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Exploring the Black Condition at the 29th New York African Diaspora International Film Festival

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By Roger Costa

SILENCE OF THE RAIN

Intense and unpredictable, director Daniel Filho’s Rio’s set latest film is a highly efficient and entertaining crime noir tale that reinvents the whodunit classic formula. The film centers on a group of high class folks and others not so privileged as they clash through intimate dilemmas, while two cynical detectives (played marvelously funny and precisely charismatic by Lazaro Ramos and Thalita Carauta) investigate the mysterious death of an executive found shot inside his car. Provocative, sophisticated and subtly erotic, it is an alluring psychological thriller with a great sense of humor.

A BRUDDAH’S MIND

A young student is racially abused inside his classroom and starts a revolution when he decides to stand up against the corruptive educational system with a challenging protest: he won’t leave school until measures are taken. What ensues is a fabulously rich allegory of the turmoil faced by Black minorities in Latin America and the horrifying conditions provided at the public schools. Genuinely humble, utterly humane and authentic, writer-director Deo Cardoso’s impactful debut automatically puts him under the radar as an emerging force in contemporary Brazilian cinema. I can’t wait to see what he does next, as the film displays his potential as an auteur and also as a socio-political activist. Engaging and unique, it is a powerful, impressive debut.

DOCTOR GAMA

In director Jeferson De’s latest engagement into Black revolutionary biopic, a slave boy becomes a notorious attorney who fights for his people’s rights and opportunities. Luiz Gama is among the most important Brazilian personalities in the history of abolitionism and his actions used the courts to set free more than 500 slaves. An accomplished and masterly crafted revolutionary saga, the film spans his life from childhood when he is taken from his family and sold into slavery, through his youth as a self educated youngster, and culminating with his adulthood experiences confronting intolerance and prejudice as well as battling inner issues. An important statement about racial freedom experienced back then, but very relevant for our current times.

THE EAGLE’S NEST

Two female friends explore their beauty, sensuality and “Black female power” while dreaming of better, wealthy days. Paris wants to leave for Europe, while Samantha insists in staying in Africa. One night, while playing naughty somewhere, they find an incredible huge amount of cash, leading them to conflicts, betrayal and bloodshed. Structured as a black power exploitation movie, exploring timely issues such as sexuality, religion, geographical borders and violence, deliciously funny and action-packed, director Olivier Assoua delivers an extraordinary, inventive and charismatic feminist badass flick that will certainly have Tarantino and Scorsese raving about it.

NAMELESS

Following the struggle and perseverance of a young couple in now-a-days Rwanda, director Mutiganda Wa Nkunda’s inspirational survivalist tale is filmed with candor and honesty, exploring the social, economical and ethical challenges faced by the underprivileged. Influenced by neo-realism and romances set amidst a violent, corrupted scenario, it is a great, sensitive and smart look on contemporary economical uncertainty and family bond.

(The NY African Diaspora Film Festival 2021 runs thru December 12th with In-Person screenings at Cinema Village and Chelsea Cinepolis and Available Virtually for the Tri-State area. Go to www.nyadiff.org for details.)


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