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Otherworldly Videos: Shola Amoo’s Touch


British filmmaker Shola Amoo‘s film Touch, which he recently premiered in the United States at The Future Is Weird showcase, is now online. The futuristic short follows Jessica and George who are in love, but Jessica hides a secret which puts her life in danger as she chooses to love and go her own path. Based on what I saw, I already want this to be a longer film. Amoo is also currently working on his next film, A Moving Image.

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Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Afrofuturism/Afrosurrealism, Film

 

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Modern Griots Reviews: Afronauts


Last Saturday, I went to to New Films/New Directors short film showcase, which included Frances Bodomo’s 14-minute film Afronauts. Based on the 1960s Zambian Space Program, which grade school teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso set up and had amongst its crew a 17-year-old girl and two cats. In Bodomo’s film, albino model and actress, Diandra Forrest, stars as the 17-year old Matha Mwamba who is part of the mission to be the first Zambian astronaut. Along with her are the other members of the Zambian Space Academy as well as Auntie Sunday, played by Yolanda Ross.

As said in a post-film discussion, the film has a timeless quality to it. Shot in black and white, the contrasts between the light of such images like the moon and shadows, like in the tent, are particularly striking. Also striking is the desert setting of the film; for a film about a space academy training to be astronauts, the lack of stereotypically futuristic or hi-tech tools replaced by the recycling of waste and scrapped materials, brings to the forefront the characters and why they need to do this. The characters do not seem to want to complete this mission for some commercial or nationalistic glory during the Cold War’s Space Race, but to show the desire of the spirit to overcome what appears to be the insurmountable. Despite her aunt’s fear of the danger or even her own, she is determined to go to the moon. Despite how they appear to others outside of the academy (just look at the original film for the space program above) and it rudimentary technology, they completely believe in the mission. Hoji Fortuna, who plays Nkoloso, tells Matha that she is the “mother of the exiles” and that he sees those in outer space “welcoming [her].” His nickname for her, a play on her name (“powerful woman”), harks back to a universal “mother of the abominations,” the mother of all the outcasts, and the underdogs, like in Revelations riding her beast of a spaceship on her way to usher in a new world.

Afronauts will be showing at NYU’s First Run Film Festival on April 3rd, the  Dallas International Film Festival on April 5th and 6th, and at Sundance London on April 26th and 27th in addition to several others. Also, Bodomo is planning on turning the short into a feature film.

 

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Rewind: Looking Back to Go Forward


For the last Rewind post for this month, here  is an episode from the Black History Month episode of Sister, Sister “I Have a Dream,” where Tamera is struggling with life changes and moving forward. She has a dream where she travels through the past meeting different well-known black figures who made a change in the world, and discovers that while change and the future can be scary, she is not alone because those who came before had to overcome the same fears to clear the path to a better future. The last scene we see that someone travels from the future to her to let her know that there are people who depend on her in the future, just as we did with our ancestors. Sankofa!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Afrofuturism/Afrosurrealism, Film, Histories, Rewind

 

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Otherworldly Videos: It’s a Kid’s World – The Invaders, Kid President, Because of Them…


The Invaders Web Series: Follows Angie Martinez, an eight year old girl who witnesses the start of an invasion of Earth.

Watch other episodes here.

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Modern Griots Reviews: Man From Tomorrow – The Time Wizard Jeff Mills


Last week, I attended the premiere of the Detroit techno icon Jeff Mills‘ film, Man from Tomorrow, and the film and following conversation stirred some thoughts. Overall, the 45-minute, Jacqueline Caux-directed film was a surreal journey into Mills mindset as a DJ, mixing his music with Caux’s otherworldly imagery. There are obvious abstract influences from films like Metropolis and 2001 Space Odyssey. The film begins with an epileptic-inducing sequence filled with his percussive womb-like sounds and flickering and distorting images that play with shadow, light and colors. It then switches to a scene were a group of people dressed in dark colors move in some sort of a trance state around in a circle and a straight-line march within this blank, minimalist space. Jeff MIlls eventually separates himself from this crowd going into his own heavenly space. Throughout the later part of the film, we hear his thoughts in a voiceover on progress, change and the future, our nomadic nature, space exploration and human self-discovery, the circling of time (that things can be revisted if the context of the circumstance has changed), time travel through music, and creating new language as we expand into our future.

Hearing Jeff Mills in conversation after the film, gave me some more context for the film. As a DJ, his constant travel, recording in studios and his performing, which is usually done away from the crowd, leads him to a kind of detachment, loss of placement and isolation. Music and sound, ephemeral and transient as they are, are the things he finds most reliable and able to shape. We see that within the foundation of the film. However, I do wonder if that sense of detachment could possibly also give him a superman (or even time lord) mentality, where he feels outside of time and space, kind of above and separate from everything else even while surrounded by them? How does that affect how he sees afrofuturism since based on his research, he thinks it is not as futuristic as he would like it to be. Is futurism suppose to look only one way?

 
 

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Rewind: “Cry of Jazz” and Restrictions on Black Excellence


Watching Ed Bland‘s short film, Cry of Jazz, this morning reinforced how times have not changed much.

The 1958 controversial documentary-styled film sets on a discussion after a jazz club meeting and the discussions and arguments literally feel like deja vu – white dismissals of black cultural contributions, black suffering, black knowledge and black excellence while ignorantly appropriating (“taking away our souls”) productions of our cultures. This is viewed again as a form of progress, using a color-blindness and individualism approach as defenses.

Other important points from the film:

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Otherworldly Videos: The Day They Came


“The Day They Came” is a Genesis Williams‘ directed short film starring Tony Doe and from the new Nigerian production company, Ficson. It seems like this going to be a web series, so I am interested to see more, particularly because of the special effects, which I read was done on a very small budget.

 

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Otherwordly Videos: Anansi


Here is the first episode, “Spiderling,” of the Issa Rae-produced Anansi series, starring  Andrew Allan James, who played the role of “A” in the The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I am not so sure how I feel about it yet, but I am intrigued by this kind of were-spider concept where he changes at night and has little memory of what he has done the next day. I want to see how it fleshes out. Also, it is nice to see James play a completely different character than the dorky one he does on Awkward Black Girl.

 

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Otherworldly Videos: S.A. Miller’s “Into the Darkness”


Happy Friday the 13th!

While browsing the internet for Caribbean speculative film, I found Bajan (Barbadian) filmmaker channel and his apocalyptic film Into the Darkness. The film follows a young boy who is trying to survive amidst the threat of revenants — visible ghosts or animated corpses that were believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living.

 

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Otherworldly Videos: Walking with Gods + CV Nation


Rapper and actor David Banner has a new live-action, superhero series, Walking with Gods. It is about a man, Alex Light, who is an incarnation of Aket Heru, based on the Egyptian deity, and is trying to realize his godly powers after ages of not knowing them. The series uses animation from well-known artist John Jennings.

Parts 1-4 are available on ABannerVision

I’m intrigued; I want to see what happens next!

Here is another superhero series that I just found out about, CV Nation. It is about costumed vigilantes with natural and enhanced powers. They recently premiered the first episode of season 2. I like the special effects and the costuming, but I do wish the episodes were a bit longer so I could sink into it more (same for Walking with Gods). Episodes are available here.

 

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