Curated by The Luminal, and set to amplify African diaspora immigrant cinematic voices, the Weeksville Freedom Film Festival is the cinematic expression of the history and ideals of Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC), Brooklyn’s largest African-American cultural institution and one of America’s first free Black communities, and their commitment to provide a platform to voices that fight to preserve history through freedom-driven works.
Imbuing Weeksville’s themes of sanctuary, self-determination, and activism, this is a multi-genre celebration of quality independent films, dialogues, and reflections of international immigrant culture, inhabiting direct immigrant themes of freedom, displacement, abandonment, and human rights violations.
Friday June 23, 2017
Opening Night Film!
directed by Ousmane Sembene (the father of African cinema)
Senegal/France | Narrative Feature | 1966 | 59 min.
A young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white family and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a prison, both figuratively and literally—into a complexly layered critique of the lingering colonialist mind-set of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by M’Bissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s.
special introduction by Boukary Sawadogo, Ph.D., Asst. Professor of Cinema Studies, Department of Media and Communication Arts, City College - City University of NY
preceded by KHAYALAMI
Directed by Denise Khumalo
USA/Zimbabwe - Documentary Short | 2015 | 15 min
A story about an African woman’s struggle to keep her traditions and customs alive while living in an increasingly Western world.
Saturday, June 24th
LA BELLE VIE: THE GOOD LIFE
Directed by Rachelle Salnave
Documentary Feature | 2015 | 65 min
La Belle Vie: The Good Life takes a personal look into Haitian-American filmmaker Rachelle Salnave's journey to discover her Haitian roots by examining the complexities of the Haitian society, chronicling her voyage to find hope in this nation on the brink of a new Haiti.
WILMINGTON ON FIRE
Directed by Christopher Everett
Documentary Feature | 2015 | 89 min.
An in-depth chronicle of the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, a bloody attack on the African-American community by a heavily armed white mob with the support of the North Carolina Democratic Party on November 10, 1898 in the port city of Wilmington, NC. It is considered one of the very few examples of a violent overthrow of an existing government and left countless numbers of African-Americans dead and exiled from the city. This event was the springboard for the White Supremacy movement and Jim Crow segregation throughout the state of North Carolina and the American South.
Women Directors of the Diaspora
short film block – 99 min
Q&A hosted by Melissa Lyde, founder of Alfreda's Cinema film series
AFRICAN BOOTY SCRATCHER Directed by Nikyatu Jusu | Narrative Short | 2007
with DeWanda Wise (Netflix/Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It"), Ebbe Bassey, Stephen Hill, Sofia Rodriguez
Prom nears and things seem to be spiraling out of control for the typically composed Isatu. In this coming of age story, West African tradition conflicts with American idealism and Isatu is forced to reassess her alliances.
FAREWELL MEU AMOR Directed by Ekwa Msangi | Narrative Short | 2016
The morning of the long-awaited reunion with his exiled family, a man (“Fela” stage play star Sahr Ngaujah) is faced with the heartbreak of a different type of parting - from his lover (Nana Mensah).
ORI INU: IN SEARCH OF SELF Directed by Chelsea Odufu & Emann Odufu | Narrative Short | 2016
With Helene Beyene, Trae Harris, Les Nubians, and Tonya Pinkins
A coming of age story about a young immigrant woman who must choose between conforming her identity and spirituality to the cultural norms of America or revisiting her roots in the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomble.
PURGATORIO Directed by Martine Jean | Narrative Short | 2016
At the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Rosa Jean-Louis fights for her life and the survival of her child. This film is a depiction of the impact of the DR Constitutional Tribunal's decision of September 2013 on Dominicans of Haitian descent. The ruling rendered thousands stateless.
SWEET, SWEET COUNTRY Written & Directed by Dehanza Rogers | Narrative Short | 2013
with Danielle Deadwyler + Gbenga Akinnagbe
With her parents and younger siblings living in a refugee camp in Kenya, 20 year-old Ndizeye struggles to support not only herself, but provide for a family she’s not seen in five years. Living in a small southern town, her struggle becomes so much more when her family literally shows up at her doorstep.
THE YOUTH Written & Directed by Dehanza Rogers | Narrative Short | 2015
with Feikamoh Massaquoi, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, and Yolonda Ross
A recent college graduate is frustrated that his life is going nowhere until an old friend offers him the opportunity to make a difference.
Sunday, June 25
FROM NOWHERE(89 min)
Directed by Matthew Newton
Narrative Feature | 2017 | 89 min.
With J. Mallory McCree (ABC's "Quantico"), Octavia Chavez-Richmond and Raquel Castro,
Julianne Nicholson (NBC's "Law & Order), and Denis O’Hare (HBO's "True Blood")
Three undocumented teenagers — a Dominican girl, an African boy and a Peruvian girl — are just about to graduate high school in the Bronx. Like most teenagers, all they want to do is hang with their friends, fall in love, and figure out where to go to college; but unlike their American classmates, these three live with the threat of being discovered by the authorities and deported. When one of their teachers connects them with a lawyer to help them get their papers, the teens start to dig into their family histories to assist their immigration cases. As they continue to deal with the everyday problems of adolescence, the teenagers are forced to confront their
past and, at the same time, fight for their future. Winner of the SXSW 2017 Narrative Spotlight Audience Award.
preceded by YOLANDA
by Cristian Carretero
Narrative Short | 2013 | 14 min
A single mother struggles to raise her children in the poverty stricken outskirts of Santo Domingo. She soon decides to risk it all and illegally immigrate in the search of a better life.
Closing Night Film!
MOTHER OF GEORGE
Directed by Andrew Dosunmu
Narrative Feature | 2013 | 106 min.
with Danai Gurira (Michonne on AMC's "The Walking Dead", Isaach De Bankolé ("Casino Royale", "Chocolat") Yaya Alafia, and Angelique Kidjo
Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé) and Adenike (Danai Gurira) marry and start a new life. As months pass without a pregnancy, Adenike feels torn between her Yoruba culture and her new life in America, struggling to save her marriage.