In East African nations, matatu (Swahili) are privately owned minibuses or easily accessible share taxis. Often decorated with popular icons and sounds, matatu offer not only a means of travel, but access to another world. Cinema Club is impassioned by the belief that everyone has a spectacular story regardless of age, geographical bounds, sexual preference, race, and socio-economic status and that story represents the sacred agreement among otherwise disparate communities. We invite you to come aboard the Matatu Film Festival, exploring some of the world's most spectacular stories in some of Oakland's newest spaces. Enjoy the ride. *Tickets also available at he door*
The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in American history. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its earthen embankments in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles. Part of its legacy was the forced exodus of displaced sharecroppers, who left plantation life and migrated to Northern cities, adapting to an industrial society with its own set of challenges. In the spring of 2011, as the Mississippi River was again flooding to levels not seen since 1927, Bill Frisell and Bill Morrison traveled together from New Orleans, through Vicksburg, Clarksdale, Memphis, Davenport, Iowa, St. Louis and on up to Chicago to produce THE GREAT FLOOD. Bubbles and washes of the decaying film footage is associated with the destructive force of rising water, presenting a prism of history that dances with the sound of modern music.
UNOGUMBE follows the plot of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde opera closely but moves the action from medieval England to present-day South Africa, where the background and poverty of the township is a striking metaphor for man's inhumanity to man. Sung in Xhosa, with subtitles in medieval English, it is completely re-scored for African instruments. Noye (Noah) is now a woman and has to deal with a drunken husband, hold her family together as well as build the Ark and collect the animals. The opera is a tale for children; however the threat of global warming and its consequences make the flood seem a closer reality, and maybe a fitting end for man if he continues to display inhumanity and a lack of care for the world.
Famous for his vibrant reinterpretations of classical portraits featuring African-American men, New York-based painter Kehinde Wiley has turned the practice of portraiture on its head and in the process has taken the art world by storm. KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE follows the artist as he steps out of his comfort zone to create a series of paintings of women for the first time. Kehinde casts his models on the streets of New York and then enlists Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy to create couture gowns for each woman. The film traces the artist's process from concept to canvas as he reveals to us another side of black femininity.
July 1969. It’s the night of the moon landing. And a ragtag group of Zambian exiles are trying to beat America to the moon.
The 12 O’CLOCK BOYS are a notorious urban dirt bike pack in Baltimore — popping wheelies and weaving at excessive speeds through traffic, the group impressively evades the hamstrung police. In Lotfy Nathan’s wild, dynamic documentary (three years in the making), their stunning antics are envisioned through the eyes of young adolescent Pug – a bright kid from the Westside obsessed with the riders and willing to do anything to join their ranks. The film provides a compelling and intimate personal story of a young boy and his dangerous, thrilling dream.
OYA: RISE OF THE ORISHA is an exciting action packed film, written and directed by Nosa Igbinedion. The film resurrects mythical deities from African folklore, known as Orishas, into modern-day superheroes, focusing on Ade, one of the few people in the modern world who still has a connection with one of the gods Oya. Oya’s job is to keep the doorway between the world of man and the world of the Orishas firmly closed for, if it is opened, the Orishas will wreak havoc upon the Earth as retribution for man’s abandonment of them. To keep the door shut she must find the ‘key’ (a young girl with the potential to open the doorway) and keep her safe.
Visually striking, EVAPORATING BORDERS is an essay in five parts, weaving together stories of tolerance, identity and nationalism as they collide in migration issues on the island of Cyprus. Known as one of the easiest ports of entry into “Fortress Europe,” this seemingly peaceful island in the Mediterranean has become a focal point for neo-Nazis who roam the streets organizing against Muslim migrants; activists and academics who march in anti-fascist rallies; and migrants en route to the island who perish in the sea. The travelers and asylum seekers who make it safely to land struggle to create a peaceful home in the surrounding conflict.
In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last of the mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers - including a carer of orphan gorillas and a Belgian conservationist - protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo's rich natural resources. VIRUNGA is the incredible true story of a group of brave people risking their lives to build a better future in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten and a gripping exposé of the realities of life in the Congo.
How does a 16 year-old evolve into a bank robber? In EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe asks this very question—about himself. After seeing his mother and stepfather struggle to make ends meet, Monroe decided to help them by robbing a bank with two friends. Monroe interviews his family members, close friends and mentors who recount the stages of his transformation, going from a joyous childhood to the moment he realized the severity of his family’s financial problems, and how their struggles changed his outlook on society and his life as a whole. Returning to his neighborhood several years after the crime, Monroe creates an incredibly intimate and personal journey of reflection and forgiveness while beautifully examining lower class struggles, the desperation of a teen under pressure, and the emotional impact that rippled in the aftermath of that day.
This modern day film noir tracks Parker, a shy high school teacher arriving at a new school. While he is earnest in his passion for teaching, his extra-curricular attentions are drawn to a gorgeous young woman. When he realizes she is a student at his very school - and forbidden fruit - he grows increasingly obsessed. When the girl goes missing, a female detective comes snooping around, fueling Parker’s unstable, even dangerous, behavior as she gets closer to the shocking truth. Banned before screening as the opening film of the Durban International Film Festival, OF GOOD REPORT reminds us that story trancends the barrier of color, texture, and morality.
In a celebration of the trans community in Puerto Rico, the fissure between internal and external is an ever-present battle. A unique exploration of self-discovery and activism, featuring a diverse collection of subjects that include LGBTQ advocates, business owners, sex workers, and a boisterous group of drag performers who call themselves The Doll House, MALA MALA portrays a fight for personal and community acceptance paved with triumphant highs and devastating lows. Through riveting cinematography that encapsulates the candy-colored, vivacious personalities as well as their frequently dark personal experiences, directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles dynamically present the passion and hardships reflective of this distinctively binary human experience.
October 12-15 in Oakland, California