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SABIFF 2019 Festival

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The San Antonio Black International Film Festival (SABIFF) was founded by native indie filmmaker Ada M. Babino, and a group of community filmmakers and community movie enthusiasts who began meeting at the Carver Library in the fall of 2018, with the purpose to create a Black independent film festival in the Alamo City. Birthed from mutual interests, the San Antonio Black International Film Festival was born under the umbrella of Forward Progress Arts and Entertainment Center, Inc., a 501(c)3 arts and entertainment organization founded by DeAnna Brown that “encourages creative dreamers to become authentic artists.” The Carver Library, a staple on the Eastside officially and successfully launched SABIFF on February 23, 2019, with the start of what will be an annual endeavor.

The mission of SABIFF is to expose audiences in San Antonio and beyond to the myriad of narratives and diverse images of Diaspora peoples. The goal is to present a variety of video/filmmakers and film professionals of color to audiences through their film products, genres, panel discussions, lectures, and trainings.

SABIFF 2019 will feature indie film showcases, an international film competition, filmmaking workshops, and enlightening panel discussions, combined with events that allow the public to network and unwind at an inagural film festival that proudly affirms that Black Films Matter. SABIFF partners include respected community institutions and businesses such as: the Carver Community Cultural Center, The Carver Library, DreamVoice the founders of Dream Week SA, The Institute of Texan Cultures, La Villita Arneson River Theater, Idle Time Cinema, Frank Dunn Insurance, and First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio’s Black Lives Matter Work Group, a key fundraising supporter for the festival. “Giving audiences in my hometown the opportunity to experience a wealth of stories, and perspectives by Black filmmakers and professionals from across the globe is invigorating,” says Babino, Festival Founder and Director.

The festival also forged positive alliances with national organizations and film practitioners who have a global love and commitment to the development, promotion and expansion of Black indie film. Participating in SABIFF 2019 are: New York based Black Public Media, now celebrating their 40 year anniversary; AfroLandTV with founder Michael Maponga, internationally renowned Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, and Shirikiana Gerima, Husband and wife tech media team Maxie and Schatar Collier founders of Super Livestreams a new network of TV channels, Social Cinema curation by filmmaker, Ralph Scott, and Chicago based filmmaker/ visual thinker Floyd Webb, the founder of Black Star Film Festival, and co-editor of the revitalized Black Film Magazine.

Casting our Texas net, we’re proud to present Dr. Gerald Horne, Author/University of Houston Moores Professorship of History and African American Studies faculty, XXX Angela Bennett of Bennett Connection Talent Agency in Austin, Mikaela Gibson (Fear the Walking Dead), and Houston based actor John Henry (American Horror Story, Focus). Charles Murray, veteran Hollywood writer (Marvel’s Luke Cage, Criminal Minds, Sons of Anarchy, Roots) and independent film director will make an appearance at the Carver’s Red Carpet opening night gala and speak after his film screening.

SABIFF 2019 festival line up includes four days of partnerships, venues and events:

October 10 The Carver Community Center 226 N. Hackberry, SA, TX 78202 [$] [6:00 pm – 10:30 pm] CCCC Hosts SABIFF 2019’s Opening Night Film and SA Premiere of the movie #TRUTH with special guest veteran writer/producer/director, Charles Murray.

The Red Carpet Gala is sponsored by DreamVoice, the presenters of DreamWeek and supporter of organizations that exist to better the human condition through the promotion of media assets and resource contributions.

October 11 – (1). Carver Library 3350 E. Commerce Street, SA, TX [12 pm – 3 pm] [NC]
(1). Black Public Media (BPM), formally founded as The National Black Programming Consortium celebrates 40 Years as an organization whose mission is committed to fully realized expression of democracy by supporting, developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and investing in content makers. BPM is pleased to present AfroPop to SA audiences. Now in its 10th season, AfroPop short films depict informative and entertaining stories from across the globe that are beautifully and poignantly told. This free event features Food trucks and vendors on site.

October 11 – (2). Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd, SA, TX [$] [9:30 am – 5:30 pm] [A Full Day Pass includes Theater In The Round, Panels/Forums, and Museum Exhibits, purchased on SABIFF.com website or Universe.com ticketing platform]
ITC – Three levels of activities will take place at ITC.

*First Level – [Forums and Panels are included in Full Day Pass price[$] “Overcoming isms’, Bad Hair and Other Social Constructs,” short films presented in ITC’s Theater In The Round followed by a Host lead discussions, and audience interactive Talk Back. As an added treat, Black World Cinema with curator & visual thinker, Floyd Webb presents an AfroFuturism showcase featuring Black science fiction flicks. Also on display in the museum is a Black Quilting Exhibit by the African American Quilt Circle of San Antonio, and a Black Fashion Week exhibit, and other ITC museum offerings.

*Basement Level – [Forums and Panels are included in Full Day Pass price] [$] African American Cinematic History, Steeped with Hidden Figures [11:30 am – 12:45 pm] A panel hosted by UTSA College of Education and Human Development’s Department of COEHD and African American Studies. Moderated by Karla Broadus, Senior Lecturer and Director. Panelists include: UTSA Professors/Lecturers, Mario Salas, Dr. Charles Gentry and Dr. Vanessa Kenon.

Think Acting Abroad: A Forum for Underrepresented Actors to Consider Alternatives When the US is not Enuf – [1:30 pm – 2:45 pm]
Hosted by: Mikala Gibson is an award-winning stage and screen actress, published writer and master teaching artist. Featuring Michael Maponga, Actor/Founder of AfroLandTV. Angela Bennett, Talent Agent, Industry Consultant and founder of Bennett Connection Talent Agency in Austin, Texas.

Culture – A Return on Investment in Cinema – [3:15 pm – 4:30 pm]
A panel led by internationally renowned Author/Professor, Dr. Gerald Horne (University of Houston), Author of over 30 books, including: Class Struggle in Hollywood 1930 -1950, and Paul Robeson: the Artist as Revolutionary. Horne and panelist bring context to the business of Hollywood as it relates to culture and Black professionals in the industry; diversity & inclusion – How it Impacts ‘US’ in Movies, What artists’ roles and responsibilities should be; Where do we stand, and where do we go from here in the sphere of movie making?
Features actor: John Henry (Focus, American Horror Story), Filmmakers Haile Gerima and Shirikiana Gerima (Sankofa, Door of No Return, Foot Prints, and Teza)

ITC 2nd Floor Level – Workshops +[Workshops Individually priced] [$]

FILM GAME PLAN [10:00 am – 1:00 pm] [$]
A hands-on workshop for aspiring film directors taught by SA based Producer/Director Michael Jackson owner of Idle Time Cinema, a full service production company founded in 200 that specializes in short films, music videos, commercials and television variety shows. Jackson provides instruction on necessary filmmaking techniques for low budget video/ filmmaking from budgeting tips, to blocking actors, framing shots, lighting and sound recording). Jackson is the director of Solomon’s Dilemma, Cost Effective on Amazon, and the upcoming feature Sabbath Ceremony of the Besat. 3 hours. Lunch provided.

The Art of Cinematic Storytelling Master Class [11:30 am – 2:00 pm] [$]

Taught by Haile Gerima, internationally renowned filmmaker, the original UCLA Black Rebellion filmmaker, and former tenured film professor at Howard University. Gerima gives an integrative and holistic approach to the narrative art form of the visual storyteller. With over fifty years of filmmaking, advocacy and education, Gerima takes participants through the creative processes that are critical in arming the Film Storyteller with the cinematic narrative language.

He utilizes all of these creative processes are a means of discovering one’s own unique Cinematic Narrative Logic, voice and ‘art’ of cinematic storytelling. 2.5 hours. Lunch provided.

SABIFF MIXER at the Cherrity Bar – 302 Montana St. [5:30 pm – 11:00 pm] [NC] Wind-down after a full day of films, panels and workshop exchanges! Film festival participants and the public are welcomed to chill out and enjoy happy hour, network, mingle, purchase vendor treats, and enjoy food and festivities. There will be a soulful a mix of music and spoken word, hosted by SA’s own Andrea ‘Vocab’ Sanderson. This is a family friendly event. Vendors will be on site.

October 12 – (2). Carver Library [10:00 am – 4:00 pm] [NC] (1). Take II with the Black Public Media 40 Year Anniversary continues with more screenings of AfroPop the ultimate cultural exchange. Now in it’s 10th season, this series depicts informative and entertaining stories across the globe. Food Trucks will be outside on site.

*films & times to be posted on websites – coming soon.

October 12 – (1). Buena Vista Theater (UTSA Downtown Campus) [9:00 am – 6:30 pm] [$] Selected films were submitted, and prejudged. Those with winning scores were invited as best to show in SABIFF 2019. Four-month Open Call film submissions primarily included narrative shorts from the U.S., however filmmakers submitted indie films from: Iran, Haiti, Germany, Canada, India, Belgium, and Turkey.

A total of thirty-three out of the fifty-five were selected for competition to screen at the University’s state of the art theater and adjoining screening room, Aula Canaira.

Programmed films are broken down into thematic blocks. Schedules and tickets can be obtained on the http://www.sabiff.com or universe.com website. Tickets can also be purchased day of the event at the UTSA Buena Vista theater’s box office for $10 per block of films which will be programmed and screened simultaneously on two screens. There will be a 15 minute admission between films to clear theater and user patrons for the next block showcased.

For more information about the San Antonio Black Int’l Film Festival (SABIFF) Forward Progress Arts & Entertainment Center, Inc. please visit www.sabiff.com | sabiffteam@gmail.com | fwdprogress2@gmail.com |

ABOUT FORWARD PROGRESS ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

FPAE is a 501c3 organization founded in 2013 by actress/educator DeAnna Brown as a vehicle to allow young people the opportunity ot gain exposure to an industry that has historically shun people of color. Forward Progress aims to be a conduit to cultivate the God given gifts and talents of young dreamers who are drawn to the world of arts and entertainment with the desire to grow and develop their craft. Authentic collaboration is encouraged, to teach the behind-the- scenes crafts, and produce professional movies, music, stage plays, videos, television shows and/or web series and our newly founded venture, the SAN ANTONIO BLACK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (SABIFF) .

INTERVIEWS

For interviews with any SABIFF team members, the Founder/Director Ada Babino, co-director Patsy Whitfield, Forward Progress Director, DeAnna Brown, or local filmmakers contact sabiffteam@gmail.com or call Dianne Green at (210)801-2611. Website: https://www.sabiff.com

Entertainment

“Nina Simone: Four Women” at the Public Theater 

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By Catherine Lee

Christina Ham’s recently revised drama “Nina Simone: Four Women” introduces us to American singer/pianist/activist composer Nina Simone as she struggles to write a song to vent her fury and frustration about persistent, deadly racism. 

Though classically trained as a pianist at Juilliard, Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon) had been prevented by racism from advancing in that career path. Instead, after changing her name to Nina Simone to avoid family disapproval, her pop music star rose thanks to a rendition of Gershwin’s “I Loves You, Porgy” in 1958. That Billboard Top 20 single led to recording contracts, including one with complete creative control. 

By 1963, Simone had released studio and live recordings from Town Hall, the Village Gate, and Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Newport Jazz Festival, a total of nine albums. She chose and personally arranged gospel, rhythm and blues, traditional songs, and music by Black diaspora-focused composers Oscar Brown, Jr. and Nat Adderley. Simone had resolved to employ her talents and notoriety as a popular singer and bandleader to do something powerful to call attention to the intolerable injustice of racists getting away with murder. 

Christina Ham’s “Nina Simone: Four Women” introduces us to Simone in September 1963. Racist/terrorists, setting off 19 sticks of dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, had just killed four girls in a Sunday school class and injured 17 other worshippers.

Simone is writing “Mississippi Goddamn,” which she originally intended to respond to acquittals of the cold-blooded Mississippi murderers of Emmett Till in 1955 and Medgar Evers in 1963. Sixteen years after Simone’s 2003 death, “Mississippi Goddamn” will be enshrined in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” 

But in this latest brutal attack, innocent children’s lives are snuffed. Ham’s drama envisions Simone with writer’s block, stunned as she’s trying to compose. Simone is visited by African American sister characters who interact with her and each other. 

Sarah, Saffronia, and Sweet Thing weigh issues that the composer has grappled with in her own life including religious vs. secular music; artistic authenticity conflicting with commercial success; continuing nonviolent protest in the face of unrelenting racist violence; colorism and Black women’s rights within the Civil Rights Movement; and the loneliness of Black women whose behavior and values are habitually questioned.

These visitors influence Simone to consider positive qualities and — with Simone herself as represented by Peaches — come to populate a separate new original composition, “Four Women.” 

In 2017, the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN commissioned Christina Ham to amplify a one-woman Nina Simone show performed by Regina Williams. In a playbill interview for that first production of “Nina Simone: Four Women,” Ham said: “I saw the challenge of telling the story of how Ms. Simone went from being a mere artist to an artist-activist … She felt very strongly after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the murder of Medgar Evers that her music needed to change direction. She had written instrumentals before, but never songs with lyrics. … Her people were fighting in the streets for their rights, and her old music did not reflect that struggle. She had to start creating art that reflected the times for black people. If it meant making her mostly white audience uncomfortable, she didn’t really care.” 

When asked why the play’s title spotlighted “Four Women,” Ham noted that Simone’s pro-women politics questioned “… painful things about being a black woman that still have yet to be put to bed 50 years after that song’s release. … I saw great value in telling a story that could delve deeply into the question of what exactly is an artist’s responsibility to reflect the times.”

Other plays Ham has written for young audiences also examine women caught in the crosshairs of history (“Ruby!: The Story of Ruby Bridges” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963”). 

In 2021, during a residency at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, Ham made major revisions to “Nina Simone: Four Women.” Ham moved the setting from an Alabama church to Simone’s Mt. Vernon home to better account for the visitors’ appearances. 

“They’re not women coming off the streets of Birmingham walking into a church crime scene,” Ham said. “These are women actually different than [Simone] is and she’s actually trying to realize this in the midst of the mental-health issues she battled.”

Performances run Fridays through Sundays, Jan. 20-Feb. 12, in the Russell Hill Rodgers Theater, 800 W. Ashby Place, San Antonio, TX 78212. Call 210-733-7258 or visit (ThePublicSA.org) for tickets.

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Will Smith Creating Buzz for Emancipation

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Will Smith is trying to make a comeback! Trevor Noah of The Daily Show recently interviewed him about that Oscar moment in March in which he confused his fans and lost a lot of followers. 

Comedian Chris Rock made an ill-timed joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Will Smith walked onstage and slapped Rock on live TV. Soon after, Smith accepted his Oscar award for portraying Richard Williams in the film “King Richard.” After the show aired, he was banned from the Academy Awards.

Smith was on The Daily Show to promote his new film “Emancipation,” a historical drama in which Smith stars as a runaway slave facing treacherous territory and slave hunters to make it up north to fight in the Union Army.

Noah asked Smith to explain what he learned from that Oscar debacle.

“I guess what I would say is you just never know what someone is going through,” Smith said on the show. “I was going through something that night. … It’s like when they say ‘Hurt people hurt people,’ you know?”

The film’s director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has defended Apple’s decision to release “Emancipation” on the big screens on Dec. 2 and stream it on Dec. 9.

Smith said in a separate interview that he hopes his actions don’t penalize his team, who have done some of their best work on “Emancipation.” 

Fuqua also stated in recent media articles, “Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’ We were in Hollywood, and there’s been some really ugly things that have taken place, and we’ve seen a lot of people get awards that have done some really nasty things.” 

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Africa

African Children’s Choir Visiting Nearby Churches in 2023

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International nonprofit organization Music for Life announces the 2023 U.S. African Children’s Choir Tour. The tour will include 50+ stops across the country, sure to melt the hearts of audiences with their performance of popular children’s music, traditional spiritual songs and African cultural pieces.

On March 3, the choir will visit Holy Ghost Lutheran Church at 7 pm in Fredericksburg and on March 5, the group will be at Redemptive Grace Ministries at 10: 30 am in New Braunfels.

The 2023 tour is much more than a concert. The African Children’s Choir is composed of African children, aged 10 to 12 years old, all who come from vulnerable backgrounds and have faced hardship and lack of education. However, they represent the potential of the African child to become leaders for a better future.

“The African Children’s Choir proves just how powerful music can be,” says Tina Sipp, Choir Manager for the African Children’s Choir. “These concerts provide hope and encouragement, not just to our audiences, but to the children whose lives are forever changed by their experiences with the Choir.”

The 2023 tour will kick off on Sunday, January 15, 2023, in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and will make stops in 16 different states before concluding on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Pinehurst, NC. For a full list of tour stops, visit https://africanchildrenschoir.com/tour-dates/.

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