For nearly two decades the Disapora Festival of Black and Independent Film has been a platform for films about the African Diaspora and social issues associated with it.
The festival began Sunday with a showing of “Countdown to Kusini” at the Varsity Theater on Franklin Street. The Sonja Haynes Stone Center’s Diaspora Film Festival Lunchtime Screenings will begin Wednesday from 12-1:30 p.m., with showings of several short films, including “Living”, “New Neighbors”, “The Plural of Blood” and “Macho.”
Joseph Jordan, director of the Stone Center, said “The Plural of Blood” is a particularly complex and interesting film.
“It actually looks at a Latino police officer, who’s married to an African-American woman, and he ends up getting involved in the fatal shooting of a young black teenager," Jordan said. "So there are four or five different threads there that look at what we try to do here. We try to look at diaspora, we try to look at Latino and Afro-Latino lives and we also try to look at African-American lives, and we also look at the spate of death at the hands of police officers, so all of those things come together in one piece there.”
Sheriff Drammeh, a programs associate at the Stone Center who helped select the films for the Diaspora Film Festival, said many of the films in the festival cover areas of the African Diaspora that have not previously been touched on as much.
“We’ve also made it more diverse, looked at different regions, making sure we hit all corners of the diaspora. So we have films covering all different kinds of African-American history and culture, coming from pretty much all over the world,” Drammeh said.
Drammeh said the Stone Center is trying to give as wide an audience as possible the opportunity to attend screenings in the festival.
“If you’re putting out a product and not getting a lot of attention for it, there is an opportunity for growth there,” Drammeh said.
That is why, in addition to evening screenings, many lunch-time screenings have been included in recent festivals, including this one, giving different groups chances to see the films.
“We’re trying to do the regular evening screenings, along with the screenings out in the community, out in Durham, along with the lunchtime screenings so that they’re convenient for different sets of people, particularly students, who aren’t always able to do some of the evening type things, and for faculty,” Jordan said.
Brianna Brunson, an assistant program manager at the Stone Center, said she’s looking forward to seeing the films selected for the festival this year.
“It’s the work of the entire Stone center team" Brunson said. "Just in general I see a lot of the work that gets put into it, and so I know that these are hand-picked, and special.”