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African films to star in revamped festival

Published Oct. 2, 2005

A name change and an ambitious perspective mark the initial buzz about next year's annual Sarasota tribute to African film culture.

Project Black Cinema announced that the 10-day event will now be known as the Sarasota Africana Film Festival, a multimedia showcase of black pride and talent.

"Africana is a term used to express the many elements encompassing African culture, history and identity," festival programer Che' Barnett said. "Though we are fundamentally a film festival, we have always incorporated a variety of non-film mediums to augment our films and express the culture and drama played out on the screen."

In addition to screen gems, the festival has expanded to include theatrical tributes to a pair of Florida artists: writer Zora Neale Hurston and actor-dancer Lincoln "Stepin Fetchit" Perry.

One sidebar of the festival spotlights Unsung Films, about black films that earned more critical praise than box office receipts, including Rosewood, Devil in a Blue Dress, Get on the Bus and love jones. A panel of filmmakers, journalists and industry insiders will examine why such fine works often go unnoticed by audiences. Several post-screening sessions with directors will examine issues covered by their films.

Several festival events already have been secured, although the final schedule of events is still months away and subject to change.

Film offerings include works from the nations of Madagascar, Zaire and Zimbabwe. One of the most anticipated examples is Nadia Fares' Honey and Ashes, billed as one of the strongest feminist statements to emerge from the Arab world. Ramaden Suleman's Fools is the first production by a black South African director in nearly a decade.

African-American films, including the Oscar-nominated Tuesday Morning Ride and the romantic comedy Have Plenty, will be presented. Among Florida premieres will be John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk, a biography produced by Wesley Snipes.

Visiting artists attending the Africana Film Festival include writer-director Ngozi Onwurah (Welcome to the Terrordome, The Body Beautiful). Organizers are still seeking a big-name star to match past appearances by actors Danny Glover, Angela Bassett and Delroy Lindo.

Screenings will be at venues in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice, marking another change from the single-venue plans of the past. Tickets go on sale in January. For information, call (941) 953-6424 or visit the festival Web site at http://www.sarasotaon

GARCIA LORCA REAPPEARS _ An acclaimed film that never got a decent theatrical release will be presented at the Beach Theater on Nov. 19 to benefit the Salvador Dali Museum's surreal Dali & Beyond Film Series.

Andy Garcia (Night Falls on Manhattan, Godfather III) stars in The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, (R) based on the murder of Spain's greatest poet at the hands of Fascist forces in 1936, and praised by critics in major markets who got a chance to see it. The film co-stars Esai Morales as a journalist who investigates the murder years later, and Edward James Olmos as a political bully.

Showtimes are 6 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for either screening, available in advance at the museum. Included in the price is a sampling of Spanish tapas from the Garden Restaurant. The film coincides with an exhibit of photographs from the Spanish Civil War that debuts at the gallery Nov. 15.

The Dali & Beyond series began Oct. 2, showcasing bizarre and inspired films by such directors as Tim Burton and Luis Bunuel. Films are shown on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 6 p.m. Admission to the museum is $8, with discounts available.

Call 823-3767 for information about the film series lineup or the Beach Theater benefit.

EARLY ENTRY _ A documentary produced by a Tampa Bay teleproduction firm has been selected for presentation at the prestigious New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in April.

Editing and post-production duties for the film Influences of the Invisible were performed at Advanced Media Productions in Seminole, under the supervision of production manager J.R. Cox. Influences of the Invisible was produced by Advanced Media president James Mukalel.

The film explores the impact of mythology, tradition and culture on the everyday lives of women in India, through the observations of noted south Indian authors, poets and educators.

The 28-minute program will be screened in the documentary category at the New York festival and is being considered for broadcast by PBS stations in Wisconsin.

FESTIVAL FEVER? _ If this week's Cine-World Film Festival in Sarasota gets you in the mood for other cinematic treks, a northern trip on I-75 can do the trick. The fourth annual Peachtree International Film Festival began Wednesday in Atlanta and continues through Nov. 14 with an array of premieres, special guests and post-screening parties.

Included in the lineup are documentaries that focus on the careers of novelist Ayn Rand and filmmaker David Lynch, and the low-budget thriller Gravesend, which has made rookie director Sal Stabile a couple of fast friends in Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. A tribute to Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Woody Harrelson as a war journalist in Welcome to Sarajevo and the film-preservation sermon The Race to Save 100 Years are other highlights.

Most of the films will be shown at the AMC Phipps Plaza multiplex. For information about the festival schedule, call (770) 729-8487 or visit the festival's Web site at http://