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Sankofa (+ Afro Futurist shorts) Image

Sankofa

+ Afro Futurist shorts

ALT | Black History Month

"Haile Gerima’s sweeping, powerful Sankofa, which in the African language of Akan means returning to the past in order to go forward, opens in the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, an ancient fortress where slaves bound for America were kept in chains. While a group of tourists visit the site, a photographer snaps away at a beautiful African fashion model named Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano).

Suddenly Sankofa (Kofi Ghanaba)—an older man in native robes who communicates with the spirits through his drums—appears, decrying the white tourists for invading a sacred place and zeroing in on Mona, ordering her sternly to "Get back to your past!" Unnerved, Mona retreats into the castle’s ground floor—only to discover herself part of a group of slaves soon to be transported to a plantation in the American South.

The Ethiopian-born Gerima, best known for Bush Mama—his 1976 portrait of an impoverished woman living in Watts—has brought a distinctive style and an often raw but always authoritative command of his medium to confront the horrors of slavery and its persisting significance, perhaps as no other filmmaker has. The bold, dramatic manner in which Gerima sweeps Mona back into the past signals that what’s to come will be both different and dynamic.

Operatic in style, Sankofa brings to mind Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust in its use of highly theatrical tableaux, of rituals, of traditions of African storytelling and of its sense of the supernatural—in this instance, recurring images of birds, symbolic of flight as well as life and death. Sankofa unfolds as a kind of oratorio—the film’s music in itself is incredibly rich and intoxicating—in which people deal with terrible cruelty through ritual and incantations of the African gods. It is a celebration of the strength of black people, in drawing upon their spiritual roots, to defy their oppressors—past and present alike."

Kevin Thomas, LA Times

Sankofa will be preceded by the 2018 Nigerian short films, HELLO RAIN , directed by C.J. ’Fiery’ Obas (30 min) and SEE YOU YESTERDAY MASTER , directed by Stefan Bristol (16 min), produced by Spike Lee.

Hello, Rain is based on Hello, Moto, an afro-fututuristic short story by World Fantasy, Nebula and Hugo award winner Nnedi Okorafor. It is about three scientist witches who - through a combination of juju and technology - create magical wigs that grant them untold supernatural powers. As with everything, power corrupts and Rain, the leader, finds herself in a confrontation with her friends, where she must stop them before they destroy the entire nation.

Black History Month is curated by Barbara Chirinos with Tom Charity

"The exciting thing about Haile Gerima’s lush, wide-screen folkloric feature about black slavery is its poetic conviction, backed up by a great deal of filmmaking savvy."

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

"Ambitious in its depiction of slavery and accomplished in its visual command."

Caryn James, New York Times

Black History Month 3 Ticket Pack - $30  
*Please note that most Vancity Theatre screenings are 19+.
 

Director Haile Gerima
Country of Origin: USA
Year: 1993
Running Time: 125 mins
Classification: 19+
Cast: Kofi Ghanaba, Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Alexandra Duah

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