2021 Harlem International Film Festival Announces Film Lineup



The 2021 Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) today announced official selections for its 16th edition – a hybrid event taking place May 6-9. The film festival will open with an audacious presentation of two triple-header screenings at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 Theaters (2309 Frederick Douglass Blvd) featuring the world premieres of Tarabu Betserai Kirkland’s 100 Years from Mississippi, and Glenn Osten Anderson’s Coogan’s Way, as well as the North American premiere of Anne Via McCollough’s Full Circle.

The red carpet in-person event will kick off the film festival’s celebrated showcase of relatively undiscovered international cinematic gems and local New York filmmaking talent and lead into virtual screenings of 71 films and more (31 features, 32 shorts, 2 VR/360 projects, and 6 webisodes) representing over 17 countries. Other feature films making their world premieres include; Avril E. Russell’s All on a Summer’s Day; Shonnese C. L. Coleman’s Radio Theatre for Your Soul, A Docu-Story; and Ílker Savaskurt’s Reflection (Ákis). Making its North American premiere is McArthur Alejandre’s Crossroads (Tagpuan).

Harlem International Film Festival’s Program Director, Nasri Zacharia, said. “We are thrilled to return to the theater, have a red carpet welcome for our filmmakers, live audiences and Q&As, and experience the magic of film festival discovery in the company of one another the way we did prior to the pandemic. At the same time, we will also utilize the virtual presentations to not just introduce our audiences throughout the state of New York to films from around the world, but also to interact and connect with filmmakers from all over the globe. And, of course, we’ll continue our efforts to truly showcase the filmmakers and the setting of our beloved home neighborhoods of Harlem, Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, which we call the HUB.”

Opening on Thursday, May 6, the Harlem International Film Festival will return to theaters with a vengeance by presenting two separate triple features. Three of the films are documentaries making their world and North American debuts. Tarabu Betserai Kirkland’s 100 Years from Mississippi, about the return of a proud son and his mother to the state she had narrowly escaped as a child over one hundred years earlier, after the filmmaker discovered that the stories he had accepted as family folklore for decades were actually true. Glenn Osten Anderson’s Coogan’s Way tells the story of the iconic Washington Heights bar and restaurant that welcomed all races, religions, and interests becoming a force for good in the community in the 80s and 90s. Anne Via McCollough’s Full Circle celebrates Helen Hays’ Great Gull Island Project, a 50-year quest to save two species of threatened seabirds, the Roseate and Common Terns.

The second Opening Night trio features films making their New York premieres including; Voodoo Macbeth, a film project from the University of Southern California Graduate students collective, about the first all black cast (in 1936 Harlem) to perform Shakespeare’s MACBETH, directed by a young and arrogant Orson Welles; Rebecca Heidenberg’s Queens of The Revolution, a Cuban documentary which is a moving portrait of Mejunje, a cultural center in Santa Clara that paved the road for LGBTQ+ rights in that county, highlighting the bravery of people who have fought for their lives and identities for decades; and Celine Parrenas Shimizu’s The Celine Archive, which looks at the remarkable story of Celine Navarro, who was buried alive by her community in 1932. The story exposes issues that still haunt Filipinax American communities today.

Two international films making their world premieres are Avril E. Russell’s All on a Summer’s Day, a British psychological thriller about a woman whose car breaks down on the infamous Highway of Tears, and Ílker Savaskurt’s Reflection (Ákis), a Turkish tribute to William S. Burroughs about guests in a hotel in Istanbul soon to have an otherworldly experience. Also making its world premiere is Shonnese C. L. Coleman’s Radio Theatre for Your Soul, A Docu-Story, about the making of an internet radio show, featuring the fascinating minds and hearts of storytellers from all genres at the Accelerated Radio Studios in Inglewood, CA. McArthur Alejandre’s drama from the Philippines, Crossroads (Tagpuan) will make it’s North American premiere at the Harlem International Film Festival. The story connects three lonely souls whose chance encounter will change their lives.

The Harlem International Film Festival will also offer its signature curated presentations of curated Harlem Uptown and local New York produced and themed short films preceding each of the features screening during the Opening Night event.

Additional highlights also include; Kelly Walker’s My Fiona, about a woman drawn into an intimate – and potentially catastrophic – relationship with the widowed mother of her best friend following her suicide; and Joseph E. Austin II’s Sundays in July, which follows the love story that develops when a woman meets a man after she returns to New York from L.A.

For Film festival passes, tickets, and more information on the Harlem International Film Festival go to http://HarlemFilmFestival.org


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