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African Diaspora Film Festival

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The third annual African Diaspora Film Festival runs Friday through Thursday, June 17 through 23, at Facets Cinematheque. Tickets are $9, $5 for Facets members; for more information call 773-281-4114 or consult www.facets.org.

The festival opens with How to Conquer America in One Night (2004, 96 min.), a Canadian comedy by Haitian emigre Dany Laferriere. An irrepressible young man leaves Port-au-Prince for snowy Montreal, convinced that the key to upward mobility is finding himself a blond pinup. His cabdriver host, a poet who fled Haiti 20 years earlier, is sadder and wiser, with plenty of blond troubles of his own. The director cites Spike Lee and Woody Allen as inspirations for this lighthearted romp. In French with subtitles. (Fri 6/17, 7 PM; Mon 6/20, 9:15 PM)

Raise Your Voice (2004, 83 min.), an inspirational concert video by Stanley Nelson (The Murder of Emmett Till), documents the 30th anniversary tour of the Grammy-winning vocal quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock. Led by powerhouse singer and political activist Bernice Johnson Reagon, the group has been performing since 1973, and its vast repertoire illuminates decades of American social struggle. (Sat 6/18, 7 PM; Wed 6/22, 8:45 PM) Art and race also intersect in Darlene Johnson's video Gulpilil--One Red Blood (2002, 56 min.), which profiles aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. Between movies, Gulpilil leads a cash-poor but culturally rich life in the Australian outback. On the same program, Gulpilil gives what Jonathan Rosenbaum has described as "the performance of a lifetime" in the modern western The Tracker (2002, 102 min.). Directed by Rolf de Heer, it "recalls Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man in its grim tale of pursuit, its poetic feeling for both history and landscape, and its contemporary score." (Mon 6/20, 6:30 PM; Thu 6/23, 7:45 PM)

The hardest-hitting entry is Peter Bate's Belgian documentary Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death (2003, 90 min.). In 1885 a coalition of European powers granted personal ownership of the Congo, a region rich in minerals and rubber, to Belgium's King Leopold II. His royal army enslaved the native population through a sweeping campaign of rape, torture, mutilation, and murder; by 1908, when Leopold lost control of the Congo, as many as ten million people had been slaughtered. Dramatization is often a questionable tactic in documentaries, but by picturing Leopold (Elie Larson) on trial like Adolf Eichmann, Bate adroitly compares the colonial genocide to the Holocaust. In English and subtitled French, Flemish, and Congolese dialects. (Sun 6/19, 3 PM; Tue 6/21, 7 PM)

Of special note is a rare screening of Rio: Zona Norte (1957, 90 min.), a neorealist classic by Brazilian master Nelson Pereira dos Santos. As a black samba composer travels across Rio de Janeiro, he experiences the many levels of Brazilian society, each caught up in the rhythms of indigenous music. In Portuguese with subtitles. (Sat 6/18, 3 PM; Sun 6/19, 9 PM)

Also Showing:

Cape in Fear: The Gang War in South Africa Fri 6/17, 9 PM; Thu 6/23, 6:30 PM

Eyengui: The God of Dreams Sun 6/19, 5 PM; Wed 6/22, 7 PM

The Importance of Being Elegant Sat 6/18, 9 PM; Tue 6/21, 8:45 PM

Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality in America Sat 6/18, 5 PM; Sun 6/19, 7 PM

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