Ava DuVernay’s arts and social impact collective Array has taken the wraps off plans for its first masterclass, headlined by Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima. Liberated Territory: A Masterclass by Haile Gerima will be a five-day workshop in Los Angeles that explores the catalyst of storytelling and a story’s structure crafted from personal narrative accents. That is a hallmark of Gerima’s work as a leading member of the film movement known as L.A. Rebellion birthed in the late 1960s and early1970s, with titles including Bush Mama, Harvest: 3000 Years, Ashes & Embers and the 1993 epic Sankofa the latter of which he self-distributed after studios passed.
Array, which earlier this year won the Peabody Awards’ institutional prize, recently rereleased 1982’s Ashes and Embers, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1983 Berlin Film Festival.
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“Ava has always been a supporter of me and my work,” said Gerima. “I come from a generation of filmmakers — independent filmmakers in the late ’60s, early ’70s —where making films about marginalized communities and people of color was not always accepted by mainstream audiences. It was important to Ava and Array that this next generation of filmmakers get an opportunity to see my past work and to understand it. This Master Class is structured based on my personal practice, not only writing my own screenplays but also directing and editing my own films. Most of all, it demonstrates how editing my own films shaped my ideas of holistic filmmaking.”
Said DuVernay: “Mr. Haile Gerima is the reason I was inspired to create my own film distribution company and he is, very simply, one of my heroes. He disrupted the system long before anyone was willing to take notice and continues to chart his own path. Launching the Array Masterclass program with Mr. Gerima is a surreal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait to watch him in action as he shares his filmmaking expertise with the next wave of disruptive filmmakers at our liberated territory, the Array Creative Campus.”
Applications are now being accepted until August 9 and the masterclass is open to storytellers working across all mediums, not just film. Apply here.
The rePRO Film Fest, dedicated to reproductive justice and advocating for women’s (cis, trans, and non-binary inclusive) reproductive health care, justice and bodily autonomy, has set the lineup for its second edition. The virtual festival will run August 9-18 with three feature films and 12 shorts that explore topics from equal access to abortion and criminalization of bodily autonomy to gender stereotyping, reproductive health concerns, postpartum depression and reproductive justice for women of color.
Among the titles are Leah Galant and Maya Cueva’s Tribeca documentary On the Divide, which weave three stories related to the last abortion clinic on the U.S.-Mexico border; Celina Escher’s documentary Fly So Far about a nine-month miscarriage that led to a woman being accused of killing her own baby by police in El Salvador; and Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt’s Bei Bei, about a pregnant Chinese immigrant who faces 45 years to life in prison when she survives a suicide attempt and her baby doesn’t.
The festival will also present its ChangemakeHER Award to Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the historic Apollo Theater in New York. The honor goes to an individual “who has dedicated their career to inspiring advocacy and awareness in a wholly unique way.”
All the films are directed by individuals using she/her pronouns, and the filmmakers are being paid to screen their films. Tickets and all-access passes are available to anyone in the U.S. here.
Gravitas Ventures has acquired North America rights to The Center: Gibbons and Guardians, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alex M. Azmi. It will hit VOD and digital platforms September 21.
The film centers on the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, CA and features interviews with some of the women who champion the apes globally including Dr. Jane Goodall and the center’s director Gabriella Skollar. It follows the unexpected dramas at the nonprofit wildlife center and weaves together stories of the lives of the endangered gibbons alongside those who care for them.
The Center is co-written by Azmi & Michael Thau and produced by Thau, Skollar and Dan Watt. Azmi is executive producer.
“Azmi’s film is a fascinating and oftentimes hilarious look into not only the surprisingly humanlike lives of the gibbons, but the inspiring men and women who have dedicated themselves to studying and preserving the species,” said Gravitas Ventures’ David Sullivan. “We can’t wait to release this film and get it out into the world.”
Sullivan negotiated the deal with LA Media Consultants’ Ilyssa Goodman and Deborah Gilels.
The plot centers on Detective Ben Stone (Taylor Jed Martin), who after being hit on the head finds he has a new gift of telepathy that sends him down a mysterious path to help troubled individuals, only to find that he is dealing with a higher-level threat. The ensemble cast includes Sylvia Tovar, Ruben Moreno, Martin Chavez. Alaura Devereaux, Myn Mei Gayoso, Rexina Mize, Cris Plascencia Hernandez, Amber Pauline, Joe Echegaray, Jason Danial Lawrence, David A. Jones Jr and Kevin Gance.
Rex Mize, Nguyen and Moreno are producers, and David Schwarcz is executive producer. Freestyle’s Chris Charalambous and Bill Vergos negotiated the deal with Schwarcz of Create Pictures & Tohu Entertainment.
Here’s the trailer: