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Newark Museum Black Film Festival Marks 45th Anniversary

HUDSON VALLEY PRESS — The Newark Museum Black Film Festival (NMBFF), the longest-running black film festival in the United States, is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a blockbuster lineup of films and documentaries.

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By The Hudson Valley Press

NEWARK, NJ – The Newark Museum Black Film Festival (NMBFF), the longest-running black film festival in the United States, is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a blockbuster lineup of films and documentaries.

In keeping with a cultural event that is authentically Newark, this year’s opening night will screen the HBO documentary United Skates on June 26 and will feature a one-of-a-kind experience – a pop up roller rink set up outside the Museum. The festival will close on July 31 with a screening of Boyz N the Hood and an appearance by Donald Bogle, a film historian and award-winning author. Other films in the line-up include Losing Ground (July 3); Sammy Davis, Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me (Jul 10); and 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story (July 24).

“Since 1974, we have been a constant champion of films for and by African Americans and the African Diaspora,” said Linda C. Harrison, the Museum’s Director and CEO. “In the beginning, we were one of the few places where you could see films that reflected the diversity of the black experience. In staking our claim to authenticity, we are embracing the tagline ‘Reel Black.’”

NMBFF also will include festival pop-ups focused on African films on Sunday, July 14; and Latina films on July 28. Additionally, the Museum has partnered with Woman in Media to present Girls on the Reel, a STEAM program that provides 15 high school girls from Newark with an opportunity to take stop-motion animation workshops in the Museum’s MakerSPACE. The students will create, shoot and edit a Museum-inspired motion picture that will be screened as part of the NMBFF on July 24 along with 72 Hours: A Brooklyn Love Story.

In the past 44 years, NBFF has screened more than 917 films to an audience of more than 194,000 adults and youth. Past films of note have included Selma, Ashes and Embers, Body and Soul, Do the Right Thing and Daughters of the Dust. In partnership with organizations and businesses in Newark, NMBFF films have been screened at Rutgers-Newark, the Newark Public Library and Cityplex 12.

“This year we will continue to uphold our mandate to bring the best of cinema from across the Diaspora to the citizens of Newark and surrounding municipalities,’’ said NMBFF Chair Richard Wesley.

NMBFF has brought to Newark luminaries such as the late Gordon Parks and Paul Robeson, Jr. and James Van Der Zee; and James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Reggie and Warington Hudlin, Ayoka Chenzira, Spike lee, Pam Grier, Donald Bogle, Richard Wesley, Euzhan Palcy, Ava DuVernay and S. Epatha Merkerson to participate in post-screening discussions.

“The intimate discussions between the audience and filmmakers is a unique aspect of NBFF,” said Pat Faison, NMBFF Coordinator who has been with the festival since its inception. Among the guests this year will be Oscar and Emmy nominated Samuel D. Pollard, who directed Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me.

The NMBFF started in 1974 with a touring black film festival that was put together by filmmaker Oliver Franklin who worked at the Annenberg Center for Communication, Art & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. The late Gus Henningburg, who was then the Executive Director of the Greater Newark Urban Coalition, learned about the festival and proposed it to the Newark Museum.

In 1976 when the touring festival was no longer available, the Museum made the decision to produce the Festival and established a Selection Committee, whose volunteer members represented important institutions in the community.

In 1981, a Children’s Festival was added, which is now called Youth Cinema. In 1985, the Museum initiated the Paul Robeson Awards to honor excellence in independent filmmaking in five categories.

Warrington Hudlin, President, Black Filmmaker Foundation said, ‘’The Festival came into existence to fill the void left by movie theaters that were fleeing Newark and other inner cities throughout the United States. The real beneficiaries soon became the newly minted generation of young African American filmmakers who were graduating from film schools with films under their arms and looking for a place to screen them. And even today, if a filmmaker wants to put his or her film to a litmus test for authenticity, I say ‘screen it in Newark’.’’

“Newark Museum Black Film Festival is a total and complete national treasure,” said actor- producer-director-filmmaker Penwah. “It is such an honor to be associated with such a groundbreaking and vital movement! The staff, the content, the participants – just plain and simple ‘blacknificence.’ They are official originators, not duplicators. Follow their lead!”
Financial support for the festival from Bank of America for the past 19 years has allowed it to expand in the past to venues beyond the museum, including the NJ State Museum in Trenton, Rutgers-Camden and Monmouth Arts Council in Asbury Park.

“The Newark Museum Black Film Festival never fails to bring an impressive lineup of movies to Newark and beyond,’’ said Bob Doherty, Bank of America New Jersey president. “Celebrating differences in culture, ethnicity and experience helps create stronger and more vibrant communities.’’

Tito’s Vodka is the official Spirit Sponsor for the second year. The 2019 NBFF season will begin on June 26 and run through July 31 at 6:30 pm. For a complete schedule, visit www.newarkmuseum.org/NBFF.

This article originally appeared in the Hudson Valley Press.

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COMMENTARY: #OscarsBlackAF: Will Packer’s 94th Academy Awards Broadcast Delivers

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The show which has grown from 15 minutes in its first year (1929) to an average of 3 and ½ hours in recent years had some controversy when Will Packer, executive producer of Girls Trip, Think Like a Man and Ride Along, cut some categories from the broadcast in order to shorten the time, which has been blamed for low ratings in previous years. The Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate stuck to his guns addressing the controversy head on in the opening act and moved through the program effortlessly.
The post COMMENTARY: #OscarsBlackAF: Will Packer’s 94th Academy Awards Broadcast Delivers first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Culture and Entertainment Editor

Über producer Will Packer was tapped to produce the 94th Academy Awards ceremony and he did not disappoint with grand performances, powerful acceptance speeches and an unscripted slap seen around the world. Hosted by comedians Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and renowned actress Regina Hall, the Oscars were infused with African American influence and culture from the presenters to the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, Lupe Fiasco and many more during the transitions and commercial breaks. The show’s musical director was Adam Blackstone and included a super group composed of Blackstone on bass guitar, Robert Glasper on piano, Travis Barker and Sheila E. on drums. The Oscar’s orchestra was led by Baltimore’s Dontae Winslow.

Presenters included Venus and Serena Williams, Halle Bailey, Ruth E. Carter, Rosie Perez, Wesley Snipes, Jason Mamoa, Lupita Nyong’o, Tracee Ellis Ross and Tyler Perry. The ceremony opened with the radiant Williams sisters, who executive produced King Richard, announcing Beyoncé, who performed “Be Alive,” from the King Richard soundtrack, on the tennis courts in Compton, CA where the world champions trained as girls. Reminiscent of the style and look of Tobe Nwigwe’s, “Make It Home” music video, Beyonce sang her heart out surrounded by an all-white clad group of Black performers against a mint green landscape.

The show which has grown from 15 minutes in its first year (1929) to an average of 3 and ½ hours in recent years had some controversy when Packer, executive producer of Girls Trip, Think Like a Man and Ride Along, cut some categories from the broadcast in order to shorten the time, which has been blamed for low ratings in previous years. The Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate stuck to his guns addressing the controversy head on in the opening act and moved through the program effortlessly.

Ariana DeBose kicked off the ceremony with a Best Supporting Actress win for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. DeBose thanked Rita Moreno, who originated the role of Anita in 1962’s West Side Story, becoming the first Puerto Rican actress to win a Best Supporting Actress award. DeBose thanked Rita Moreno for opening the doors for other “Anitas like he”r and referred to herself as an openly Queer Afro-Latina, of which she is the first to win an Academy Award. She encouraged young people struggling with their identities to persevere and know that “there is a place for them here.”

Celebrated actor John Leguizamo introduced the song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” from Disney’s Encanto soundtrack. Even though the song has become the highest charted Disney song in the last 28 years, Lin-Manuel Miranda opted to submit “Dos Oruguitas,” for Oscar consideration instead. Miranda, who was scheduled to appear, had to pull out of the broadcast after his wife tested positive for Covid-19. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” was performed by the Encanto cast Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Diane Guerrero (Doom Patrol), reggaeton singer Adassa, Colombian musicians Carolina Gaitán and Mauro Castillo and Grammy award-winning rapper Megan the Stallion. John Leguizano, who actually voices the character of Bruno Madrigal in the film, did not perform, which he joked about during the introduction.

Amir “Questlove” Thompson won for Best Documentary feature for his film Summer of Soul. Thompson, who was accompanied by his mother, was overwhelmed by the win offering that the film covers the Summer of 1969 in Harlem but is relevant to what is happening today.

Comedian Chris Rock introduced the documentary category and made jokes about Denzel Washington’s performance in The Tragedy of MacBeth, at which the two-time Oscar winner laughed and congratulated Jada Pinkett Smith for her role in G.I. Jane 2. Will Smith, who later won the Best Actor award for his performance as Richard Williams in King Richard, approached Rock and slapped him in the face and returned to his seat. American television muted the sound after Smith shouted to Rock to “keep his wife’s name out of your mouth.” Lupita Nyong’o sat stunned at what many thought was a comedic bit but soon realized was a real slap.

Sean “Diddy” Combs tried to calm the situation down following the smack. Upon winning the Best Actor award, Smith wept as he spoke of protecting his family of actors and producers as well as his wife. He spoke about being bullied and forced to take poor treatment due to his celebrity. He apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees but not to Rock. With his win, Smith becomes the fifth Black man to win the Best Actor Oscar in the history of the Academy Awards.

Additional awards were given out earlier. Late last week (March 25), the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson, 73, an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in film and humanitarian efforts. Jackson, a prolific actor who has 197 acting credits, has delivered powerful performances in a host of films including Jungle Fever, Django, A Time to Kill, Eve’s Bayou, The Red Violin and the Star Wars and Marvel Universe franchises. One of Jackson’s most memorable performances was as Jules Winfield in Quentin Tarantino’s classic film Pulp Fiction, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1995 Academy Awards. In his acceptance speech for the honorary Oscar, Jackson said, “I’m really, really proud to receive this statuette,” and “this thing is going to be cherished.” The Morehouse graduate also thanked “every person who has ever bought a ticket to any movie I was in.”

At the same event, Iconic actor Danny Glover, 74, received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his human rights activism that has spanned the globe during the course of his career. Glover who is best known for his starring roles in The Color Purple, the Lethal Weapon franchise and critically acclaimed performances in The Color Purple, To Sleep With Anger, Places in the Heart, Freedom Song and The Last Black Man in San Francisco has been engaged in civic activism and used his platform to shed light on many causes including ending Apartheid in South Africa. Glover’s activism began in the Haight Asbury neighborhood of his hometown San Francisco, where he was a part of the Black Panther’s Breakfast program and a student activist at San Francisco State University.

In 1988, Glover was appointed Goodwill ambassador to the UN Development Program and an ambassador for the UNICEF division in 2004, respectively. In those capacities, Glover worked with countries in Haiti, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, Jamaica and Columbia on causes including social justice, climate change and HIV/AIDS awareness. In 2005, he combined his love for acting and filmmaking with activism and co-founded Louverture Films in New York City. The production company is dedicated to producing independent films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. Since its inception, the company has produced nearly 30 films on topics such as Hurricane Katrina, post-conflict resolution in Nepal, and a film about Afghanistan.

The film Coda was the big winner of the night, winning three top categories: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture and Troy Kotsur for Best Supporting Actor.

For a complete list of 2022 Oscar winners, click here.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Instagram or Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire.

The post COMMENTARY: #OscarsBlackAF: Will Packer’s 94th Academy Awards Broadcast Delivers first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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“Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR

CHICAGO DEFENDER — 300 Entertainment, the label home of Megan Thee Stallion launched a content and film division, 300 Studios. 300 Studios is headed by Kevin Liles, who is chairman and CEO of both 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group, with former Viacom executives Kelly Griffin as head of creative strategy and Nolan Baynes as GM.
The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Danielle Sanders, Managing Editor, Chicago Defender

Race: Bubba Wallace is a six-episode docuseries following the life and career of Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the NASCAR cup series. “RACE” follows Wallace as he competes on Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s racing team and uses his platform to speak out about racial injustice.

Race: Bubba Wallace Chicago Defender
NASCAR Driver, Bubba Wallace
Photo courtesy of Netflix

300 Entertainment, the label home of Megan Thee Stallion launched a content and film division, 300 Studios. 300 Studios is headed by Kevin Liles, who is chairman and CEO of both 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group, with former Viacom executives Kelly Griffin as head of creative strategy and Nolan Baynes as GM.

Race: Bubba Wallace is 300 Studios’ debut project. The studio currently has 30 projects in development including films, TV Series, and podcasts.

Race: Bubba Wallace Chicago Defender
Chicago native, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffin, Head of Creative Strategy (300 Studios) and one of the executive producers of “Race: Bubba Wallace”.

With over 15 years in Music Programming, Development, and Marketing for various companies including Clear Channel, Viacom, REVOLT TV and, now as head of creative strategy for 300 Studios, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffith has honed a unique talent of identifying up and coming superstars that ultimately prove to be profitable on various linear and digital platforms through an increase in streaming, record and ticket sales as well as overall brand recognition. From his days at WGCI to his work at BET, Kelly Griffith has also established himself as a premier programmer, talent booker, and producer.

The Chicago Defender spoke with Chicago native, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffin, head of creative strategy and one of the executive producers of the docuseries, Race: Bubba Wallace about the impact Bubba Wallace is having on the sport, the Netflix docuseries, and the future of 300 Studios.

Race: Bubba Wallace is currently streaming on Netflix.

The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR appeared first on Chicago Defender.

The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Black History

The Marinovators Virtual Experience in Marin City

The event will happen on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Marin Gateway Shopping Center, 109 Donahue St., Marin City, CA. This is the first of a series of #marincity80 events leading to the 80th anniversary of Marin City on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4, 2022, and the establishment of the Marin City Historical and Preservation Society.

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The public can sign up with the Marin City Historical Preservation Society for updates.
The public can sign up with the Marin City Historical Preservation Society for updates.

Felecia Gaston of Performing Stars of Marin and #marincity80 invites the community to the world premiere of The Marinovators, an immersive experience featuring youth from Marin City and the Bay Area who created a virtual reality experience and a soundtrack lifting up the Black workers who worked at Marinship during World War II.

The event will happen on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Marin Gateway Shopping Center, 109 Donahue St., Marin City, CA

This is the first of a series of #marincity80 events leading to the 80th anniversary of Marin City on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4, 2022, and the establishment of the Marin City Historical and Preservation Society.

A live painting installation by muralist James Shields, featuring Ms. Annie Small, Ms. Rodessa Battle, Mr. Joseph James, and Rev. Leon Samuels who were Black workers and welders in 1942 at the Marinship.

The public can sign up with the Marin City Historical Preservation Society for updates.

Web site: Marincity80.com

Linktree:https://linktr.ee/themarinovatoes

Instagram: @marincity80

Facebook: Performing Stars of Marin

For more information, contact performingstars@icloud or (415) 332-8316

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