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Black American films take Maseru by storm

Lerato Matheka

MASERU — The United States embassy in Maseru says it is sponsoring the screening of Black American films at Sterkinekor this month.

The screening, which is being held at Pioneer Mall in Maseru, is in celebration of Black History Month.

Black History Month was initiated in 1976 to celebrate the achievements of black Americans and the role they played in US history.

The festival is celebrated every February.

Nina Lewis, a public affairs officer at the US embassy in Maseru told Xpress People that they are showing one historical film every Thursday.

The shows, which began on February 3, will run until February 24 and are for free.

“We have dedicated February as film-screening month to let local people celebrate Black History Month with us. We are showing one film every Thursday until the end of this month,” Lewis said.

“All the films that we will be screening have a historical background of what black Americans went through until they gained their freedom.”

Lewis said they had already showed two films, Amistad and Glory.

“The first film, Amistad, is about slavery while Glory is about the first group of black soldiers who fought in a civil war intended to end slavery,” Lewis said.

She said this Thursday will see the screening of Malcom X which is to be followed by Let Freedom Sing in the final week.

Lewis said they are quite happy that a large number of local youths had shown interest in Black American films.

“We have had a large number of young people flocking the cinema and it was quite overwhelming for us.

“The festival also introduces people to the progress America has made since its days of slavery,” she said.

Xpress People attended last Thursday’s show and what a night it was!

At least 150 fans flocked the cinema to watch Glory, a film directed by Edward Zwick that portrays the heroic efforts of blacks against racial discrimination within the US army.

The audience’s reception was interesting as it related to the film by making personal comments about the scenes.

It was interesting to see how they expressed solidarity with Black Americans when they refused to back down from being part of the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

The film deals with the issue of torture and discrimination with the US army.

There were few dry eyes from the audience after the film as they observed the bravery and unity during the regiment’s training and when it was at the warfront.

“We wanted people to feel the need to first come and see their Hollywood stars for free in historical movies that made charts instead of documentaries which entails a lot of history,” Lewis said.

Movie reviews:

Amistad is based on the true story of the failed mutiny on board of a slave ship, Amistad, in 1839, and the courtroom battle that followed that would challenge the very foundation of the American legal system. Theodore Joadson, trial lawyer Roger Baldwin and ex-president John Quincy Adams, argue for the freedom and civil rights of the captive African slaves.

It stars nMorgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey and David Paymer under the direction of Steven Spielberg.

Glory is about the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), the regiment was comprised entirely of African-Americans — some of whom were ex-slaves — willing to fight for the North. The US government was undecided about how to use black soldiers. At first, the army intended to use them only for manual labour, but, later in the war some saw combat.

It stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Jihmi Kennedy, Andre Braugher and John Finn under the direction of Edward Zwick.

Malcom X is an epic portrayal of the life and times of the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X. It begins with the cross-cut imagery of the police beating black motorist Rodney King juxtaposed with an American flag burning into the shape of the letter X who was killed during a speech delivery in 1965.

It stars Denzel Washington under the direction of Spike Lee.

Let Freedom Sing is a dramatic look at the people who raised their voices in song against racism and inequality. It is about how the Mississippi Freedom Riders used music to summon courage in the face of great danger, reflect on the brutality of enforced segregation with Billy Holiday’s haunting ballad Strange Fruit, and watch as the seeds of change that were planted in the 1960s blossom in the music, politics, and culture of the decades that followed.

It stars Louis Gossett, Jr under the direction of Jon goodman.

(Additional information was sourced from Yahoo.com, moviereview.com and Wikipedia)

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