All Articles Tagged "documentary"
Despite watching movies like Hotel Rwanda, many of us will never understand what it’s like to live in a country so racked by genocide that nearly a million people were killed in the course of 100 days. That was the case in 1994, when the Hutus went after the Tutsis in the East African country Rwanda. Even though this mass murder ended nearly twenty years ago, the healing need from those atrocities is still taking place.
Enter the stars of the documentary Sweet Dreams, Ingoma Nshya, an all female drumming troupe made up of both Hutus and Tusis. Traditionally, in Rwanda women are not allowed to even touch a drum. It’s an activity reserved for men; but in an effort to usher in a new era, these women have partnered together and formed a drum circle.
Drumming is just the first part in these ladies’ plan to further unite the country. The group partners with American entrepreneurs to open the country’s first ice cream shop. The documentary, Sweet Dreams, follows the women as they embrace independence, peace and hopefulness as the women tell their stories of creating music and mending their country’s wounds.
Ice cream may seem like a vehicle too simple to impact real change; but for a country that has only seen and heard about the treat in movies, bringing it to Rwanda is something special.
Check out the trailer for the film below.
Sweet Dreams will be showing in New York on Friday, November 1 and in Los Angeles on Friday, November 29th.
Jay Z is taking over Showtime–for one night at least.
The premium cable network has acquired Made in America, a star-studded documentary that chronicles Jay Z’s two-day 2012 Philadelphia music festival of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Ron Howard and executive produced by Jay Z himself, the doc will have its television debut Friday, Oct. 11. This will be roughly a month after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.
“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime,” Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said in a statement. “Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent.”
Passion Pit, Pearl Jam, Run D.M.C., Skrillex and Kanye West are just some of the diverse artists who perform and also discuss “making it in America” in the film.
“For Jay Z, the news comes the same week that the rapper made headlines for debuting his music video for ‘Holy Grail,’ a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, on Facebook,” reports THR. It became the first clip by a major music star to premiere on the social network, and it had a 24-hour window of exclusivity.
The Showtime and Facebook deals are just some of Jay Z’ s recent business moves. He also sealed a $30 million partnership with Samsung and has pushed into the sports agency business.
Will you watch the Jay Z documentary?
The 2013 Made In America Festival is going on right now but it’s last year’s show that continues to bring Jay Z money.
Cable network Showtime has acquired Made In America, the documentary chronicling Jay’s road to creating the music festival to actual seeing it happen. The film was directed by former Happy Days star and famed director Ron Howard according to The Hollywood Reporter. Both he and Jay serve as two of the executive producers of the film along with Brian Grazer.
Showtime, over the last two years, has been dedicated in revitalizing their programming and this will certainly help them out with ratings and also bringing in a younger demographic. David Nevins, Showtime’s entertainment released the following statement regarding the new project:
“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime. Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent. We are proud to bring Made in America to Showtime where it joins our impressive roster of provocative and compelling documentaries helmed by award-winning filmmakers.”
That Jay Z…he just keeps the deals coming. There was the deal with Samsung to release his latest album, Magna Carter Holy Grail, early to Samsung cell phone users, then the deal with HBO which premiered the Picasso Baby: A Short Art Film three weeks ago and now he’s added Showtime to the list. Jay also premiered his “Holy Grail” video on Facebook earlier in the week. In the words of Jay, he’s a “business man, not a businessman.”
Made In America will first premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 7th and then released to the world on Showtime on Friday, October 11th.
Check out the trailer!
When it comes to gun violence in Chicago, there’s been a lot of finger pointing and little analysis done to determine the root causes of such behavior and solutions to stop it going forward. Moguldom Films is currently working on a documentary to do just that, and in the midst of filming they came across reporter Natalie Moore. The native Chicagoan is all too familiar with the issues plaguing young people in her city and in the clip below she addresses just a few of those that have seemingly been overlooked.
Check out her comments and tell us what you think about the issues she brought up. Are they legitimate points or excuses in the war on gun violence?
Spike Lee Talks Trayvon Martin, Fruitvale Station, And Why Critics Of His Kickstarter Campaign Are Ludicrous
Spike Lee is quickly making his media rounds in effort to raise interest in, and more importantly, funds for his recently launched Kickstarter Campaign. Though he’s not giving many details on what the film is about, when Mr. Lee came into our studio, he assured us the movie will not be “the Black Twilight,” which we have to admit was a relief for us all.
Something this famed director wasn’t hesitant to talk about were his thoughts on this summer’s films, included the much talked about “Fruitvale Station.” Spike Lee also weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case and whether he would ever consider directing a film on him. Check out what this legend in the film industry had to say on all the above and more in the video up top.
What do you think about Spike Lee’s latest cinematic venture?
How My Black Is Beautiful’s “Imagine A Future” Documentary Proves The Cycle Of Self-Hate Can Be Broken
I’ve always had much respect for Proctor and Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. After all it was started by six black women at the company and they do good work. And while the campaign seeks to uplift black women, I also realize it’s a way for P&G to continue to make money. Now, I’m not mad at them. We all want to make money. But since they are trying to make money, I’ll admit that I process their media differently than I would other P&G advertising. I’m constantly watching to make sure it’s still honest and that we, black women, aren’t being further exploited by another huge corporation.
And I can honestly say I haven’t seen that. The campaign has been run quite nicely. And that track record of fairness didn’t falter when they released a documentary entitled “Imagine a Future.”
Directed and produced by filmmaking heavy hitters like Lisa Cortes, Academy Award nominated for her producing role in Precious, directed by Shola Lynch, director of Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners and executive produced by “Black Girls Rock” founder Beverly Bond, the film had the right people behind the project.
And all of that came across in the story which follows Janet Goldsboro, a high school student who struggles with beauty and self esteem issues. Throughout the documentary we watch as Janet transforms when she visits South Africa to learn about the historical and societal context associated with being a black woman.
During her trip Janet learns about beauty standards that vary and are similar to the ones she’s been grown up with in the U.S. Her South African friend tells her that nobody wants to be skinny in South Africa but when she goes to the market, she sees how many places sell skin bleaching cream. There she learns about the earliest human ancestors, found in Africa and learns the tragic story of Sarah Baartman as she visited her gravesite.
After her trip to South Africa the change in Janet was visible. She went from a girl who was insecure about her looks and self confidence to a young woman who actively sought the standards of beauty that best matched her own. She started researching the history that was left out of her school’s curriculum so by knowing the truth of her past she could take pride in the young woman she is today.
Interspersed between Janet’s inspirational story, we hear black women like Gabourey Sidibe, Michaela Angela Davis, Tatyana Ali, Melissa Harris-Perry and Gabby Douglass talk about achieving their own self confidence and what makes them beautiful. It may sound cheesy but it was powerful. So powerful in fact that my mom leaned over to my sister and I and asked “why our black was beautiful?” We had to tell her not to ask the stranger sitting next to her because it really is a loaded question. The film really makes you think about your own levels of self confidence and beauty standards affect your everyday lives.
I walked out of the filming feeling hopeful and uplifted. Not to use one to tear down another but in many ways “Imagine A Future” filled the holes that “Dark Girls” didn’t. It talked about the lack of self esteem, the beauty standards many black women don’t meet but it also showed how that cycle can be broken. How these feelings don’t have to be permanent. And how, at the end of the day, we can be the solutions to our own insecurities.
Check out the trailer for the documentary on the next page.
Sunday night’s airing of “Dark Girls” on OWN drew a lot of differing responses, from women who could completely identify with the individuals highlighted in the documentary, to others who were grateful they couldn’t relate at all. Yesterday we pointed out what we thought was missing from the film, which was the experience of darker skinned women who never had issues with their complexion and actress Tika Sumpter has filled that gap with an essay she wrote in the Daily Beast in response to the film.
Tika begins her piece highlighting her brown-skinned experience in childhood, saying:
One of my favorite childhood memories is of listening to my mother describe the look on my father’s face the day I was born. Whenever my mother shares this story, she somehow manages to re-create it with images so vivid, I can simply close my eyes and feel as if I were still there cuddled in her arms.
It’s important to understand that I was born into a family with seven children, each of us equipped with varying personalities, dispositions, and, yes, skin tones as well. My mom has the most beautiful café au lait complexion, which she shares with my two older sisters and older brother. My three younger siblings have skin tones that range from caramel to a golden bronze.
And then there’s me.
My mother says that when my father, a striking man with kind eyes, broad shoulders, and deep ebony-brown skin, first saw me in the hospital that day, his eyes lit up brightly as he promptly proclaimed, “She has my color. She looks like me!”
The actress then goes on to relate that upbringing to the women featured in “Dark Girls” and what her experience as a dark skinned woman in Hollywood has been.
I was recently reminded of my childhood as I watched the amazing documentary Dark Girls. My heart broke just listening to the stories of so many young girls with brown skin traumatized by the cruel and hurtful views of those around them. I experienced that same emotion when I began my role as Raina Thorpe on the popular CW show Gossip Girl a few years back. I was truly unprepared for the tremendous impact I’d have while on that show. Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before. Which really meant they’d never seen anyone that looked like them before. And it got much deeper than that. Some fans even remarked that they’d never witnessed any woman with my skin color speak the way I spoke, have a successful career the way I had on that show, or carry themselves in such a ladylike manner. Translation: in the very make-believe land of television and movies, women with darker skin aren’t smart enough to speak proper English or capable enough to be employed with a six-figure salary. And we most certainly can’t be ladylike. What complete nonsense!
Of course I did experienced my share of hurtful reactions to my skin color, but thankfully only after I was an adult. Who hasn’t heard the obligatory, “You’re pretty for a dark-skin girl”? Or my personal favorite, “I usually don’t date dark-skin women, but you’re so beautiful.” That one really warms the heart. But in reality, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is that those comments were most often made by men with exactly the same skin tone as my own.
Still, I always knew there were far too many other people who saw my beauty and embraced every part of me with open arms to think twice about what was said. It hurts me to know that so many young girls today are growing up without that same realization and reassurance. I also regret that so many are forced to seek their self-worth between the pages of mainstream magazines or in the background of a rap music video. I’d like to think that seeing someone like me on their televisions every week gives them some hope that things are changing slowly but surely. Finally, every day I’m thankful that I didn’t have to endure the pain that I know so many women do on a regular basis as a result of the color of their skin. My heart goes out to them all. And every day I’m even more thankful for a mother who was always there for me and a father (now deceased) whose first reaction to me on the day I was born paved my path to real self-love.
Check out more of her of Tika’s essay on TheDailyBeast.com. What do you think?
While nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that legal recognition of gay marriage is inevitable and an increasing number of states are proving their belief to be true, a new documentary is telling a different story about support for same-sex marriage in the U.S.
Produced by award-winning filmmaker and journalist Yoruba Richen, “The New Black” takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community, the film’s website explains.
According to Richen, the documentary, a follow-up to previous works that includes “Promised Land” and “Take It From Me,” is fraught with politics and personal stories on both sides of the same-sex marriage campaign. And at the core of it, the black church’s homophobic tendencies, she says.
“The reality is that the African-American community and the black church is diverse and opinions on this issue have reflected that,” Richen told POLITICO. “There were some black public figures who took stances very early on in support of gay rights — look at Jesse Jackson’s rainbow coalition in the 80’s — while others spoke out against it. Also in terms of polling, African-American support (like other groups) has varied depending how you phrase the question and the religiosity of the respondents.”
In one such poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center earlier this month, 66 percent of African Americans said that they believe being gay is a choice, a lifestyle that gay men and women decide to lead.
The poll also revealed that fewer Americans would be upset if their son or daughter were gay or lesbian, and that more people favor gay and lesbian couples raising children, findings that Pew attributes to the fact that most Americans now say that they know someone who is gay or lesbian. As Pew noted, “even holding demographic factors constant, those who have many gay acquaintances, or close gay friends and family members, are more likely to favor same-sex marriage than those who do not.”
Read and see more at BlackVoices.com
Last month we told you that über talented sisterly duo Venus and Serena Williams would be starring in a documentary that would recount their remarkable climb to tennis stardom. Venus and Serena, which is scheduled to hit theaters May 10th offers an in-depth look at their humble beginnings and their father’s relentless determination to make them the top two tennis players in the world. A brief description of the doc found on the film’s website reads:
“Ever since Venus and Serena Williams started playing in tennis tournaments, they’ve provoked strong reactions – from awe and admiration to suspicion and resentment. They’ve been winning championships for over a decade, pushing the limits of longevity in such a demanding sport. How long can they last? In Venus & Serena, we gain unprecedented access into their lives during the most intimidating year of their career. Over the course of 2011, Venus grappled with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease while Serena battled back from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Neither Venus nor Serena let their adversities hold them back. They drew their greatest strength from each other.”
Magnolia Pictures has since released their official trailer for the movie and if the trailer serves as any indication of how good the actual documentary will be, fans will not be disappointed. Opening with a young Venus accompanied by her sister on a tennis court, both girls express that they’d like to grow up to be tennis players.
“To Black girls from Compton who probably weren’t ever supposed to play tennis, let alone be really good at it. My Dad had one of the most revolutionary ideas when it came to changing the game,” says Venus.
“I had written a plan before they were born, 78 pages. The plan was for both of them to become number one in the world,” revealed Venus and Serena’s Dad Richard Williams.
Venus went on to laugh about her parents predicting that she’d be number one in the world and drilling it into her so much that she was “brainwashed.” The doc will also offer a peek into some of the life-threatening health woes experienced by the Williams sisters and how they dealt with them.
“I wanted to go out for sure and know that I couldn’t play,” Venus said of her determination to play despite her ailment.
As previously stated, Venus and Serena is available on iTunes and is slated to hit theaters May 10th!
Check out official the trailer below.
Chrisette Michele Talks Being Underrated And Shying Away From The Limelight In New Documentary, ‘Journey To Better’
I will never forget the first time I heard soul singer Chrisette Michele’s voice. I was 16 years old and Nas had just released “Can’t Forget About You” as the second single off of his Hip Hop Is Dead album. I listened to the track over and over as I sat by an oversized window in my living room while I worked on my homework. Nas did an amazing job on the song, but what really drew me to it, was the unique voice of the woman singing on the hook. I eventually came to know the songtress as R&B singer Chrisette Michele. I combed the Internet, looking for details on her. I had to learn more about her! But unfortunately at the time, my Google searches didn’t uncover much. Six years later, Chrisette’s newly released web documentary Journey To Better, which can be found on her website, offers a little insight as to why there wasn’t too much information available about her when she was first “thrown” into the music industry. The New York native reveals that she intentionally flew beneath the radar because she wasn’t sure if she could “get the job right.”
The documentary begins in black and white, showing Chrisette rolling her bicycle down a sidewalk.
“I’ve been afraid. I didn’t always know if I’d be a singer. It takes time to get a job right. When you come into most jobs, you get years to work on getting promotions, raises, to become a CEO, to become great. In the music industry you don’t get that time. You kind of just get thrown out there into this world of stages and red carpets and magazines. And if you aren’t great right away, you’re kind of fired. You don’t really get a chance to come back and do it again the next day,” she begins at the start of the video.
She went on to say that having known how unforgiving the entertainment industry can be, she intentionally stayed beneath the radar.
“I knew that when I first started this, so I did tried really hard to stay just underneath the limelight, people call it underrated. I call it careful. So I kind of just snuck my way through this learning process and I took notes. I carried a composition notebook and literally took notes from everybody from Babyface to Diddy, Kevin Liles to whoever I got to be around, Jay-Z. I would hang out with publicists. People would wonder why I was hanging out the guy who does the mail or the person who does the marketing or the person who is the engineer. Why am I hanging out with the sound guy? Why am I hanging out with the lighting guy? I’m hanging out with these people because I want to learn everything there is to know about the music industry before I put myself out there.”
Chrisette finishes up by saying that she believes that her studying and hard work has paid off because she’s no longer afraid to show herself and is confident enough to call herself an artist.
Skip to the next page to watch Part 1 of her doucmentary, Journey to Better. What do you think of her decision to shy away from the limelight?