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'BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez' - Fundraising For Doc on Her Life (84% Funded; 5 Days To Go!)

  • By Jai Tiggett
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  • October 4, 2013 3:00 PM
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  • 8 Comments
On September 9th renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez turned 79 years old. The day also marked the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, the upcoming documentary focused on telling her life story.

Watch Preview for Doc 'Samba Ladies' (Female Founders of Brazil's Most Important Cultural Dance)

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • September 26, 2013 12:48 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Regarded as Brazil's most significant cultural tradition and way of expression, the dance samba, originated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 19th Century.

How Far Have Black Americans Come in the Past 50 Years? Thoughts on PBS' 'The March @50' Web Series

  • By Jai Tiggett
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  • September 17, 2013 3:53 PM
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  • 10 Comments
Though documentaries don't often get the same amount of buzz as other kinds of web content, it's been refreshing to see more docs - and particularly public media - attempt to tackle black issues and culture in the online space.

Trailer Watch: Doc 'Poetry is an Island' on St. Lucian Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • August 6, 2013 3:50 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Poetry is an Island, directed by Ida Does, and produced by Does and Rebecca Roos, will premiere at this year's Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival, which runs September 17th - October 1st.

Preview: Doc 'Charles Lloyd: Arrows Into Infinity' on Influential Jazz Musician

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • July 3, 2013 9:27 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Directed by Jeffrey Morse and Dorothy Darr, the latter who is Charles Lloyd's painter/filmmaker wife, the documentary Charles Lloyd: Arrows Into Infinity chronicles the influential saxophonist and composer's life and career range.

Watch Now in Full: Doc 'Angel' About Transsexual Prostitute in France

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • June 27, 2013 11:15 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Do you remember this documentary when we first profiled it back in 2011? Angel, directed by Sebastiano d'Ayala Valva and produced by Laurent Segal, won several awards when it toured the film festival circuit back in 2011 and 2012. Now, Angel, about a transsexual boxer living Paris and making a living as prostitute to help his family back in Ecuador, has been released in its entirety, via youtube, all 62 minutes of it. To recap, the synopsis reads:

Teaser Watch: Puerto Rican Doc 'The Needle' (Man Runs Underground Cosmetic Clinic)

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • June 25, 2013 6:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Trailer: Afro-Cubans and Sierra Leoneans Bridge The Gap in Doc 'They Are We'

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • April 22, 2013 8:39 PM
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  • 4 Comments
How mind-blowing and fascinating is this upcoming documentary? Talk about bridging the gap! I came across an article from The Atlantic (recommended reading), written beautifully by Emma Christopher, director of They Are We, a film which documents how a family of Afro-Cubans in a remote village of Perico, Cuba learn of and become acquainted with their ancestors in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and vice-versa. It was no easy task for Christopher, who, in her article, states the following regarding finding the Afro-Cubans' ancestors in an isolated village in Sierra Leone called Mokpangumba: "Only by a long and arduous search, and with a great amount of luck, did my thousands of informants lead me here, where on my first visit the people looked at my screen in utter astonishment, said "they are we," and then joined in with the songs." According to the article, Mokpangumba's Chief, named Mabadu Pocawa, eagerly awaits the Cuban descendants along with the village townspeople, who are preparing to feast and welcome their long lost relatives for a week. Christopher explains how a young girl named Josefa, was taken away from Sierra Leone as part of the Transatlantic trade to Cuba in the 1830's. Josefa lived into old age, and after being freed she taught "her great-granddaughter Florinda her African heritage. Florinda in turn taught her grandson, whom she raised from infancy. He is Humberto Casanova, now himself a great-grandfather. It is Casanova and three of his friends for whom Pokawa and his people are waiting."According to the documentary's Facebook page, the project is slated for an August release later this year. And it looks like the trip from Cuba to Sierra Leone was granted and successful. Here's more about the film:Josefa held her village’s songs and dances in her heart. Captured in Africa, she treasured them as she was loaded into the gruesome hold of a slave ship and then sold as a beast of burden in Cuba. Toiling on a plantation, she taught the songs and dances to her children and grandchildren, words and rhythms that lost their original meanings but still resonated with the cadences of their stolen ide...ntity. Now, 160 years later, might those same songs and dances enable her descendants to make their way home?

2013 Tribeca Film Review: "Flexing" Goes Mainstream in 'Flex is Kings'

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • April 20, 2013 12:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
I have always found the body-contorting dance form of street dancing, contemporarily known as “flexing”, to be a creative and exhilarating art form. The documentary Flex is Kings, directed by Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols, manages to reaffirm those original perceptions of the very competitive urban dance movement. However, aside from showcasing “flexing’s” relevance as a formal art form, Kings didn’t exceed my expectations as a feature documentary. Set in Brooklyn, East New York, Kings focuses on the lives of Jermaine "Flizzo" Clement and Jonathan "Jay Donn" George. Flizzo, a bearded, heavy-set dancer, distinguishes himself with a ‘punchline’ trick of a having a bird flying from his mouth. The film also documents Flizzo’s homelife: an unstable relationship and a newborn daughter. What resonates with his story is Flizzo’s passion for dancing and battling against all odds, especially when it comes his economic and personal woes. Jay Donn, another icon of the dance movement, lives with his mother and very supporting girlfriend. His story is the most touching and fascinating. Donn is hired by a dance company to star in a new adaptation of Pinocchio and gets a chance to tour Europe for the play. Donn is thrilled about the opportunity, and through practice and determination, he’s able to learn a choreographed routine and adapt to different styles of classical dance. One thing I have been curious about and which wasn’t covered in the documentary is the origin of flexing. I thought Flexing had its roots in hip-hop and 70/80’s breakdancing (although it certainly has to influence flexing); however, upon further research, "flex” is said to have evolved from the Jamaican dance “bruk-up”. The filmmakers missed an opportunity to make a more thorough documentary about the art form itself. Another frustrating aspect while viewing is some of the editing, which cuts away to the crowds throughout some of the most thrilling dance sequences during battle scenes. I would have also appreciated to have seen addressed, especially since the documentary is set in New York City, the lives of dancers who try to make ends meet dancing in trains, which is quite common. The documentary could perhaps serve best to banish stereotypes surrounding those who decide to partake in this subculture. They are hardly gangsters; this lifestyle helps these young men to escape a life of selling drugs, gang and street life, and hence allow for them to channel their emotions and express themselves creatively. It is unfortunate that the filmmakers didn’t delve more into the foundation and background of “flexing”. It would have also made for a more compelling documentary to showcase the dancers’ detailed footwork and overall technique. Yet, Flex is Kings is still recommended viewing. The dancing and ardent fervor of its subjects are enough to keep you engaged. Along with the documentary’s competent score and cinematography, Kings brings the “flexing” underground movement to mainstream audiences, who should be enlightened by the passion and ability of its main players. NEW Trailer: Flex Is Kings from Flex Is Kings on Vimeo.

Watch Trailer for Upcoming ESPN Documentary 'The Clemente Effect'

  • By Vanessa Martinez
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  • January 24, 2013 11:18 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Clemente Effect, a new ESPN documentary on the life of the late Puerto Rican baseball right fielder, is slated to debut in the sports network soon.