Original Launch Date: January 2013
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Hosted by Academy Award Nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe this season, AfroPoP brings viewers on a journey into human and women’s rights struggles across the world. Co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media, Eliaichi Kimaro’s A Lot Like You (January 22), follows the half-Korean, half-Tanzanian sexual-abuse survivor and filmmaker as she explores her African roots, and learns about the sexual violence faced by her aunts and other women in the Chagga culture. Dear Mandela (January 29), by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza, captures the demonstrations of residents of the Durban shantytowns as they fight for the decent living conditions promised by the post-apartheid government and challenge the African National Congress (ANC). Directors Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw uncover modern-day slavery in refugee camps in Western Sahara in Stolen (February 5), entangling themselves in a high-stakes thriller.
Original Launch Date: January 2012
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Hosted by The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac this season gives the comedian a chance to play it straight, at least in front of the camera – not so much behind the scenes. Titles include Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson’s musical documentary “Everday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,” a captivating look at the 30-year-old Los Angeles punk, funk, rock band that defied all definition; Pascale Obolo’s “Calypso Rose: Lioness of the Jungle” tells the story of the queen of Calypso from her roots in Trinidad and Tobago and today still touring, recording and dancing her way into hearts from New York to Paris; “Burning in the Sun,” from producers Cambria Matlow and Morgan Robinson, which follows the young Malian Daniel Dembele as he attempts to start a green solar panel production business in his home country; and Thomas Allen Harris’ classic identity journey “E Minha Cara (That’s My Face)”, for the first time on public television, an evocative journey of the filmmaker’s life from the Bronx to Brazil, Tanzania, and beyond.
Original Launch Date: January 2011
Hosted by the producers themselves this season of AfroPoP brought an innovative spin to the usual formula, and brought a large number of titles into the AfroPoP lexicon starting with its innovative web-interactive engagement campaign around the 2009 earthquake disaster in Haiti. Titles included Michele Stephenson’s “Haiti: One Day, One Destiny,” a travelogue web project that included a 30-minute short documenting a recovering Haiti, along with over 60 hours of first-hand accounts crafted into intriguing short stories for the web; Magali Damas and Jeremy Robbins worked together to bring us “The Other Side of the Water,” the story of a Haitian “ra-ra” (street band) living and evolving in New York City; while Sia Nyorkor and Jacob Templin’s “125th Franco’s Blvd” took us to Harlem where legendary street artist Franco The Great was about to lose his historic painted storefront gates to some new municipal regulations; Alla Kovgan, David Hinton and Zimbabwean dancer Nora Chipaumire made “Nora” a beautiful short that told the story of the dancer’s early years in Zimbabwe through dance; Luciano Blotta’s debut documentary “Rise Up: Reggae Underground” tracked three would-be reggae stars in the Jamaican music underground to much critical acclaim; and Juan Mejia Botero’s “Uprooted” took us to Colombia’s civil-war torn regions and the story of a mother trying to raise her sons as she struggles through poverty; in Nadia Hallgren’s beautifully photographed “Sanza Hanza: King Surfer” we visit with street kids in Soweto who have made a dangerous pastime out of surfing moving commuter trains; and from Mali to Philadelphia, filmmakers Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon brought us “Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter,” the story of a woman trying to save her young daughter from the brutal tradition of female genital mutilation.
Original Launch Date: October 2009
Hosted by Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, season two brought a collection of titles that delved even deeper into contemporary experiences of Africans around the globe including Tre Whitlow’s “Black to Our Roots” following a young teen from the housing projects of Atlanta as she raised enough money with her friends to make a trip to Ghana; George Amponsah’s “Fighting Spirit,” a moving documentary on Bukom, the famous boxing neighborhood of champions in Ghana, and also featured in this season as web content was Amponsah’s “One Plus One,” a moving personal story about a reunion between the filmmaker, his twin brother and their estranged father; Alex LeMay’s “Desert Bayou” followed Katrina refugees from New Orleans to an unlikely new home in Utah; and Caleb Heymann and Abdul Fofanah try to bridge the gap between Portland, Oregon and Freetown, Sierra Leone using only the universal language of hip hop music.
Original Launch Date: June 2008
Hosted by Golden Globe Award winning actor Idris Elba, the inaugural season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange contained titles from a wide swath of the African Diaspora and launched the series as a strong voice for contemporary black expression. Six titles were featured in the season like Weaam Williams’ “Hip Hop Revolution,” a poetic journey through post-apartheid South Africa; Regi Allen’s “10 Days in Africa,” the ultimate cultural exchange documentary that takes the African-American filmmaker up and down the West-African coast in search of a deeper sense of identity; Odette Geldenhuys’ “Being Pavarotti,” the moving tale of a young boy who parlays his opera singing on the streets of South Africa into a passion and deep-rooted aspiration; Jamie Meltzers “Welcome to Nollywood” brought a contemporary edge to the season being one of the first films on public television about the hugely successful Nigerian Nollywood film making industry; Rudzani Dzuguda’s “Mix” featured the story of two young friends, female DJs in post-apartheid South Africa, one white, one black, getting to know themselves and their country; and Lisa Russell’s “We Will Not Die Like Dogs” rounded out the season, a moving story about young African AIDS activists spreading the word with unconventional methods for a younger generation.