All Articles Tagged "ImageNation Cinema"
Oscar Micheaux has been credited for the being the first independent black filmmaker in America, creating his moving picture shows and taking a makeshift screen and projector on the road. It’s what Moikgantsi Kgama and her husband Greg Gates started to do 15 years ago in Harlem. Before Magic Johnson’s theater and Ava Duvernay’s AaFIRM movement, they were showing independent black films, growing an audience that appreciated them and forming invaluable relationships with filmmakers abroad.
Kgama founded the ImageNation Cinema Foundation, a Harlem-based film and distribution exhibitor who has helped to usher in a new era for movie makers. Thousands of loyal patrons have seen true independent films, listened to live musical performances and become educated at ImageNation events. The company boasts programming partnerships with Lincoln Center, City of NYC Summer Sound Stage and the Schomberg Center in Black Culture. This year, it will open a new venue space in Harlem, a place where people gather to appreciate great movies, good music and good company.
Madame Noire: What is ImageNation and who are the clients that it serves?
Moikgantsi Kgama: ImageNation is a nonprofit media arts group that promotes black world culture through film and music events. Our efforts were aimed toward developing audiences for independent films about people of color. Now we’re focused on opening the doors to our cinema venue at 2031 Seventh Avenue [in Harlem]. We offer numerous exhibition vehicles including a quarterly film series at the Walter Reade Theater due to a partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and a film series at the Schomburg Center. We also produce a summer-long outdoor film and music series with the City of New York.
MN: Talk about your upbringing as it relates to your work with ImageNation.
MG: My father is South African, my mom is African American. My parents were pretty progressive, especially my dad. He was a political refugee and growing up in the 70’s, he always emphasized having things that look like you; having dolls that looked like me, watching shows that looked like me. As I grew older I realized that my peers didn’t have the same upbringing and most of their perceptions of themselves were based on what they saw in the media. I became very interested in how black people were depicted.
MN: You’ve been producing events for independent filmmakers and musicians over ten years now. Has your mission changed?
MG: We did our first event in ’97. Our goals have not changed. From the time I opened ImageNation, I’ve always wanted to open a chain of cinemas; to establish a brand, build an audience and take that audience into the cinema. I think what’s changed is my approach. When I started I was really young and idealistic. I thought if you do it, somebody will fund it. So now, my approach has changed but the goals are still the same.