Spies of Mississipi

A spy among them

*As part of Black History Month, The African Diaspora International Film Festival has a series of films being shown at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York through  March 1.

The ADIFF points out that the series has an international spin that puts the notion of Black History month in the perspective of a quest to critically understand what the Black human experience has been and is in different parts of the world. The films are from eight countries.

The program features several documentaries about the Black experience in the United States. “Stubborn as a Mule” by Miller Bargerton, Jr.” and “Arcelious J. Daniels,” an internationally award winning film that presents an eye opening depiction of lesser known historical facts and contemporary commentary regarding the call for reparations for African-Americans. In the process, the film disseminates USA black history that is not taught in most educational systems. “Spies of Mississippi” by Dawn Porter is an explosive documentary based on a book by the same name that tells the story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy during the Civil Rights Movement.

Linking the US and Africa is the very popular documentary “Bound: Africans vs African-Americans” by Peres Owino, about the tensions between these two groups and winner of ADIFF 2014’s Public Award for the Best Film Directed by a Woman of Color. The screening of this hard-hitting documentary—that walks us through the corridors of African colonialism and African American enslavement—will be followed by a conversation with Director Peres Owino.   Three historic epic dramas that explore the fight for liberation by colonized and enslaved Africans are in the program: “Ninga Queen of Angola” by about a 17th century Queen who fought for freedom against Portuguese colonialism, “Tula, The Revolt” by Jeroen Leinders, a film set in Curaçao in the Caribbean during slavery times and Sergio Giral’s classic Cuban drama “Maluala,” about the Maroons, the communities of escaped enslaved Africans in the 19th century.

: “Thomas Sankara” from Burkina FasoAmilcar Cabral” from Cape Verde directed by Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda and Ana Ramos Lisboa respectively. “The Story of Lovers Rock” by Menelik Shabbaz is a musical documentary about Lovers Rock, often dubbed “romantic reggae,” a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. “Denying Brazil” by Joel Zito Araujo is a documentary that explores the history of the stereotypical representation of Black characters on Brazilian TV and the negative impact of these stereotypes on the Afro-Brazilian identity formation.

For more information and tickets go to: http://www.NYADIFF.org, or call (212) 864-1760

Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]