Harlem International Film Festival 2024 Announces film Lineup and Return to Columbia University’s Screens in May

 

The 2024 Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) today announced the films and events for its 19th edition – returning as a fully in-person event taking place May 16-26 with special support from the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. The film festival will open with the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here, preceded by Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (the Silk Cotton Tree), and a special premiere curation of Uptown Shorts.

Due to their successful teaming last year, Harlem International Film Festival and Columbia University Zuckerman Institute’s free-to-the-public presentations will not just return but encompass all in-person screenings for the first four days of the film festival. Located at The Forum (601 West 125th Street), Hi’s famous Opening Night red carpet, screenings and panels will all be located at that central hub with the second weekend at Maysles Documentary Center (343 Malcolm X Boulevard). This year’s film lineup will once again celebrate and showcase relatively undiscovered international cinematic gems and local New York filmmaking talent with a special focus on Harlem artists. Hi’s lineup features 61 films, including 24 features (10 narrative, 14 documentaries), 20 shorts (11 narrative, 9 documentaries, 1 television webisode), 2 experimental, 4 music videos, and 3 VR projects, 4 television webisodes, and 4 youth films.

Harlem International Film Festival’s Program Director, Nasri Zacharia, said. “This is our fourth year working with the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University and the second with the Forum, and we are thrilled to be able to provide so many programs free to the public. This festival is unique in our dual focus on world cinema alongside our homegrown talent here in the HUB ­– Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx. This year’s lineup scores on both of those fronts yet again.”

Opening Night on Thursday, May 16 at The Forum will be highlighted by the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here. The film looks at the relationship that develops during the lockdown between Eve, a woman drowning in grief and pain following a personal tragedy, and Adam, who attempts to help her navigate those dark waters. The screening will be preceded by the New York premiere of Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (The Silk Cotton Tree) about a woman who enters a place of worship and is transported to the parallel universe of all her ancestors who do not let her leave, until she participates in their dances and rituals. The directors of both films will attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will also include Hi’s popular Uptown Shorts Spotlightpresentation, featuring short films shot in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx.

The featured film for Saturday’s Spotlight Presentation will be Nancy Saslow’s documentary Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White. The film celebrates the life of Xernona Clayton, one of the most unheralded civil rights icons and African American pioneers of our time. Clayton is an extraordinary woman who has impacted our country so respectfully and quietly that many aren’t aware of her enormous contributions. Following the screening will be a Q&A with Saslow and the icon herself, Xernona Clayton.

Additional highlights include Friday May 17 presentations featuring Cionin Lorenzo and Pearlette J Ramos’ Three (Extra) Ordinary Women, which takes us on a harrowing minute-by-minute journey with three women seeking to overcome traumatic events by reaching Africa’s tallest peak Mount Kilimanjaro. Balbinka Korzeniowska’s festival favorite Playing Through which dramatizes the fateful golf match between Ann Gregory, the first woman of color to enter the USGA Women’s Amateur, and Babs Whatling, a privileged white woman from the south. Three (Extra) Ordinary Women director Cionin Lorenzo, and Playing Through producer Peter Odiorne will both attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will conclude with a live musical performance by Brad Corrigan, from the band Dispatch, prior to a screening of his film Ileana’s Smile which follows the tragic story of a girl with a lightning smile who endures life in a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua, and the unlikely friendships that form around her.

Saturday, May 18 will feature a special panel discussion on colorism in Black and Latinx communities prior to a screening of Magdalena Albizu’s Negrita. The film focuses on diverse Afro Latinas who explore and confront culture and racism while defining their own identity in the United States. The film explores the ideology of Blackness, and how both American and Latino cultures perpetuate the belief that Blackness is to be destroyed.

For updates, registration, and more information on the Harlem International Film Festival go to http://HarlemFilmFestival.org

2024 Harlem International Film Festival Official Selections

Opening Night Selections
You Are Always Right Here                                                 World Premiere
Director: Nana Ghana
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
You Are Always Right Here unfolds linearly, with the day-to-day mundaneness of the lockdown. Eve bakes bread, deep cleans, virtual therapy, for a moment things are feeling good, but soon the memories of her past life, coupled with the discomfort and uncertainty in isolation sends Eve riding the waves of dark waters, drowning with grief and pain. Eve tries to make the best of the government issued stay at home order, but it becomes clear that Eve is using Adam as a band aid for her deep wounds, her divorce as a result of the tragic and accidental death of her 2-year-old son.
Preceded by
Kankantri (The Silk Cotton Tree)                                                                                        
Director: Gabri Christa
Country: Suriname, Running Time: 27 min
A woman enters a place of worship and is transported to the parallel universe of all her ancestors who do not let her leave, until she participates in their dances and rituals and exits, integrated.

Saturday Spotlight Presentation
Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White                                 New York Premiere
Director: Nancy Saslow
Country: US, Running Time: 118 min
Celebrating the life of one of the most unheralded civil rights icons and African American pioneers of our time, the documentary tells the amazing story of Xernona Clayton, an extraordinary woman who has impacted our country so respectfully and quietly that many aren’t aware of her enormous contributions.
ADDITIONAL FEATURE FILMS

NARRATIVE
As If It’s True                                                                                     
Director: John Rogers
Country: Philippines, Running Time: 105 min
Gemma Stone is a social media influencer/content creator who’s burning out from trying to maintain the interest of her followers. She meets James, a struggling musician suffering from depression. They enter into a relationship with the mutual intent to capitalize on the other. Gemma uses James for content by presenting him as a perfect aspirational romantic partner, while James leeches off Gemma’s wealth and connections to further his own music career. But, as time passes, their intentions don’t pan out as they expect and a blur forms between real love and exploitation.

La Pura Vida                                                                                      
Director: Dylan Verrechia
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 90 min
Nana and Fili live in Tijuana, Mexico, and try to make ends meet but struggle with money. Fili’s parents, Oscar and Angie, are on their way from their home in Valle de Guadalupe (the wine country in Baja California) to their second home in Cozumel. They stop uninvited to Nana’s house. The parents slowly invade the space, making it theirs, and in the course of it destroy the fragile couple. La Pura Vida tells the story of Nana who must deal with the overbearing family of her boyfriend and overall abuse.

My Last Best Friend                                                                                     
Director: Filippo M. Prandi
Country: US, Running Time: 106 min
NYC. March 2020. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, two men, both named Walter Stoyanov, watch their lives unravel as one of them falls ill and the other one is being investigated by FBI Agent John McCallany.

My Motherland                                                                                  
Director: Benoit Cohen
Country: France, Running Time: 91 min
France has been living alone in her apartment since her husband’s death. When she hears on the radio that an NGO is putting homeless migrants in touch with people who are willing to welcome them, she decides, against her only son’s opinion to welcome Reza, a young Afghan broken by war and exile. Two worlds meet, and they begin to hold each other’s hands.

Playing Through                                                                                           
Director: Balbinka Korzeniowska
Country: US, Running Time: 87 min
Late in her career, Ann Gregory finds the courage to be the first woman of color to enter the USGA Women’s Amateur. She collides with Babs Whatling, a privileged white woman from the south who is searching for her own identity. This highly publicized match forever changes them and the game.

Sappy
Director: Shusei Ueda
Country: Japan, Running Time: 86 min
A man has ambitions to be a novelist, while working as a driver for a sex worker. Kobayashi, an acquaintance and best-selling novelist, mentors the aspiring writer, advising him on how to complete his first novel.

Valley of Exile                                                                                               
Director: Anna Fahr
Country: Lebanon, Running Time: 107 min
Two sisters arrive in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley at the onset of the Syrian war, embarking on a journey into exile that tests their loyalty to their country, their family and each other.

When Morning Comes                                                                                             
Director: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
Country: Jamaica, Running Time: 92 min
A young boy struggles with his widowed mother’s decision to relocate the family from Jamaica to Canada.

White Guilt                                                                                         
Director: Marcus Flemmings
Country: UK, Running Time: 61 min
Eleven affluent white individuals in their twenties and thirties head off in a bus, hoping to assuage their white guilt. They seek a unique pay-to-play service: experiencing reverse slavery. While this controversial service typically proceeds as planned, things take a dark twist when a carefree newcomer joins the crew, and a woman of mixed-race ethnicity stands among the elite clientele.

DOCUMENTARY

A Thousand and One Berber Nights                                                                                              
Director: Hisham Aïdi
Country: US, Running Time: 53 min
In the late 1950s Hassan Ouakrim was a young dancer and actor in Morocco. Little did he know that he would soon become the protegé of La Mama Theatre founder Ellen Stewart, performing across America, forming friendships with the likes of jazz virtuosos Ornette Coleman and Randy Weston, and becoming a pioneer in spreading Berber dance and music in North America.

Another Part of Me                                                                                       
Director: Ivan Lopez
Country: Spain, Running Time: 81 min
This is the story of how Gustavo Hernández (known as Gus Jackson) managed to become, chosen by the fans themselves, the best Michael Jackson impersonator in Europe and the second worldwide. Born in Ingenio (Gran Canaria), Gustavo Hernández began working in the late nineties as an imitator of the King of Pop and since then he has made this work his philosophy of life. The film approaches Gustavo’s day-to-day efforts to achieve his teenage dreams, while deepening his relationship with fans around the world and showing how his work has become an influence and inspiration for thousands of people as Michael Jackson himself achieved in life.

The Apology                                                                                      
Director: Mimi Chakarova
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
The Apology, a feature-length documentary by Mimi Chakarova, investigates an incident in California in the 1960s in which Alameda County and the City of Hayward dismantled the entire community of Russell City, pushing 1,400 residents out of their homes and off their land – all to claim the 200 acres for an industrial park.

Firefly: The Tay Fisher Story                                                                                   
Director: Christopher Nostrand
Country: US, Running Time: 56 min
Tay Fisher’s basketball and life journey is one of determination, inspiration, teamwork, and downright talent – developing into one of the greats in 4-point shooting history during his 10 years on the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. As “Firefly” he enthralled fans around the world with his “Curly” Neal-inspired one-of-kind dribbling style and infectiously positive attitude. Today, Tay shares the challenges and guidance of his never-give-up story on and off the court, by mentoring kids and holding basketball camps in his hometown.

Healer: The Dr. Joycelyn Elders Story                                                       
Director: Candace Bellamy
Country: US, Running Time: 48 min
From Sharecropper’s daughter to the first African American Surgeon General of the United States, Healer is a documentary about the life of Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

Ileana’s Smile                                                                                                
Director: Bradley J Corrigan
Country: US, Running Time: 64 min
Ileana’s Smile is the tragic story of a girl with a lightning smile who endures life in a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua, and the unlikely friendships that form around her. The film follows American musician Brad Corrigan, Nicaraguan taxi driver and pastor Bismark Rocha, and several Nicaraguan social workers and educators as they try to open up new paths of opportunity and healing for Ileana, and the devastating choices she makes.

One Person, One Vote?
Director: Maximina Juson
Country: US, Running Time: 78 min
An Award-winning documentary that takes and in-depth look at the US Electoral College, its slavery origins, and impact on American politics today.

Negrita                                                                                               
Director: Magdalena Albizu
Country: US, Running Time: 50 min
Negrita is a feature documentary about diverse Afro Latinas who explore and confront culture and racism while defining their own identity in the United States. The film explores the ideology of Blackness, and how both American and Latino cultures perpetuate the belief that Blackness is to be destroyed. Through personal accounts, family pictures, old videos, and interactions with family and friends, Negrita follows the director’s own struggle with identity, her journey to embrace her African history, and her conversations with her family about their disapproval of her journey, while interweaving the stories/experiences shared by other Afro Latinas.

Return To Your Corner                                                                                            
Director: Ashley Malcolm Morrison
Country: Australia, Running Time: 62 min
Who was the first Boxing World Champion from Africa? Why do so few people know his name?
Sadly, few know his name even in Africa because Battling Siki was a world champion during the colonial era so his world title is recorded as belonging to his colonial ruler. Siki faced severe racism during his career, but used the very thing used against him to promote himself and his fights. He also stood up to racism at a time when few did.

Silent Fallout                                                                                     
Director: Hideaki Ito
Country: Japan, Running Time: 76 min
Narrated by Alec Baldwin, this documentary film looks at the damage caused by the resulting radiation from the testing of nuclear bombs. The U.S. government dropped 101 atomic bombs on the American continent for years. As a result, in the 1960s, milk was contaminated with radiation. Women stood up and proved that their children were exposed to radiation. President Kennedy declared a halt to atmospheric nuclear testing, but we are just discovering the extent of the damage done.

Sing! Fight! Sing! Fight! From Leroi To Amiri                                                      
Director: Colin Still
Country: UK, Running Time: 88 min
A portrait of the African American poet & playwright Amiri Baraka, formerly LeRoi Jones.

Skate Night                                                                                        
Director: Emily Leibow
Country: US, Running Time: 58 min
Skate Night is a documentary film about freedom told through a unique community of inline skaters as they explore New York City on wheels. This skating community, like the city itself, brings people together—every race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, religion, and nationality. The motto is, “all wheels welcome.” To be included, all you have to do is show up with some way to “roll as one.”

Three (Extra) Ordinary Women                                                                                           
Directors: Cionin Lorenzo, Pearlette J Ramos
Countries: United Republic of Tanzania/US, Running Time: 92 min
The feature documentary Three (Extra) Ordinary Women tells the personal stories of three women of color who have collectively overcome poverty, abuse, systemic racism, and political occupation through practicing forgiveness, helping others and immersing themselves in nature. As they brave their biggest physical obstacle yet – climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – trekking up Africa’s tallest peak through arctic temperatures and some of the highest altitude on the planet, they discover they still have emotional hurdles to climb.

ADDITIONAL SHORT FILMS

NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Billy Boy                                                                                            
Director: Will Roane
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
In this tense, enigmatic drama, a former football star turned real estate broker meets with a troubled young heir to an old-money fortune to close a deal on a new house, and nothing goes according to plan.

Bronx Park Thunder                                                                                     
Director: Shaun Vivaris
Country: US, Running Time: 16 min
Forced to run an errand for a Bronx mafioso, a small-time fireworks & ecstasy dealer seizes the opportunity of a lifetime and goes rogue.

Homing                                                                                              
Director: Ricardo J. Varona
Country: US, Running Time:  17 min
In a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, a reclusive pigeon keeper is tasked with caring for his estranged daughter for a day but is blindsided by a revelation that could mean losing her for good.

I Promise You Paradise
Director: Morad Mostafa
Country: Egypt, Running Time: 22 min
Following a violent incident; Eissa, a 17 year old African migrant in Egypt is in a quest against time to save his loved ones whatever it takes.

Love Letter for the Subway                                                                         
Director: Mary Hawkins
Country: US, Running Time: 2 min
Animation – The filmmaker works with type making this set of hand-drawn, animated letters representing New York City’s subway lines as a love letter to NYC. Imagery is pulled from the neighborhoods that trains move through, using common items in the subway as textures, and found shapes in the architecture and sights around us as we get where we’re going.

Pantagruel                                                                                         
Director: Omar Al-Nakib
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
A New York scientist’s experiment to revive a hybrid goes horribly right.

Pen, Again                                                                                         
Director: Julian J. Delacruz
Country: US, Running Time: 13 min
Mourning the unexpected loss of his wife, Leo embraces a new technology that promises to bring her back. We discover Leo just before he’s about to receive his “new” wife, Penelope. Not knowing what to expect, Leo discovers what he’s willing to accept to cope with the grief.

Speak Up Brotha!                                                                                         
Director: Wes Andre Goodrich
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
Grad student Ahmad Jones drives for a rideshare company. He receives a request from a mysterious woman — a poet. They connect over music, but she seems to ignore him. When the opportunity arises to see her again, Ahmad must learn how to communicate in ways beyond his understanding to win her heart.

The War Torn Drum
Director: Derek A Ham
Country: US, Running Time: 12 min
Animation – In the late 1860’s, a U.S. Marshal bonds with a post Civil War drummer boy in their search to track down a wanted criminal.

What Somalia Wants
Director: Jade Bryan
Country: US, Running Time: 44 min
In this gentrified Harlem dramedy series, Somalia LaMine, a Black deaf fashion designer, pop-up store owner, and TikTok influencer experiences new challenges and hilarious situations associated with the pressures and demands of a Gen Z era.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
A Race In The Sun                                                                                        
Director: K. Nicole Mills
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
An exploration of cycling culture through the eyes of Ayesha McGowan who rose through the ranks of the New York City underground cycling world to break barriers as the world’s first African American woman to become a professional cyclist.

The Book of Days                                                                                         
Director: Ian Phillips
Country: US, Running Time: 43 min
In a neighborhood where everything around him is changing, one man’s life remains stagnant. A documentary by Ian Phillips, filmed over the course of sixteen years.

Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius
The remarkable life story of renowned African American jazz trumpeter and flugelhrn player Eddie Henderson, whose curiosity, desire for exploration, and athleticicsm led him down many career paths, including figure skating and dual career in medicine and music.

The Historic HBCU Photograph                                                                                          
Director: Ciara D. Ingram
Country: UK, Running Time: 27 min
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to all in-person social activities across the nation. An ongoing wave of civil unrest ensued in the United States, triggered by the murder of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020, leading to riots and peaceful protests aainst years of systemic racism toward African Americans in the United States. In 2021, a vaccine was approved by the CDC, allowing social activities to slowly resume. As a result, HBCU alumni from across the country came together for one day on the steps of Morningside Park in Harlem for a Historic Photograph.

How To Sue The Klan                                                                                                           
Director: John Beder
Country: US, Running Time:  34 min
From Producer Ben Crump. America’s first hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, dealt out hatred and violence for over a century without penalty – until five Black women and a young Black civil rights lawyer finally forced them to pay for their crimes. The strength of these women and the groundbreaking 1982 civil case set forth by their attorney established a legal precedent that paved the road for today’s fight against organized hate.

Interception: Jayne Kennedy                                                                                              
Director: Safiya Songhai
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
When a bronze-skin bombshell rocks the world of Sunday Morning Football, millions tune in… but few know the tumultuous story of Jayne Kennedy, the first Black woman to boldly run interception on the racial lines of American sportscasting.

Kingdome                                                                                          
Director: Shawn Antoine II
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
Kingdome chronicles the remarkable journey of the legendary basketball tournament in Harlem known as the Kingdome. For 37 years, this tournament has been a symbol of community, resilience, and the transformative power of basketball. Through the eyes of its founder, Terry “Huncho” Cooper, and the diverse cast of players, fans, and organizers, the film explores the profound impact of the Kingdome on the lives of those involved and the Harlem community at large.

Taking Your Best Shot                                                                                             
Director: Aminah Salaam
Country: US, Running Time: 31 min
This documentary focuses on a Youth Citywide Basketball Tournament held by the New York City Housing Authority for its residents. The protagonists in this film are youth and teen athletes from New York City Housing, also known as ‘the projects’ all over NYC.

Tell Me Your Story
Directors: Jamal Joseph, Mike De Carp
Country: US, Running Time: 40 min
Academy Award Nominee musician Tevin Thomas comes back to New York City after many years to record a new album with his lifelong colleagues. The music sessions become an opportunity to reflect on his life and musical journey.

EXPERIMENTAL
For Those That Lived There
Director: Shawn Antoine II
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
Amidst the ivy-draped remnants of once-notorious public housing projects, the film weaves a visual tapestry, navigating the poignant impacts of gentrification, the displacement of Black legacies, and the emergent migrant narratives. Against Chicago’s ever-evolving skyline, this evocative exploration immerses audiences into the soul of a neighborhood transformed.

Re-Éksodos
Director: Julia Horta Paiva
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 16 min

MUSIC VIDEOS
Cyano Sun Suite
Director: Stefan Verna
Country: Canada, Running Time: 9 min

Damn Thing
Director: Toby Sidler
Country: US, Running Time: 4 min

In Sync
Director: Jeff Collin Suttles
Country: US, Running Time: 9 min

Never Hold Me Down                                    
Director: Toby Sidler
Country: US, Running Time: 4 min

VIRTUAL REALITY
A Vocal Landscape
Directors: Omid Zarei, Anne Jeppesen
Country: Denmark, Running Time: 14 min
A Vocal Landscape is a hyperrealistic VR short film that explores the strange and familiar
Anatomy of a conversation.

The Carrier   
Director: Andrew Cochrane
Country: US, Running Time: 10 min
The Carrier is told through the eyes of a baby waking up in the back seat of their family’s car, which is stuck in a traffic jam. In the front seat, the baby’s parents lament their decision to wait to evacuate the city – from what is not clear, but the duct-taped vents and windows of the car and the luggage strapped to the cars surrounding them seem to indicate that something serious is happening.

Nirwana Gold
Director: Andreas Waldenmaier
Country: Germany, Running Time: 13 min
Nirwana.Gold is a multi-sensory virtual reality trilogy that offers the viewer three different spiritual experiences. An individual film, soundtrack, perfume, and ice cream flavor was created for each VR experience.

WEBISODES
6 Train to Parkchester
Director: J. Swain
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
Webisode – Based on a true story, 6 Train to Parkchester is a gripping drama about two brothers (Dirk&Jewelz) from the Southeast section of The Bronx.

Connection (episode 2)
Director: Sarah Gross
Country: US, Running Time: 44 min
The Corona virus is not over. Nor are the divisions between us. Race and economic situations separate us far more than any ocean.  This intimate 4-part documentary builds a political and historical chronicle of our time through personal stories of daily life from around the world.

Lucy and Sara (pilot)
Director: Susan Park
Country: US, Running Time: 7 min
Two unlikely recluse sisters learn to cope with living with each other after the death of their father.

Rick Younger Presents The Rick Younger Show (Starring Rick Younger as Rick Younger)
Director: Lalou Trotter Dammond
Country: US, Running Time: 12 min
Middle aged actor Rick Younger suddenly finds himself out of his Broadway gig and discovers that he must go viral if he wants to have a career.

YOUTH FILMS
Asphyxia 
Director: Luciano Alzate
Country: Colombia, Running Time: 14 min
A failed writer and his son are stuck in their home after an apocalypse. Tensions rise as the son vies for freedom while the father forces him to write.

Black Care
Director: John Joseph MonacoCountry: US, Running Time: 4 min
Life and meaning at Smitty’s Barbershop.

Little Sahara
Director: Emilio Martí López
Country: Spain, Running Time: 30 min
Those who do not know the Sahara think that in the desert there is only sand. But here there are children, who play and draw and make movies, and who would like not to have to think about war. In the desert there is a European colony, an occupied country, called Western Sahara, and there are thousands of Sahrawi refugees living a hard life in exile. Little Sahara is an animated documentary that tells their story, that of a resilient people who try to thrive and grow up in the Hamada, where everything struggles to grow.

Project: KLB2
Director: Andrew Baker Taylor, Andrew Yuen
Country: US, Running Time: 8 min
Set in the near future. When Caleb, a humanoid AI teenager escapes, a corporation unleashes a search to find the missing subject. On the run Caleb seeks out his long-lost Mother for asylum. However, when he finally has the chance to reunite with her, something internal prevents him from doing so. He then realizes he must figure out how his emotions work to gather the courage to properly meet his mother.

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