Black History Month films: from Josephine Baker to the Black Panthers

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      While most of Vancouver's attention will be focused on the Lunar New Year, Black History Month also kicked off. A film series at Vancity Theatre, comprised of documentaries, provide a number of opportunities to learn about diverse aspects of black history, from politics to the arts.


      The series continues on Tuesday (February 9) with the documentary Sembene!, the true story of Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese filmmaker credited as the father of African cinema for this 50-year struggle to help Africans tell their own stories in film.

      Josphine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man's World

      The same evening, there's also a screening of the 2006 German documentary Jospehine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man's World, about the U.S.–born entertainer who became involved in the French Resistance during the Second World War and a Black Consciousness activist.

      The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

      From February 15 to 17, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution screens, taking a look at the birth of a revolutionary movement in the U.S. The film uses archival footage to chronicle the rise of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and its impact upon American society.

      The Ninth Floor

      Meanwhile, local filmmaker Mina Shum's Ninth Floor (February 15 and 16), which was chosen as part of the recent Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, takes a look back at a little-known pivotal event in race relations on this side of the border: Montreal's 1969 Sir George Williams Affair, in which Caribbean students led an occupation of Concordia University's computer lab as a protest against racist treatment.

      The series concludes on a musical note with Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango on February 23. Filmmaker Dom Pedro explores the African roots of the Latin American music and dance, and how it reflected the social life of slaves taken from Africa to South America. As a bonus, there'll be a tango demonstration by Argentine Tango Lab at the screening.

      For full details, visit the Vancity Theatre website.