Mar 20 2009 Emma Shipley, Harrow Observer
A movie gala weekend that celebrates the successes of women of African descent both behind and in front of the camera is coming to Kilburn for the fifth year running.
The respected annual Images of Black Women Film Festival returns to the Tricycle Theatre, in Kilburn High Street, on Friday March 27 and lasts for three days.
Victoria Manisold, the theatre's film marketing officer, says: "We are proud to have this niche festival here as it is a high calibre event."
Betty Sulty Johnson and Sylviane Rano established the event in order to increase the visibility of black women in films, and to create and highlight opportunities to attract more black women into the film industry.
Six films that are written, produced, directed by or starring black women will constitute the main programme this time around, and these will be joined by a filmmaking workshop, question and answer sessions with the directors and a short film competition.
The workshop, by the industry renowned Documentary Film Makers Group, is a must for all aspiring filmmakers, and those wanting to sharpen their skills.
Following the workshop, the eagerly anticipated results of the short film competition will be announced: the contest was open to all, as long as the submitted pieces contained African and African Caribbean culture on or behind the screen.
Ten finalists have been sifted from more than 40 entries, and the winner will be announced on Sunday before the cinema audience gets to see the triumphant work.
Opening the festival will be the European premiere of From a Whisper. Directed by Wunari Kahiu, the film is based on the August 7 US embassy attacks in 1998 and tells the tale of two parallel lives, both indirect casualties of the attacks.
Following this will be The Secret Life of Bees, a film based on the best selling book by Sue Monk Kidd.
The movie is set in 1964 and focuses on a young girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and her troubled relationship with her father, the girl flees with her only friend to a town in the US state of South Carolina where she hopes to uncover the secrets of her mother's past.
This enchanting parable is complemented by a star-studded cast.
Two pieces by Akoya Chenzika will also feature: Hair Piece and Alma's Rainbow, with the first being an animated depiction of the ordeal many black women undergo in order to control their hair, whilst Alma's Rainbow portrays the life of an African-American girl living in Brooklyn, struggling in an awkward stage of her early adolescence.
The penultimate showing will be Afro Saxons, an entertaining and engaging documentary giving an insight into the world of Afro hair politics.
The film follows four hair stylists preparing to create bold and innovative Afro styles.
Closing the festival is the winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2008, Johnny Mad Dog, described as a poignant film that tells the chilling tale of the phenomenon of the child soldier and the cycle of violence he is condemned to.
Critics have called it an indisputable must-see.