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Black Power Mixedtapes Hosted by The Economist in Sundance is Acquired by Wide for Berlin

by Sydney Levine
February 12, 2011 1:05 AM
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Wide Management had added Black Power Mixtapes: 1967 - 1975 directed by Swedish Göran Hugo Olsson starring Danny Glover, Talib Kwali, Erykah Badu and Harry Belafonte to its impressive documentary section of films, From 1967 to 1975, fueled by curiosity and naïveté, Swedish journalists traversed the Atlantic Ocean to film the black power movement in America. “The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975” mobilizes a treasure trove of 16mm material, which languished in a basement for 30 years, into an irresistible mosaic of images, music, and narration to chronicle the movement’s evolution.

North American rights were picked up February 14 by IFC/ Sundance Selects.

This gives me the opportunity to to revisit The Economist Film Project which launched at Sundance with post screening panel-audience discussions on this subject and two other important political subjects. The panel I attended after seeing the impressive Black Power Mixtapes was in itself an intense experience fostering a lively and revelatory discussion between the panel and the audience.

The Economist feels documentaries are important to expanding the conversation of the issues it covers, and is very mindful of the growing opportunities that are emerging for documentary filmmakers to have their work seen. With their project, Oprah’s announcement that OWN will focus on docs, and the Ford Foundation’s commitment of $50 million in grants to documentary projects, it is obvious that there is a growing awareness of how documentaries are increasingly shaping our understanding of big picture issues. Smart media companies like The Economist are tapping into this.

Since it began accepting submissions on January 10, The Economist Film Project, the initiative launched by The Economist and PBS NewsHour to showcase independent documentaries, has received more than 300 submissions of documentary films from around the world. The project was launched to give filmmakers a platform to share their films on American television and offer viewers different perspectives on issues with which they might not otherwise be familiar.

“More and more, documentaries are contributing to our understanding of global issues. For instance, it’s hard to even talk about education reform in America now without referring to Waiting for Superman, while a film like The Oath gives the personalities and motivations of al-Qaeda members an immediacy that no amount of written analysis can convey. We know there are hundreds of films and stories out there that can similarly add to the discourse on issues that have always been at the core of our reporting. The Economist Film Project is a way to put these films in front of a broad audience in the U.S. so that they will become a part of these conversations,”

said Gideon Lichfield, editorial director of The Economist Film Project.

The Economist and PBS NewsHour review submitted films to decide which ones will be selected for inclusion in the project. Once the final films have been chosen, a producer from PBS Newshour will work with filmmakers to create six to eight-minute segments from the films that will air on PBS NewsHour beginning in April. Selected films and the topics they explore will serve as the subject of news segments airing regularly on PBS NewsHour beginning in March 2011 and continuing throughout the year. The feature remains in the hands of the filmmaker but an important platform to market the feature in whatever ways are most effective.

The Economist in partnership with Cinetic presented three panel discussions during the Sundance Film Festival with documentary filmmakers Eugene Jarecki (Reagan), Göran Hugo Olsson (Black Power Mix Tape) and Dennis Danfung (Hell and Back Again), who discussed their latest films and the rising prominence of documentary films within our media culture. From politics to military to the black power movement, the panel discussions covered a wide range of interesting topics.

Reagan, Directed by Eugene Jarecki, examines the enigmatic career of one of the revered architects of the modern
world – icon, screen star, and two-term president Ronald Reagan.

Black Power Mixtape, Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson covers the black power movement in America from 1967–1975 with never before seen footage of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) interviewing his mother, relaxing and joking among friends, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Emile de Antonio, Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Robin Kelley, Abiodun Oyewole, Sonia Sanchez, Bobby Seale, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Questlove and more.

Hell And Back Again, directed by former New York Times Photojournalist Danfung Dennis, is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers the question, what does it mean to come home - injured physically and psychologically - and build a life anew? Two overlapping narratives are brilliantly intercut – the life of a Marine at war on the front, and the life of the same Marine in recovery at home – creating both a dreamlike quality and a strikingly realistic depiction of how Marines experience this war.

For more information visit www.film.economist.com and follow the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/IdeasEconomy

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