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Bringing the African Diaspora to the Big Screen

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Alice Walker

The Pulitzer-prize winning author Alice Walker is the focus of the film Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth, which will make its New York City premier on Saturday evening, December 7th, in TC's Cowin Conference Center.

The 21st annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, which includes several first-run films and discussion sessions with directors that will take place at Teachers College, will open in New York City on November 29th.  Created and run by the husband-and-wife team of former TC faculty member Reinaldo Spech and former TC budget director Diarah N’Daw-Spech, the three-week festival is co-sponsored by The College’s Vice President’s Office of Diversity and Community Affairs.  

The festival, launched in 1993, is an eclectic mix of foreign, independent, classic and urban films representing the global Black experience. Its mission is to “present these films to diverse audiences, redesign the Black cinema experience, and strengthen the role of African and African-descent directors in contemporary world cinema." The festival’s 2013 iteration will showcase a total of 78 films at five venues in Manhattan – Symphony Space, the Thalia Theatre and Sharp Theatre, at 2537 Broadway at West 95th Street; Quad Cinema, at 34 West 13th Street  and Teachers College and Black Spectrum, at 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica Queens.

The festival opens on Friday evening, November 29th at 7:30 in Symphony Space with the film Chasing Shakespeare, a love story set in rural Arkansas in which an African-America man attempts to reunite with his Native American wife after her death. The film stars Danny Glover and Grahame Greene. 

Among the highlights of the festival’s screenings at TC are:

An Evening with Patrice Johnson (Sunday, Dec. 1st, beginning at 4 p.m., in Milbank Chapel). The Jamaican-born director, Patrice Johnson Chevannes directed the 2002 Broadway revival of The Crucible, starting Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. The event will feature her films NY’s Dirty Laundry, about an ongoing series of verbal clashes between two families, one Afro-Caribbean and the other Arab-Muslim, New York City during the weeks after 9/11; and Hill and Gully, described as “an urban Cinderella story set during the historic election year of Barack Obama.”

Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth (Saturday, December 7th, at 8 p.m., in Cowin Conference Center). Making its New York City premier, the examines the life and work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and human rights activist. The director, Pratibha Parmar, is expected to attend.

Nishan (Sunday, December 8th at 5 p.m. in Cowin Conference Center). Directed by Yidnekachew Shumete Desalegn, this drama and suspense film tells the story of a young businesswoman whose plans to leave Ethiopia to seek her fortune abroad are thrown into disarray when her father neglects to sign a mortgage document. The film is making its New York City premier.  

The New Public (Tuesday, December 10th, at 6 p.m. in Milbank Chapel. Directed by Jyllian Gunther, this film uses the prism of an inner-city public school to reflect on the challenges faced by schools and communities everywhere.

Afro-Latino Night (Friday, December 13th, at 8:30 p.m., in Cowin Conference Center). The evening will include showings of Tango Negro: African Roots of Tango, directed by the Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro, which focuses on tango as a reflection of the social life of people from central African who were taken as slaves taken to South America; and Candombe, directed by Rafael Deugenio, a docudrama in which a black Uruguayan musician and maker of drums explores the cultural legacy of forebears, who were brought to Uruguay as slaves. 

For more information about the African Diaspora International Film Festival, call 212 864-1760 or visit www.NYADIFF.org.

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