July 21, 2019

Winnipeg
14° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Afro Prairie fest highlights best in black cinema

Weeklong event features a dozen selections, crossing genres and borders

Organized by Blackspace Winnipeg in partnership with the Winnipeg Film Group, the second annual Afro Prairie Film Festival runs this week at Cinematheque.

With 10 features and two short programs screening until Sunday, the fest reaches across genres, combining classic and contemporary films and drawing on local, national and international directors.

There’s a fast-paced comedy about hairdressing hustlers in a Parisian banlieue (La vie de château, tonight, 6 p.m.) and a low-key coming-of-age drama from Montreal filmmaker Darren Curtis (Boost, tonight, 8 p.m.), an affecting story of a shooting death in a multicultural Toronto neighbourhood from Caribbean British-Canadian director Frances-Anne Solomon (A Winter Tale, Sunday, 3 p.m.), as well as the latest from Oscar-nominated veteran Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman, Saturday, 9 p.m.).

You can check out the full lineup at blackspacewpg.ca, but here are a few highlights:

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Organized by Blackspace Winnipeg in partnership with the Winnipeg Film Group, the second annual Afro Prairie Film Festival runs this week at Cinematheque.

With 10 features and two short programs screening until Sunday, the fest reaches across genres, combining classic and contemporary films and drawing on local, national and international directors.

Movie trailers

There’s a fast-paced comedy about hairdressing hustlers in a Parisian banlieue (La vie de château, tonight, 6 p.m.) and a low-key coming-of-age drama from Montreal filmmaker Darren Curtis (Boost, tonight, 8 p.m.), an affecting story of a shooting death in a multicultural Toronto neighbourhood from Caribbean British-Canadian director Frances-Anne Solomon (A Winter Tale, Sunday, 3 p.m.), as well as the latest from Oscar-nominated veteran Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman, Saturday, 9 p.m.).

You can check out the full lineup at blackspacewpg.ca, but here are a few highlights:

HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING (Saturday, 7 p.m.): The Oscar-nominated Hale County is a quiet investigation into how we see each other. Director RaMell Ross, who started teaching photography in a poor, predominantly African-American county in rural Alabama, is aware that the documentary camera has often been used to objectify its subjects, especially those in marginalized groups.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (IDIOM Film)

Hale County This Morning, This Evening (IDIOM Film)

Searching for a different way to represent black lives, Ross follows two young men over five years: Daniel, who heads to Selma University to play basketball, and Quincy, who has just become a father and works at a fish cannery to provide for his family.

This is an achingly specific picture of mundane moments and sudden sorrows, with long, patient scenes of young men shooting hoops or playing blues guitar, of a toddler tiring himself out, of kids just doing stuff in backyards and fields.

Ross also uses his camera to think about the documentary form. Hale County probably has more in common with the experimental drama Killer of Sheep, by influential African-American director Charles Burnett, than it does with standard docs. Ross avoids the common clichés of poverty porn, instead using a highly visual and deliberately non-narrative approach to build up the rhythms of the natural world and the emotional texture of a small community.

 


 

BLACKKKLANSMAN (Saturday, 9 p.m.): Combining edgy farce with bursts of life-and-death seriousness, Spike Lee’s latest joint — up on Sunday night for six Oscars, including for best picture — is set in the supercool 1970s, where Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) has just become the first black officer on the Colorado Springs police force.

John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the first black officer to join the Colorado Springs police force, in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. (David Lee / Focus Features)

John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the first black officer to join the Colorado Springs police force, in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. (David Lee / Focus Features)

Ron is determined to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan. In this so-crazy-it-must-be-true storyline, Ron makes the initial undercover phone contacts with this hapless bunch of white supremacists but — for obvious reasons — recruits his colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to do the in-person meetings.

Lee brings his stylized esthetic and flair for genre-flipping to this kooky fact-based story. There’s deadpan office comedy here, along with crime-fighting shenanigans, a sweet romance, a sly re-examination of the "interracial buddy picture" and a whole lot of cutting social comment. And while Lee revels in the funky 1970s period details, he connects Stallworth’s story with current events — and the current American president — including a chilling epilogue that looks at the 2017 march on Charlottesville, Va., by an emboldened white-nationalist movement.

 

 


 

THE WATERMELON WOMAN (Sunday, 5 p.m.): A re-release of American filmmaker Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 debut feature, this appealingly offbeat, comic and personal story starts with a familiar premise: a young filmmaker is making a film about trying to make a film.

Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman is an offbeat comic story. (Dancing Girl photo)

Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman is an offbeat comic story. (Dancing Girl photo)

Cheryl (played by Dunye) is a video-store clerk and sometime videographer in South Philadelphia who becomes obsessed with a 1930s film called Plantation Memories and a black actor listed in the credits as "the watermelon woman." Cheryl’s attempt to track the actor down takes her through mainstream Hollywood history, where black characters were often limited to the smiling servitude of mammies and maids, as well as the alt history of "race films" with all-black casts.

Dunye uses her mock-documentary format to excavate the past — including the often-hidden layers of black history, women’s history and gay history — and to question how all these things relate to her complicated present. This includes her own work as a contemporary lesbian filmmaker and her tricky relationship with her white girlfriend Diana (Guinevere Turner).

The Watermelon Woman can be awkward and clunky, and its shoestring budget sometimes shows. But it’s also fresh and frequently very funny (as in one sequence where Cheryl tries to get archival material from a lesbian volunteer collective that makes lending decisions by consensus and only meets every other month).

There’s also a self-aware and oh-so-1990s appearance by contrarian scholar Camille Paglia, who hilariously Camille-splains the ways African-American scholars have misinterpreted the "mammy" character as demeaning when — according to Paglia — she’s actually a goddess figure.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Read full biography

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.