Producer Sidra Smith hopes Angela Davis documentary will inspire

Sidra Smith

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo

When one hears the name of social justice activist, Angela Davis a litany of connotations are immediately formed whether they are accurate or not. The documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners aims to correct misconceptions and reveal hidden truths behind the woman who was marked a terrorist and ignited a movement for her freedom as a political prisoner. The film proved to be an engaging learning experience for its Harlem based producer Sidra Smith, the identical twin sister of actress, Tasha Smith.

“A lot of people think they know Angela Davis but they don’t. One of the things I learned is that she wasn’t a Black Panther and I was like “wow.” So this is a story that everyone needs to know,” says Smith.

She also notes that the Shola Lynch-directed film is relevant for its ability to inspire others to remain committed to their beliefs and goals. “Angela has always fought for what she believed in until this very day. I feel that more women need some of that energy to be more inspired and fight for what we believe in.” The film arrives in select cities on April 5.

Powerful films will also be screened during the 20th anniversary of the New York African Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center. This year’s banner theme is “Looking Back, Looking Forward.” As founder, Mahen Bonetti reflects on the festival’s past and future, she remains committed to further developing and sustaining a global audience for emerging talent. “I’m most proud that we brought together a community that has supported African artists and their works. Looking forward, we are hoping that artists can find an intersection where they share ideas and create a synergy which creates a clamor for their works from audiences here and around the world.”

One of the highly anticipated films at this year’s festival is the historical two-part drama Toussaint Louverture, about the leader of the slave revolts which led to Haiti’s independence from the French. Hollywood actor, Jimmy Jean-Louis plays the title role.  He hopes that the film challenges audiences to think critically about Haiti’s history. “It is not normal for a country on top of its game 200 years ago to be so disastrous today,” he says. “We understand what happened between then and now. It’s a great question.  I hope more people will ask that question and try to research it as well.”

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