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‘A Path to Excellence’ on the history of teaching fencing to inner-city youth chosen for SF Black Film Festival

June 9, 2017

Black fencer Peter Westbrook is not a legend just because of the fact that he has competed and triumphed in the sport at an Olympic level, but because he has trained thousands of mostly Black children in New York in the art and the sport of fencing at the Peter Westbrook Foundation. “A Path to Excellence” is a documentary that speaks to that history.

‘Cocoa Butter,’ a comedy about whites wanting to be Black without headaches, at SF Black Film Fest

June 9, 2017

“Cocoa Butter” is a comedic short film by filmmaker Dominque Gilbert, where the main character, who is white, wants the benefits of being Black in society, but not the headaches, to get the attention of a girl. The main character uses the cream but forgets to read the whole label, which reads, “Once you go Black, you can never go back.” “Why in the world would you wanna be Black?” is the question the white mother asks her endarkened son.

‘Tom Freeman of the North’ short looks at gentrification and identity in post-Obama Trump era

June 9, 2017

“Tom Freeman of the North” is a comedic short filled with political satire that examines identity, upward mobility and gentrification. Tom Freeman, the main character, is a Black man who is socially invested in the gentrification of his community, while his brother Desean fights the power. “Tom Freeman of the North” is one of many great films screening at this year’s San Francisco Black Film Festival that looks at identity. Check out filmmaker Mohammed Rabbani in his own words.

The animated graphic novel ‘Abina and the Important Men’ hits SF Black Film Fest

June 9, 2017

Filmmaker Soumyaa Behrens tells the newly discovered story of Abina Mansah, who in 1874 brought a case of illegal enslavement against her African slavemaster before the British courts in the Gold Coast, in what is now Ghana. “Abina and the Important Men” is an animated graphic depiction of what happened in this historic case. Come watch the story and discuss what you think about the controversial cartoon at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.

SF Black Film Festival highlights human trafficking in ‘When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story’

June 9, 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.

SF Black Film Fest tackles sexual identity with short ‘We Love Moses’

June 8, 2017

Identity is a big topic in the Black community, because we live under white supremacist capitalistic domination here in the U.S. and in the so called Western world. In the dramatic short “We Love Moses,” sexual identity among Black people is what is being discussed in a way that is not often talked about. Check out filmmaker Dianne Edwards as she talks about “We Love Moses,” which was selected to screen this year at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.

Comedy ‘Brazilian Wavy’ deals with Korean domination of Black haircare at SFBFF

June 8, 2017

“Brazilian Wavy” is a comedic short on a political satire tip written by Brooklyn-born filmmaker Kirk Henriques. The subject is the economic relationship between Blacks and Koreans, which has not been very beneficial to the Black community. This is one of my favorite shorts in the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year. Get more info at sfbff.org. Check out filmmaker Kirk Henriques in his own words.

Reality horror film ‘I Am Still Here’ confronts sex trafficking of children at SF Black Film Fest

June 8, 2017

“I Am Still Here” is one of the most disturbing must-see films in the San Francisco Black Film Festival. “I Am Still Here” describes the horrors of child sex trafficking through the eyes of Layla, an American child being trafficked in America. Although it is a work of cinematic fiction, it is based on real events, according to the filmmakers. I interviewed Mischa Marcus and Stephanie Bell about their feature length film, “I am Still Here,” and here is what they had to say.

Teenage brothers make ‘Pseudo,’ a short film inspired by Alton Sterling police murder

June 6, 2017

In “Pseudo,” the Turner brothers, Justen, 15, and Julien, 19, creatively make a political comparison between the police unjustifiably preying on Black people and Blacks in the hood preying on white people. Although I think there has to be a wider discussion about power, white supremacy, capitalism and systematic domination, “Pseudo” is definitely a conversation starter.

Racially polarizing thriller ‘The Red Effect’ will wreak havoc on your mind at SF Black Film Festival

June 6, 2017

One of my favorite movies in the San Francisco Black Film Festival is a racially polarizing thriller named the “The Red Effect.” Although the plot is about a fictitious murder of a Black man by a white supremacist, while watching you can feel the real spirits of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and countless other Black people who made national news because they were murdered by racist vigilantes or police.

SF Black Film Fest looks at Israel through Black students’ eyes in ‘Taking Israel’

June 6, 2017

“Taking Israel” is a film executive produced by Dr. Eric Winston about a study-abroad program that he oversaw at Wilberforce University that exposed Black students to a semester of Israeli culture, society and politics. It has been selected to screen at the San Francisco Black Film Festival mainly because it deals with Black people trekking past U.S. borders for answers to questions as citizens of the world.

The Father Factor: Critical issues to be considered

June 4, 2017

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, there are 17 critical issues that should be considered by those working with fathers and, at the same time, issues fathers themselves, should take into consideration as well. In this article, I have covered 10 of these issues, but you can find the others by going to the NFI website, http://wwwfatherhood.org/fatherhood/17.

Deecolonize Academy students report on self-determination movements around the world

June 3, 2017

UN-Habitat, the UN’s human settlements program, states that the number of people living in slum conditions is now estimated at 863 million, which was only a couple hundred million less in the 1990s. The Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a political group dedicated to the betterment of the urban poor’s living. They strive to organize “a society where everyone counts and where capital and the state are subordinate to society.”

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Wanda’s Picks June 2017

June 2, 2017

Saturday, June 10, The Father’s Day Celebration, a free event for Black fathers and Black male father figures and their families, will give space for a joyous Father’s Day event for the whole community. The Father’s Day Celebration will begin with family portraits, activities for the kids (Barbers, Books and Bridges), a live DJ spinning tunes perfect for the occasion and a keynote speaker, Adimu Madyun. Dining will be available.

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Verlie Mae Pickens: I will celebrate my 101st birthday!

June 1, 2017

Hello there! This is Verlie Pickens, Verlie Mae Pickens. My family, friends and I will celebrate my 101st birthday on June 11, 2017! I invite everyone in the community to celebrate with me. In this article, I want to share with you my answers to questions that Anh Lê, a writer and journalist and a family friend, asked me. Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens, we wish you a very happy birthday! We wish you much good health, and abundant joy and happiness, Ms. Pickens!

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Grand Opus

May 31, 2017

Joc Scholar and Centric are two different musical artists who are unstoppable when combined. They are called the Grand Opus, a hip hop duo from Northern California. Joc Scholar, the emcee, is from Fresno, and Centric, the producer, is from Oakland. Centric loves producing and working with people and does not allow anything to stop his passion. According to me, when one listens to the Grand Opus album, “Forever,” you will quickly realize Scholar is a genius emcee.

‘Harlem of the West – The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era’: See the exhibit, read the book

May 30, 2017

From May through August, three floors of black and white jazz photographs are on display at the African American Art & Culture Complex. They depict Harlem of the West, the San Francisco Fillmore jazz era that was bustling from the 1930s through the 1950s. Jazz was “king” and the Fillmore music scene was alive and flowing from end to end in the African American community.

‘The Forever Tree’s magic intrigues SF Black Film Fest judges

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.

SF Black Film Fest doc chronicles Atlantic City’s Madame of Black hair

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.

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‘Pass Interference: The Davone Bess story’ tackles mental illness in NFL at SF Black Film Fest

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 …

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