THE TONE OF SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS
“Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.”
~ George L. Jackson
For the second year in a row, Culture Honey magazine is an official sponsor of the Black August Film Festival. The Festival debuted last year in Pasadena, CA. It continues to bring focus to and platform current and historical justice movements both locally and from around the world. The festival also showcases films and locally produced media, especially that which champions reform for the Pasadena Police Department as well as policing issues throughout the nation. Another outgrowth of the festival has been the establishment of the Pasadena African-American Film Foundation.
Specifically, Culture Honey was asked to help with choosing six films that will be shown live during the weekend of August 19th & 20th.
We are happy to offer you a few of our picks here, beginning with this one:
The Exile of the Sea ( 82 mins) from Colombia, a Spanish language film:
The pacing for The Exile of the Sea may feel slow to some American audiences; if the viewer gives themselves to it, the emotions of loneliness, isolation, and fear laced with determination will stay with them long after the film is over. It’s the story of a young Colombian woman who flees her home country in search of safety and opportunity. She burns her passport in one of the first scenes, showing her resolve to make her choice of leaving home work out. In the country she escapes to she becomes a bike food-delivery person, working day-in and day-out to survive. The themes of her story touch on kidnapping and sexual abuse which led to her migrant flight. While the scenes are not graphic, they are definitely for adult audiences and unfortunately today are a far too common reality as noted by the film’s creator below. Once we know that this is part of the story for far too many migrant women, how can we not feel compassion for their plight?
Here is the film’s official trailer and blurb:
“El exilio del Mar (the exile of the sea) based on a true story, is the story of Johana a Colombian who must move from her homeland and is forced by violence to have to change her life, habits, and leave everything behind to look for a future, a hope. In this story we want to reflect the millions who fight every day to get ahead. According to United Nations estimates, the number of international migrants worldwide has increased over the last twenty years, reaching 281 million in 2020. This is a story that seeks to create empathy for those who have the courage to change everything to seek a chance to survive.”
Mirage Anglais ( 15 mins ) from Senegal:
This film focuses on the plight of refugees from Senegal, a country in West Africa on the Atlantic coastline, who decide to try their luck going through Morocco and then on to France to find work and a new life. It showcases a similar theme to The Exile of the Sea: the plight of refugees fleeing hopeless situations such as soul-crushing poverty in their country of origin. The film offers authentic sights and sounds of a Senegalese family’s life where a mother’s sons ultimately refuses to join local criminal activity to make a living and risk everything to get to Europe. It challenges American audiences to understand that when we learn about migrant boats sinking while crossing the Mediterranean the people who lose their lives are from families whose humanity is just like ours.
Here is the film’s official blurb:
“Moussa and his little brother Sidi are looking for work but in vain. Determined, they return with a new objective: to reach France at all costs. They imagine finding a job so that their mother lacks nothing. Will they achieve their goal?”
In the Whiteness (4m, 38s) from Canada:
A beautifully shot and imagined film – compelling poetry – honoring ancestors and communicating a woman’s strength – this artistic film with its title and imagery call to mind a minority’s experience in a “white-dominated world”. Slowly peeling off her outer layers amidst a snowy background, the film’s subject (directed and also played by Niya Abdullahi) reveals her true self amidst a colorful traditional costume from her homeland in Ethiopia.
“I stand out in the whiteness
Intones the over-voice…
Shot outside in nature, the background is nearly monochromatic white, but the costumes, jewelry and skin tones of the main character offer a rich, vibrant and even joyful contrast. Visually and poetically intriguing, we experience the sense of the woman’s dignity and her deep understanding of who she is and where she has come from, especially in regard to her ancestors. Interwoven with the beats and vocals of her ancestors, Niya dedicated this powerful short to them.
“Dedicated to my ancestors, may Allah have mercy on their souls.”
Anthem for Kashmir (9:07 mins) from India, directed by Sandeep Ravindranath, is a colorful, high-energy music video focusing on oppression in Kashmir.
Director’s Statement for Anthem for Kashmir:
“Anthem for Kashmir was filmed in the most militarized zone in the world – an army occupied town on the Pakistan-India border under AFSPA (shoot at sight orders), at risk to life and limb including a grenade blast on filming location. Our crew has already been harassed by the state – my actor, who is also a journalist, called-in by the army for an innocuous post on FB and let go with a warning that he is on their watchlist. Filmed on money and love contributed by an entire populace, this is a narrative based on facts that the Indian state does not want you to see. The lyrics also contain themes that displease the present right-wing government in India.”
Other foreign films of note to be screened in-person during the festival:
Stay Away (12:45 mins) from Iran, Statistic (6 mins) from Brazil, a story of how the Black Lives Matter protests of Michael Brown’s killing touched a young man very far from Ferguson, Missouri, The Archive (8:41 mins) from Iran, and Time Spent (12:28 mins) from the UK.
From (and about) the Black August Film Festival:
After experiencing the racial divide at film festivals they had entered, they decided to create a space for cultural films from around the world. The Black August Film Festival will welcome films from all over the world that will be about the social and economic issues of the oppressed. Black August is an invitation to reflect on the history of the Black freedom struggle, to celebrate those who have come and gone before us, and to commit to continuing this fight for justice and liberation until we win. The month of August is also rich with the history of Black resistance outside, from the Haitian Revolution to the Watts rebellion and the Ferguson uprising. Black August is a reminder of the power in unity, and a mandate to continue the joint struggle.
Tickets for the festival, taking place in Pasadena at the Flintridge Center on Saturday, August 19th & 20th, can be purchased here.
Story Editing: Mickey Sands