Now in its fifth season, the Sembène Film & Arts Festival seeks to celebrate the life of African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène through film and other complementary cultural events. Beginning Nov. 8th, the festival will continue to showcase award-winning features that address major political, social, and cultural issues. See schedule and details below:
MUMIA: Long Distance Revolutionary
Before he was convicted of murdering a policeman in 1981 and sentenced to die, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a gifted journalist and brilliant writer. Now after more than 30 years in prison, Mumia is not only still alive but continuing to report, provoke and inspire. Through prison interviews, archival footage, and dramatic readings, and aided by a potent chorus of voices including Cornel West, Alice Walker, Dick Gregory, Angela Davis, Amy Goodman and others, this riveting film explores Mumia’s life before, during and after Death Row.
Sembène’s second feature unlocked for the first time the complex daily world of modern Africa. This story of a man who receives a money order and, in his attempts to cash it, encounters an intimidating barrage of Third World bureaucracy, becomes a witty, masterful portrait of an ancient civilization in the throes of change. The windfall at first seems a blessing to Ibrahima Dieng, who lives with his two wives and their seven children. However, the seemingly easy transaction threatens to destroy the traditional fabric of his life. Quickly, the whole neighborhood becomes aware of it, the wives buy provisions on credit, their parents ask for a share and people try to extort money from him. All the while, Ibrahima’s attempts to cash the piece of paper are futile. Mandabi is a warm, subtle comedy with a series of visual revelations about a civilization struggling to recapture its own rich heritage after a century of colonial corruption. The film is the first color feature made on the continent, as well as the first African-language film.
Ornette: Made In America
Ornette: Made In America captures Ornette Coleman’s evolution over three decades. Returning home to Fort Worth, Texas in 1983 as a famed performer and composer, documentary footage, dramatic scenes and some of the first music video-style segments ever made chronicle his boyhood in segregated Texas and his subsequent emergence as an American cultural pioneer and world-class icon. Among those who contribute to the film include William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Buckminster Fuller, Don Cherry, Yoko Ono, Charlie Haden, Robert Palmer, Jayne Cortez, and John Rockwell. An essential documentary for anyone hoping to understand the history of jazz and the fertile creative exchange that highlighted the 60’s and 70’s in America.
But Then, She’s Betty Carter
This lively film is an unforgettable portrait of legendary jazz vocalist Betty Carter. Uncompromised by commercialism throughout her long career, she forged alternative criteria for success — including founding her own recording company and raising her two sons as a single parent. Director Michelle Parkerson captures Carter’s musical genius, her paradoxical relationship with the public and her fierce dedication to personal and artistic independence.
All films start at 6:15 p.m. and will be shown in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood auditorium. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. All screenings are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.