ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS 2021

ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS 2020

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with Additude Africa

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with Additude Africa
"Additude Africa promotes time credits as a means of encouraging the youth to be involved in community building activities in order to add a new dimension in their lives and make a positive contribution to their communities."

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with ipitch.tv

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with ipitch.tv
"Looking for a way to pitch your idea for a television show or movie? Ipitch.tv offers a next generation platform for creators of original ptiches for TV, film and digital media to connect directly with Hollywood producers and studio executives."

ROFFEKE Values

ROFFEKE Values
Friendship (networking), Fun (experimentation), Freedom (purpose, empowering, transparency)

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ROFFEKE logo by Jozie of Kenyan band 'Murfy's Flaw'

ROFFEKE is a member of the Universal Film and Festival Organization

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Comments on "The ABC of ROFFEKE" Screenings (September 2015 at iHub)

I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

The Indie Bible

Friday, July 8, 2022

Reviews: One-Hit Wonder - directed by Amanda Dow

You can watch One-Hit Wonder HERE:

"I love the concept of this video. Was he a ghost? Did the cab lady have something to do with his death? Many musicians are a disturbed lot. With all they go through, it's no surprise this was his way out of misery. To be that creative and still haunted by invisible demons that can't be explained is hurtful. I wanna reach out and just hug them."

Review by Love Kassim.

"I like the suspense - the ride to an undisclosed destination. The conversation is cordial. However, the eventual news hurts. It's a sad twist of fate that he didn't replicate the success of his hit song "Humma Humma Ding Dong". What a tragic demise of a popular celeb devastated by a fallen career. One-Hit Wonder reminds me of a gruesome suicide of a favourite friend I cherished. Like the cab driver, I had just dropped him at his apartment."

Review by ROFFEKE Reviewer.

For information about mental health and creativity, check out ROFFEKE's mental wellness division, rockafya.blogspot.com

Check out a comparison of: Clay Calloway of Sing 2 and Ellery Demarco of One-Hit Wonder (Directed by Amanda Dow)

Related post: 



Thursday, June 30, 2022

Aphorisms for a Wounded World - directed by Robert David Duncan

The setting for "Aphorisms for a Wounded World" is an "imaginary place, built from AI-enhanced digital art." You can watch this micro-short film between June 30th and July 31st 2022, HERE:

In a ROFFEKE Radio interview, I asked director Robert David Duncan: "What are your views on Artificial Intelligence and creativity?" Here is his answer:



Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Peace

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." - Desmond Tutu.

"Peace begins with a smile." - Mother Teresa.

"The world is now too small for anything but brotherhood." - Arthur Powell Davies.

PEACE PLAYLIST

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Of "African" Products and "Mzungu" Music

In an entrepreneurship forum I recently attended, one participant was quite vocal about the need for entrepreneurs to provide African goods and services. This brings up the question I always ask myself whenever I come across concepts such as “Kenyan film” or “Kenyan story” or “buy Kenyan”.

Are Kenyan or African goods and services those created and sold by Kenyans/Africans or are they only those that are uniquely Kenyan or African? Is an African entrepreneur who deals with smartphones made in China, providing African goods and services? Does the foreign nature of the goods/services he provides disqualify him from being categorized as an African entrepreneur? What about an African agri-entrepreneur who deals with genetically modified seeds? What about an African pharmacist who largely sells products created outside of Africa?

What about the European, American and Arab slave traders who were dealing with African “goods”? Were they African entrepreneurs?

African slaves were exchanged for foreign goods:

Trade Relations among European and African Nations.

The business of barter on the pre-colonial Gold Coast.

What about rock ‘n’ roll, whose roots can be traced to the slave trade mentioned above? Is rock ‘n’ roll an African product? Is rock ‘n’ roll made by an African still “mzungu” music? 

(Written by Mildred Achoch.)

Coda: "Jean-Baptiste Say pointed out in his own writings that it was entrepreneurs who sought out inefficient uses of resources and capital and moved them into more productive, higher yield areas. Simply put, entrepreneurs seek opportunities for profit and, by doing so, create new markets and fresh opportunities. By constantly disrupting the balance of competition, entrepreneurs prevent monopolies from forming and create a wide diversity of products that keep consumers consuming and producers producing."Source: Who Coined the Term 'Entrepreneur'? by Andrew Beattie

Friday, February 4, 2022

Interview: Marvin Glover - Director of Red Gate Sessions

 ROFFEKE: Many of your artistic works center around themes of hope and empowerment. If, as the saying goes, "bad news sells" why then do you choose to focus on hope and empowerment?

MARVIN: Well I suppose the best way to answer this question is that, by definition, empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.  The creative works that we develop and the content that we create can often provide hope to those that feel hopeless and also give a voice to the unheard.  This should be empowering!   I had to think long and hard about what kind of human I wanted to be and what kind topics I wanted to raise awareness of or shine a spotlight on.  It's also about thinking about yourself and what you want to represent, as creators we become a brand.

ROFFEKE: You have produced more than 20 films in the short film, documentary, feature length and web series categories. What similarities and differences are there in producing each of these categories?

MARVIN: The work is generally the same.  It takes the same amount of creative energy to make a short film as it does a feature.  The process is the same.  The difference is the budget and timeline!  The elements can vary as with every project but the core items are pretty much the same.  

ROFFEKE: Being a minority - whether in terms of race, gender, etc - is challenging in any field, including the film industry. What has been your journey in giving yourself permission to create?

MARVIN: I have never operated from a deficit, my mantra has always been that I don't need permission to create.  I came into the profession with an edge so to speak.  I had confidence, career experience in other industries that support entertainment, I had a stellar resume of education at some of the best schools.  I am fluid in law, marketing, advertising and social sciences.  I am a renaissance man and ambassador of travel, food, culture and the arts. I find interest in most everything.  I say it's okay to be uncomfortable every now and then; you can learn and grow.

ROFFEKE: Any tips on fundraising for projects?

MARVIN: I was fundraising before the term became saturated.  I have fundraised for every project that I've ever done.  Every musical recording and every film has been supported by my "supporters".  Tip number one: email is the best tool at your disposal to make a real connection.  Tip number two: be authentic, people can smell a "fake" a mile away.  Tip number three: give to others.  Are you out to take someone's hard earned cash and give nothing in return.  Tip number four: Drop the word investors from your vocabulary.  People can support you and your projects, if you want an investor... invest in real estate!  Seriously, in the U.S., if you are a first time home buyer and have decent credit.  Buy a starter home with 3.5 percent down.  Put some paint on the walls, cut the lawn, pull some weeds and anything else reasonable to improve the place and then sell it in a year.  Take the cash that you profit from the sale after you pay off the loan and go make YOUR MOVIE.  It's that simple.  Skip the kissing backsides hoping that someone will fund your bright idea.  What do you have to offer them in return?  Nothing!  Hollywood in general is a closed system so you need a body of work to get a seat at the table these days.  I went to the best film school in the world, that cracked the door open for me.  I wrote my own songs and placed them in my movies, which allowed me to become recognized in the music industry.  I don't owe anyone anything and I own my work.  Now this is not for everyone... We have multiple ways of making one's career successful.  I carved my own path and forged it in the mold that I created.  I think my supporters help me with my projects because they like me.  It's not necessarily the type of music or the genre of film, it's about me continuing to produce content.  They have the joy of bragging to their friends that they know me.  I might add, make sure you can deliver on what you promised.  Integrity is everything, the one time you slip and don't come through or follow up, you're done.

So obviously I can hold a clinic on fundraising, and most people will fail miserably at it.  Set realistic goals.

ROFFEKE: In some parts of the world, rock and rock-laced music is considered "white". Your thoughts?

MARVIN: I say define this premise.  I write and style my music based on my experiences.  Rock music was taken from southern American blues and has morphed into many styles and genres.  My story is one of global travel and I never stay squarely in one musical genre.  This has likely hurt me because my initial audience of listeners may not have followed my musical journey from genres such as blues, R&B, pop, rock, psychedelic, traditional, etc.  Everything is derivative, everyone is borrowing from someone else.  I was born in Texas (the home of bluegrass/country/gospel, you name it.  I was schooled in the early years in the UK (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, they were imitators of black blues artists like, Robert Johnson, etc.) I then moved to the Pacific Northwest (the home of Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Macklemore and Sir Mix A Lot) and then Chicago (with its robust rock and blues scene).  Then I lived in Australia and Hawaii ( each area has its own flavors and my music reflects bits of all of it.  If you sat down and listened to my entire musical catalog from beginning to end you would pick up bits and pieces as far ranging as the ear can imagine. As consumers we need to put things in baskets in order to understand them.  Some creations resonate with us on a deeper and more visceral level.  I leave it up to the individual to bond or reject whatever is presented.  I make music and create films based on my experiences and no one has traveled the specific road that I have.  However points of reference that may be common in those works to others can be enticing.  We all gravitate towards the familiar.

Marvin Glover

Review of "Red Gate Sessions" by Love Kassim

Marvin Glover introduces us to the studio where his five-man band is recording and playing live. The first song 'The Coming' has a religious vibe to it. Could be the coming of the Messiah or just the realization of oneself to a place or point in life.

As the band continues with the session, we are also introduced to the different members. The music is catchy, mellow and thought-provoking.

The second song "Four Twenty" talks about chilling, vibing and marijuana. A general banger if you ask me.

Four songs down the line and the band finishes softly and subtly.

I love this music; it will resonate with most people. It's about love, consumption and the togetherness of a people.

Looking forward to hearing more from them and hopefully they will still do live renditions.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Screenplays - ROFFEKE Official Selections 2021 (Part 2)

“Surreal” is one word that could be used to describe “Tomi Thirteen”, a screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault, and “Tethered” a screenplay by Kirimi Kiage, Teddy Gitau and Blake Simpson. Tomi Thirteen, is both light and dark. It is an “anime-inspired half-hour comedy, set in a future in which all of humanity lives in giant arcologies protected by superheroes.” You can watch the ROFFEKE screenplay trailer of "Tomi Thirteen" here.

Speaking of the future, 15 years ago, Thomas Behe wrote a graphic novel about “five people’s discovery of this century’s greatest tech convergence - online communities and video mobiles.” Result? A “frighteningly accurate prediction of today’s malignant world of social media - an eerie FORESHADOWING of today’s tech-driven paranoia and online political mayhem.” Thomas submitted the “Contraband” screenplay and although it is longer than ten pages, it is selected since the themes are in line with ROFFEKE’s motto of ‘Friendship, Fun, Freedom’. You can learn more about the Contraband graphic novel here and read reviews of it herehere and here.

Both Tomi Thirteen and Tethered feature a female protagonist. In “Tethered”: “A woman tethered to her ancestors, who she had long misunderstood but not forgotten, is forced to reckon with an experience she cannot explain. You can watch the Tethered screenwriters interview here.

Another screenplay that features a female protagonist is “A short film about a metal head” by Simon X. Frederick: “A mother of two tells a bedtime story. Once upon a time, a young lady discovered the key to her heart…heavy metal.” Simon says: “…I am interested in the psychology of an individual and how society influences us.” You can watch the ROFFEKE screenplay trailer of Simon’s screenplay here.


Read ROFFEKE Official Selections 2021 part 1 here

Monday, December 27, 2021

ROFFEKE Interviews: 2021 and top 21 from previous years

I do not outsource the very important task of posting ROFFEKE interviews on the ROFFEKE blog. This is because I greatly respect the diverse points of views of the interviewed filmmakers. I respect the fact that they have taken time to focus and answer the interview questions, in a world that is increasingly becoming a hotbed of distractions, with a thousand and one things - both important and insignificant - clawing for our limited resource, time.

The interviewees can testify that I tend to leave their interview answers intact. The result is a wealth of insightful and diverse thoughts, processes and influences of ROFFEKE filmmakers from all over the world. I love it!

Below are links to the 2021 interviews, followed by a compilation of the top 21 most viewed ROFFEKE interviews.

Wishing the Kenyan rock scene and the ROFFEKE community a very happy, prosperous, healthy and peaceful 2022!

Mike Messier: Lessons from 2020, New novel, Screenwriting versus Novel writing

Interview: Egor Gavrilin - Director of The Bluestocking Music Video for "Never Ready"

Interview with Teddy Gitau, Kirimi Kiage and Blake Simpson - Scriptwriters of "Tethered"

Interview: Max Sparber - one of the screenwriters of Tomi Thirteen


Top 21 Most Viewed ROFFEKE Interviews

Dr. Robert David Duncan on improv acting, collaborating and giving back (over 1500 views)

Interview: YJ Kim - writer/director of Chemical (over 800 views)

ROFFEKE chats with Nambari Tisa of Murfy’s Flaw about music video directing and the movie store problem! (over 650 views)

Interview: "Elemento" director Nina Paola Marin Diaz (Colombia) - (Over 600 views)

Interview: Fanis Topsachalidis - Director of "Slingshot" (Over 500 views)

Interview: Giancarlo Fusi, screenwriter of "Hell Hound - The Legend of Robert Johnson" (Over 400 views)

Jonathan LaPoma: 67 Awards and Honors for his screenplays (Over 300 views)

Interview: Steven C. Knapp - Director of music video for "Rhythm in the Spirit" by Kansas (284 views)

Of Sons of Robots, Robot Dreams Made Flesh and Wearable Android (277 views)

Interview: Kurt No.5 - directed by Aleksandr Kirienko (271 views)

Interview: Measure of a Man (269 views)

Spirit Dance: A Screenplay by Kitania Kavey (268 views)

Interview: Alexander Thomas, writer/director of "Beverley" (268 views)

Interview: Maxime Guérin - Director of "Save Me a Dance" (267 views)

Interview: Alec Herron - Producer of "The Music Stops Here" (261 views)

Interview: "Brother" director Captain Chambers (252 views)

Interview: "Fat Punk" director Robert David Duncan (248 views)

Interview: "Draught" Writer/Director Artem Ukropov (238 views)

Josep Calle Buendia, The Devil’s Nephew and a Fairy Tale! (208 views)

Rock is Not an Attitude: Short Film by XIAOXIAO TANG (203 views)

"Everytime I See You I Go Wild": Directed by Paul D. (203 views)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Light and Dark - ROFFEKE Official Selections 2021 (Part 1)

The Christmas story is a story of light and dark. That “star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright” shone on a dark period that was full of challenges. There was no room at the inn for a heavily pregnant young girl and her spouse. A villainous king wanted three wise men to aid and abet him in committing murder. The three wise men were wise enough to pay attention to the world of dreams. “Light and Dark” is one theme running through the 2021 short films, music videos and rockumentaries submitted to ROFFEKE.

 

The first 2021 submission was “Bluestocking - Never Ready” directed by Egor Gavrilin. It is “a look at 5 personal stories of the members of the band through the prism of magical surrealism with a tinge of steam punk and a dark fairytale.” The second submission was lighter, both in themes and in setting and production. “Red Gate Sessions”, featuring and directed by Marvin Glover “is a live concert short film…the film shows an intimate performance of a select material spanning his career in a stripped-down set, and an intimate setting.”

 

“Partner - Honey” was directed by Lesley Marshall. “We tackled Penelope Spheeris’ “Wayne’s Word” and attempted to contain her epic rock tribute styles in our own way. I wanted to bring the humour of the movie and also its many parodies to tell a day in the life of the show and also add some layered surrealness.”

You can watch the 2021 ROFFEKE Official Selections here:

Monday, November 15, 2021

Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat”, LUWTEN’s “Sleeveless”, Metallica’s therapy and Therapeia by M.Q. Powell

Please 
Can I take a seat?
Frankly, I could use your company now
 - Sleeveless by LUWTEN 

Window seat 
Don’t want nobody next to me 
I just want a chance to fly 
A chance to cry 
- Window Seat by Erykah Badu 

The music video for Erykah Badu’s Window Seat ends with an assassination: “…Badu’s bare stroll is cut short by a sudden gun shot that appears to kill her instantly” writes Simon Vozick-Levinson in his article “Erykah Badu’s new ‘Window Seat’ video stirs controversy: Is the JFK imagery offensive?” 

The way the “Sleeveless” music video begins is rather similar to the “Window Seat” video ending. LUWTEN’s singer ricochets back and forth, to the rhythm of the four opening shots…I mean, beats. Then she implores us with jazzy, soulful vocals: 

Don’t call the police 
I know it must be strange 
To be seeing me there 

It must have been strange seeing Erykah Badu walking near the famous grassy knoll, shedding her clothes. “Indecent exposure” is a crime and it’s quite possible that someone who saw her slowly stripping must have thought of calling the police. Erykah Badu explained in a video that: “the nudity I think scares the nation as a whole or people in the world as a whole because we are taught nudity is bad. But what I learned is that when it was packaged the way I was with no high heel shoes or long hair or spinning around a pole…people have a hard time processing it when it’s not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. So they don’t know quite what to do with it or how to place or or what to say.” (Window Seat: Erykah Badu’s explanation” by Kalinda Productions, 2011

Sleeveless is “about letting go. You’ll literally see singer Tessa Douwstra wearing a large knitted sweater, that is getting unravelled - she’s getting Sleeveless.” 

 “The unravelling of a band? And then there were two?” asks Lars Ulrich, drummer of Metallica, in one of my favourite rockumentaries “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”

In a Psychology Today article by Hara Estroff Marano titled “Rock Around the Doc: Metallica in Therapy”, the more laid back member of Metallica, Kirk Hammett, revealed that: “along the way I got seduced by the mythology of being a rock star…I was a victim of that myth of being in a rock band for 15, 18, 20 years and having any sort of behaviour instantly justifiable….It became really empty. It was hurting my relationship with my wife. I got into a vicious cycle of wanting to medicate with more booze and drugs.” When Kirk stopped doing the destructive activities “ a lot of the depression went away. The therapy helped me see clearly why these things were happening to me.” 

Look for an unlocked door 
‘Cause there’s something I need to 
Talk about 
Just hear me out 
- Sleeveless by LUWTEN 

 Erykah Badu explained that metamorphosis can be scary: “peeling back layers of things we have learned and separating ourselves from the group is also horrifying because we are afraid of being ostracized and assassinated by the group, if we have our own thoughts and our own mind and our own will and our own direction…Groupthink is actually the term I was protesting.” 

 O, presently I’m standing 
Here right now 
You’re so demanding 
Tell me what you want from me
 - “Window Seat” by Erykah Badu 

Therapeia, directed by M.Q. Powell, begins with the main character standing by a window in her therapist’s office. “Clara Jordan (Marquita Goings), a smart, witty and beautiful business woman is faced with the challenge of her life; Her perfect storm marriage. In the quest to save her marriage with her hard working and ambitious husband, Bobby Jordan (Devin Robinson X), they seek out therapy to confront the very root of their never ending issue.” 

James Hetfield, frontman of Metallica admitted that: “There’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to give away our innermost fears - our big fear of intimacy. I still struggle with this every day. But I know this has the potential to help other bands and other people to just blow away that mystique of the rock idol who leads the perfect life.”

Watch "Sleeveless" by LUWTEN:

Monday, November 8, 2021

Clay Calloway of Sing 2 and Ellery Demarco of One-Hit Wonder (Directed by Amanda Dow)

One-Hit Wonder: “A cab driver takes a former pop star on a one way Twilight Zone-like ride.”

Together with Jane Petrov, Andie Ximenes produced “One-Hit Wonder” and also plays the main character, Ellery Demarco: “As a sci-fi, Twilight Zone–type short, featuring an original song, “Humma Humma Ding Dong,” composed just for the film, I believe that “One-Hit Wonder” will speak to both movie and music lovers, leaving them humming as they exit the theater and pondering what it means to be an artist.”

According to the Sing wiki: “Formerly a rock star legend, Clay isolated himself from the rest of the world after the death of his beloved wife. He later meets Buster Moon and his friends, who aim to persuade him to perform on stage again.” Director Garth Jennings talked about Bono playing Clay Calloway in Sing 2: “He plays this big, old lion called Clay Calloway who was a legendary rock star but has been a recluse for 15 years ever since his wife died. He has just vanished off the face of the Earth.” - New Sing 2 trailer: Director Garth Jennings on casting Bono and working through the pandemic (exclusive)

One-Hit wonder opens with the sound of applause. Emery appears, walking though what seems like the tunnel of a stadium but is probably just an alley. This scene is similar to the one in the Sing 2 trailer where Clay Calloway walks through a tunnel-like section on to the stage. This happens right after the crowd sings along to a U2 song, spearheaded by Scarlett Johansson’s character, Ash: “Johansson’s punk porcupine also comes back for the second film, playing a key role in coaxing Clay Calloway out of his reclusive state.”  

The U2 song is the anthemic “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”

“In Ayn Rand’s ‘Anthem’, the protagonist, Equality 7-2521, lives underground in a darkened tunnel. However, he emerges, possessing both the symbolic light of his intelligence and an actual light bulb….” - “The Symbolism of Tunnels in Literature" by Linda Emma. When Emery walks through the darkened passage, there is a point of light behind him and he smokes a cigarette. (Check out this article I wrote in 2016 about cigarettes and cinema.) 

Andie Ximenes and Florin Penisoara

Linda Emma notes that: “in the novel and movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” the tunnel represents the protagonist’s growth. The movie director, Stephen Chbosky, said that “the tunnel scene is a symbolic rebirth, whether people look at it as a spiritual rebirth or a coming of age.”

Amanda Dow’s Director Statement: “While the film has adversity, it’s about beginnings and a man wanting to find his way back to his love of music at any or all cost to his own. As the director of One-Hit Wonder, I wanted to provide a window into the collision of these worlds.”

 

Amanda Dow, director of One-Hit Wonder

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Interview: Max Sparber - one of the screenwriters of Tomi Thirteen

ROFFEKE: What inspired you two to write Tomi Thirteen?

Max Sparber: We've been working on one version of this script or another for a long time. I think the original idea, which has always been central to the story, was that in a post-apocalyptic future, even ordinary jobs would have to be superheroic. Once we settled on the story being set in a city contained inside an entire building, it seemed quite funny to us that the superintendent would have to be a literal superhero.

ROFFEKE: What are the benefits and challenges of working as a duo on one script?

Max Sparber: The benefits are that we have very different imaginations, and so the story is enriched by unexpected details and ideas. We work quite well together, so if we have any challenges it is that we have a lot more ideas than we have time for.

ROFFEKE: Max, you are in your 50s. What has been your screenwriting journey? How long have you been a screenwriter? Highest point so far? Lowest point so far?

Max Sparber: I have been a professional playwright for a long time, but have always wanted to pursue screenwriting. I only began to do it in earnest a few years ago, with my writing partner (and girlfriend) Coco Mault, and almost entirely through the festival circuit. It has been very rewarding -- at this moment we have won 18 contests and were flown out to Los Angeles to pitch a script at a number of different companies. Of course, it's much easier to write a screenplay than to get one produced, and so we are patient, knowing the process is slow, but it can be frustrating trying to attract the attention of agents and managers.

ROFFEKE: Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?

Max: Write the movie you would want to see. There is no way to predict what the market is going to be, or what scripts people are going to want to buy, but if you write something you care about, at least you will have done something that will have been worth doing even if it takes forever to get made.

ROFFEKE: What lessons did 2020 teach you?

Max: That it's important to pursue the things you care about, and to surround yourself with the people and projects that really move and interest you.

Check out Anime, Rock and Tomi Thirteen screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault

ROFFEKE YouTube Playlists

ROFFEKE Animation - World Audio Visual Heritage Day

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ROFFEKE South-South

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ROFFEKE Halloween

Photo by: pexels.com/@lemonzandtea


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Anime, Rock and Tomi Thirteen screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault

“Whether you’re a die-hard Otaku (a young obsessed fan) or a total newbie to anime, there’s plenty of Japanese music to discover on Spotify.”

 EXT. OTAKUKING HIGH RISE - DAY 


 “In this anime-inspired half-hour comedy, set in a future in which all of humanity lives in giant arcologies protected by superheroes, a 13-year old hero must navigate life in junior high school while battling the superintelligent insect larva that has moved into the basement.” - Synopsis of “Tomi Thirteen”, a screenplay by Max Sparber and Coco Mault. #ROFFEKEOFFICIALSELECTION2021


  Watch Teaser of Tomi Thirteen screenplay. Music: “Miyagisama - The Haunted Dollhouse (Cinematic: Halloween, Creepy)" by MIYAGISAMA (from pixabay.com)

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Satire in Horror Films: The Case of “Witchin” - directed by Christina Diamantara

“Both comedy and horror are often viewed by critics and the general public as “low brow” genres with little social relevance and few redeeming qualities.” - Dr. David Gillota, associate professor of English at University of Wisconsin - Platevlle. 2019.

On October 3rd, 2019, Dr. Gillota participated in a forum that examined “how satire in horror films exposes systemic societal issues.” He provided an analysis of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and argued that this film “straddles the line between humor and horror in order to critique systemic racism and expose the hypocrisy of white liberalism.”

It can be argued that Christina Diamantara’s short film “Witchin” does straddle this humor-horror line so as to critique systemic patriarchy and expose the hypocrisy of sexism and misogyn. Pallavi Prasad outlines the difference between these three intertwined concepts in her article “The Difference Between Sexism and Misogyny, and Why It Matters": “If patriarchy is the overarching social organization in which men hold the power, and from which women are largely excluded, then misogyny and sexism are the two drivers that uphold this system. If patriarchy is the state with a capital S, the sexism is the ideology, the legislative pillar….Misogyny, then, is the method. It is both the executive and the judiciary, in that it enforces the ideology and reprimands where there is a breach of law. It is the hostile policing of those women who violate patriarchal norms and expectations, thereby setting a precedent for the cost of feminist transgression.”

In her Director Statement, Christina Diamantar highlights the fact that her film is about “a young idealistic witch, on her quirky-spells-and-pink-glitter-filled quest to find the notorious and elusive Big Dick Energy ingredient…” Although the story is set in “the world of fantasy and make-believe” Christina insists that her short film “is deeply rooted in human reality, and more so by the current social context that first inspired it.”

The Instagram hashtag #bigdickenergy is one of the elements that inspired “Witchin”. Christina finds that “this idea - that your confidence is as big as the size of your penis - is not only perpetuating a toxic interpretation of masculinity, but is also inevitably suggesting that, yet again, confidence is a male thing. I thought it would be funny to use this term as a physical ingredient - and in a way create a satirical metaphor about women who do all the right things, in terms of working towards their goals, only to realize that the  most important step for their success is to find some way to capture the essence of male privilege.”

Christina Diamantar - Director of "Witchin"

In her article titled “Standing Up: What Men Can do to counter systemic sexism in the office”, Liz Elting writes: “With privilege comes power, and there are so many ways you can use that power for good: speak up and call out sexism and misogyny amongst your peers, stand up for and champion women, point out when a woman colleague came up with a great idea (especially when credit is misatrributed to a man), hire and promote women, and the big one I’ll focus on today, opt out of boys’ clubs and fratty workplace culture.”

Here is the trailer for “Witchin” plus two insightful interviews where Christina further expounds on “Witchin” and her overall filmmaking journey and explains more about the secret ingredient BDE.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Interview with Teddy Gitau, Kirimi Kiage and Blake Simpson - Scriptwriters of "Tethered"

Teddy Gitau: You lecture scriptwriting at African Digital Media Institute. In what ways does teaching scriptwriting help you with your own scriptwriting?



Kirimi Kiage: You are the co-founder of Nyota Art Gallery. Tell us a bit about it and how being involved with it influences your storytelling?


Blake Simpson: You were born and raised in Seattle, Washington, spent 7 years in East Africa and are currently in Switzerland. What similarities in filmmaking or storytelling do you see in these three different regions?



What about your screenplay “Tethered” highlights the theme/concept of friendship, fun and/or freedom?

What lessons did 2020 teach you?

Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?

Watch the full interview here

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Interview: Egor Gavrilin - Director of The Bluestocking Music Video for "Never Ready"

ROFFEKE: I loved your interview on Shortcloseup.com so for this ROFFEKE interview, I would like to ask some follow-up questions:

In the interview, you mentioned that you directed a “part theatrical performance part radio play based on Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘Kaleidoscope’”. Please share some of your favourite memories/lessons you learned from that early directorial experience.

EGOR: Since it was my first case of consciously directing something there was a lot of mini observations and conclusions. But there was one main thing I realised:

The process and the product are two different universes.

A bit of context: in school we had this yearly event where every class would prepare a 15-20 minute theatrical piece. Officially it wasn’t a competition but in reality for a month the whole school turned into a Game of Thrones kind of ball of intrigues, treasons, plotting. Everybody spying on others and trying to figure out what they were preparing and do something for their piece to look better. And while everybody was so in this process of gossiping and doing small-time politics I was in my room at the computer trying to realise what the hell needs to be done to make this piece work. You know, directing stuff. And that contrast between the two “layers” of the process can be seen in all sorts of projects, no matter how big. People can get too excited by everything that happens “around” the production process (who wouldn’t be? it’s always such an exciting emotional rollercoaster) that quite often they forget that having an exciting time on set (or near it) does not equal making a great film (or anything, really). And you have to always be able to turn off all the side-effects of the process and look at the product with fresh eyes and see whether it’s working or not.

ROFFEKE: The first script of “The Bluestocking - Never Ready” was ditched. What were some elements/scenes that you loved about it?

EGOR: I loved the whole thing.

Short story long.

I am that kind of a director who can’t work on a music video without knowing and feeling the musician(s) first. I usually torture them with several-hour talks and then ask them hundreds of stupid questions in messengers (I start to draft ideas before all this but you can really see how they become better as I learn new things about the band and the song). And this first version of the script appeared from all those meetings and talks.

The story was a very dark tale set in a fantasy version of early XX century (think Tim Burton type setting but without any hint of humour). It was about a girl who went through hell in her childhood, then later became a showgirl superstar. When she fell in love with a man she couldn’t trust him and she started to have paranoid suspicions that he was going to hurt and betray her. The ending is as dark as you can imagine it. Visually it was a number of “static” scenes. The camera would fly through them, revealing details and telling the story through that. If you know the Spike Jonze’s 2-minute short “The New Normal” for MedMen – it’s pretty much how we wanted to do it.

That answers the question but I wanted to add a small P.S. to that.

After it became clear that the budget for realising that idea the way we wanted would be gigantic I had to start from scratch. Around that time the guys said “Hey, this is our debut video. Maybe let’s introduce ourselves to people, let’s make it about us”. That’s when all the torturous talks and my stupid questions came in handy: if I hadn’t gotten to know the guys enough I just wouldn’t be able to come up with the stories that you see in the video.

ROFFEKE: "Zero" hand-crafted all the Steampunk objects. What was your process of collaboration in bringing to life these objects? Were the objects part of the script or were they conceptualized independently? How long did it take to craft the objects? Which Steampunk influences did you refer to, if any?

EGOR: Some of the devices were in the script from the very beginning because they were essential for the stories (like, the saxophonist’s “charger”, the “head jukebox” and the camera with the built-in printing machine). Some objects appeared in the video just because “Zero” said “I also have this, do you want it?” and I went “Are you kidding?! This is even better than what I could ever think about!” That’s how the costumes for the two “guitar engineers” appeared, for example. 

Some of the “essential” objects were combinations of stuff that he already had but some had to be made from scratch (the “head jukebox”). Working with “Zero” was pretty easy. He is one of those guys who have a pretty solid style but at the same time great imagination and so it’s not a problem for him to think of something outlandish and you always know it will look awesome.

However, there was a moment when it backfired a little bit. When I briefed “Zero” I described the saxophonist’s charger as a rusty “infinite engine” (that’s what these wiggly things are called in Russia’s toy stores) and it seemed clear to him and it was probably the easiest thing to make from the whole list. But on the day of the shoot he brought the device he made – and it was a totally different thing altogether. It looked great but it was not doing what it’s supposed to do (which is move on its own and “create” energy this way). Turned out “Zero” didn’t know what “infinite engine” was and just came up with one (it’s not his fault, of course; it was my problem that I didn’t make it clear enough during the briefing). So we ended up not having a vital prop on the day of the shoot. So some people from the producers’ team went and bought a couple of those wiggly “infinite engines” and made them look rusty on the set.

I think all in all “Zero” spent several days crafting the things for us. He works pretty fast. As for references I think mine were “The city of lost children” and a little bit of “Brazil” but like I said, “Zero” had a pretty solid style he works in. So mostly he was his own stylistic reference.

ROFFEKE: You mentioned that your social anxiety could be a reason that you are a “terrible festival person”. What advice would you offer a new filmmaker who struggles with social anxiety?

EGOR: I have two opposite options for advice here.

Option #1: I don’t remember who said it but here goes: “Make your work so good that they can’t ignore you” and so you won’t have to approach anyone. The downside of this advice is that even if your work is bloody amazing you would still achieve a lot more with it if you socialized and networked. So I guess you will still need to consider option #2.

Option #2 is very tactical: Try starting the conversation by admitting that you are anxious but you want to talk to the person so much that you overcame it. Usually that opens people up. Also, if there are specific people you want to talk to, research is your friend. Find out as much as you can about them and you will not run out of things to talk about.


ROFFEKE: 2020 was a tumultuous year for most of us. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

EGOR: 2020 was indeed a year of lessons. Most of them were tragic because of all the lives that were lost. But there was one observation of a less tragic kind that I couldn’t help but make:

Humans are a lot less in control of themselves than they think they are.

During the pandemic there was quite a number of small human “side effects”. Like, for example, there was a couple of months in the beginning of the year when everybody (not sure about other countries but in Russia it was pretty common) became really mean to people who looked Asian (up to not allowing them to enter places) because everybody heard something about a disease spreading in China. I won’t comment on stupidity of such behaviour but what’s really sad is how people are prone to using very little information and not questioning the conclusions they’re making from it. Or the paradoxical situation where Russia was producing the vaccine, it was free for everybody to have but nobody was signing up for vaccination. And when you ask people why, they give you some vague answers like “I’m not sure about it” which make no sense at all.

It’s clear that these “mind glitches” happen because people just don’t know how to deal with a situation like that and their autopilots don’t have a suitable program for it. Which is fascinating and at the same time extremely scary to observe.


Check out the fascinating and extremely entertaining music video for "Never Ready" a song by The Bluestocking.

Director's Statement:

Since the music video was the band's debut, we set ourselves the task of introducing people to the band from the very beginning. But this acquaintance had to be not simple, but, first of all, very personal, and secondly, made in a style that would correspond to the unique sound of the band as much as possible. Each story turned out not only about the band members, but also about the universal, big problems that people face in life or bring upon themselves: addiction, burnout, dependence on other people's opinions. So the music video turned out to be fabulous, but also a very dark warning about how easy it is to lose yourself by submitting to your inner urges, even if they are very sincere.

Director Bio:

Egor Gavrilin was born on 15.12.1987 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In 2010 graduated from Moscow State University of Culture and Arts as a director.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Outcast Kid, Tom Morello and Politics

 “When I first moved to Hollywood, I thought I was going to rule the Sunset Strip with my heavy metal guitar licks…that didn’t work out. Nobody really wanted me. My hair wasn’t right, my skin wasn’t right…” - Tom Morello in “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell”

“If a Greek can be an outcast in this day and age, what are the chances for those from Syria? We are shown what it is like to be an outsider; being picked on, having to constantly prove yourself, the constant reminder that you are not like everyone. The theme resonates with every kid who was always picked on for being different from the rest, resonates with that third world country never taken serious by the 'super  power' country. Shout out to those parents and relatives who listen and offer advise for such situations.” - Review by Love Kassim.

“I was finally accepted by the East Side rocking community which is bands like Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Imagine my surprise…I grew up in a really stultifying, conservative suburb of Chicago and I went to an Ivy League school [Harvard] and all of a sudden my best friends were all drug addicts and prostitutes, who, many of them had a heart of gold. They accepted me when others did not.”

“The film talks about a half nationality [dual nationality] boy who has to deal with two sides of a coin, being half Greek and half Romanian. I liked that it addresses social issues as we see them, tribalism, ethnicity, religion, racism, and the fact that the young boy feels torn in between. It has addressed a multitude of issues that are overlooked and the issue of bullying is heavily seen here.  What l didn't like was the inclusion of politics that is hard to understand for the young boy.” - Review by Inez.

W. Kamau Bell: Why do you think it’s important for artists to be connected to social movements?”

Tom Morello: An artist’s only responsibility is to be true to themselves. If you do have convictions in the political arena then you shouldn’t divorce them from your vocation.”

Tom Morello's segment is from minute 13:40.

The Outcast Kid trailer.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mike Messier: Lessons from 2020, New novel, Screenwriting versus Novel writing

ROFFEKE Alumnus Mike Messier shares what he's been up to and the lessons he learned from 2020.

 1. What is your novel about and what makes it stand out?

"A Distance from Avalon: when the dying and the dead reunite" is about a school teacher named Joe and his co-worker named Shadow who find themselves at a mysterious, gothic castle on Halloween night hosted by the enigmatic Jean La Croix Distance and his lover Heartbreak. As the night unfolds, the hosts are able to pry emotional secrets from their guests in what seems like genuine bonding and friendship but is ultimately revealed as a more nefarious tactic to gain their trust. I'd like to think that the dialogue of the piece and unique paragraph structure stand out as well as the cover art by my collaborator Nazar Germanov. 

2. What did you like about the process of writing the novel and what did you find challenging?

Writing in the novel format definitely has more freedom in terms of length of paragraphs, structure, page count etc. Also, there were no deadlines on me for this project, since I wrote and self-published it on Amazon on my own terms.  The book can be purchased on kindle or paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SQ6SQ48?ref_=k4w_oembed_S4vCSZx87c64LC&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

3. What's the difference between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?

A big difference is that feature film screenplays have certain understood "expectations"  that become part of the mix for a writer. "By page twelve, there should be an inciting incident", "no scene should be longer than two pages" etc are some of the lessons learned in screenwriting classes and through books that become part of the "mental fabric" of a screenwriter's mind. When writing a screenplay, there is also a running dialogue of "can this idea be actually filmed?"  and "Am I writing a script that can be filmed on a budget?" type questions.  When writing a screenplay, there is usually not a guarantee that the script itself will ever be filmed, so there is a sense of uncertainty if the writing efforts are in vain or not.  Freeing myself from those constraints and concerns in writing this novel was a welcomed change of pace. 

4. Any other new projects?

I have been working a lot on my YouTube Channel during the pandemic, doing road trip videos, Mike's Instant Movie Reviews, Pro Wrestling rants,   interviews including "This Podcast Cures Racism", and more. People can subscribe from this link:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSx8RE_a4Nh_Fq-BpUq7ghw

As far as writing, I'm working on the second of  A Distance from Avalon  trilogy right now! The cover art is already ready, now it's up to me to do the writing! 

I also worked with my friend Aaron Woodson on an "urban romance" feature film script titled Aaliyah and Troy, more info can be found here: https://mikemessier.com/2021/01/27/aaliyah-and-troy/

 I recently did some acting in a couple of films, both of which directed by my friend Tom DeNucci. One of them titled "The Mick and the Trick" is a fun action film shot in Pennsylvania in October, 2020. Info here: https://mikemessier.com/2020/11/26/mikes-road-trip/

Federico Castelluccio and Mike Messier on The Mick and The Trick set

I chronicled my road trip up there for "Subscribe to Mike Messier YouTube Channel" . I have also been tweaking and improving a lot of my feature film scripts including American Luchador: The Dream of Lobo Fuego and Also Ran, my prison drama.

5. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

The lesson from 2020 is that time is short for all of us and if any of us want to "make a dent in the universe", then it's best to get going soon because we are not guaranteed another fifty, thirty, ten or even five years on this earth. We must do what we can to make our goals into realities before we are dead, because if we end up in that shallow grave with things still on our "things to do list" , well, then it will be too late! 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

International Women's Day: Spotlight on ROFFEKE Interns, Reviewers and "Clara"

Tomorrow, 8th March, is International Women's Day. ROFFEKE salutes all women, including ROFFEKE former interns Josephine Koima and Lesley Gakuo and current ROFFEKE reviewers Love Kassim and Inez Inās.

Below is Inez's review of  the rockumentary"Clara":

Hi I'm Inez writing a review on "Clara" a short film by Benjamin Montel.

What impressed me was the content; the narrator is very insightful and the other characters are quite interesting. 

What l liked about the video is the rawness with which she talks about about her feelings, her deepest desires, her fears, and how she wants to impact others; it's how she said that she wants to create what her father didn't create, it's the love and support of her family especially with the gold album. It's the loneliness and sadness that you could see in her eyes, her strength and how she feels her handiwork finally paid off. The fact that she wants to talk about women and the sensuality involved without being erotic and without putting sexuality in it, that was beautiful. 

(Watch the CLARA Trailer.)

What l did not like about the video is the translation; it was left out in some places. The lighting of the video felt gloomy and sad and lost, also the people surrounding her, they felt aloof and did not care about her, the feeling that she feels lonely even in a sea of people, the people around did not celebrate her achievement, but her family loved her achievements. 

It reminded me of my favourite boyband BTS because in a way the boys also feel lost and lonely after concerts and also the emotions and fears that are faced by many artists without then knowing if the audience will love the performance and the music. It puts into perspective that each artist has to top the next song higher than the other hit. The army audience when they decide to sing along that feeling that the boys feel is the one l believe she felt herself when she came off the stage the first time. 

(Watch BTS' version of Coldplay's "Fix You")

ROFFEKE wishes all women a happy International Women's Day!


Monday, January 11, 2021

Reviews: Tired Eyes (Written and Directed by Ryan Martin Brown)

As someone who is "schlepping" a small rock 'n' roll film festival in a less than conducive environment, I could totally relate to Tired Eyes (directed by Ryan Martin Brown). I can see the utter ridiculousness of it all...and also the utter importance of it. 

Overview

"Rose, Mitch, and Trevor make up the lo-fi rock band Tired Eyes. The trio have a small gig tonight, which means schlepping gear from a cramped practice space in Brooklyn to the middle of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the city has a way of making even the simplest of tasks absurdly difficult."

'A snapshot of people you know... [it] questions the purpose of art in a way that I found very moving.'

- Antonio Mendez-Esparza, Cassavetes Award Winner

'Perfectly captures the chaos and madness of New York, and the hustle of trying to get something off the ground.'

- Kentucker Audley, NoBudge.com


Reviewer: Love Kassim

This video shows what most, if not all, bands go through right before a gig and I think such hustles stem much of their writing.

Of course they are late and have to beg for a chance to play.

I can only imagine how long it took to set up.

Makes you wonder what kind of situation musicians go through right before and even after a show.

They are surprisingly good.

Set is done and they have to find a way back home.

Their band name is fitting after the day they just had: Tired Eyes.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that it is relatable and peaceful. l liked that it was funny and showed what happens everyday in life when you are not organized. The music was calm yet it showed confusion. l did not like how the scenes were short and how the characters were quite insensitive to their neighbors; they simply were in their own cocoon plus they were rude. The film reminded me of some of the fun, laid back comedy movies l have watched; the characters usually are petty but fun, eg Love Rosie, it showed her love life and the effects of not telling your love before, but it ended well.

Love Kassim: Side bar, can I find this band on YouTube, check out their music or they were just actors?

ROFFEKE: They were actors 😊

"Mitch" - Steven Carter

"Rose" - Emily DeForest

"Trevor" - Cecil Jennings

Writer/Director - Ryan Martin Brown

Producer - Paula Andrea Gonzalez-Nasser

Reviews: Vices (A poem by Matt Wohlfarth, performed by John Vento)

 Reviewer: Love Kassim

My first instinct after hearing that poem was switching off my phone and going off grid😂

Vices is a poem that enumerates how the powers in play use mass deception, rather mass psychology, to control, influence, manipulate and persuade the masses.

This machinery uses vices, for example, devices that get you hooked and before you know it you can't live without them.

Misinformation is peddled and Propaganda is peddled to whoever will take an interest.

Internet memes for example are one of the latest revolutions on spreading propaganda and are an effective tool in the arsenal of digital persuasion.

Whatever we are fed by the powers at play influence how we think and conduct ourselves and it's time we woke up and saw reality for what it is.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that the poem is deep and rugged. l liked the catchy visuals, the sound being both commanding and soothing; the use of black invoked the feelings of a dark world and the poet's voice is seductive as if he has a secret. l did not like that some visuals seem to take us back in time instead of the current era, the vagueness of the poem and the feeling of guilt evoked. Reminds me of how we have come to see and believe everything that we see without question and how the big fish are manipulating the small fish figuratively.

Directed by Jim Pitulski. Watch "Vices" here 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

This Day on Kenya Rocks: January 7th, 2008

Jan 7, 2008 

hey happy new year to u too the start of the year hasnt been too good but im sure we can improve that maybe we can do a rock blood drain drive to give blood to the red cross guys or have a rock 4 peace concert i mean aint rock all about the love?

- Kenya Rocks yahoo group member.

My reply:

Jan 7, 2008 

Great ideas! We can do both. Right now we are organizing a ‘Kenya Live Aid’ show to collect food,clothes etc. To be held on the 20th of January. Maybe we can do the rock blood drain and rock 4 peace concert in February? Organizing is the real headache. Could you or anyone else in Kenya Rocks volunteer to be in charge of these two projects?  And yes, rock is all about the love. Yesterday I was doubting this but after reading all the ‘proposal’ emails posted here, I believe! I believe!:-)  Oh and we should definitely have a New Year’s show. To make up for the awful way we started the new year. Maybe in March?:-)



Shiku and I are in the process of organizing... Entry fee will be food, clothes, bottled water, medicine…anything to help the victims of the post-election violence. Who else is with us?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTION 2020 (Partial Listing)

A Youtube playlist featuring some of the short films, music videos and rockumentaries submitted to ROFFEKE in 2020. Watch it here.

 'Tis the holiday season, so the first music video is "Just Like Xmas" by Tom Tikka.

The year 2020 has been a bit...much, and the theme and inspiration behind the second music video speaks to this:

"In a divided time, when only the most sensational acts are acknowledged by the public, a shy man longs to be seen and heard. In particular, he seeks the attention of a girl who mesmerizes him and awakens his creative passion, but when he falls prey to the seductions of easy fame, will he pay the price for losing his true self? The 5th chapter, "Woke," from Kenny Cash's iLLustrated Opera (dubbed the iLL Opera) features Jaqx finding the courage to use his voice,  but when he finally protests against the dividing forces that rule his world he is forced to confront his hyped up alter ego.  Musically, "Woke" Blend of punk, funk and jazz fusion w/ aggressive vocals which reflect the battle that ensues."

Director's Statement: " After nearly forty years on the planet without paying much attention to politics, I never imagined a time would come when I had to express my opinion on the political landscape of the world that we live in. But following the 2016 presidential election, not having a political voice seems to have become an impossible task. The world has started to look a bit like a cartoon to me, where interaction doesn’t happen so much face to face, but rather with hyper-caricatures of one another on social media. I had always loved comic books, science fiction, stories of illuminati, and tales of redemption, so voicing myself through an even more caricaturized graphic approach just seemed right. Being a part of social media left me with my own internal struggle, as it is easy to fall prey to its seduction and the pull of media in general. What we see and hear repeatedly tends to shape our thoughts and close our minds to other's perspectives. If, at the core, the majority of humans tend to desire similar things, then why are we so divided in our approach to obtain them? So this is my voice for the new generation: my kids’ generation. Find your voice, use your voice, but always challenge your voice by listening to another’s."

The last music video in this playlist is a rollercoaster romp through an other-worldly reality - sort of like what 2020 felt like. The difference is that this music video is fun to watch, the song is sure to get you moving and the story is captivating:

"The hero breathes a cloud of strange smoke. He bangs a spray paint that turns into a living and dancing cartoon robot in the wall. All over the city, we see graffiti come to life to join our protagonist, who is going to get caught, to end up like a black and white 2D poster on the wall (like JR). Guided by the robot / bomb in the wall, he will meet 3 characters, the freaks of Caravan Palace, scary and crazy, who will first haunt him, pursue him, then finally amuse him to the point of dancing with them in a crazy way." (Director: Béchir "Jiwee" Jouini)

The year 2020 has been a cloud of strange smoke. It has haunted us and pursued us but hopefully, with a bit of friendship, fun and freedom, we can get to the point of dancing with it in a crazy way and ending the year on a high note. Happy holidays everyone!

Review: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Reviewer: Love Kassim

The opening shot seems so familiar; two black boys in period costumes on the run in the forest and it clicks: they must be running away from slavery but then we see that they are running towards something - the music of Ma Rainey (Viola Davis).

She sings the blues, an entirely African American-created art form that brings black people together, though as Ma Rainey later puts it, the music suffering even if it doesn't provide an escape from it.

Black artistry portrayed in this movie comes alive thanks to the powerhouse performance from Levee especially (played by the late Chadwick Boseman in his final role).

Both characters have large personalities but only one of them is actually aware of the White exploitation that is coming for black art. Boseman and Davis are electrifying even if there are times when the film strains against the confines of its stage originsThere is a struggle since the movie was written to be played on stage (August Wilson's play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM). The cinematography (George C Wolfe's adaptation) was okay, resulting in the other stuff melting away, like the source material was aimed at the stage rather than the screen

The movie is set in Chicago,1927.Ma knows that she has all the power in these recording sessions but the second her voice is on vinyl, it will be exploited. Tensions rise with the white manager struggling to facilitate a recording session with the dismissive producer. Here we see a portrait of how Black art is valued by its artists and the tragic economic realities that seek to steal art for white audiences.

Fun fact: Denzel Washington serves as a producer in this film.

What's so brilliant about this film defies easy description. Ma is strong but she is clearly exhausted, other times she is bitter but has affection for her family. Boseman consistently elicits our sympathy with every gesture and line. Levee is an astonishing role because you have a character who thinks he knows the score but we are all waiting for the fallout from the harsh lessons he is about to endureThis is acting at its finest and while the supporting cast deserves acclaim for their work, these two performances are what kept me glued to the screen

I felt like this film demands for us to explore how Black art is created then exploited and how we really haven't broken free.

This is a movie about the power of black art and why it must be cherished.