by The People’s Minister of Information JR
The prestigious Oakland International Film Festival is entering its 12th year of bringing hard-to-find films from around the world to the big screens of Oakland and surrounding areas from April 3-6. This year one of the headliners is “Toussaint L’Ouverture,” the movie starring Jimmy Jean-Louis, about one of the fathers of the Haitian Revolution.
Last year, one of the headliners was “Mugabe: Hero or Villain,” and the year before that it was “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” So as you can see David Roach, one of the founders and the director of the Oakland International Film Fest, pulls in a lot of interesting films that Bay Area audiences would otherwise not be privy to. Check him out in his own words about this year’s festival.
M.O.I. JR: How does it feel to host the 12th Oakland International Film Fest?
David Roach: It feels very exciting to host this year’s 12th Oakland International Film Festival.
M.O.I. JR: What are the headlining films this year? What other films are you excited about?
David Roach: “Toussaint L’Ouverture” opens this year’s festival. A. Philippe Niang’s French-produced made-for-TV two-part movie on Toussaint L’Ouverture stars Jimmy Jean-Louis as the title character and Aïssa Maïga (“Paris,” “Je T’Aime,” “Bamako”) as Toussaint’s wife, Suzanne, and Sonia Rolland (“Moloch Tropical,” “Midnight in Paris”) as Marie-Eugénie Sonthonax, wife of abolitionist L.F. Sonthonax.
I’m excited about a few Oakland feature films and shorts. It’s hard to say. The excitement relates more to the festivities of our journey during these four straight days centered around films and filmmakers and seeing different types of people coming together for the very first time because of films.
I’m excited to see the reaction from local filmmakers when they witness films made from different countries. I’m excited to participate in acknowledging their work as filmmakers. It’s really hard to answer the question of which films because it’s like gumbo – which is better, the crab or sausage – or the peanut butter or the jam? All make it what it is: a film festival in the East Bay. I’m excited about all 43 flicks!
The prestigious Oakland International Film Festival is entering its 12th year of bringing hard-to-find films from around the world to the big screens of Oakland and surrounding areas from April 3-6.
M.O.I. JR: What is the purpose of a film fest for the people who have never been to one?
David Roach: One of the purposes of the Oakland International Film Festival is to utilize film to build healthy communities and to promote local filmmakers and their stories. I believe we are very different than other film festivals in that the city of Oakland is a very unique place with its own unique issues and concerns.
David Roach: Day 1 is at the Grand Lake Theater; Day 2, the historic Bal Theater in San Leandro; Day 3, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle; Day 4, the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. We are still working out the details of the parties but it looks like Geoffrey’s Inner Circle will be on and popping Saturday night.
M.O.I. JR: How do you feel about Spike Lee making a sequel to “School Daze” more than two decades after the original?
David Roach: I enjoyed “School Daze” and showed it to my children a couple of years ago and was amazed how unfamiliar they were with Spike Lee’s analysis of the Black college experience. I support Spike Lee being Spike Lee.
M.O.I. JR: How do you feel about independent cinema vs. corporate cinema in this country?
David Roach: They are so intertwined it’s hard to distinguish independent vs. corporate cinema. Since the platform is more and more through Facebook and Twitter etc., the audience is having a harder time distinguishing who is who. Corporate tends to want to look edgy, while many indies want to look corporate.
Video and YouTube and even smart phones have increased access to technology that individuals used to not have. Therefore, more people are making movies and distributing their films through social media outlets to an audience that corporate cinema once monopolized. I feel more inspired than ever to support independent filmmakers and their stories.
One of the purposes of the Oakland International Film Festival is to utilize film to build healthy communities and to promote local filmmakers and their stories.
M.O.I. JR: How can people stay up with the film festival activities?
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.