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Blacklight Film Festival

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The sixth edition of this annual festival of black independent film begins this weekend at three locations--the Film Center (Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 443-3737), Facets Multimedia Center (1517 W. Fullerton, 281-4114), and the DuSable Museum (740 E. 56th Pl., 947-0600)--and continues through Sunday, August 9. Tickets are $5, $3 for Blacklight members (usual members' rates at the Film Center and Facets also apply); series admissions (ten tickets for $25) are also available. For more information, call 922- 7772.

ALMACITA, SOUL OF DESOLATO Folklorish fantasy by Curacao-born director Felix De Rooy, about the virginal priestess of a West Indian animistic cult who gives birth to a child after being seduced by an evil spirit; forced from her ancestral village, she eventually sets out on a purifying quest that brings her into contact with powerful mystical forces. With Marian Rolle and Nydia Ecury and cinematography by Ernest Dickerson (of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It and John Sayles's The Brother From Another Planet). (PG) (Film Center, Saturday, July 25, 8:00, and Sunday, July 26, 4:00)

BALLET BLACK Stephen Dwoskin's documentary on Europe's first black dance company, the Ballet Negres, whose performing style combined traditional Afro-Caribbean and classical ballet forms. Tunde Ikoli's short feature Elfida, about a woman who leaves daughter and grandmother behind in Africa when she immigrates to Great Britain, will fill out the program. (PG) (DuSable Museum, Monday, July 27, 7:00)

DESIREE West Indian single mother stuggling to escape impoverishment on New York's Lower East Side finds that neither cultish religion nor conflicted romance provides the release she needs. Based on an off-Broadway play, with cinematography by Spike Lee's Ernest Dickerson (She's Gotta Have It); Curacao native Felix De Rooy (Almacita, Soul of Desolato) directed. (PG) (Film Center, Saturday, July 25, 4:00)

FACES OF WOMEN This debut feature by Ivory Coast director Desire Ecare has gathered some attention for its steamy sexuality (the film was banned in its native country), though Ecare's apparently more concerned with establishing connections between economics and emerging African feminism than in providing erotic kicks. The film divides into rural and urban halves (shot ten years apart), which Ecare joins together with ritual dance and music sequences said to be reminiscent of the remarkable folk performances in Ababacar Samb's Jom. (PG) (Facets Multimedia Center, Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25, 7:00 and 9:00; Sunday, July 26, 5:30 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, July 27 through 30, 7:00 and 9:00)

GARBAGE BOYS Originally conceived as a documentary on education and health inequities in Mali, Cheick Oumar Sissoko's low-budget dramatic feature has reportedly become the all-time top-grossing film from that West African nation. It's about a resourceful nine-year-old who's forced to pay for his own elementary schooling by collecting garbage door-to-door. (PG) (Film Center, Friday, July 24, 8:00, and Saturday, July 25, 6:00)

MY AFRICA A three-part, three-hour documentary on Africa, produced for French television, which approaches African colonial history from a poet/musician's point of view. (PG) (DuSable Museum, Tuesday, July 28, 7:00)

PLAYING AWAY British country folk invite a team of West Indian cricketeers to play on their village green as part of a "Third World Week" festival in this comedy of patronizing intention and cultural bad manners by black British director Horace Ove. Ove will be present at the Friday screening. (PG) (Film Center, Friday, July 24, 6:00, and Sunday, July 26, 8:30)

THE SINGING STREAM Documentary about a family of gospel singers from South Carolina and their cross-generational adjustments to success and change. Also on the program is Richard Olivier's half-hour documentary Marvin Gaye: Transit Oostend (1982), which covers the period of the pop singer's self-imposed exile in Europe. (PG) (DuSable Museum, Wednesday, July 29, 7:00)

YELLOW FEVER TAXIMAN and GOREE: THE GRANDFATHER'S ISLAND Two short films on West African themes. Jean-Marie Teno's Yellow Fever Taximan concerns a Cameroonian cabdriver who tries to make a humdrum job exciting by romancing his female fares, while Taieb Louichi's Goree follows an American musician's journey to an island off the coast of Senegal that was once the headquarters of the West African slave trade. (PG) (Film Center, Sunday, July 26, 6:45)

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