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South African film takes the lead at the 2009 Pan African Film Festival

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The Pan African Film and Arts festival is here once again and opening this year’s festival is the acclaimed South African drama “” directed by at the star-studded red carpet opening night celebration on February 5th. The movie is about character Lucky Kunene who moves o the rough-and-tumble Hillbrow section of Johannesburg and transforms himself nto a real-estate crime boss even as he tries to elude determined white cop Blakkie Swart, vengeful renegade Nazareth Mbolelo and Nigerian drug lord Tony Ngu.

is America’s largest and most prestigious flagship black film and arts festival and will take place February 5-16, 2009. With over 2,500 submissions, the 2009 PAFF features films from 42 countries and boasts a record attendance now topping a quarter of a million attendees over its twelve-day run. The festival has announced a change of venue to accommodate its ever-growing audience for its film festival to the Culver Plaza Theatres (9919 Washington Boulevard). The PAFF Art Market, a highly anticipated and celebrated major exhibit of black fine art and quality crafts featuring the work of over 100 different artists and artisans, will remain at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.). For more information and access to PAFF’s online box office, please visit www.paff.org.

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

Happy Sad (2008/Trinidad & Tobago/105min)
Dir: Dianah Wynter
After her mother is sent to prison, profound changes occur in the lives of several people when 17-year-old Mandy Graham goes to live with her father’s dysfunctional family who she never knew. Soon passions are unleashed, laying bare souls and revealing long hidden secrets.

Joséphine (Le Mystère Joséphine) (2008/Martinique/142min)
Dir: Christian Lara
When a young history professor arrives in Martinique to research her doctoral thesis on Joséphine, Napoleon’s wife, she finds two conflicting death certificates which cast doubt on Joséphine’s true identity.

Nobody Smiling (2008/US/83min)
Dir: Jamal Dedeaux
A college teacher returns home to bury his murdered brother. While wrapping up his brother’s affairs, he is assaulted by gang members who give him 24 hours to pay his brother’s substantial debt. Given little choice, he is pulled into a world of illegal drugs, arms deals, gangsters and underground pornography.

Prince of Broadway (2008/US/102min)
Dir: Sean Baker

The lives of two immigrants converge in the seedy side of New York’s wholesale district. Selling knock-off designer merchandise, Lucky’s world is turned upside down when a child is thrust into his life, while Levon struggles to save a marriage that is falling apart.

Rain (2008/Bahamas/93min)
Dir: Maria Govan

When her grandmother dies, a girl goes to live in Nassau with the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler. As her mother’s destructive lifestyle becomes evident, the girl must struggle to find her own place in the world. Stars CCH Pounder and Calvin Lockhart.

Run Baby Run (2007/Ghana/117min)
Dir: Emmanuel Apea Jr.

Set against the backdrop of drug dealing and trafficking, a London-based student gets mixed up in the drug trade when his visiting little sister picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. A dramedy in which the repercussions of a bad decision result in a frantic rescue throughout the Ghanaian countryside. Best Feature, AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards).

Sex, Gumbo & Salted Butter (Sexe, Gombo et Beurre Salé) (2008/France/81min)
Dir: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

The story takes place in the African community in Bordeaux, France. Sexual issues, loneliness, tradition and modernity, interracial relationships, conflict of generations…all are depicted humorously.

Stolen Kisses (Kobolat Masroka) (2008/Egypt/120min)
Dir: Khaled el Hagar

The most watched film in Egypt, Stolen Kisses is a film about the challenges faced by today’s youth. Exploring unemployment, sexual frustration, prostitution, and violence in Cairo, its progressive approach made it the number one box office film in Egypt in 2008. Winner of 8 international awards.

Yellow House, The (La Maison Jaune) (2007/Algeria/France/89min)
Dir: Hakkar Amor

After the death of his son in military service, a farmer journeys to collect the body. Upon his return, he realizes his wife has become withdrawn. Fearing her inability to overcome depression, he tries everything to bring a smile back to her face.

Zimbabwe (2008/South Africa/84min)
Dir: Darrell Roodt

A young girl named Zimbabwe finds that life gets even tougher in rural Zimbabwe after the death of her mother from an AIDS-related disease. Not only are she and her brother now orphaned, but she has her orphaned niece to look after and the village Chief tells her they must leave, that they can no longer support them.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Black Candle, The (2008/US/71min)
Dir: M.K. Asante Jr.

A landmark documentary uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore the African-American experience. Narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker M.K. Asante, Jr. (“500 Years”), this extraordinary, inspirational story celebrates the struggle and triumph of African-American family, community, and culture. Appearances by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Chuck D., Jim Brown, Amiri Baraka and Stic.Man of Dead Prez.

Cuba, an African Odyssey (France/118min)
Dir: Jihan El-Tahri

A chronicle of the crucial role that Cuba played in securing the independence of nations throughout Africa. At the very height of the Cold War, Cuba risked the enmity of both superpowers by its unwavering commitment to the principle that Africa should be governed by the genuine representatives of its peoples. Cuba provided invaluable support to liberation struggles throughout the continent. The film focuses on Cuban efforts in Congo, Guinea-Bissau and during the war in Angola. It reveals incredible events that span thirty years, from Che Guevara’s covert mission to avenge the death of Patrice Lumumba, to Fidel Castro’s command of the decisive battle in Angola and the negotiations with Apartheid South Africa that finally ended the war.

End of Poverty?, The (2008/US/104min)
Dir: Philippe Diaz

A phenomenal discourse on why poverty persists and why the majority of the world’s people live without adequate shelter, food, clothing and little to no access to medical care and education. A must see for anyone wanting to understand not only the US economic system but the foundations of today’s global economy. Narrated by Martin Sheen.

Kassim the Dream (2008/Uganda/US/88min)
Dir: Kief Davidson

Born in Uganda, abducted as a child and forced to become a soldier, Kassim finds his ticket to freedom through boxing. Coming to the U.S., he finds the American dream after becoming the Junior Middleweight Champion of the world.

Milking the Rhino (2008/US/83min)
Dir: David E. Simpson

With memorable characters and spectacular locations, MILKING THE RHINO tells joyful, penetrating and heartbreaking stories from Kenya and Namibia – revealing the high stakes obstacles facing Community Conservation today.

Nubian Spirit: The African Legacy of the Nile Valley (2008/Sudan/UK/73min)
Dir: Louis Buckley

A beautifully photographed documentary revealing the contribution of Ancient Sudan (Nubia) to the culture, history and spiritual mythology of the people from the Nile Valley.

Number One with a Bullet (2008/US/105min)
Dir: Jim Dziura

A thoughtful and informative study of the current violence engulfing Urban America seen through the eyes of many of today’s biggest rappers, many of whom have been victims of violence. Interviews with Ice Cube, Mos Def, Young Buck, KRS-One, Jerry Heller among others.

Peace Mission (2008/Germany/80min)
Dir: Dorothee Wenner

In Nigeria, a whole new film industry developed during the early 1990s. With over 1,400 films produced each year, “Nollywood” is statistically the biggest film industry in the world. Peace Anyiam Fiberesima, the founder of the African Movie Academy, takes the audience on a tour of the vibrant production hub of Lagos and introduces key personalities of Nollywood along the way. Versatile and full of energy, they all share the vision of making Nollywood an important platform for re-telling Africa’s history from an African point of view.

Standing-n-Truth: Breaking the Silence (2008/US/78min)
Dir: Tim Daniels

Transcending differences of sexuality, class and gender, the intimate experiences of stigma, shame and silence of men, women and children living in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are punctuated by interviews with an array of popular-opinion leaders including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Michael Eric Dyson and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (2008/US/86min)
Dir: Katrina Browne, Alla Kovgan & Jude Ray

Filmmaker Katrina Browne’s discovery that her New England ancestors were America’s largest slave-trading family compels her into an intriguing and emotional exploration of the legacy of slavery.

NARRATIVE SHORT COMPETITION

Dockweiler (2008/US/15min)
Dir: Nick J. Palmer

An ex-con heads up maintenance at Dockweiler Beach, seeing himself as a savior to the men he hires. Stars Tony Todd.

Happy Anniversary, Punk! (2007/US/30min)
Dir: Michael Ajakwe Jr.

Teen violence and the failure of the justice system form the center of this adaptation of an acclaimed one-act play.

Jump the Broom: A Musical (2008/US/32min)
Dir: Kena Tangi Dorsey

This refreshingly creative musical finds a woman about to be married having second thoughts when her rascal of an ex shows up at the church just before the wedding.

Kwame (2008/Ghana/US/25min)
Dir: Edward Osei-Gyimah

A Ghanaian cabdriver comes to terms with the reasons he immigrated to America.

Nora (2008/US/35min)
Dir: Alla Kovgan & David Hinton

A filmic journey into the life of Nora Chipaumire, choreographer and performance artist from Zimbabwe.

Panty Man, The (2008/US/6min)
Dir: Camrin Pitts

Set in the moody blues atmosphere of an underground poetry club, a married man admits his fetish for womens panties.

Premature (2008/US/15min)
Dir: Rashaad Ernesto Green

A streetwise teenager discovers she’s pregnant. Receiving no support from her community, she has nowhere to turn and is faced with the most difficult decision she will ever make.

Put it in a Book (2008/US/18min)
Dir: Rodrigo Garcia

“Put It in a Book” is about two brothers: when one is killed by gang violence, the other must choose between two paths, one of righteousness or one of revenge.

Second Half, The (2008/US/20min)
Dir: Jeffrey Elmont

To save the future of a young B-ball player, a former player now working as a janitor must come out of the shadows.

Seven Breaths (2008/US/19min)
Dir: Gershon Hinkson

Embarking on a mission to find the thief, the victim of an armed robbery finds his moral path has become blurred.

Tight Jeans (2007/UK/9min)
Dir: Destiny Ekaragha

As they sit on a fence waiting for their buddy, a comedic debate about race and culture is sparked between three Black teens when a white man wearing tight jeans passes by.

Warrior Queen (2008/Ghana/22min)
Dir: Hezekiah Lewis

With the King exiled, Queen Asantewa becomes the strength and protector of her homeland, fearlessly leading her people against British rule and proving that preserving one’s culture and tradition ensures its identity and pride.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT COMPETITION

4 Our Sons (2008/Bermuda/US/82min)
Dir: Vanz Chapman & Eric McKay

Young Black men from different walks of life speak on growing up Black and male in an oftentimes hostile inner city environment. With strength and perseverance they were able to build their own versions of the American dream. An empowering must see for Black youth.

African Underground: Democracy in Dakar (2008/Senegal/France/US/65min)
Dir: Ben Herson, Chris Moore & Magee McIlvaine

Bridging the gap between hip-hop activism and video journalism, this groundbreaking documentary explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process during recent presidential elections in Senegal.

Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Radio (2008/US/65min)
Dir: U-Savior

An examination of the rise and fall of Black Radio discusses the many aspects that made it unique as an art form. Features interviews with prominent individuals in media and Black culture and rare air checks by some of the most famous Black jocks of all time.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (2008/US/68min)
Dir: Dawn Logsdon & Lolis Eric Elie

The Tremé district of New Orleans is arguably the oldest black community in America…the birthplace of the Southern Civil Rights movement as well as the home of jazz. This fascinating historical tour of the Tremé becomes a riveting tale of hope, heartbreak and resilience, especially in light of Katrina.

Has God Forsaken Africa? (2008/Canada/52min)
Dir: Musa Dieng Kala

Each year, thousands of young Africans risk their lives to flee a continent scourged by war and endemic poverty.

It’s Time: African Women Join Hands Against Domestic Violence (2008/Canada/53min)
Dir: Steven Hunt

In a unique partnership, a Canadian agency and two African organizations work to combat the epidemic of domestic violence toward women and girls in South Africa and Ethiopia.

Neo African Americans, The (2008/US/58min)
Dir: Kobina Aidoo

The African American narrative is rapidly being transformed by immigration from Africa and the Caribbean.

Sampari (2008/France/52min)
Dir: Damien Faure & Jerome Bonnard

Every year indigenous leaders from the world over travel to New York to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Viktor Kaisiepo comes to defend the rights of his people of Western Papua, who have been colonized by Indonesia since 1969.

Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968 (2009/US/57min)
Dir: Judy Richardson & Bestor Cram

Over-shadowed by the killing of four white students at Kent State, the little-remembered police attack on South Carolina State College resulting in the murders of three black students is scrupulously researched, offering the definitive account of one of the bloodiest tragedies of the Civil Rights era.

Tulia, Texas (2008/US/54min)
Dir: Cassandra Herrman & Kelly Whalen

A lone undercover cop causes forty-six people, nearly all Black, to be arrested for selling cocaine in a small farming town. It was heralded as one of the biggest drug busts in Texas history, until a team of lawyers set out to uncover the truth.

BEST FIRST FEATURE

13 Months of Sunshine (2008/Ethiopia/US/101min)
Dir: Yehdego Abeselom

The American dream and the immigrant experience collide in this heartwarming comedy focusing on the romance between two Ethiopian immigrants.

Family (2008/US/113min)
Dir: Faith Trimel

A coming-of-age dramedy centering on the lives of a group of lesbian friends who all experience continual strife in their lives as a result of being closeted, causing them to make a pact to come out together.

Happy Sad (2008/Trinidad & Tobago/105min)
Dir: Dianah Wynter

After her mother is sent to prison, profound changes occur in the lives of several people when 17-year-old Mandy Graham goes to live with her father’s dysfunctional family who she never knew. Soon passions are unleashed, laying bare souls and revealing long hidden secrets.

Nobody Smiling (2008/US/83min)
Dir: Jamal Dedeaux

A college teacher returns home to bury his murdered brother. While wrapping up his brother’s affairs, he is assaulted by gang members who give him 24 hours to pay his brother’s substantial debt. Given little choice, he is pulled into a world of illegal drugs, arms deals, gangsters and underground pornography.

Rain (2008/Bahamas/93min)
Dir: Maria Govan

When her grandmother dies, a girl goes to live in Nassau with the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler. As her mother’s destructive lifestyle becomes evident, the girl must struggle to find her own place in the world. Stars CCH Pounder and Calvin Lockhart.

Run Baby Run (2007/Ghana/117min)
Dir: Emmanuel Apea Jr.

Set against the backdrop of drug dealing and trafficking, a London-based student gets mixed up in the drug trade when his visiting little sister picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. A dramedy in which the repercussions of a bad decision result in a frantic rescue throughout the Ghanaian countryside. Best Feature, AMAA (African Movie Academy Awards).

Unequal (2009/US/94min)
Dir: John G. White

Due to her very vocal and public stance on celebrating the virtues not only of being celibate, but a virgin who’s “saving herself for marriage”, Candace becomes playboy Urban’s newest challenge. But will the hunter get captured by the game?

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TV and Movies

Famous Talent Show Comes To East Africa

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East Africa Got Talent

The famous TV series ‘Got Talent’ is coming to East Africa. Tagged ‘East Africa Got Talent’, the show will seek to identify exceptional talent in the region. The show which is the brainchild of Simon Cowell’s SYCOtv Company is now featured in over 50 countries across the globe. Cowell is famous for his strict judgments in the initial seasons of American Idol. However, Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent are the most famous. A statement from Safaricom’s Chief Customer Officer, Sylvia Mulinge read,

“The famous ‘Got Talent’ reality TV series is coming to East Africa! We are on location at Movenpick to launch the series, as we announce our title sponsorship for East Africa’s Got Talent. We are happy to announce our sponsorship of this iconic show which has been lauded as one of the world’s most successful reality TV franchise.”

The host for inaugural East Africa Got Talent

Anne Kansiime

The hilarious comedian Anne Kansiime has been named the host for the inaugural edition of the show. The show will search for the best talents across Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Some of the talent-acts the judges will be on the lookout for are comedians, dancers, singers, and more. The audition is open for anyone with any form of talent irrespective of age. In a message shared on her social media, Kansiime said,

“Oooh Ninjas, am struggling to contain this excitement. I doubt there is an Emoji I can use to illustrate it. This is it; “The famous ‘Got Talent’ reality TV series is coming to East Africa. Yes, as “East Africa’s Got Talent”. Am so happy and excited to announce my association with this iconic show which has been lauded as the world’s most successful reality TV franchise as the Host.”

A preliminary audition will hold across the four countries in major cities between from May 11 to 26. However, those who are successful will head to Nairobi, Kenya where they will perform in front of judges. They will compete until the semifinals where six people will compete for $50,000. The screening of the show is scheduled to begin in August. However, the show will have ten episodes besides the semifinal and final. The last two stages will be aired live.

The most successful reality TV

The episode of Got Talent was on June 21, 2006. Twelve years on, the show is coming to East Africa. The Guinness World Records on April 2014 named the show the ‘World’s Most Successful Reality TV Format’. South Sudan and Burundi are part of East Africa but omitted from the list. However, there is no formal statement restricting them from participating.

Those who cannot make it to the pre-audition venues can still participate online through www.rapidblue.formstack.com. Alternatively, you can record your act in a one-minute video and send it to the WhatsApp number +254 (0)703 437 903 with your name, age, and country.

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Celebrities

SZA Surprises Fans With The Adoption Of Nigerian Names

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SZA adopts Nigerian names

American music sensation Solana Rowe aka SZA made eyes pop on her Instagram page recently. However, this time it wasn’t just about stunning pictures. The music star on Thursday, April 11th, 2019, adopted two Nigerian names, “Amarachi Chinonso”. The names which are peculiar with the Igbos in Southeastern Nigeria means “God’s grace” and “God is close” respectively. The Instagram sensation has over 5.7 million followers. Mix reactions followed SZA’s name change. There were the positives, negatives and the neutral.

The 29-year old singer was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in St. Louis. Fans immediately began to pour out their admiration for the African-American artiste’s willingness to identify with her African heritage. However, not every fan loves to make assumptions. A few fans were keen to find out the motive for her actions.

Some of the reactions trailing SZA’s name change

A picture posted days after the name change has over 618k likes and 4k comments. In addition to admiring her stunning beauty, a number of the comments revolves around her name change. However, a few of the inspiring or eyebrow-raising comments include;

Zizilords.xo; “Chineke such beauty!!! Daluu ooh#igbo_sister”

Majesty_lyn; “Omg, you’re Nigerian!!!!!!! I’m screaming”.

Itslavivi; “Can you please tell us the inspiration behind the Igbo name in your bio?”

Kelechikakesss; “If you (‘re) Nigerian, can you tell us because we wanna know ASAP?”

Obsessed_style; “Shoutout to @SZA for being an absolute queen. We’ve always love you but now our love for you is x3. Igbo kwenu!”

Carolinetheshe_; Nice fit but please we need clarity on your new Nigerian names

Derinfromisaleeko: We need to know, are you Nigerian? Are you one of us.. We love you still if you aren’t.

Recent and past musical projects

The Grammy-nominee songstress performed recently at Dreamville festival. The event was also graced by Nigerian Afrobeat star, Davido. For the past few weeks, the artist has been teasing her fans on social media about her upcoming project. Apparently, SZA featured alongside ‘Travis Scott’ and ‘The Weekend’ on Game of Thrones official soundtrack. On Thursday 18, April, SZA finally shared the Game of Thrones soundtrack with the caption ‘POWER IS POWER OUT NOW”

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POWER IS POWER. OUT NOW

A post shared by SZA (@sza) on

SZA shot into limelight in 2017 with the release of her debut album, ‘Ctrl’. The album made its debut on the US Billboard 200 at number 3. Consequently, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gave the album platinum certification. The album got four Grammy Awards nominations. SZA, on the other hand, bagged the ‘Best New Artiste’ nomination at the 60th award ceremony.

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Art

Three Rwanda Genocide Survivors Inspire Next Generation Of Camera Kids

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Three genocide survivors inspire kids with photography

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda led to the death of about 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsis. However, 25 years on, some of the genocide survivors are making a difference using the art of photography. Mussa Uwitonze, Gadi Habumugisha, and Jean Bizimana lost their parents during the genocide. While at the Imbabazi Orphanage in 2000, they were introduced to photography at ages eight and nine when nonprofit, Through the Eyes of Children, partnered with the orphanage.

Today the trio are working as professional photographers. Bizimana is a photojournalist with Reuters Africa while Uwitonze and Habumugisha are documentary photographers. In the past few months, the trio are exploring Rwanda, interviewing genocide perpetrator and survivors to document the forgiveness so far.

Mussa Uwitonze

A Twist Of Fate For This Genocide Survivors

The fate of the trio changed when a photographer visited the country. Each time he took pictures children will flock around in excitement to see. So the photographer was curious at the type of pictures the children would take if given the opportunity. Explaining their unlikely twist of fate, Habumugisha said,

Gadi Habumugisha

“He came to our orphanage and chose a group of 19 out the 100 kids, taught us some basics of photography and gave us disposable cameras. We went out to the community to take pictures and what surprised him is that the images we took were images of life and development of Rwanda.”

Soon after, the project leaders began promoting their pictures around the neighborhood, museums, universities, and Kigali. However, their works got the attention of international photographers because they took rare images. This was because they were part of the community, therefore free to take pictures foreigners couldn’t.

Early Years In Photography

After the close of the orphanage, the three became professional photographers. They began documenting activities at conferences and non-profit organizations. Consequently, they also decided to share their photography skills for the benefit of other kids. The trio are taking the Through the Eyes of Children project global by teaching other vulnerable children and genocide survivors around the world photography.

Jean Bizimana

The trio have shared their skills with young refugees in Boston and New Jersey. They have also reached out to children in foster homes as well as disabled students and genocide survivors. Reacting to their expanded Through the Eyes of Children project, Habumugisha said,

“Photography changed our lives because people got to learn about Rwanda through photography and they gave donations to the orphanage. Also, people appreciating our photos gave us hope that even though we were orphans, we had value in society and so we [want] to pass it forward to children in formidable states, so we came up with some workshops to teach children in school and later thought of going beyond to help vulnerable children so photography could help them too.”

Future Projects

The trio is now GroundTruth Film Fellows working on a documentary titled ‘Camera Kids’. Their amazing story will be part of the feature-length film. They are looking forward to opening a photography training center to give young people (including genocide survivors) the chance of making a decent livelihood.

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