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PCC Celebrates Birth of MLK and Black History Month with Eclectic Mix of Activities in January and F
Photos and Story by James Hill
A veritable cornucopia of cultural events will grace Portland Community College campuses in the months of January and February to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month. All events are free and open to the public, including the Ninth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films.
The celebration kicks off with the Jefferson High School Gospel Choir making appearances at the college’s three main campuses: the Cascade Campus Cafeteria on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at noon; Jan. 14 in the Rock Creek Mall in Building 3 at noon; and Tuesday, Jan. 19 in the Sylvania Cafeteria, also at noon.
Two mind-expanding theatrical productions centering around diversity will also take to the stage during the cultural celebration at PCC
“Faces of America” is a one-woman show written by Colin Cox and performed by either Fran de Leon or Jennie Kwan, that serves as “an examination of the present American culture, its backgrounds, economies, diversity, and the road to unification through the eyes of so-called `Generation X’,” according to promotional literature. The play has toured more than 70 cities in 14 states and has proved to be an innovative way to “spark dialogue and induce action” on the issues of diversity and tolerance. It can be seen in Terrell Hall at noon Wednesday, Jan. 27 on the Cascade Campus; and on Jan. 28 in the Rock Creek Campus Forum Theater, 17705 N.W. Springville Road, also at noon.
Also on stage will be “Our Young Black Men are Dying and Nobody Seems to Care,” on Monday, Feb. 22 in the Little Theatre on the Sylvania Campus (12000 S.W. 49th Ave.) at noon, and the North Star Ballroom at 635 N. Killingsworth at 7 p.m. The James Chapman play tells stories of hope and despair, and the struggles, obstacles and triumphs of the African-American male. The Washington Post, Boston Herald and The Village Voice have all given high-praise to Chapman and his moving portrayal of African-American life.
Joy in song will also be on the agenda during the celebration, when the 15th Annual PCC Gospel Explosion blows into town on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 4009 N. Missouri.
As the centerpiece for extravaganza, PCC welcomes back for the ninth year, the Cascade Festival of African Films, which opens Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. in the McMenamins Kennedy School Theater with “Kini and Adams.” This film was nominated for a Palm D’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is the first English-language film from acclaimed filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo. The McMenamins Kennedy School is located at 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.
The remaining 11 films included in the festival run the genre gamut from high-concept character-driven films to a scathing, yet comic glimpse at sexual politics in Africa today through the filter of the Dogon of the 18th century (“Taafe Fanga”, or loosely translated, “Skirt Power”).
Also included is a Saturday Family Film Day, with three African films for children on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. in Terrell Hall, Room 122 at Cascade, 705 N. Killingsworth. An entire film schedule, with movie summaries and times, follows this release. The festival runs through Saturday, March 6. Call the Cascade Festival of African Films Information Line at 244-6111, ext. 3630 for details, or a detailed brochure.
While all films and events are free of charge, a parking permit for events on PCC campuses and centers is required. A visitor day permit can be purchased for $2. For more information on events planned in the months of January and February at PCC, call 978-5781.
NINTH ANNUAL CASCADE FESTIVAL OF AFRICAN FILMS
KINI AND ADAMS (1997, Zimbabwe/Burkina Faso, 93 min.), directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo. Made in Zimbabwe with a South African cast, Kini and Adams is the story of two men, one a bachelor and one a family man, living in an isolated, impoverished rural area, who dream of moving to the city and becoming taxi drivers. A very rich film, Shakespearean in its blend of humor and drama, extremely powerful in its acting, skillfully filmed and edited, Kini and Adams was nominated for the Palme D’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. In English.
Thursday, February 4, 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., at the McMenamins Kennedy School Theatre, 5736 NE 33rd Ave. Thanks to the generosity of McMenamins, there will be an opening reception between the two shows.
TAAFE FANGA (1997, Mali, 95 min.), directed by Adama Drabo. Taafe Fanga (“Skirt Power”) is a comic but insightful look at sexual politics in Africa today, though it is set among the Dogon of the 18th Century. Through trickery and magic, the men of a Dogon town are made to believe that their survival depends upon their exchanging gender roles with the women of the town. While the men gain a new understanding of the burdens borne by the women, they not surprisingly find that the women are in no hurry to return to their former situation. In Kaado and Bambara with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 11, noon, and Friday, February 12, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth
TABLEAU FERRAILLE (1997, Senegal, 85 min.), directed by Moussa Sene Absa. Set in a fictional present day Senegal. It is fictional, but in many ways a very realistic portrayal of the realities of post-colonialist exploitation and corruption. The central character is Daam (played by music superstar Ismael Lô), a young government official, who is European-educated and politically naive; he is no match for the conniving entrepreneur, Président. When Daam decides to take a second wife to join his beautiful but infertile first wife, he plays right into Président’s self-serving hands. In Wolof and French with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 11, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 13, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
ARISTOTLE’S PLOT (1996, Zimbabwe, 72 min.), directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo. A multivalent meditation on African cinema, a film that speaks both to Hollywood and to other African filmmakers. The film is set in a nameless, allegorical southern African town, where a group of wannabe gangstas–who call themselves Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Nikita, Saddam, and Cinema–hang out at the Cinema Africa, feeding on a steady diet of action flicks. The earnest young Cineaste appears and tries to convince the government to clean up Cinema Africa, replacing Schwarzenegger with Sembène. When the government shows no interest, the Cineaste turns vigilante. In English.
Thursday, February 18, noon, and Friday, February 19, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
SATURDAY FAMILY FILM DAY
Picc Mi (Little Bird) (1992, Senegal, 20 min.) In Wolof with English subtitles
Fary, L’Anesse (Fary, The Donkey) ( 1989, Senegal, 17 min.) In Wolof with English subtitles.
My Dinner with the Devil Snake (1987, USA, 15 min.) In English.
Baba Wagué Diakité will serve as the host of the Family Film Day. He is also the author and illustrator of “The Hunterman and the Crocodile,” which won the Coretta Scott King Award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book in 1998. Saturday, February 20, 2 p.m. in Terrell Hall, Room 122 at PCC Cascade.
FARAW!/MOTHER OF THE DUNES (1997, Mali, 90 min.), directed by Abbdoulaye Ascofaré. Zamiatou finds herself with a husband broken both physically and mentally by his improper detainment in a government prison. Zamiatou, the eternal mother, is determined to protect her family, and she ultimately finds the inner wellsprings of resilience and ingenuity that will bring them nourishment. In Songhoï with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 18, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 20, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
THE LAND (1969, Egypt, 130 min.), directed by Yusuf Chahine. “The Land”, which took eight years to make, is an epic story of the plight of villagers who want only to be left in peace to till their land and lead their lives. However, they are at the mercy of far-off bureaucrats who care only for the wishes of the large landowners. Like many films south of the Sahara, The Land brings to life the intimate relations between the peasant men and women and the land (as well as the water) that sustains them. It also shows what happens when they say enough is enough. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 25, noon, and Saturday, February 20, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
MORTU NEGA (1988, Guinea-Bissau, 85 min.), directed by Flora Gomes. Set during the Liberation struggle (which ended in 1973) and immediately after, it is the story of one woman, Diminga, whose husband, Soko, is fighting on the front lines, her devotion to him and to the cause of independence, and the high human cost of the war against the Portuguese. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Thursday, February 25, 2:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 27, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.
OGGUN: AN ETERNAL PRESENT (1981, Cuba, 55 min.), directed by Gloria Rolando. At first glance, Oggun might appear an odd choice for this festival, for it is set and filmed in Cuba. However, like last year’s Through the Door of No Return, it is all about the relationship between “Mother Africa” and the “New World.” This creative documentary is set in the world of Santeria, the Afro-Cuban religion that is a syncretic blend of traditional West African Yoruba religion and Catholicism. The central figure is Lázaros Rós, the leading akpwon (singer) of Santeria and devotee of Oggun, the god of metals, iron, and warfare. A fascinating blend of ceremony, confession, fiction, and myth, the film serves to celebrate the bridge tying present-day Cubans back to their African roots. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Thursday, March 4, noon, and Friday, March 5, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus. The evening screening, which is co-sponsored by the PCC-Cascade Women’s History Month Committee, will be followed by discussion led by individuals familiar with traditional Yoruba religion and individuals familiar with Santería.
EVERYONE’S CHILD (1996, Zimbabwe, 90 min.), directed by Tsitsi Dangarembga. Produced by the same organization that brought us Neria and More Time, Everyone’s Child is the first film by novelist Dangarembga, known for her award-winning novel Nervous Conditions. The film features music by some of Zimbabwe’s most popular musicians. In this film four children have lost their parents to AIDS, a tragically common situation in Zimbabwe and in much of Africa. Itai, the elder son, leaves for Harare to try to earn money to send back; he is soon lost among the many unemployed street kids of the capitol city. Tamari, the elder daughter, remains behind to take care of the two younger children. As is the case with other AIDS children, Tamari and her siblings are everyone’s child, and no one’s. She soon finds herself pursued by a promiscuous would-be benefactor; she risks becoming another victim of the same disease that killed her parents. Ultimately a call to action, Everyone’s Child asks its audience to consider its own responsibility in dealing with the terrible problem and legacy of AIDS in Africa. It has been seen throughout Anglophone Africa. In English
Thursday, March 4, 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 6, 7:30 p.m., in Terrell Hall, Room 122, PCC Cascade Campus.