8th Annual Langston Hughes African American Film Festival opens April 30 with Sundance award-winning KINYARWANDA

Filmmakers love coming to Seattle for the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival™ (LHAFF). And for this 8th Annual Festival there will be a high number of filmmakers in attendance, some new and some seasoned with recent awards and accolades. 

LHAAFF, co-sponsored locally by 4Culture and Comcast, offers a unique blend of returning filmmakers whose careers have grown much in line with LHAAFF’s amazing growth (Alrick Brown, Ava Duvernay, Charles Officer, and Joe Doughrity). Relatively new filmmakers such as Tanya Wright, who are eager to premiere their work with film savvy Seattle audiences, are also featured.

Director Alrick Brown returns to LHAAF for a fourth year after a successful screening of his new film KINYARWANDA at Sundance 2010, which received an Audience Award. This year he’s making his feature film directorial debut and premieres KINYARWANDA for Seattle audiences at the festival’s opening night. KINYARWANDA is based on true accounts from Rwandan genocide survivors who took refuge at the Grand Mosque of Kigali and the madrassa of Nyanza. It recounts how the Imams opened the doors of the mosques to give refuge to the Tutsi and those Hutu who refused to participate in the killing. The film interweaves six different tales that together form one grand narrative that provides the most complex and real depiction yet presented of human resilience and life during the genocide. Alrick Brown was at LHAAFF in 2004 with The Adventures of Supernigger in 2008 with Death of Two Sons, and again in 2009 with Us: A Love Story.

Filmmaker, actor (HBO’s True Blood) and author Tanya Wright will be in town for the festival’s closing and premieres her new film Butterfly Rising. She will also give away signed copies of her book, Butterfly Rising, to all ticket-buyers who purchase advance tickets for the festival closing before 5 pm on May 7. Butterfly Rising tells of two broken souls who steal a vintage truck and head out on the open road to a fated encounter with the mythical, magical ‘Lazarus of the Butterflies.’ When her brother dies, singer Lilah Belle sets out on a road trip to escape her grief, but not before coaxing the scandalous, new-to-town woman Rose Johnson to go with her. What occurs with the strange Butterfly Man transforms their destinies and binds the women forever.

This nine day festival from April 30 – May 8 2011 features a powerful lineup of almost 40 thoughtful films that include Seattle premieres, local directors, a LGBT focus, Weekday Happy Hour Films, Ladies’ Night, Teen Fest, talkbacks and panel discussions. Each year this festival sparks memorable and provocative discussions from across the aisle and across neighborhoods.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center™ (LHPAC), located at 17th and Yesler, continues to undergo major facility renovations, so the festival, like last year, will temporarily move  to two locations –both within LHPAC’s Central District neighborhood. The opening and closing night films will both take place at the Quincy Jones Theatre in Seattle’s Central District at 23rd and Alder, next door to Garfield High school.  All other films will show at the Central Cinema, also located in the Central District at 21st and Union. The panel discussion “Black Filmmaker Brunch, on May 7, will be at the Northwest African American Museum.

This annual African American Film Festival is expected to draw more than 2,500 people passionate about creating and appreciating films by and about Black people in the world. The festival spotlights dozens of feature-length and short films by independent filmmakers, and the rare opportunity to chat

face-to-face with filmmakers, industry professionals and Seattle leaders. Tickets are $5 for youth under 16 and seniors and $8 for adults. The All-Access Langston Pass is $50. All film details, including show times, locations and ticketing information, are available at www.langstonblackfilmfest.org or by calling 206-326-1088.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS (complete schedule at www.langstonblackfilmfest.org)

22 SEATTLE PREMIERES!

  • Bean Pie, My Brother?; Butterfly Rising – World Premiere with director Tanya Wright
  • Catastrophic Magnitude – with director Calvin Standifer
  • The Cleaning Lady; Corner Store – with director Joe Doughrity
  • Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights – with director Mark Oliver
  • Good Intentions; Hearing Radmilla; If I Leap –with director Jackie Stone
  • I Want You; Is That Me?; Katrina’s Son; KINYARWANDA – with director Alrick Brown
  • Mighty Jerome – with director Charles Officer
  • Nice & Rough – with director Sheila Hardy
  • Positive Negatives; Sole of a Hustla; Take Too Long; Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears; Why Us? Left Behind and Dying; Wolf Call

TEEN FILM FEST – 5/2

   Four films with a special appeal to the teenage crowd will be shown together (5/2 at 4 p.m.). Bean Pie, My Brother? (10 min.) is the history of the bean pie in the context of the Nation of Islam and American culture. Sole of a Hustla (72 min.) tells of a small business, designing and selling athletic shoes. In The Skateboard Chronicles (10 min.) Matt Rogers, a lonely teen, chronicles his life as a Black skateboarder. Why Us? Left Behind and Dying (32 min.) is a documentary made by teenagers about HIV testing, education, and AIDS awareness.

LADIES’ NIGHT – 5/7

Saturday night is Ladies’ Night at LHAAF with a series of films featuring strong female characters!

   Hearing Radmilla (5/7at 4 p.m.) is a portrait of the first biracial Miss Navajo Nation, 1997-98. Her promising singing career was ended by serious legal and personal problems.

   Filmmaker Jackie Stone will attend the premiere of her film If I Leap (5/7 at 7 p.m.). about a young Catholic nun dealing with something she has never experienced – erotic love. When the nephew of the Mother Superior seeks refuge at the convent after deserting the army, the two engage in an intimate relationship that will change the course of her life.

   Filmmaker Sheila Hardy will attend the Seattle Premiere of her film Nice & Rough (5/7 at 7 p.m.). This film exposes the unknown history of black women in rock and celebrates their contribution to the genre in the only way they know how, Nice & Rough. It celebrates the complexity and courage of the daring, outrageous, sexy, soulful women who despite what anyone thinks – choose to rock – featuring Betty Davis, Nona Hendryx, Joyce Kennedy and others.

GLBT INTEREST – 5/3

   1 In A Million (5/3 at 7 p.m.) is a re-creation of the creation myth. It is the story of a lesbian couple’s dogged pursuit of suitable sperm to start their family. The film is a fast-paced, funny action flick–a story of moms-to-be on a precarious journey in cars, ‘copters and cyberspace, relentlessly pursuing and welcoming new life.

   Children of God (5/3 at 7 p.m.) is set against the backdrop of a nation grappling with violent, homophobic crime and offers a scathing examination of the underlying hatred for gays rampant in Caribbean societies. It tells the stories of three very different individuals: Lena, the conservative, deeply religious wife of a secretly gay firebrand pastor; Romeo, a handsome young black man hiding his sexuality from his close-knit and loving family; and Jonny, the conflicted and creatively-blocked white artist in search of himself. All escape to the spectacularly beautiful and tranquil island of Eleuthera, each for different reasons. Soon, their disparate worlds collide in unexpected and affecting ways. This is an uncommon portrayal of love, loneliness, tolerance, secrets and self-acceptance.

LOCAL FILMMAKERS

   Features two short films: Aftershock: Post-Earthquake Haiti (5/2 at 7 p.m.) by Allum Ndiaye and El Quinto Suyo: Afro-Peruvian Descendants (5/8 at 4 p.m.) by Monica Rojas of Seattle. Elijah Hasan of Portland, OR will show two films, Coined (5/1 at 7 p.m. and 5/8 at 4 p.m.) and Is That Me? (5/1 at 5 p.m. and 5/5 at 7 p.m.)

   Former Seattle director Rafael Flores returns home to share his docudrama, 23rd and Union (5/1 at 5 p.m.). This film interweaves real interviews with fictional characters to investigate the 2008 murder of Degene Berecha at his popular Seattle restaurant, ‘Philly Cheese Steak.’ The director was a friend of the victim and knew mutual acquaintances of the convicted murderer. Interviews with a wide range of people who knew each man help interpret the circumstances that led to the shooting. The film examines gentrification and the tensions between young African-American men, Ethiopian immigrants, and gay couples in Seattle’s Central District.

   Wheedle’s Groove (5/4 at 7 p.m.), directed by Seattle’s own Jennifer Maas, documents Seattle’s vibrant soul scene of the late 1960s. Thirty years before grunge music put Seattle on the map, groups like Black on White Affair, The Soul Swingers, and Cold, Bold & Together filled airwaves and packed clubs every night of the week. Many groups started to receive widespread attention with invitations to perform on national television and collaborate with mainstream acts. Just as many of the groups were on the verge of breaking out, the fickle public turned its ear to disco, and Seattle’s soul scene slipped into obscurity.

WEEKDAY HAPPY HOUR FILMS – Enjoy snacks, drinks and some “Shorts & Features” at The Central Cinema!

   Monday 5/2 at 4 p.m. – Teen Film Fest (details listed above)

   Tuesday 5/3 at 4 p.m. – “Black History Night” The Cleaning Lady and Revolution 67

   Wednesday 5/4 at 4 p.m. – I Want You, Katrina’s Son, Packrat Poet, Albert! Or My Life in the Ocean, and Thank You for Washing   

   Friday 5/6 at 4 p.m. – Ladies and Gentlemen: Jordan Rock, Bean Pie, My Brother?, Good Intentions, Their Eyes Were Watching Gummy Bears

PANEL DISCUSSION AT NW AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

   Black Filmmaker Brunch and Panel Discussion (5/7 11 a.m.; Tickets $10) Network and share a meal with local and national filmmaking pros as they discuss the “business” of show business. Join director and founder of The African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow), Sundance Award Winner Alrick Brown (KINYARWANDA), and Alyce Emory, veteran film festival organizer and consultant as they share their work and insider commentary on Black Hollywood and the business of making a film and getting it seen.

The African American Film Festival is supported by Comcast, Seattle Parks and Recreation, 4Culture, and a host of local businesses and organizations. The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival gives Northwest audiences a chance to view a diverse array of irreverent, poignant, provocative films on topics such as youth, politics, history, social justice and relationships.

About the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival™: The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival is a Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center™ program. The Festival began in 2004 as a weekend series, and has grown to nine days of film, workshops, filmmaker events and community celebrations. Films are selected from entries screened by panels and curated from current and vintage offerings worldwide. The  festival, grounded in community capacity building and collaborative ventures, features panel discussions, readings, matinee screenings for middle/high school youth, and audience ‘talk-backs’ with filmmakers, industry professionals and community leaders. The festival is known for finding positive, provocative, penetrating independent film created by emerging and established filmmakers from around the world and in our own back yard.

The 2011 Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Film Festival™ Program Coordinator is Karen Toering, and Zola Mumford returns as the Festival Curator. Each year dedicated crews of passionate film festival volunteers help bring the film festival to life in our communities.

History of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center™

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center™ celebrates, nurtures, presents and preserves African American performing arts, cultural wealth and legacies. Established in 1969, LHPAC’s facility was acquired under the Model Cities Urban Renewal program. In 1972 LHPAC began its formal relationship with Seattle Parks and Recreation. Named for the prolific African American artist Langston Hughes, LHPAC adds the African and the Black Diaspora arts creativity to the greater Seattle artistic landscape. LHPAC has been a consistent locale for traditional and emerging local, national and global performing art forms. It is a place to create community, develop powerful and authentic connections, and present dynamic art by and for generations.