Film

Okayplayer's 14 Most Exciting Movies At Sundance: From 'Afronauts' To 'Concerning Violence'

Okayplayer's 14 Most Exciting Movies At Sundance includes Difret, Concerning Violence, We Come As Friends, Fishing Without Nets, Finding Fela and more.


Last week Okayplayer and Okayafrica took to the freezing streets of Park City, Utah, to join the Finding Fela entourage at the Sundance world premiere of the Alex Gibney-directed (and Okayafrica/Okayplayer produced) monster portrait of our afrobeat father. Earlier today OKP passed the popcorn on the most exciting films to come out of this year's series, including Ghanaian filmmaker Frances Bodomo's Zambia Space Academy mystery-popping short Afronauts, neocolonialist indictment We Come As Friends, the Frantz Fanon-guided Concerning Violence, Ethiopian drama Difret, Cutter Hodierne's story of Somali pirates told from the perspective of the pirates Fishing Without Nets, and of course Finding Fela. Take a look at what our very own gingerlynn & vanessawithoutborders had to say:

Our days were ram packed with Fela events and press junkets, but in between we managed to catch a grip of screenings, party at the “Black House,” (the hang-out/hub for African American filmmakers) and talk to some of the most promising new filmmakers out there. What follows is a list of what we judged to be the most exciting films that screened at this year’s festival, relevant to both Okayplayer and Okayafrica. Some we saw with our own eyeballs, some are included of the strength of word of mouth buzz or co-signatures from homies and colleagues–and a few we are in the process of begging for screeners for after hearing rave reviews. Whatever the source, the proof is in the popcorn.

>>>Okayplayer's full report on the 14 Most Exciting Movies To Come Out Of Sundance

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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