Josephine Baker Documentary Headlines African Diaspora International Film Festival


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Streetlight Harmonies by Brent Wilson is about Doo-wop and features stellar vocal harmonies sung a cappella, born on street corners in the 1950s. In Streetlight Harmonies, a who’s who of musicians trace the evolution of American pop music from doo-wop and Phil Spector’s legendary ‘wall of sound’ up through Motown, surf music and the British Invasion. It’s a toe-tapping stroll down memory lane for music lovers of all ages.

“Streetlight Harmonies,” by Brent Wilson and the documentary, “Josephine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man’s World,” count among the highlights of the 12th annual African Diaspora International Film Festival which opens on Friday, August 17, 2018 at the George Washington University Marvin Center in Northwest, Washington, D.C.

The three-day festival, which presents films to diverse audiences and redesigns the black cinema experience by strengthening the role of directors of African descent in contemporary world cinema, will feature 16 films that will take audiences in and out of the United States, including eight that will have their premieres in the nation’s capital.

“There’s a lot new this year,” said Reinaldo Barroso-Spech, an educator in foreign languages and black literature who created the festival with his wife, Diarah N’Daw-Spech, a financial consultant and university budget manager.

The opening night film, “Timeless,” by Ed LaBorde counts as a love story that transcends time from 19th century Ghana to the modern day Caribbean. Some of the social issues explored in the film are the human trafficking of the slave trade in the past and the present day human trafficking in the Virgin Islands, as well as political corruption and immigration.

The opening night event starts with a VIP catered reception at 8 p.m. LaBorde will participate in a question and answer session at 9 p.m.

Festival organizers also plan to present the premiere screening of the award-winning drama, “The Citizen,” a narrative about middle-aged African political refugee Wilson who seeks Hungarian citizenship. The film has already earned acclaimed from critics at the New York Times and other publications.

Organizers have also expressed excitement about “Streetlight Harmonies,” a film about doo-wop featuring a who’s who of musicians that trace the evolution of pop music from doo-wop and Phil Spector’s legendary “wall of sound” through Motown, surf music and the British Invasion.


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Paris Noir: African-Americans in The City of Light by Joanne Burke is an exciting, enlightening documentary on the presence of African-Americans in Paris from WWI to the early 1960s.

The festival also includes a special program where films depict the lives of a native of one country who moves to another nation like, “African-Americans in Europe,” which features a Josephine Baker documentary by Annette von Wangenheim.

Two other films directed by women explore issues of identity in diaspora communities in the United States.

“The Good Life— or La Belle Vie— by Rachelle Salnave, reflects on the cultural crossfire she experienced as a Haitian-American growing up in Harlem juxtaposing her parents’ memories of noble family histories with a humble working class reality.

“Life Is Fare,” by Sephora Woldu counts as a cross-cultural film that challenges how patriotism and nationalism are practiced by people of a country, and is inspired by current Eritrean and Ethiopian migration experiences in the United States.

“From its inception, the festival has always showcased great films that explore the black British experience,” Barroso-Spech said.

For a complete list and the schedule of all films, tickets and more information, visit: