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In African-American films


A rich variety of African-American experience will be screened at the 10th Black Diaspora Film Festival. Presented by the St. Joseph's Historic Foundation at the Hayti Heritage Center, the scheduled events will feature works by local African-American artists, new films from well-known filmmakers and second looks at classics from the past.

Visual art is the focus Thursday night, with films on Faith Ringgold, Benny Andrews, Charles White and Romare Bearden . There will be an open discussion on collecting artworks by African-Americans, led by art dealer Cheryl Sutton.

For Friday's all-day, attention shifts to several controversial and trailblazing cultural heroes including shorts on Fats Waller , Duke Ellington and James Baldwin and two documentaries about the blaxploitation cinema: One is Isaac Julien's Baadass Cinema, with interviews with Elvis Mitchell and bell hooks, and the other is Classified X , by the O.G. himself, Melvin Van Peebles. For the evening screening, a couple of features get rolled out. First, there's Introducing Dorothy Dandridge with pre-superstardom Halle Berry playing the tragic 1950s diva. Later, Ving Rhames stars as boxing's scariest (and hairiest) promoter in Don King: Only in America .

Indie filmmakers get their day on Saturday. Among the day's highlights is Issues, Pt. 1 , a feature film shot by Durham-based production company Udig.Ujamaa's Digitalworks, which traces the resurrection of a struggling radio station. The evening will feature Afro-Punk , a feature-length documentary about blacks in the punk scene, and Song for Jade , a romance from director Shari-Lynn Himes.

Sunday's lineup turns the spotlight to African-American leaders, including Martin Luther King during his last days in Memphis in At the River I Stand , Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell , and a wealthy black landowner and philanthropist in Joe Jackson's Trail . Finally, there's a screening of 10,000 Men Named George , a television movie by Robert Townsend about the formation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, starring Andre Braugher as A. Philip Randolph.

The 10th Annual Black Diaspora Film Festival will take place Feb. 12 through Feb. 15 at the Hayti Heritage Center on 804 Old Fayetteville St. Call 683-1709 for more information, or check the Web site at All films are free of charge.

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