The traditional practice of trance has captivated French filmmaker Rahma Benhamou El Madani ever since she was a small girl watching her mother meditate and enter a state of self-induced hypnosis to 'Gnawa' music. Years later, she discovers the band Gnawa Diffusion which plays a blend of 'Gnawa' music, fused with Western and Arabic elements. Motivated by her discovery, El Madani sets out on an odyssey to Morocco, Algeria and Mali to discover the roots of this fascinating ancient and haunting sound.
France/Algeria/ Morocco, 2010, 80mins, Arabic, Doc. in French with English subtitles, Rahma Benhamou El Madani, dir.
This exploration of Haitian society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries focuses on the tormented life of one of Haiti's most important authors and prominent political figures, Jacques Roumain. In his perceptive writings, Roumain raised questions about the issues facing Haiti that remain relevant today. Some of Jacques Roumain's best writings were translated by the legendary African-American poet Langston Hughes. The question is raised: what legacy has Jacques Roumain left for the future of Haitian youth?
Haiti, 2008, 111min, Doc, French with English subtitles, Arnold Antonin, dir.
Co-presented with the New-York Historical Society.
Lovers Rock, often dubbed 'romantic reggae' is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Live performance, comedy sketches, dance, interviews and archive shed light on the music and the generation that embraced it. Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance- known as 'scrubbing'- at parties and clubs. This dance provided a coping mechanism for what was happening on the streets. Lovers Rock developed into a successful sound with national UK hits and was influential to British bands (Police, Culture Club, UB40) These influences underline the impact the music was making in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarized the times. The film sheds light on a forgotten period of British music, social and political history.
UK, 2011, 96mins, documentary, English, Menelik Shabazz, dir.
An unprecedented insider's view of the political, economic and social forces at work in Ghana during the 2008 presidential elections depicting the pride and humanity of the larger-than-life politicians, party operatives and citizens who battle for the soul of their country. An African Election will have Oscar-qualifying screenings in the context of the festival. Ghana/Switzerland, 2010, 90 min, Doc, English, Jarreth Merz, dir.
Q&A with director Jarreth Merz after the screening
Thirty years after Bob Marley's death, it is time to pay tribute to Leonard Percival Howell, The First Rasta At the beginning of the last century, the young Leonard Percival Howell (1893- 1981) left Jamaica, became a sailor and traveled the world. On his way, he chanced upon all the ideas that stirred his time. From Bolshevism to New Thought, from Gandhi to Anarchism, from Garveyism to psychoanalysis, he sought to find his promised land. With this cocktail of ideas Leonard "Going" Howell returned to Jamaica and founded Pinnacle, the first Rasta community. France/Jamaica, 2011, 90 min, Doc, English, Hélène Lee, dir.
A multidimensional story of a man torn between love and sex in contemporary London. A young, successful hedge fund manager has just been told that he is HIV positive. He is informed of the possibility that his unborn child could also be infected and so too the child's mother, his long-term fiancée, Carla.
Winner "Best Director" & "Best Actor" at the American Black Film Festival 2011.Directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson, 2011, UK, 90 mins.
Trevor wakes up with an unknown woman in unknown surroundings. As he struggles to put the pieces together, we follow him through NY as he finds the match to what ignited his night of haze...
USA, 2011, 19 min, Drama, English, Rodney Lee, dir.
Q&A after the screening followed by a catered reception.