September 21, 2023
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Annapolis Film Festival To Highlight African American, African Films

Annapolis Film FestThis year’s second Annapolis Film Festival will feature a strong group of films representing a variety of African and African-American experiences, some controversial.   These include:

William and the Windmill, directed by Ben Nabors, the story of 14 year-old Malawian William Kamkwamba who teaches himself to build a power-generating windmill from junk parts, successfully rescuing his family from poverty and famine. He becomes an energy icon for the developing world and meets American entrepreneur and mentor Tom Rielly, who helps him imagine a new future.

God Loves Uganda, directed by Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams who explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. A 2013 Sundance Film Festival favorite.

A special retrospective screening of The Spook Who Sat By The Door, directed by Ivan Dixon and based on the Sam Greenlee novel. The 1973 Black Militancy classic about an African American who uses his CIA spy training to establish a militant guerilla cell and attempt to overthrow the white majority government. Suppressed for being too controversial, the film (and its Herbie Hancock score) remained widely unavailable until its re-release in 2004.

In addition to 70 plus films, this year’s Festival features The African-American Storytelling On Screen showcase at 6.30 pm, Friday, March 28th in The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts auditorium in Annapolis.  A distinguished panel of guests will discuss the oldest tradition in acting, writing and directing, that of the “black storyteller.”

The showcase (and film clips) will be moderated by Ambassador Shabazz, diplomat, writer, lecturer and innovator. The eldest daughter of Malcolm X Shabazz and Dr. Betty Shabazz, she also is the Goddaughter of Alex Haley, whose ground-breaking storytelling is intertwined with the history of Annapolis. The guests come from a cross-community of disciplines, each being an accomplished storyteller in his or her own right, including Chris Haley, actor and Research Director for the History of Slavery in Maryland; Scotti Preston, actor and Living History consultant; and other guests to be announced.  The showcase is being generously sponsored by The Glaucoma Center, P.C. and Alyson L. Hall, MD.

According to Ambassador Shabazz, “from the village Chiefdoms, Elders, Parents, message-keepers and Griots on the African Continent, black storytelling has navigated across the globe, carrying the seed and echos of traditions, lessons and wisdom.  Upon reaching the banks of the Americas– messages continued through quilts, scriptures, songs, lyrics revealed in lullabies, in Southern fields and worship houses. The written works by educators, philosophers, authors and image makers continue to provide inspiration for film and television– telling the stories that have informed and shaped a myriad of audiences.”

I Am America features three films celebrating the African-American experience. Screened on Saturday, March 29th at 8.00 pm in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts gymnasium and followed by a Q&A, these are: Fate of a Salesman, directed by Ben Crosbie and Tessa Moran. The Men’s Fashion Center in DC was legendary for its dapper pinstriped suits and feathered hats. In its 60th year in business, the owners and salesmen struggle to redefine themselves in a vanishing landscape. Red, directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, centers around an African-American women in Texas known for her flaming red hair and fiery ways. When her grandmother dies, Red will stop at nothing to fulfill her dying wish. Into the Lime Lite, directed by Deanne Caniesco and John Dillon, is about a young boxer in DC who has a shot at the 2016 Olympics but faces his toughest opponent yet in the Belfast Beltway Classic. Some of these moviemakers are expected to attend the Festival.

The Annapolis Film Festival takes place Thursday evening, March 27 to Sunday, March 30 at several locations in Annapolis including Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, St. John’s College, St. Anne’s Parish Hall and Compass Rose Theater. A 4-day Festival pass giving access to all 70 + films and panels plus the after-party costs just $95 ($85 until March 1st) and is available online at  Single tickets and student tickets are also available.

For more information and to buy Festival passes, please visit

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