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Blacklight Film Festival


The seventh edition of the annual festival of black independent films runs from Friday, July 29, through Thursday, August 7, at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., 947-0600, and at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 443-3737. Tickets are $5, $3 for Blacklight, Film Center, and DuSable Museum members. For more information, call 922-7771.

ALL NIGHT LONG Basil Dearden's neglected 1961 British film tells the story of Othello in jazz terms. Richard Attenborough plays a wealthy jazz buff who throws an all-night party at a warehouse in London's East End to celebrate the wedding anniversary of jazz player Aurelius Rex (Paul Harris) and his wife, a white singer. Among the musical highlights is a rare duet by Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck; among the other musicians are John Dankworth and Tubby Hayes. (DuSable Museum, Thursday, August 4, 9:00)

BRIGHTNESS See Critic's Choice. (Film Center, Friday and Sunday, July 29 and 31, 6:00)

COLONIAL MADNESS: MARCUS GARVEY AND THE QUESTION OF COLOR Howard Johnson's British documentary about the celebrated black nationalist who was Jamaica's first national hero (1987). (DuSable Museum, Monday, August 1, 9:30)

CONSEQUENCES The first feature to come from Zimbabwe, Olley Maruma's short 1987 film follows the story of Rita, a student with a bright future who becomes pregnant. (DuSable Museum, Tuesday, August 2, 9:00)

FATS WALLER: THIS JOINT IS JUMPING Howard Johnson's British documentary about the great jazz pianist, singer, and composer features footage of Waller's performances as well as interviews with his son, the widow of his lyricist Andy Razaf, and others. On the same program, another feature-length British documentary, Keeping Love Alive: The Life of Elisabeth Welch, the story of Paul Robeson's leading lady in the 30s. (DuSable Museum, Wednesday, August 3, 7:00)

KING JAMES VERSION Robert Gardner's new film is about a 12-year-old black girl who travels south from Harlem to visit her grandparents and becomes involved in a local movement to prevent a nuclear-waste dump from being set up on the site of her grandparents' church. Already torn between the traditionalism of her father (a church deacon) and her activist mother, she finds in this new struggle a way to resolve the opposing ideologies of her parents (1987). A Chicago premiere; Gardner will be present after the second show to discuss his work. (Film Center, Saturday, July 30, 4:00 and 8:00)

LENNY HENRY An hour-long profile of the popular young black British comic. Henry himself will be present at the screening. (DuSable Museum, Tuesday, August 2, 7:00)

SAPPHIRE Basil Dearden's 1959 British thriller is about an attractive young music student who is found dead. Police inspectors Nigel Patrick and Michael Craig discover she had been passing for white. A detective story that reveals some of London's black community in the late 50s. On the same program, Jean Renoir's extraordinary, silent SF short Charleston (1926). (DuSable Museum, Thursday, August 4, 7:00)

TESTAMENT British black director John Akomfrah, a native of Ghana, mixes fiction and documentary in this feature about a black newswoman returning to Ghana after a 22-year absence (having left after being arrested for supporting a deposed Ghana ruler) to cover the filming of Werner Herzog's movie Cobra Verde. The score combines electronic and indigenous African music. Director Akomfrah will be present to discuss the film after the screening; a Chicago premiere. (Film Center, Friday, July 29, 8:00, and Sunday, July 4:00, 443-3737)

THE WIND While less impressive than Souleymane Cisse's subsequent Brightness, which is also showing this weekend at the Blacklight Festival, this 1982 feature about campus rebellion and ancestral tribal memories in contemporary Africa is full of fascination. Bah, the grandson of a traditional chieftain, and Batrou, the daughter of a military governor representing the new power elite, become involved with a campus rebellion, drugs, and each other--which leads to their arrests. Although the social forces of contemporary Mali contrive to keep them and their traditions apart, a recurring dream sequence illustrated by a little boy filling a gourd with water, which symbolizes sharing and the exchange of knowledge, points to deeper links that unite generations as well as this couple. (Film Center, Saturday, July 30, 6:00)

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