Selected CWC Films

Consistent with our mission and commitment to the community, Cincinnati World Cinema has presented important contemporary films that:
  • feature themes about the African diaspora and the American experience, of particular interest to the African-American community;
  • and/or are made by black filmmakers;
  • and/or feature black artists in significant roles;
  • include post-film discussions with the filmmakers and/or local experts.

    With rare exception, these are films that would not otherwise be seen on the large screen in the Cincinnati market. Many of these titles are available from CWC, commercially or through libraries. In some cases we have, or can obtain, public performance rights. For additional director and print source information, contact Cincinnati World Cinema.

    Recent Strong Performances in CWC Films...

    2 Days in New York,
    starring Chris Rock
    Le Havre,
    excellent debut performance by the young Senegalese actor Blondin Miguel
    featuring Ruth Negga as Ophelia

    Na Wewe    Oscar Nominee.    (Regional Premiere)
    Bastien Dubois, France, 2010
    Oscar Nominee. Based entirely on real people and situations, NA WEWE was written by a person who has lived in the beauty of Burundi and suffered the horrors of genocide -- he was shot by a military patrol, rendered blind and wrote the screenplay to share the images in his head. With emotion, suspense, irony and humor the film exposes the absurdity of racism and ethnic strife. "NA WEWE" (pronounced "Na wayway") means "You too" in Kirundi. Winner of 12 film festival awards.

    Madagascar    Oscar Nominee.    (Regional Premiere)
    Bastien Dubois, France, 2010
    A visual travel journal demonstrating the importance of dance, death, and traditional customs present in Malagasy society. As the pages of a diary turn, colorful pencil sketches come to life, revealing the majestic rolling landscapes of Madagascar, and acquainting the audience with Famadihana customs and culture. Winner of 22 film festival awards.

    FELA!     (Regional Premiere)
    Director Bill T. Jones, USA, 2009
    The story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, father of Afrobeat music. Musician, composer and band leader, political activist, presidential candidate, human rights advocate and vociferous foe of governmental corruption, Fela Kuti was a unique and ineffable musical and sociopolitical voice of Africa. A proponent of freedom and Afrocentrism, Fela was a living legend and upon his death, one million people attended his funeral.

    Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love     (Regional Premiere)
    Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Documentary, USA, 2009
    Named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential Poeple" of 2007, Senegalese vocalist Youssou N'Dour has gained a world-wide reputation for his musical, cultural and humanitarian contributions and attention to pressing global social and political issues.

    That Old Black Magic     (Regional/National Premiere)
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Documentary, USA, 2003
    From an accidental discovery - cans of film behind a brick wall, the CBC has lovingly restored 30-minute musical performances that aired on the Canadian network 1955-1960. Featuring Jazz greats who went to Canada to perform because they were blocked from television in the U.S., the lineup includes Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughn, Nat King Cole, Della Reese, Cab Calloway, Marian Anderson and Billy Eckstine. Never aired in the U.S., we believe this CWC event is the national big-screen premiere of significant performances by incredible artists in their prime.

    A Man Named Pearl     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Scott Galloway, Documentary, USA, 2008
    Selected as the most important film of the year by CWC audiences, this is a subtle and intriguing film that opens hearts and overcomes stereotypes. In a simple and plain-spoken manner, it focuses on Pearl Fryar, an extraordinary man, a garden of exquisite beauty and love, and a community that has come to life through his artistry, enthusiasm, and sharing of the passion that moves him. Fred Story's jazzy, gospel-infused score elevates the spirit, in perfect harmony with the film.

    Blues Legend: The Life & Times of H-Bomb Ferguson    (World Premiere)
    Director John Parker (Cincinnati), Documentary, USA, 2006.
    The life story of musician James Ferguson, from growing up in the segregated South, to the segregated concert tours in the fifties, to his establishment on the Cincinnati music scene. Premiere included live post-film performance by H-Bomb Ferguson and the Medicine Men.

    The Last Just Man     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Steven Silver, Documentary, Canada, 2001.
    The heart-breaking true story of the genocide in Rwanda, and the U.N. colonel who was powerless to stop the carnage thanks to U.S. and world-wide indifference.
    Winner, Humanitarian Award, Canadian Inl Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Audience Award, Canadian Intl Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Humanitarian Cinema Award, Newport Intl Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Best Documentary, Hamptons International Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Best Non-Fiction Film, Cologne Intl Film Conference, 2003; Winner, Audience Award, Double Take Documentary Film Fest, 2002; Winner, Audience Award, Prague One World Film Festival, 2003; Winner, Special Humanitarian Award, Prague One World Film Festival, 2003.

    God Sleeps in Rwanda     (Midwest Premiere)
    Directors Kimberlee Acquaro & Stacy Sherman, Documentary, Rwanda/USA, 2005.
    The amazing story of the women who survived the genocide and are now rebuilding Rwanda.
    Winner, Audience Award, Palm Springs Intl Festival of Short Films 2005; Winner, Audience Award, Aspen Shorts Fest 2005; Winner, Audience Award, Silverdocs/AFI Film Festival 2005; Winner, Best of Festival Award, Ojai Film Festival 2005; Winner, World Cinema Short Award, Phoenix Film Festival; Winner, Critic's Choice Award, Jackson Hole Docuweek 2005; Winner, Jury Special Mention, Silverdocs/AFI Film Festival 2005; Nominee, Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Short 2005; Nominee, Distinguished Short Film, Intl Documentary Association, 2005; Nominee, Pare Lorentz Social Issues Award, Intl Documentary Assoc., 2005; Official Selection: United Nations Film Festival; Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women; The Boston Museum of Fine Art; Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights; Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; Woodrow Wilson International Center, Washington DC; Hawaii Intl Film Festival; International Documentary Association, Docuweek; United Nations Traveling Film Festival; Pacific Palisades Film Festival; Bahamas Intl Film Festival; Artists for Amnesty; Flickerfest Intl Short Film Festival.

    Long Night's Journey Into Day     (Kentucky Premiere)
    Director Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann, Documentary, South Africa/USA, 2000.
    The story of the Truth & Reconciliation Committee in South Africa.
    Winner, Grand Jury Award, Sundance Film Festival, 2000; Academy Award Nomination 2001 Documentary Feature; Winner, Golden Spire Award, San Francisco Intl Film Festival 2000; Winner, Audience Award, Sydney Film Festival 2000; Winner, Peace Film Prize, Berlin Film Festival 2000; Winner, & Reader's Jury Prize, Berlin Film Festival 2000; Winner, Human Rights Award, Intl Human Rights Film Festival, NY 2001; Winner, Audience Award Best Documentary, Newport Intl Film Festival 2000 Winner, Best Film, Intl Human Rights Film Festival, Nuremberg 2001; Winner, Spirit of Freedom Award, Jerusalem Film Festival 2000; Nominated, Best Documentary, Amnesty Intl Film Festival Award, 2001; Nominated, Best Documentary, Director's Guild of America 2002.

    Body & Soul     (Tri-State Big Screen Premiere)
    Director Oscar Micheaux, Drama, USA, 1925.
    Featuring Paul Robeson in his screen debut, this restored version of the epic silent film includes an impressive new score composed by Jazz artist Wycliffe Gordon, commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of the 38th annual New York Film Festival. Considered controversial at the time for its unflattering depiction of a corrupt clergyman, Body and Soul is also remarkable for director Micheaux's groundbreaking use -- back in 1925 -- of flashbacks, dream sequences, simultaneous action and other cinematic devices now considered standard in the industry.

    Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Saul Turell, Documentary, USA, 1979.
    Sidney Poitier narrates the fascinating story of Paul Robeson - athlete, scholar, baritone, stage actor, film star and activist. The son of an escaped slave, Robeson became a top-billed movie star during the time of Jim Crow in America, headlining works ranging from Body and Soul, to British dramas, to social issue documentaries.
    Oscar Winner, Academy Award for Best Short Documentary Film.

    Midnight Ramble     (Tri-State Big Screen Premiere)
    Directors Pearl Bowser and Bestor Cram, Documentary, USA, 1994.
    The story of the Black Film Industry, 1910-1950 -- the filmmakers, the films and their impact upon American society.

    Color Blind     (Theatrical Premiere)
    Director Bryan Amburgey (Cincinnati), Drama, USA, 2002.
    It takes an unintended calamity for black and white gangs to realize the futility of violence.
    Winner: Best Dramatic Short and Best of Show, 2nd Annual Sprockets Film Festival 2002; Best Film in the Teach Me Something category, Ohio regional Apple iFilm Festival, 2002.

    Who Does She Think She Is?     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Pamela Tanner Boll, Documentary, USA, 2009
    This outstanding documentary follows five interesting and talented women artists (2 Black, 1 Asian, 1 Hispanic, 1 WASP) as they navigate the societal, economic, psychological, and spiritual challenges of making work outside the elite art world. From the producing team that won an Academy Award for Born Into Brothels, comes a work that examines some of the most pressing balancing-act issues of our time: parenting and work, partnering and independence, economics and art.

    Empty Chairs & Painful Windows     (Midwest Theatrical Premiere)
    Director Linda Spalazzi (Cincinnati), Documentary, USA, 2006.
    The story of Cincinnati families torn apart by the impact of domestic violence.

    The Wraith of Cobble Hill     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Adam Parrish King, USA, 2006.
    An urban drama where the protagonist must choose between accepting responsibility or perpetuating a legacy of neglect.
    Winner, Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking, Sundance Film Festival, 2006; Winner, Jury Prize for Best Animated Short Film, SXSW, 2006; Winner, Best Animated/Experimental Short, Los Angeles Film Festival, 2006; Official Selection: Silver Lake Film Festival, 2006; Rhode Island Film Festival, 2006; Florida Film Festival, 2007; Brooklyn International Film Festival, 2006; Annecy International Film Festival, 2007; Animundi, Brazil, 2007; Cork Film Festival, Ireland, 2007; Asheville Film Festival, 2006.

    Inja (Dog)     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Steve Pasvolsky, Drama, Australia/South Africa, 2001.
    A revealing and touching, story of institutional racism and poetic justice in South Africa.
    Oscar Nominee, Live-Action Short. Winner, Best Student Film, Aspen Shorts Fest, 2002; Winner, Best Short Film, St. Kilda Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Best Short Film, Nashville Independent Film Festival, 2002; Winner, Best Foreign Short, LA Shorts Fest, Los Angeles, 2002; Finalist, Best Short Fiction, American Film Institute Awards, 2001; Finalist, Best Screenplay in a Short Film, American Film Institute Awards, 2001.

    The Death of Kevin Carter     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Dan Kraus, Documentary, South Africa/USA, 2005.
    The impact of the violence and starvation he documented in Africa drove photojounalist Kevin Carter to suicide.
    Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary Short 2005; Winner, Golden Gate Award, San Francisco Intl Film Festival; Winner, Best Short Documentary, Tribeca Film Festival; Winner, Best Documentary, L.A. Intl Short Film Festival; Winner, Best Short Documentary, Cleveland Intl Film Festival; Winner, Audience Choice Award, Orinda Film Festival.

    African American     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Askia Holloway (Dayton), Documentary, USA, 2003.
    The true story of college campus tension between African and Black American students.
    Winner, Best Documentary, Black Independent Film Festival, Atlanta 2004.

    War Photographer     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Christopher Frei, Documentary, Switzerland, 2001.
    The story of James Nachtway, the photographer who brought the world scenes of starvation, disease and violent war in Africa and elsewhere.
    Oscar Nominee, Best Documentary Feature, 74th Academy Awards, Los Angeles 2002; Winner: Best Nonfiction Film, 12th Intl Film Festival, Cologne 2002; Winner, Best Documentary, 23rd Intl Film Festival, Durban 2002; Winner, Best Film, South African Intl Documentary Festival 2002; Winner, Best Film, Viewpoint Film Festival, Ghent 2002 Winner, Best Film, DocAviv Festival, Tel Aviv 2002; Winner, Silver Award for Best Documentary, Canadian Intl Film Festival; Audience Award Runner-up, Canadian Intl Film Festival.

    Do Not Go Gently     (World Premiere)
    Director Melissa Godoy, Documentary, USA, 2007
    The story of Arlonzia Pettway, 82, a descendant of slaves and the eldest quilter in Gee's Bend, Alabama; and two other seniors, who share secrets about the power of achievement, imagination and creativity in aging. The narrator is Walter Cronkite.

    After Innocence     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Jessica Sanders, Documentary, USA, 2006.
    The story of the efforts to release seven men on death row, mostly black, who were unjustly convicted and imprisoned.
    Winner, Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival; Winner, Women in Cinema, Seattle Film Festival; Winner, Special Jury Prize, Newport Beach Film Festival; Winner, Audience Award, Independent Film Festival of Boston; Winner, Change Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival; Winner, Best Documentary, Nantucket Film Festival.

    Roz & Joshua     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Charlene Music, USA, 2008.
    A poignant, poetic, three-part narrative documentary that depicts one woman's battle to overcome homelessness and reestablish her family.

    Sleepwalking Land     (Regional Premiere)
    Director Teresa Prata, Mozambique, 2007.
    In the midst of Mozambique's devastating civil war, Muidinga, an orphaned refugee, wanders the countryside in search of his mother. His only companion is an elderly storyteller, and the only guide to finding his mother is a dead man's diary. Based on Mia Coutou's acclaimed Portuguese novel of the same name, Teresa Prata's transporting drama underscores the power of imagination, compassion and resilience in surviving, and ultimately overcoming, the catastrophe of war.

    Binta and the Great Idea     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Directors Javier Fesser & Luis Manso, Drama, Senegal, 2006.
    A positive story from a country in Africa where hope and empowerment are realistic possibilities, not impossible dreams.
    Oscar Nominee, Best Short Film, Live Action, Academy Awards, 2006.

    My Other Mother     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Diana Keam, South Africa, 2005.
    When her baby sister dies, Margo's other mother shows her that grieving and the acceptance of loss can transcend the tightly wrapped realm of convention.

    Vida Politica     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Katrina Mansoor, Brazil/UK, 2008.
    This lively, richly colored, and beautifully shot film documents the dynamic political activism of a black Brazilian woman through the celebration of styling hair. Negra Jho uses hairdressing as a way to promote black identity and the message that "beauty is politics." Her activism has transformed her own life while empowering others.

    Five     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Domingo Vara, Drama, USA, 2002
    An interracial cast reveal their secret fears and beliefs when trapped in an earthquake and faced with death.
    Winner, Best New Work, Guadalupe Film Festival.

    Interior/Exterior     (World Premiere)
    Director Sarah Silver (Dayton), Drama, USA, 2003.
    An exploration of love from within/without the spirit world.

    Kirikou & the Sorceress     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Michel Ocelot, Animated Drama, West Africa/France, 1998.
    An animated film set in Africa that focuses on African people and culture.
    Winner, Best Animated Film, Chicago Intl Film Festival; Winner, Grand Prix - Best Animated Feature Film, Annecy Intl Festival; Winner, Best Feature Film British Animation Awards; Winner, Special Jury Prize, Montral Intl Children's Film Festival. Winner, Silver Poznan - Best Animated Film, Ale Kino! - International Young Audience Film Festival;

    For the Birds     (Midwest Premiere)
    Director Ralph Eggleston, Animated Comedy, USA, 2000
    Black birds and white birds mix it up on a telephone wire, proving that being different is a good thing.
    2002 Oscar Winner, Animation; 74th Academy Awards, Los Angeles 2002; Winner, Best Short Film 2001 Australian Effects and Animation Festival; Winner, Best Animated Computer 3D Short 2001 Vancouver Effects and Animation Festival, Canada; Winner, Award for Humor 2000 Photokina Cologne; Winner, Best 3D Animation, Germany; Winner, Audience Award 2000 Castelli Animati, Italy; Winner, Best Short Film, 2000 London Effects & Animation Festival, UK; Winner, Audience Award, Art Futura, Spain.

    Lucky's     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Alvoro Leite (Dayton), Short Drama, USA, 2003.
    The consequences of illicit love.
    Semifinalist, Kodak's Cinematic Images Competition; Semifinalist, Fox Searchlight Competition; Official Selection: San Francisco Black Film Festival; Cleveland International Film Festival; Urban Literary Film Festival in North Carolina; Wexner Center Ohio Short Film & Video Showcase; Ohio Independent Film Festival.

    Bubba Ho-Tep     (Tri-State Premiere)
    Director Don Coscarelli, Comedy, USA, 2003.
    An amazingly original and touching comedy co-starring the incomparable Ossie Davis in his final feature film performance.
    Winner, Best Screenplay: US Comedy Arts Film Festival; Winner, Best Actor: US Comedy Arts Film Festival; Winner, Prix Publique Audience Award, Best International Film: Montreal Fantasia Film Festival; Official Film Festival Selection: The Toronto International Film Festival, South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Brussels International Film Festival, Florida International Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival.

    Golden Gate     (Midwest Premiere)
    Directors Fernando Meirelles & Katia Lund, Drama, Brazil, 2001.
    The hard lives of 'Los Negritos' in the favelas of Brazil.
    Winner, Best Drama, Aspen Shorts Fest 2002.

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  • External Resources


    A Cinema Apart ~ perhaps the definitive source for surviving black independent films ... Roughly 250 titles available, including features, shorts, documentaries and newsreels, plus 'soundies' - the first music videos, made back in the 40s. Film anthologies, custom DVD compilation, posters galore and a page on black film history. VISIT THIS SITE!

    Midnight Ramble ~ Michael Mills' Modern Times website

    Midnight Ramble ~ Phyllis Benton's Film & Video website

    Separate Cinema ~ John Kisch's amazing poster website -- tons of black film posters, artfully displayed, plus a traveling poster exhibit. Definitely worth a visit! (Note the museum exhibit in Evansville IN, in early '08.)

    National Black Programming Consortium ~ funding, grants and support for films about African Americans

    U.C. Berkeley, "The Movies, Race & Ethnicity - African Americans"
    Berkeley Film Archives

    University of Chicago Black Film Research Online ~ filmmakers, distributors, biographies, library collections, criticism, festivals, film titles and websites, etc.

    CalNewsReel ~ film and video for social change.
    California News Reel

    Paul Robeson Links
    Princeton ~ Robeson

    Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

    Herbert Jeffrey, America's first black motion picture cowboy
    Official Jeffrey site

    Contemporary Black Film Websites

    Dallas Juneteenth Black Film Festival

    Hollywood Black Film Festival

    Los Angeles Pan African Film & Arts Festival

    New York Urban World Film Festival
    urbanworld VIBE

    San Francisco Black Film Festival

    Seattle Langston Hughes Film Festival


    Selected film titles from The 50 Most Influential Black Films: A Celebration of African-American Talent, Determination and Creativity by S. Torriano Berry with Venise T. Berry. Citadel Press Kensington, April 2001 $19.95, ISBN 0-806-52133-3. The 50 Most Influential Black Films

    Silent Films 1910-1928
      The Railroad Porter, 1912
      The Realization of a Negro's Ambition, 1916
      The Birth of a Race, 1918
      Body and Soul, 1925
      The Scar of Shame, 1927

    Early Sound Films 1929 - 1939
      Hearts in Dixie, 1929
      Hallelujah, 1929
      The Emperor Jones, 1933
      Imitation of Life, 1934
      Harlem on the Prairie, 1938

    Race Movies 1940 - 1950
      The Blood of Jesus, 1941
      Cabin in the Sky, 1943
      Stormy Weather, 1943
      Home of the Brave, 1949
      The Jackie Robinson Story, 1950

    Black Directors in Hollywood
    by Melvin Burke Donalson - Performing Arts - 2003 - 396 pages
    A comprehensive look at the work of black directors in Hollywood, from pioneers such as Gordon Parks, Melvin Van Peebles, and Ossie Davis to current talents.

    Redefining Black Film
    by Mark A. Reid - Social Science - 1993 - 170 pages
    Certain to attract film scholars, this work will also appeal to anyone interested in African-American and Women's Studies.

    Struggles for Representation: African American Documentary Film and Video
    by Phyllis Rauch Klotman, Janet K. Cutler - Performing Arts - 1999 - 464 pages
    Examines over 300 non-fiction films by more than 150 African American film/videomakers. Includes a filmography, bibliography, and excerpts from interviews.

    Returning the Gaze: A Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, 1909-1949
    by Anna Everett - Performing Arts - 2001 - 365 pages Shares early critical writing on the cinema by black cultural critics, academics, journalists, poets, writers, and film fans.

    Black Films & Film-Makers: A Comprehensive Anthology
    by Lindsay Patterson - Performing Arts - 1975 - 298 pages

    African American Firsts: Famous, Little-known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks
    by Joan Potter - Social Science - 2002 - 424 pages
    Completely revised and updated; drawn from old documents, records, letters, family histories and government files.

    Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema
    by S. Craig Watkins - Social Science - 1998 - 330 pages

    Black Film, White Money
    by Jesse Algeron Rhines - Social Science - 1996 - 195 pages
    Looks at the history of Black filmmakers, and shows how the motion picture industry influences Black films.

    More Sources...

    Know of other links and publications that should be included in this list?

    Click here and send them along! Your help is appreciated.

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