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Season Three of Afropop – RiseUp: Reggae Underground

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NEW YORK (January 24, 2011)—Now in its third season, AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange continues to offer up a wealth of modern stories from across the African Diaspora. On Wednesday, the 2009 American Film Institute/Discovery Silverdocs Best Music Documentary Award winner RiseUp: Reggae Underground takes viewers on a journey to the Caribbean to witness the struggles of three young people hoping to make it big in the Jamaican music scene. From Turbulence, a lyrical, young man struggling to find a way out of Kingston’s impoverished Hungry Town to Kemoy, a talented, shy girl from the Jamaican countryside to Ice Anastacia, a privileged youth from Kingston in search of acceptance from his dancehall peers, Argentinian filmmaker Luciano Blotta follows these young musicians on their quest for fame and, in some cases, an escape from poverty. The episode airs in cities across America through January 30.

RiseUp also examines the history and importance of reggae music in Jamaica through interviews with music legends including Robbie Shakespeare and Sly Dunbar.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, a five-week series, which premiered on January 12 and runs through February 9, airs on World, the 24-hour documentary channel. This season highlights the use of art as expression and human rights crises affecting people throughout the African Diaspora in countries including Haiti, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the United States, Colombia and Jamaica. All films premiere at 7 pm (ET) with encore airings at 12am (ET)/9 pm (PT). Please check your local listings for air dates on World and on additional public television stations. AfroPoP is produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and co-presented by American Public Television (APT)

A trailer for RiseUp: Reggae Underground (as well as the other seven films featured in the series), interviews with the filmmakers and other behind-the-scenes information on the documentaries including blogs, virtual talks centered on topical themes and filmmaking contests can be found at blackpublicmedia.org, the official website of NBPC. Additionally, Adisa Septuri’s documentary, A Day Without Mines, on his mission to provide child laborers in Sierra Leone with scholarships and a one-day football tournament, will be available for viewing online at the site.

Check www.blackpublicmedia.org or your local listings for exact airdates and times.


JANUARY 12, 2011

Haiti: One Day, One Destiny
By NBPC & Michèle Stephenson

Haitian-American filmmaker, Michèle Stephenson visits Haiti six weeks after one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes. There to document the personal stories of the Haitian people, Michèle gives us a glimpse of the emotional impact this tragedy has from the prospective of the thousands of Haitians living outside of Haiti who have been engaged in the recovery from the onset and will most likely be the ones to continue it once the story has retreated from the world stage.

Michèle Stephenson has produced non-fiction film and new media for over a decade. She often uses her eclectic background and prior international experience as a human rights attorney to tackle stories on communities of color and human rights. As an early pioneer in the Web 2.0 revolution, Stephenson used video and the Internet to structure human rights campaigns and train people from across the globe in video Internet advocacy. Her work has appeared on PBS, Showtime, MTV and other broadcast, cable and digital outlets. Stephenson’s work has also screened at prestigious festivals, from Toronto and Sundance to the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.

The Other Side of the Water: The Journey of a Haitian Rara Band
By Jeremy Robbins and Magali Damas

The Other Side of the Water follows a 20-year journey of the Haitian-American community, told through the lens of a vodou-based walking band in Brooklyn. The music is called rara: part-carnival, part-vodou ceremony, and part-grassroots protest. Rara originally served as a voice of the slaves in their revolt against the French and continued on as the voice of those struggling against ongoing dictatorship in Haiti. The Other Side of the Water focuses on the journey of the poetic visionary Pé Yves, a leader of the rara movement in New York since the late ‘80s, as he strives to keep this musical art form alive while encountering attacks from the Haitian Christian community and new ideas from younger members of the rara movement.

Jeremy Robins is a media educator and filmmaker with a passion for visual storytelling. In early 2004 he produced and directed The Cause of Pierre Toussaint, a documentary of a 17th century Haitian former slave who is now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church. He currently works as a field producer for MTV’s True Life, and for Downtown Community Television Productions. As an educator, he teaches production classes at Downtown Community Television (DCTV), and has designed youth development programs and taught video production to teenagers as part of the Harlem Children’s Zone Project since 1998. He has written for The Independent Film & Video Monthly and the Brooklyn Rail.

Magali (Magi) Damas has worked the past fifteen years in video production, festival organization, and civic activism. In 2004, she co-produced The Cause of Pierre Toussaint and co-directed a music video for Djarara, which was featured on the national cable broadcast of Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. She’s currently the video coordinator for HaitiXchange.com and works in a variety of production roles for Metrovision Production Group, NYC. From 2000 to 2002 she helped organize Haiti’s second largest festival “Gelee” in Les Cayes, as well as a rara festival in Pauillant. She works tirelessly to promote Haitian culture both here and in Haiti.

JANUARY 19, 2011

125 Franco’s Boulevard
By Sia Nyorkor & Jacob Templin

When a community is in the process of development and gentrification, what happens to the art and culture that represents the people of that community? With colorful strokes, Franco the Great has been painting murals on the storefront roll-down gates (riot gates) on 125th Street in Harlem for 40 years. A rezoning legislation and recently passed city law threaten to remove those gates along with the art and culture that is painted on them. Who will step up and preserve Franco’s art in the wake of big plans to change Harlem?

Sia Nyorkor is a broadcast journalist who is passionate about covering all things related to the African Diaspora. Before earning a Master of Science degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Nyorkor worked as an associate producer at New Jersey Public Television & Radio where she earned a New York Emmy and CINE Golden Eagle for her work in documentary. Nyorkor also worked as a “backpack journalist” for MTV News, covering the 2008 presidential election.

Jacob Templin has been passionate about making documentary films since his first production in 2005, when he documented a trip he took across America with an uncle who was grappling to come to terms with his own mental health. He has produced and directed both short and feature length films, ranging in topics from welfare reform to HIV. In 2009, he completed his master’s degree at the Columbia School of Journalism and currently works as a video journalist at TIME.com.

By Alla Kovgan, David Hinton and Nora Chipaumire

Nora is based on true stories from the life of dancer Nora Chipaumire, who was born in Zimbabwe in 1965. Using performance and dance, Nora brings her history to life in a swiftly-moving poem of sound and image, offering an insight into both her life and Zimbabwe’s history and political struggles.

Alla Kovgan is a Moscow-born, Boston-based filmmaker. Her films and films that she co-¬directed have been presented worldwide at film festivals including Sundance, Rotterdam, Toronto, Melbourne, Durban, Oberhausen, Clemont-Ferrand, PBS (US), ZDF (Germany) and numerous others. The two latest documentaries that she co-directed and edited, Emmy-nominated Traces of the Trade and My perestroika, broadcast on PBS’s P.O.V in 2008 and 2010. Since 1999, Alla has been involved with interdisciplinary collaborations—creating intermedia performances (with KINODANCE Company), dance films and documentaries about dance such as Movement (R)evolution Africa together with Joan Frosch. Since 2000, she has taught and curated dance film/avant-garde cinema worldwide as the programmer of St. Petersburg Dance Film Festival KINODANCE (Russia) and as a co-Curator of Balagan Film Series (Boston). In 2009, Alla was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and a Brother Thomas Fellowship for artists working at a high level of excellence and creativity.

David Hinton is a director who has made many documentaries for British television. His subjects have included artists of all kinds, including painter Francis Bacon, film-maker Bernardo Bertolucci, writer Alan Bennett, and choreographer Karole Armitage. He is best known in the dance world for Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men and Strange Fish, his film versions of stage shows by DV8 Physical Theatre. He has also made performance films with Adventures in Motion Pictures, the Alvin Ailey Company and the Royal Swedish Ballet, and has collaborated with several choreographers to create original dance works for the screen. He has twice won British Academy Awards for his documentaries, and his dance films have won many awards, including a Prix Italia, an Emmy, and the IMZ Dance Screen Award.

Nora Chipaumire (choreographer) was born in Mutare, Zimbabwe during the Chimurenga Chechipiri, or second war of liberation, and has lived in the U.S. as a self-exiled artist since 1989. Now based in Brooklyn, Chipaumire considers herself a political artist in dialogue with herself, fellow Africans, and humanity; Zimbabwe is her focus and Africa is her center. MANCC Fellow, recipient of NDP Tour Support, and participant in the JANT-BI Diaspora Project in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal, Nora was recently honored with the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award. Winner of the 2007 BESSIE “for a towering, incandescent presence and for raising the bar to celestial heights in her full-tilt performances,” she is the founder and artistic director of Company Nora Chipaumire. She is featured in the documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa.

JANUARY 26, 2011

RiseUp : Reggae Underground
By Luciano Blotta

RiseUp is a journey into the heart of Jamaica—the island that gave birth to the worldwide cultural phenomenon of reggae. In a society where talent abounds and opportunity is scarce, three courageous artists fight to rise up from obscurity and write themselves into the pages of history. With music and appearances by legends Lee “Scratch” Perry, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, RiseUp follows artists who demonstrate the raw power of hope and courage in a land which is largely unseen, but certainly not unsung. The film won the 2009 American Film Institute/Discovery Silverdocs Best Music Documentary Award.

RiseUp is Luciano Blotta’s first feature documentary, shot over several years on the island of Jamaica. In 2002 he directed the controversial documentary short Nutrition Facts, which premiered at Slamdance Film Festival and Argentina’s BAFICl International Film Festival, to rave reviews. When not directing documentary projects, Luciano pours his passion into cinematography, photographing commercials, music videos and feature films.

FEBRUARY 2, 2011

By Juan Mejia Botero

Taken in Villa Espa, a refugee camp in Choc, Colombia. 2007

Uprooted explores the effect of Colombia’s civil war on the people of the Colombian Pacific region, an area that, for centuries, remained exclusively a mining frontier on the periphery of the nation’s development. The majority of the population—freed and runaway slaves and indigenous peoples—lived in relatively dispersed communities up and down the river basin, where their livelihoods depended on agriculture, gold panning, fishing and the collection of shellfish in the river deltas. However, the Colombian Pacific has become a new frontier for development and as Colombia’s civil war has escalated, violence and mass displacement have become all too common as struggles for land and resources intensify. At the center of Uprooted are Noris, a mother and community leader, and her family, displaced since 1996 and living in a refugee shelter on the outskirts of Quibdó, a growing city on the Pacific Coast. This documentary is an intimate portrayal of the tragedy of uprooting; a beautifully

detailed tale about struggle and resilience; a bittersweet story of loss, love, family, and dreams.

Juan Mejia Botero was born in Bogota, Colombia. In 2000 he received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology & Sociology from Swarthmore College. As part of his thesis work he co-directed and co-edited the documentary film Merging Voices: The Youth of EI Salvador Speak. During the following year, as a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient he traveled, lived, and worked as a grassroots video facilitator in several countries in Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Chile). He also dedicated time to working with the Asociación de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES) in Colombia. He is currently in Colombia working on a feature documentary titled The Battle for Land, that deals more deeply with the true and often-hidden causes and consequences of the forced displacement of Afrocolombians. The film, due to be completed in late 2010, has just won a completion grant from the ministry of culture in Colombia through the Fondo de Cine.

Sanza Hanza: King Surfer
By Nadia Hallgren

Sanza Hanza, a Zulu dialect term for King Surfer, is a short documentary following V.I.R.U.S (Very Intelligent Riders Usually Survive), a gang of young train surfers in the South African slums of Soweto. Born out of a restless desire to embrace life (and death) after years of oppression, it is here that you will find train surfing—the semi-suicidal act of climbing outside, on top and under the city’s public trains while in full flight. Sanza Hanza intimately captures the bleak, almost existential outlook exhibited by many of the best train surfers as they search for the ultimate ride.

Nadia Hallgren is a leading cinematographer and filmmaker from the Bronx. Her cinematography credits include Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury prizewinner and Academy Award-nominated Trouble the Water. She has worked with noted journalistic figures such as Dan Rather, important political figures such as Desmond Tutu as well as cultural icons like Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz. In 2008, Hallgren co-founded Polite Company, an independent production company and made her directorial debut with Sanza-Hanza: King Surfer, which was an official selection of the Slamdance, Santa Barbara and Silver Docs film festivals. Hallgren was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Reach Film Fellowship and is now directing her second film.

FEBRUARY 9, 2011

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter
By Attie & Goldwater Productions

Mrs. Goundo and baby daughter photo credit Attie & Goldwater Productions

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter is the story of a young mother’s quest to keep her baby daughter healthy and whole. It is also the story of the African tradition of female genital cutting—which dates back thousands of years—and how it affects people’s lives in just two of the many places where the practice is being debated today. To stay in the U.S., Malian immigrant Mrs. Goundo must persuade an immigration judge that her two-year-old daughter Djenebou, born in the U.S., will most certainly suffer clitoral excision if Goundo is deported to Mali where up to 85% of women and girls are excised. The film also focuses on people from both sides of the argument in Mali: activists fighting to the end the practice and traditionalists who defend excisions.

Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater have worked collaboratively since 1990 making widely acclaimed documentaries that have been broadcast nationally and internationally. In 2005 the Philadelphia-based filmmakers were awarded the prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Their most recent collaboration, Rosita (2005), is the story of a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl who was raped and made pregnant, and her parents’ struggle with the medical establishment, the government and the church to end her pregnancy. Broadcast in Latin America on HBO /Cinemax as well as in Europe and Asia, Rosita was selected to screen at INPUT 2007 and has been shown at film festivals worldwide, including the Human Rights Watch Festival and Silverdocs. Attie and Goldwater’s 2002 ITVS production, Maggie Growls, a whimsical biography of Gray Panther founder Maggie Kuhn, was selected to be the premiere program on PBS’s documentary series Independent Lens. Other Attie and Goldwater documentaries broadcast nationally on PBS include Daring To Resist: Three Women Face The Holocaust (2000) and Landowska: Uncommon Visionary (1999).

Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, co-producer and editor, has been committed to documentary filmmaking as an editor and producer for over a decade. Her editing debut was on an Emmy-winning episode of WGBH’s Greater Boston Arts series. She is the co-producer and editor of Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a ground-breaking documentary about manhood and gender politics in mainstream Hip-Hop. The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens.

The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), a national, nonprofit media arts organization, is the leading provider of black programming on public television and the greatest resource for the training of black media professionals within the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). NBPC develops, produces and funds television and online programming about the black experience. Since its founding in 1979, it has provided hundreds of broadcast hours documenting African American history, culture and experience to public television. For more on NBPC and its initiatives, visit blackpublicmedia.org.

With more than 10,000 hours of programming in its library, American Public Television (APT) has been a prime source of programming for the nation’s public television stations for 47 years, distributing more than 300 new program titles per year. APT milestones include distribution of the first HD series on public television and the 2006 launch of Create™ – the TV channel featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming. Known for its leadership in identifying innovative, worthwhile and viewer-friendly programming, APT has established a tradition of providing public television stations with program choices that strengthen and customize their schedules, such as: Carreras Domingo Pavarotti in Concert, Winged Migration, Battlefield Britain, Globe Trekker, Rick Steves’ Europe, Great Museums, Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Broadway: The Golden Age, Lidia’s Family Table, California Dreamin’ – The Songs of The Mamas & the Papas, Rosemary and Thyme, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, The Big Comfy Couch, Monarchy With David Starkey, and other prominent documentaries including AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Program, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.

Press Inquiries
For interview and media inquiries, contact: Cheryl Duncan, Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc. cheryl@cherylduncanpr.com 201-332-8338 or Alimah Boyd, Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc alimah@cherylduncanpr.com 201-332-8338

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