The 2013 BronzeLens Film Festival - 5 Screening Highlights To Consider...

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 7, 2013 1:58 PM
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The BronzeLens Film Festival of Atlanta, Georgia kicks off today, November 7 - a festival whose stated mission is to promote Atlanta as the new film mecca for people of color; and to showcase films and provide networking opportunities that will develop the next generation of filmmakers. 

Running from November 7 - 10, 2013, the BronzeLens Film Festival will feature screenings in multiple venues, as well as informative panels, and enlightening Master Classes, led by top names in all key stages of film production.

Screenings and other events will take place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis (the festival's HQ), Georgia Pacific Center Auditorium, Ferst Center for the Performing Arts and Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Opening the festival tonight is the Kasi Lemmons-directed Black Nativity, a reworking of the Langston Hughes original work, which stars Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jacob Lattimore, Tyrese, and Jennifer Hudson

And the festival's Closing Night film will be the much-anticipated sequel to Malcolm D. Lee's The Best Man, titled The Best Man Holiday, with the original film's ensemble cast returning to reprise their respective roles.

More than 3-dozen films (shorts and features) will be screened at this year's event. 

Here are a few highlights (for the festival's full screening lineup, visit the Bronzelens Film Festival website HERE). These are just 5 films from a program of around 40 titles, and other events. So don't feel restricted to just these. There are many more films, panels, talks, etc that also deserve your attention. 

For tickets and registration for this year's Bronzelens Film Festival in Atlanta, click HERE. I'll be there on Saturday to moderate a conversation with Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, after the screening of his latest work, Grisgris:

1 - Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's 2013 Cannes Competition entry Grigris, where it won the Vulcan Award for technical achievement. 

The film centers on Grisgris, a 25 year old young man with dreams of becoming a dancer despite the fact that he's paralyzed from the waist down. His dreams are shattered when his uncle falls seriously ill. To save him, he decides to go work for petrol traffickers.

It stars Soulémane DéméMariam MonoryCyril GueiAnaïs Monory and Marius Yelolo (who's worked with Haroun on at least 2 other past films).

Grisgris is produced by Florence Stern for Pili Films, with Chad's Goï Goï Productions and Frances 3 Cinéma.

Film Movement picked up USA rights to the film and will release it in theaters during the first half of 2014, in a limited opening, which will be followed by a national expansion. But if you're attending the Bronzelens fest this weekend, you'll get to see it far in advance.

Film Movement also released Haroun's last film, Un Homme Qui Crie (A Screaming Man), in 2012 - a film that's also screening at the festival this year, in a celebration of the filmmaker's work.

Here's a new trailer:


2 - The Civil War drama The Retrieval,hHelmed by Chris Eska - a filmmaker who's been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards (and winner of the Cassavetes Award) for his feature film August Evening

The Retrieval stars several newcomers, including Ashton Sanders, Tishuan Scott, Keston John, Bill Oberst, Jr., Christine Horn, and others.  

Jason Wehling and Jacob Esquivel produce.

Set in 1864, the dual suspense/coming-of-age Civil War-set film follows a boy is sent north by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted man. Of course, it's much more than that.

But hopefully that premise alone intrigues, and will encourage you to want to find out much more by seeing the film.

Here's a tease:


3 - Music video director R. Malcolm Jones' drama, The Magic City, also his feature film debut, stars Jenifer Lewis, Jamie Hector, Keith David, and introducing Latrice Jackson, LaShay Jackson and Amiya Thomas.

Set in Miami's underground, and full of a vibrant group of characters, and heart-wrenching twists and turns, the gritty film follows the powerful journey of Amiya Castle, a deeply troubled girl, who feels discarded by her mother after being left to spend the summer with relatives. 

Director Jones has helmed music videos for the likes of NasAvril LavignePharrell WilliamsT.I.The GameR. KellyFat JoeJermaine DupriLil' WayneDiddyClipseRick Ross,Lil' MamaPaul Wall, and many more.

Chec out a trailer for the film below:

4 - Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson's acclaimed feature documentary, American Promise - a 13-year personal journey that follows the directors’ son (Idris) and his best friend (Seun), from their first day of kindergarten through high school graduation, and how their lives diverge, as they navigate an elite, performance-driven, ivy league New York City prep school in a world still largely segregated by race, class and culture.

The completed film, which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is scheduled to air on PBS' prestigious POV program eventually - likely some time in 2014 - so it should be accessible to most of us, especially if it doesn't screen at a theater near you. But definitely see it if it does! - Like if you're in the Atlanta are for the Bronzelens fest this weekend!

Watch a trailer below:

5 - Three+ years in the making, the feature documentary, Small Small Thing - directed by Jessica Vale, produced by Nika Offenbac and Jessica Vale, and co-produced by Barnie Jones - is the story of a mother and daughter in Liberia, who find themselves caught between tradition and modernity, when it is discovered that the 9-year-old had been brutally raped 2 years prior. 

Small Small Thing is the result of the investigations by the filmmakers, revealing what they call "an intricate web of corruption, adventure and hope."

There's a lot more to this story, so feel free to visit the project's website HERE.

Unfortunately, the young girl who is at the center of the film, Olivia Zinnah, will not get to see the completed film because she died on December 20 last year, as a result of the long-term complications of the brutal rape she suffered at age 7.

She was 13 at the time of her death.

In a statement, director Vale said:

“I hope the release of ‘Smallsmall Thing’ will pressure the Liberian government to find Olivia's accused rapist and bring him to trial... Olivia was Liberian, but her voice is global. How many times, in how many countries does this have to happen for people to pay attention?”

According to UN statistics in 2012, rape is still the #1 crime in Liberia, despite President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's efforts (and Nobel Peace Prize); the majority of the victims are said to be children - some as young as 2 years old.

Watch the film's trailer below:


Again, these are just 5 films from a program of around 40 titles, and other events. So don't feel restricted to just these titles. There are many more that also deserve your attention. 

For tickets and registration for this year's Bronzelens Film Festival in Atlanta, click HERE. I'll be there on Saturday to moderate a conversation with Mahamat Saleh Haroun, after the screening of his latest work, Grisgris.


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