Film Fest, NJPAC Outdoor Concerts, and All that Jazz
The Black Film Festival begins Wednesday, June 24th at the Newark Museum.
The Newark Black Film Festival (NBFF), celebrating its 35th Anniversary as one of the nation's defining voices on behalf of independent film, opens in Newark with adult screenings beginning on Wednesday, June 24, with a six-week run ending on July 29.
Youth Cinema will be held on Mondays at the Newark Public Library starting on June 29, at the Newark Museum starting on Wednesday, July 1.
The festival is a showcase for films that focus on the experiences and concerns of contemporary African Americans, as well as an outlet for films about the African American experience from earlier eras. The six-week festival is free to the public and provides emerging filmmakers, writers, directors and producers with a high profile outlet for their work.
The festival features the Paul Robeson Awards in 2010, a biennial competition established in 1985. The Robeson Awards honor the spirit of Paul Robeson—renowned activist, scholar, performer and athlete. Applications will be available in fall of 2009.
The Newark Black Film Festival also repeats in Trenton, NJ, Thursdays at 6 pm:
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ—609-292-6464
I am getting ever more disgusted at all the honors being piled on Paul Robeson, a STALINIST. He was not an "activist"; he was a COMMUNIST, who publicly admired and defended Josef Stalin, a monster who may have murdered 61 million people within the Soviet Union, imposed Communist dictatorship upon Eastern Europe, installed the lunatic, mass-murdering Communist regime of the Kims in North Korea, aided the Communist takeover of mainland China (which in its war to take over China may have killed 3.5 million people and then in its term of governance may have killed another 35 million people; and deliberately produced the misleadingly named "Cold War", which killed an additional 12 million people in myriad actual ("hot") proxy wars and guerrilla movements over much of planet Earth. Did Robeson know of the "gulag archipelago"? It is impossible to believe he did not. Did he disown it? No. Revisionist historians may want to magnify the virtues and excuse the monumental faults of Paul Robeson, but his advocacy of worldwide Communist revolution cannot be forgiven. Soviet-inspired and directed Communism was not a harmless failed experiment. It killed 110 million people, and that was just fine with Paul Robeson. You can't make an omelet without breaking 110 million eggs.
The Wikipedia article on him seems to have been written by card-carrying Communists of the more lunatic sorts. It charges that Robeson:
was drugged and neutralized under the CIA's clandestine MKULTRA mind control program and subsequently subjected to unnecessary and abusive levels of electroconvulsive therapy while under private care in Great Britain as a means to keep him from influencing the U.S. civil rights movement and worldwide anti-imperialist movements during the 1960s.
I now have to wonder about everything Wikipedia says, and am glad I today told an editor of Wikipedia (who approached me, not the other way around), that if he could not write an article about the political organization I co-founded and head, the (anti-imperialist) Expansionist Party of the United States, unless I claimed to own all the materials (none of them copyrighted) on the over 70 XP webpages — which I don't — and agreed to a free-use license to those materials, he could not write an article about us, then we would have to pass on inclusion in Wikipedia.
In any case, the first evening's program of this year's NBFF is described thus on the Newark Museum's website:
June 24 7 pm Newark Museum
June 25 6 pm NJ State Museum
AN AFRO-CENTRIC TWILIGHT ZONE
Cosmic Slop – A Trilogy
This Hudlin Bros.' Afro-centric Twilight Zone-inspired trilogy Cosmic Slop celebrates its 15th anniversary at the festival. A three-part anthology combining science fiction, the supernatural and topical social issues includes: Space Traders, where aliens offer solutions to the United States' problems in exchange for all African-Americans. The country has five days to decide. In The First Commandment, a young Catholic priest is torn between church doctrine and his congregation, which believes that the statue of a saint is both a Catholic and Afro-Cuban deity. His faith is tested when the statue comes to life and performs miracles. In Tang, a woman with an abusive boyfriend receives a package containing instructions for the "revolution". A special thanks to HBO Video. 1994, 83 minutes
Speaker: Warrington Hudlin, Filmmaker and founder of dvrepublic.org
Host: Gloria H. Buck and Dr. Clement A. Price, NBFF Charter Members
Jazz in the Garden. The Newark Museum's $3 (members free) outdoor concerts ("THURSDAYS 12:15 to 1:45 pm Rain or shine") resume this week with a program by Antoinette Montague, vocalist. These programs have been going even longer than the NBFF:
For more than 40 years, The Newark Museum has presented all-star lineups of jazz greats during its annual Jazz in the Garden Summer Concert Series. This year promises music lovers another wonderful season in the Museum's award-winning Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, adding new musicians to the impressive list of such past performers as Andy Bey, Ron Carter, Will Calhoun and Carrie Smith. Attracting thousands of adults and children annually to the Museum's Garden, these Thursday concerts are among the most popular of our educational and culturally significant events.Of Ms. Montague, the Museum's website says:
Held rain or shine, Jazz in the Garden offers its audience an opportunity to enjoy wonderful music in a magnificent and serene museum setting.
Born and raised in Newark, Antoinette Montague released her first CD Pretty Blues in 2006. She has had many invaluable musical experiences in jazz, gospel and R&B ensembles. According to Scott Yanow, "She has a powerful voice, the ability to hold long notes without wavering, and a knack for making every song sound bluesy. Antoinette Montague’s delivery is heartfelt, infectious and memorable." Montague learned well from her mentors, Carrie Smith, Etta Jones, Della Griffin and Myrna Lake.I wonder if the same policy about Newark residents getting into the Museum's buildings free holds for the Garden concert series. You'd think so, wouldn't you?
Sounds of the City. NJPAC's outdoor summer concert series starts this Thursday.
FREE music performances in NJPAC's Theater Square! Tonight's [6/25/09] performance features Newark-based DJ Duce Martinez, who spins a mix of club, Latin and R&B; Walter Christopher, a singer-songwriter who slides effortlessly from traditional R&B to sanctified gospel to swinging jazz; Jubilation, a culturally mixed aggregation of voices dedicated to performing African American sacred music, led by Rev. Stefanie R. Minatee; and NJ’s Kenny Bobien, a singer, songwriter and pastor who has been called “the king of gospel house music” for his blend of gospel, R&B, and house sounds.
The scene at Sounds of the City is hard to describe; it definitely attracts people of all ages as well as families on the earlier end (the events start at 5 pm and end at 10 pm.) But as the night wears on, the market gets a little “meatier” and it becomes a great spot for people watching. The outfits, the dancing, the "beer muscles" – it’s a fantastic scene to be a part of and watch.I trust that future programs will seek to appeal to a more diverse audience. I'm not saying that white Newarkers and suburbanites want to hear nothing but Beethoven, oompahpah polka bands, or hillbilly music, but the organizers of Newark events must remember that Newark is only half-black, and programs that seem to appeal primarily to "urban" (black) audiences SCARE a lot of white people, who anticipate that they will not be welcome, or safe. Many blacks don't feel very comfortable in all-white settings, such as rural Nebraska, but like to see people like themselves. Many white people don't like feeling like an isolated minority either. I don't much care about who constitutes any crowd, as long as they are decent working people, because I'm so wrapped up in myself and my own little world that I'm pretty much oblivious to such things. But many white people will see "jazz, gospel, house, and r&b" as code for "black", just as many black people will read "classical, folk, country, and bluegrass" as code for "white".
Last year, the name of the concert series was "Chase Sounds of the City". This year, Chase (what most of us grew up knowing as the Chase Manhattan Bank) is only one of several sponsors whose logos are shown at the bottom of the NJPAC webpage about the concert series. Perhaps the financial crisis has reduced Chase's ability to sponsor public events as generously as in the past.
I'm glad to see major cultural institutions bringing some liveliness to Newark's Downtown, but does everything have to happen on Thursday? Jazz in the Garden, Sounds of the City, the Barat Foundation's Supper Club all happen on Thursdays. Let's spread these things out a bit better, people.