Brooklyn’s Gotta Have It: New Voices in Black Cinema

February 09, 2012 at 4:00 am

Where: BAMcinématek
When: Feb. 17 to Feb. 20
Price: General admission is $12, $9 for seniors and $7 for BAM Cinema Club members.

The borough that launched the career of filmmaker Spike Lee has helped shape the homegrown tales of a new crop of black directors. Beginning on Feb. 17, the New Voices in Black Cinema festival will present 14 films dealing with themes related to the African diaspora in New York and abroad. There are films that deal with love and loss, films that take on police brutality and films that explore how hoop dreams and hip-hop spread from New York to the world.

This is the second year that BAMcinématek will present the festival in collaboration with the ActNow Foundation, a Fort Greene organization dedicated to nurturing the careers of minority filmmakers and artists.

Here are four festival films in which Brooklyn plays a starring role:

WATCH VIDEO:  “The Tested”

A video trailer for “The Tested,” directed by Russell Costanzo.

Director: Russell Costanzo
Screening: Feb. 17 at 6:50 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the director and actors, moderated by Curtis Stephen of City Limits Magazine. A second screening will take place on Feb. 19 at 2:00 p.m.

In an eerily timely film given the recent shooting of unarmed Bronx teenager Ramarley Graham, “The Tested” follows the lives of the mother and brother of a young man shot to death by police. While the police officer involved in the shooting seeks forgiveness, the young man’s brother dreams of revenge.

Familiar faces in the cast include Frank Vincent, known for his role as mob boss Phil Leotardo on HBO’s “Sopranos,” and Aunjanue Ellis, who appeared in “Ray!” and “The Help.” This is New York-based director Russell Costanzo’s feature film directorial debut. He has previously won awards for his narrative short, “Jeffrey,” in both the Big Apple Film Festival and the Kent Film Festival in Connecticut.

WATCH VIDEO: “The Tombs”

A video trailer for “The Tombs,” directed by Jerry Lamothe.

Director: Jerry Lamothe
Feb. 19, at 4:30pm, as part of “Shorts Program I: A Matter of Time.”

The Tombs” is a narrative film that appears alongside other shorts dealing with how the past affects the present. It’s the story of one man’s three-day journey into the bowels of the Bernard B. Kerik Complex, Lower Manhattan’s central booking compound better known as, “the Tombs.”

WATCH VIDEO: “Let’s Stay Together”

A video trailer for “Let’s Stay Together,” directed by Joshua Bee Alafia.

Director: Joshua Bee Alafia
Feb. 19 at 9:30 p.m. followed by a Q&A with director Joshua Bee Alafia, moderated by Charli Penn, blogger for Man, Wife & Dog.

Parker Washington has a dream. A dream that an upcoming Al Green album will magically help black families remain intact. After his premonition, Washington — who is played by the film’s director, Joshua Bee Alafia — visits various friends in Brooklyn as he explores the causes behind the absenteeism of black fathers.

Alafia grew up on the West Coast but now lives in Brooklyn. He’s made a career producing music videos and music documentaries but he’s also dedicated to nurturing the next generation through his work as a mentor with Reel Works and the Harlem School of the Arts.

WATCH VIDEO: “Single Hills”

A video trailer for “Single Hills,” directed by Wilkie Cornelius, Jr.

Director: Wilkie Cornelius Jr. 
Feb. 18 at 6:50 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the actor and director, moderated by Jozen Cummings of Global Grind, and introduced by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

The mantra of the flower child generation was “love the one you’re with.” For Jay, the protagonist of “Single Hills,” that nugget of wisdom did not withstand the test of time. He sends his partner Lisa mixed messages until their relationship unravels and then he tries desperately to get her back.

Director Wilkie Cornelius Jr., who  lives in Fort Greene, set his film in that neighborhood, as well as Dumbo, Bedford Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill.

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