything But a Man by Nnegest Likké about a successful African-American career woman who has a life-changing romance with a mysterious, French-speaking black man from another culture; Opening Night Film The Naked Poet by Jason Barrett, the story of a poet called Lazarus that explores the relationships between his friends, family and lovers; Jawad Rhalib Rebel / Insoumise about a young woman seeking social justice in Morocco and Belgium; the identity documentary Invisible Roots: Afro-Mexicans in Southern California by Tiffany Walton and Montreal White City by Bachir Bensaddek about an Algerian taxi driver in Montreal who picks up a former pop star whom he thought was dead.

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