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AfroPoP, a showcase for filmmakers of color

AfroPop

Two DuVernay films – Middle of Nowhere and I Will Follow both were shown at the Twin Cities Black Film Festival, notes Founder-Director Natalie Morrow. The acclaimed director is just one of many Black female filmmakers who successfully produced small and big-screen cinematic pieces, which typically get exposure at annual film festivals such as Morrow’s. Continue Reading →

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A Fierce Green Fire details the history of the environmental movement

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

A toxic waste landfill in Warren County, North Carolina, a predominantly Black community that “galvanized the nation to talk about environmental racism,” was among the toxic dump sites featured in a recent PBS documentary on the environmental movement, which started in the 1960s. “A Fierce Green Fire” premiered nationally on April 22 on PBS as part of the network’s American Masters series. The one-hour film was inspired by the book of the same name by environmental journalist Philip Shabecoff, who’s also featured in the documentary. “You could say this was the biggest movement the world has ever seen,” said Oscar-nominated director Mark Kitchell, who wrote, produced and directed the film, in a recent MSR phone interview. “I really wanted to be the first to put it all together” on film, he added. Continue Reading →

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Documentary highlights NYC street basketball

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

The best basketball players often aren’t found in college or in the NBA, but on the nation’s blacktops. Using a late 1970s tune by the Blackbyrds as its overall theme, Doin’ It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, New York City accurately gives viewers a well-deserved look into pick-up basketball. Although they focused on the Big Apple, in many urban corridors, if you are a hoopster of any note, you will make or break your hoopin’ reputation on the blacktop. Many go on to star on high school and college teams; some even make it to the pros. Many others don’t — but that doesn’t make them any less significant in basketball circles — their streetball exploits will sometimes precede them. Continue Reading →

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Playwright Lesli Lee dies at age 83

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Lesli Lee, one of America’s most significant Black playwrights prior to the emergence of August Wilson, died January 20 in Manhattan at 83 of congestive heart failure. Lee is best known for his Obie Award-winning and Tony-nominated drama about middle-class life, The First Breeze of Summer (Negro Ensemble Company). The original cast included company founder Douglas Turner Ward, Frances Foster and Moses Gunn. Not until Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Fuller and later Wilson was another African American author similarly accomplished. A 2008 revival of The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre Company), directed by noted actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson, won honors at the prestigious Audelco Awards. Continue Reading →

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PBS commemorates television show that featured the best in gospel music

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

Over the course of three decades, the late Sid Ordower brought the greats and some-to-be greats in gospel music each week on local Chicago television. The likes of Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples — along with her sisters and their father, James Cleveland, and Otis Clay routinely appeared on Jubilee Showcase, a half-hour long show that ran from 1963-1984. Beginning November 30 and throughout the month of December, PBS will air a 50th anniversary commemorative television special on Jubilee Showcase, said his son Steve Ordower in a recent MSR phone interview. “He was an owner-operator [of his shows], which was pretty rare back in those days,” he explains. “Unfortunately, the first 13 episodes were erased, and he was livid. Continue Reading →

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This week’s Entertainment spotlights!

The Music
 

 

Herschel & The Detainees Present… BOOMBASTIC! Sat., Mar. 23, 8 pm • Fine Line Music Café
318 1st Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-8100 or www.finelinemusic.com
Herschel & The Detainees will be rocking the house along with their brothers and sisters of RJ & The Soul, Devine Collection, and Ceewhy! Continue Reading →

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Gordon Parks film goes beyond Life photos, Shaft movie to reveal his life’s work

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

To call Gordon Parks (1912-2006) a Renaissance man might be an understatement to those who knew the late photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer. Born the youngest of 15 children in Fort Scott, Kansas, his father sent the teenage Parks to St. Paul to live with an older sister after their mother died. However he didn’t get along with his brother-in-law, who threw him out of the house, and Parks lived on the streets. Although he never graduated from high school, he nonetheless embarked on a journey that first began with playing piano in a brothel and playing semi-pro basketball to becoming an internationally renowned filmmaker. Continue Reading →

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Documentary confronts us with the grim realities of Black AIDS

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Released earlier this year, Endgame: AIDS in Black America (PBS-DVD), produced and directed by Renata Stone for WGBH/FRONTLINE, is an important documentary for the subject alone, keeping up awareness of a medical crisis many choose not to think about, much less candidly discuss. Stone also is producer of The Age of AIDS 2006’s award-winning FRONTLINE (PBS). Endgame brings sobering information. One bit of unwelcome news: Phill Wilson, head of the Black AIDS Institute, states at a World AIDS Day convention, “If Black America was a country unto itself, it would have the 16th worse epidemic in the world. Today in America, two-thirds of new cases of HIV among women will be Black… Seventy percent of the new HIV cases of youth will be Black.”

These facts alone are compelling reason to know more about the health issue of HIV than simply because you don’t want to catch it. Continue Reading →

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New music includes an early look at 2013 releases

 

Early next year, the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records is set to release two new albums from two legendary artists, Aaron Neville and Wayne Shorter. Now the label is busy promoting both artists and albums via touring and television. Shorter has even written a new piece composed for Esperanza Spalding, who recently won a 2012 Soul Train Music Award. Adding to the highly anticipated upcoming 2013 release schedule thus far, the Concord-Telarc division has released an impressive list of some new 2013 releases of their own. But wait: Helping to round out this year’s crop of new releases is one from ArtistShare featuring the Clayton brothers with friends. Continue Reading →

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