What to Watch at Home During Coronavirus Shutdown: ARRAY's New Digital African Film Series
The film platform, from director Ava DuVernay, is hosting a weekly movie-viewing experience for the "global online community of cinephiles."
If you're looking for African films to dive into while at home during the coronavirus outbreak, a new digital series from award-winning director Ava DuVernay's film collective ARRAY is a great place to start. The multi-media platform and arts collective is launching its #ARRAYMatinee series, and each film will be available for viewing here.
#ARRAYMatinee is a virtual movie-viewing experience that will screen a string of the collective's previously released independent films from Africa and the diaspora. The weekly series begins on Wednesday, April 1 with a viewing of the 2015 South African coming-of-age film Ayanda. "Viewers will take a cinematic journey to the international destinations and cultures featured in five films that were released via the ARRAY Releasing independent film distribution collective that amplifies that work of emerging filmmakers of color and women of all kinds," says the platform in a press release. To promote a communal viewing experience, viewers are also encouraged to have discussions on Twitter, using the hashtag #ARRAYMatinee.
The five-part series will run weekly until May 13, and also includes films from Liberia, Ghana, and Grenada. See the full viewing schedule below with descriptions from ARRAY, and visit ARRAY's site at the allotted times to watch.
AYANDA (South Africa) - Wednesday, April 1, 1PM PST (Vimeo)
After tragedy strikes, a young woman begins a journey of self-discovery as she struggles to save her father's car repair shop along with her memory of him. Ayanda is a coming-of-age story from writer/director Sara Blecher that takes us into a vibrant Johannesburg community alive with love and humor, risk and reward, tragedy and triumph. This film held its world premiere screening at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival winning the Special Jury Prize in the World Fiction Competition.
OUT OF MY HAND (Liberia) – Wednesday, April 15, 1PM PST (Vimeo)
Directed by Takeshi Fukunaga, Out of My Hand takes viewers inside the humble life of Liberian rubber plantation worker Cisco. Severe working conditions, failed unionization and corporate corruption ultimately drive him away from his family and his country to the foreign streets of New York City where his past forces him to confront his sense of isolation and belonging. This film debuted in the Panorama Section of the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.
THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD (Grenada) – Wednesday, April 22, 1PM PST (Netflix)
The House on Coco Road is an intimate documentary exploration of heritage and history against the backdrop of a brewing Afro-centric revolution as the U.S. government prepares to invade the island nation of Grenada. First-hand accounts from activists Angela Davis, Fania Davis and Fannie Haughton weave together director Damani Baker's family portrait of utopian dreams, resistance and civil unrest with a film score composed by music luminary Meshell Ndegeocello. The film held its world premiere at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival.
VAYA (South Africa) – Wednesday, May 6, 1PM PST (Netflix)
In filmmaker Akin Omotoso's Vaya, the title is a phrase spoken in South African townships meaning "to go." VAYA takes viewers along on a journey of three young South Africans who travel away from their rural homes on a train bound for Johannesburg. Stirring and suspenseful, the intertwining stories of these naive strangers as they struggle to survive culminates in an explosive moment not soon forgotten. Based on real accounts, VAYA made its World Premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and garnered Mr. Omotoso the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Director.
THE BURIAL OF KOJO (Ghana) – Wednesday, May 13, 1PM PST (Netflix)
Through a magical realist lens, The Burial of Kojo follows the story of Esi, as she recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo and her uncle, Kwabena. Directed by TED fellow, music composer and musician Samuel "Blitz" Bazawule, the film chronicles the tale of two brothers through the gifted eyes of a young girl who transports the audience to the beautiful lands of Ghana and other worlds that exist between life and death.
Born from a newspaper article and a Kickstarter campaign, Bazawule skillfully captures the beauty of a family, even when the circumstances aren't beautiful. THE BURIAL OF KOJO is an essential human story of courage and survival. THE BURIAL OF KOJO is a 2019 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) Official Selection and 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Winner.
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