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Current Films and Videos, Volume 53, No. 3 (Fall 2009)
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Compiled by David Henderson (St. Lawrence University)

Acknowledgements: St. Lawrence University Libraries for financial and technical support. This issue features new releases from H2ONewsreel, a new partnership between Third World Newsreel and the Hip-Hop Association.

General | Africa | Americas | Distributor Information |

General

From Mali to Michigan: A Musical Bridge. 2006. Directed by Louise Bourgault (USA/Mali). Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 28 min. A documentary about musical collaboration in the global age, From Mali to Michigan follows African world music pop diva and griotte Naïny Diabaté during her 2005 visit to the Northern Michigan University. The film traces the musical history of Mali, including the development of pop music in the country. Shot on location in Mali and Michigan, the documentary highlights the rich cultural and performative heritage of Ms. Diabaté’s native Mali and features the star’s lively collaborations with musical artists from Michigan and with students from Northern Michigan University. In English, French, and Bamanan, with English subtitles.

Unveiled Views: Muslim Women Artists Speak Out. 2009. Directed by Alba Sotorra (Spain). Distributed by Women Make Movies. DVD, 52 min. In this revealing documentary five extraordinary women talk about their occupations, aspirations, and the rights and status of women in their Muslim countries. Bosnian Alma Suljevic risks her life daily clearing the landmines near Sarajevo that are war's deadly legacy, then sells minefield earth in European art galleries so that she can continue her work. Eren Keskin, a longtime human rights activist and lawyer with music conservatory training, fights to change Turkey's legal practices that perpetuate violence against women. Veteran filmmaker Rakshan Bani-Ehmad, true to her credo that art must "look, observe, and discover," frequently pushes Iran's censorship rules to the limit. Surrounded by conflict since childhood, young Afghani writer Moshagan Saadat creates brave, profoundly moving and memorable poems. And renowned Pakistani dancer Nahid Siddiqui, once forced to live outside her homeland when her work was banned, continues to perfect, renew, and teach her art form. Captured by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sotorra, who hitchhiked from Barcelona to Pakistan to shoot Unveiled Views, these self-portraits of hope, heroism, and pride challenge conventional Western stereotypes about women in the Islamic world. In Bosnian, Turkish, Farsi, and Urdu, with English subtitles.

Africa

Democracy in Dakar. 2007. Directed by Ben Herson, Magee McIlvaine, and Chris Moore (Senegal/USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 66 min. Explores the transformative role of hip-hop in politics in Senegal during the 2007 presidential election campaign. This documentary mixes interviews, freestyles, and commentary from journalists, artists, and politicians. Senegalese society is seen on the brink of democratic change, where hip-hop artists are one of the few groups unafraid of speaking out.

I Love Hip Hop in Morocco. 2007. Directed by Joshua Asen and Jennifer Needleman (Morocco/USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 80 min. This feature-length documentary follows the creation of Morocco's first-ever hip-hop festival, from inception all the way to the stage. Along the way we meet DJ Key, a self-taught turntable prodigy who is torn between his love for hip-hop and his devotion to Islam; H-Kayne, a pioneer rap group on the verge of stardom; and Fati, a high school girl who's trying to make it as a female rapper in an Arab man's world. In Arabic, French, and English, with English subtitles.

Masizakhe: Building Each Other. 2008. Directed by Angelica and Scott Macklin (South Africa/USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 80 min. Explores the role of art, social activism, and hip-hop in South African education. It presents students, teachers, artists, and principals working to support each other while re-establishing individual and cultural identities, and shows hip-hop as a global culture committed to peace and youth liberation.

Mr. Devious. 2006. Directed by John Fredericks (South Africa). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 73 min. A compelling story of a young South African man committed to using his hip-hop skills to change his community. This award-winning film takes you on a journey to discover an artist who refused to compromise his artistic integrity, while reaching into the hearts of youth at risk in the prisons.

Americas

The Art of Love and Struggle. 2006. Directed by Jessica Habie (USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 78 min. In this film, artists, singers, emcees, activists, poets, and writers come together in an explosive exploration of feminine creation. Each lady brings to the screen her innermost struggles in an attempt to outline the obstacles that face the female artist. The Art of Love and Struggle navigates the challenges of poverty, politics, and personal sacrifice and explores love, identity, and urban culture.

La Bruja: A Witch from the Bronx. 2005. Directed by Felix Rodriguez. Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 50 min. Art and labor blend in this intimate documentary about spoken-word artist Caridad de la Luz, better known as "LaBruja." Born and raised in the Bronx, this daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants takes the number six train to downtown Manhattan where she performs at popular New York City venues. But opportunities are scarce and she struggles to make ends meet in an industry where "to keep it real" often means to work for free.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans. 2007. Directed by Dawn Logsdon (USA). Distributed by California Newsreel. DVD, 67 min. This film was largely shot before the Katrina tragedy but edited afterward, giving the film both a celebratory and elegiac tone. It is a film of such effortless intimacy, subtle glances, and authentic details that only two native New Orleanians could have made it. Our guide through the neighborhood is New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Lolis Eric Elie, who decided that rather than abandon his heritage he would invest in it by rehabilitating an old house in the Tremé district. His 75-year-old contractor, Irving Trevigne, whose family has been in the construction business there for over 200 years, becomes a symbol of the neighborhood’s continuity and resourcefulness; Irving Trevigne represents a man who, unlike many Americans, is deeply rooted in his community and its traditions. Winner of the Award of Commendation from the Society for Visual Anthropology.

Frekuensia Kolombiana. 2006. Directed by Vanessa Gocksch (Colombia). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 58 min. Explores Colombian music and its relation to hip-hop. By way of interviews, events, situations, and landscapes, the documentary uncovers a youth that constructs from exclusion a movement of hope and truth. As we witness their efforts to self-produce, organize, and multiply knowledge, we realize their need to perpetuate, communicate, give, and exist. We discover the lucid consciousness of a youth that seeks to awaken and renew its society through art. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Hip Hop SP. 1990. Directed by Francisco Cesar (Brazil). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 11 min. Young black members of Sao Paulo's hip-hop movement depict their experiences and their views of black Brazilian history through music, dance and graffiti.

Inventos: Hip Hop Cubano. 2005. Directed by Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi (Cuba/USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 50 min. Cuban hip-hop provides a special insight into the realities and politics of contemporary Cuba. Inventos follows some of the pioneers of this musical movement to their homes, the stage, and as they travel abroad for the first time. Inventos embodies the true spirit of hip-hop, which is to build something that is powerful and useful out of what is seemingly impossible. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Jails, Hospitals, and Hip Hop. 2000. Directed by Mark Benjamin and Danny Hoch (USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 90 min. Acclaimed Brooklyn actor, performance artist, and hip-hop activist Danny Hoch spins out the stories of ten lives shocked by global hip-hop, the prison system, and life in general. Moving masterfully in and out of the characters' lives while the camera cuts from film narrative to live performances, Danny makes you look at cultural power in a new way that is hysterically funny, tragically sad, and uplifting all at once.

Respect Is Due. 1992. Directed by Cyrille Phipps (USA). Distributed by H2ONewsreel. DVD, 10 min. Examines the ways women of African descent are frequently portrayed in rap lyrics and music videos.

Say My Name. 2009. Directed by Nirit Peled (USA/UK). Distributed by Women Make Movies. DVD, 73 min. Sisters, mothers, businesswomen, music artists—in a hip-hop and R&B industry world dominated by men and noted for misogyny, the unstoppable female lyricists of Say My Name speak candidly about class, race, and gender in pursuing their passions as female MCs. From hip hop's birthplace in the Bronx to grime on London's Eastside, from emerging artists to world-renowned stars like MC Lyte and Monie Love, these are women turning adversity into art.

A Song for Ourselves. 2009. Directed by Tadashi Nakamura (USA). Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 35 min. An intimate journey into the life and music of Asian American movement troubadour Chris Iijima. Struggling to make sense of their father’s early death, Iijima's teenage sons learn that during the 1970s, when Asians in America were still considered "Orientals," Chris' music and passion for social justice helped provide the voice and identity an entire generation had been in search of. Through animated photographs, intimate home movies, archival footage of Chris' introduction to nationwide television by John Lennon, and Chris' own songs, their father's life takes on bigger meaning than they had ever dreamed of.

Distributor Information

California Newsreel
Order Department
P.O. Box 2284
South Burlington, VT 05407-2284
877 811 7495
fax: 802 846 1850
http://www.newsreel.org

H2ONewsreel
c/o Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10018
212 947 9277 x304
http://www.h2onewsreel.com

Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10018
212 947 9277
fax: 212 594 6417
http://www.twn.org

Women Make Movies
462 Broadway, Suite 500WS
New York, NY 10013
212 925 0606
fax: 212 925 2052
http://www.wmm.com

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