May 28, 2017
“The Forever Tree,” a fictional short screening at the SF Black Film Festival this year, is set in Harlem in the year 1919 and utilizes history and magical realism to tell its story. In the film, the main character interacts with Madame CJ Walker, Garvey is talked about, and the Book of Enoch is talked about as well as the Dogon star. I sat down with the co-writer and producer of “The Forever Tree,” Stephen Hintz, so that he could give us a little background into what went into this film.
May 23, 2017
In an era where the Koreans own the multi-billion-dollar Black haircare industry in the U.S., we need to know about and learn from Black business pioneers like Madame Sara Spencer Washington. Atlantic City’s Madame was a multi-millionaire in the 20’s, running a business empire called Apex Hair and News Co. Her grandson, filmmaker Royston Scott, sat down with me to discuss his documentary called “The Sara Spencer Washington Story,” which will be screening at the SF Black Film Festival.
May 23, 2017
The monumental documentary created by filmmaker Branson Wright, “Pass Interference: The Davone Bess Story,” chronicles the life of one of Oakland’s most talented athletes, who shot to superstardom in the NFL. Then his life crumbled when he had to come face to face with his own mental illness. I caught up with filmmaker Branson Wright to talk about the motivation for doing the film, mental illness, a hometown hero and more …
May 22, 2017
“Cream” is a political and socially conscious short that is set in Oakland in 1968, at the time of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The film deals with identity, self-respect and knowledge of self in a Black family setting. Check out filmmaker Alexandra Lebona as she talks about her film, “Cream,” which has been selected to screen at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.
May 21, 2017
When people mention horror, they may think of Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King. Now we have Antwon Rollins, a Black man, whose mind is immersed in writing and shooting horror, but who is able to tell stories from a slightly different perspective: a common Black perspective. Check out “#Victim 505” at the San Francisco Black Film Fest, as well as check out the filmmaker Antwon Rollins as he talks to us about filmmaking and “#Victim 505.”
May 18, 2017
One of the best mystery films in the 2017 SF Black Film Festival this year is “Live a Little” by filmmaker David Jaffe, where the main character gets loaded, a fight spills from the bar, someone gets killed, and everyone is trying to put together the many pieces to figure out what happened. Suspense drives this feature film more than any other emotion. Check out filmmaker David Jaffe in his own words.
May 15, 2017
One of the best indie films with a street edge and a message in the 2017 San Francisco Black Film Festival that deals with human trafficking is called “When Love Kills.” It is definitely a must see. I have watched over 100 films made this year and last year, and this is definitely among the cream of the crop. Check out screenwriter Cas Sigers-Beedles as she gives us some of the ins and outs on making this film.
May 14, 2017
Finally, a filmmaker has come to the forefront to confront the identity question in the post-Obama Trump era. Filmmaker Mtume Gant beautifully asks pertinent questions about what it means to be Black in today’s times in his 20-minute short, an official SF Black Film Festival selection called “White Face.” This political satire, an artsy, comedic drama, is a must see for all the politically minded readers out there. Check out the genius of filmmaker Mtume Gant in this exclusive Q&A.
May 12, 2017
One of the most beautifully told stories and exceptionally written scripts in the 2017 San Francisco Film Festival presents itself as a current-day Black love story, a drama called “Boston2Philly.” It’s about a young man who’s devastated by his past and starts his life over in a new city trying to recover from what life has dealt him. I talked to filmmaker Ralph Celestin about his cinematic history and the making of this brilliant film.
May 8, 2017
One of the dopest documentaries that will be screening at the San Francisco Black Film Festival is “BlaxploItalian: 100 Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema,” which looks at the perception of Black people, born in Italy, in the their national media as well as the cultural currents that it took to get them included in working in cinema and today’s fight against type casting, where Blacks are only given certain characters to play. Check out filmmaker Fred Kuwornu.
May 5, 2017
Dimensions Dance Theatre presents its annual youth showcase, “The Village Matters,” on Sunday, May 7. Participants include Rites of Passage, Dimensions Extensions, LIKHA School of Philippine Dance, On Demand, BAY-Peace, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland High School, Bret Harte Middle School and Kipp Bridge Academy. The program also features guest artists Destiny Muhammad, “Harpist from the Hood,” and Batalá San Francisco.
May 1, 2017
RYSE debuts its third annual production at El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater on May 6 and 7. “Richmond Renaissance” is an original play written and performed by Richmond youth. Set in AnnaBelle’s, a Black-owned juke joint in 1940s North Richmond, Richmond Renaissance counters the often negative Richmond narrative of poverty and violence by highlighting the community’s wealthy cultural past as an epicenter for blues, jazz and zydeco.
April 30, 2017
Well-known veteran musician and producer Philip Hennen, aka “Phil the Mil(lionaire),” will soon be sharing a different aspect of his immense creativity. On this coming First Friday, May 5, 2017, from 6 to 9 p.m., Philip will showcase his striking “Mood City” photography, at the beautiful Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland. Recently, Philip sat down to discuss his artistry with the Bay View’s Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at.
April 29, 2017
Mollie Mae Claretta Hooey Bagwell was born to the union of John Neely Hooey, a minister, and Blanche Hooey, a missionary, on Aug. 12, 1916. Very early in life she was trained as a pianist and played for her father’s church. Mollie became a licensed beautician, practicing her craft for many years. She studied organ and became an organist. In spite of great pain, she loved life and lived over 100 years, serving as an inspiration for many, not least her family.
April 28, 2017
The film written by Arthur Walls, “A Hundred Blocks,” was sold out at the Oakland International Film Festival screening a few weeks ago, with some of Oakland’s top athletes in attendance, including boxing champion Andre Ward and the legendary running back and newly signed Raider Marshawn Lynch. It will be screened next at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Check out Arthur Walls in his own words.
April 25, 2017
“Oakland in Blue” is a short movie that was made by locally grown, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Robbin Rae and selected to be in both the Oakland International Film Festival, which just passed, and the upcoming San Francisco Black Film Festival. The cinematography, the lighting, the script, the acting and the message were all on point. Robbin Rae is a name we will hear more of, mark my words.
April 19, 2017
On the second weekend of June this year, the San Francisco Black Film Festival will be celebrating its 19th year by screening over 100 independent Black films in this annual four-day cinema marathon. San Francisco Black Film Festival director Kali O’Ray, son of founder Ave Montague, sits down to discuss how it feels for the festival to celebrate its 19th birthday, the importance of indie films, remaining in a city that was once a lot more chocolate but has been gentrified to 3 percent Black – and more.
April 15, 2017
Back during the Black Power Era, if you were down for the cause, people called you “aware.” In the Hip Hop Era, the term for being politically up to date was “conscious.” Now, with the Millennials, if you are in tune with what’s going on in the world, you are referred to as “woke.” For the past few years, since the murder of Trayvon Martin, there has been a steady rise in cultural awareness within the Black community. The Black truth now gets as much traction as the white mainstream news on Facebook. So why is the church, arguably the spiritual center of the Black community, still running two steps behind?
April 14, 2017
Poet-composer-playwright-critic Mari Evans Phemster was funeralized March 21, 2017, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Like her friend, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), Mari’s output preceded the Black Arts Movement, though many of her titles and themes – like “I Am a Black Woman” – became anthems of BAM.
April 14, 2017
“Jitney,” August Wilson’s first play, set in 1977, takes place in the Hill District in Philadelphia, a place Wilson called home. “Jitney,” a part of Wilson’s 10-play canon that chronicles Black life from Jim Crow South to illusive Northern freedoms, speaks to the absence of permanent change for Black people despite legislative acts 1865 to now. It runs through April 16; visit www.african-americanshakes.org.