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Record attendance pace for PCC's African Film Festival
Photos and Story by James Hill
Last weekend, more than 1,000 people showed up for one or more of the various screenings and the symposium that occurred last weekend, bringing the total attendance to 2,200 after two weeks. According to organizers, a majority of these audience members were first-time attendees, drawn to this particular subject from Portland’s various Hispanic communities.
“Last week was a particularly special week for us at the festival,” said organizer Michael Dembrow. “It was the week of our special focus on the African legacy in Mexico. We had suspected that there would be local interest in this subject, but we weren’t sure, as it’s pretty new and specialized terrain. It was a great opportunity for them to learn about Africa, the festival and PCC.”
Director Rafael Rebollar delighted the public with his energy and insight to the African influence in Mexico. Professor Maria Elisa Velasquez gave an overview of the history of the African influence in the country, and touched on ways in which that experience both paralleled and differed from the experience in the U.S. At the end of the symposium, about 25 people attended a community conversation on some of the identity issues faced by African-Americans and Latinos in Portland.
After the screening of the Cuban film “Maluala” on Saturday night, professors Ethan Johnson and Kofi Agorsah from Portland State University’s Black Studies helped attendees understand the wide range of fugitive slave communities in the Americas.
“This is another little-known subject, but an extremely important one,” Dembrow added. “Many of these communities are still intact, while others live on as powerful symbols of rejection and resistance (as well as cultural continuity).”
For information on this weekend’s films, visit the Cascade Festival of African Films Web site.