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POSTPONED TO TUESDAY, SEPT 1, DUE TO WEATHER
West African Arts Festival in the Bronx celebrates the PBS "POV" documentary ‘Bronx Princess’ on Tuesday, Sept 1
'Little Ghana’ neighborhood in Bronx becomes venue for free music, films from Africa
WHEN: Tuesday, Sept 1, 6-10PM (6pm Performances & Educational Fair, 9pm Film Sceenings)
WHERE: Mullaly Park, Bronx, NY
Jerome Avenue and East 165th Street, Bronx, NY, Via Subway: Take 4, B, D trains to 167th Street
Walk west to Cromwell Ave, make a left, and walk south one block to park.
WHO: Performances by Blitz the Ambassador, Kewulay Kamara, and mamarazzi. Film screening by directors Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed, starring Rocky Otoo and the Otoo family, of the Bronx, NY.
ADMISSION: Free. There is no charge for the event and it is open to all.
Bronx, NY – On Tuesday, September 1, 2009, the PBS POV (Point of View) documentary “Bronx Princess” will screen outdoors in the ‘Little Ghana’ neighborhood blocks away from where it was filmed, as part of the Rooftop Films Summer Series. Live music and poetry performances by West African artists featured in the film will create a ‘block party’ atmosphere. Hands-on arts activities for children and college resources for teenagers will make it a unique back-to-school event.
Families will experience storytelling from Sierra Leonean artist Kewulay Kamara, West African funk from band mamarazzi, and Ghanaian hip-hop and high-life music from Brooklyn's own Blitz the Ambassador, who also wrote and performed the music for "Bronx Princess." An educational fair will provide college resources from What Kids Can Do and New Settlement College Access and booths from other Bronx-based non-profit organizations.
The event will culminate in the South Bronx premiere of the award-winning half-hour film “Bronx Princess” on the lawn of Mullaly Park. The film tells the true story of Rocky Otoo, the Bronx-born teenage daughter of royal Ghanaian parents. With freedom in sight, this sassy, college-bound overachiever rebels against working at her mother’s beauty shop near the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. When Rocky and her mother’s relationship reaches a breaking point, Rocky flees to her father, a chief in Ghana. What follows is captured in “Bronx Princess,” a tumultuous coming-of-age story set in a homeland both familiar and strange. Rocky's precocious — and very American — ideas of a successful, independent life conflict with her father's traditional African values. Reconciling her dual legacies becomes an unexpected chapter in this unforgettable young woman's education.
After the screening, Rocky Otoo, her Ghanaian family and filmmakers Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed will answer audience and media questions.
Buoyed by an infectious West African “high-life” score by Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist Blitz the Ambassador and a protagonist who is irresistibly charming — even in her most teenage moments — "Bronx Princess" is a coming-of-age story for the 21st century.
"Bronx Princess" will have its New York broadcast premiere on Tuesday, September 22 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN as part of the POV series. Check local listings for airdates in other cities.
"Bronx Princess" is directed by Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed, whose first film “A Son’s Sacrifice” was broadcast nationally on PBS' Independent Lens series in 2008 and won the Best Documentary Short Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. “A Son’s Sacrifice” tells the story of Imran, a young American Muslim, who struggles to take over his father's storefront slaughterhouse in Ozone Park, Queens.
In both films, Brook and Syeed, themselves the children of immigrants from Israel and Kashmir, tell fresh stories of first generation Americans in New York City.
DVD REQUESTS: Please note that a DVD version of this film is available upon request. firstname.lastname@example.org
Awards & Festivals, “Bronx Princess”:
Biographies of Artists:
Yoni Brook, Co-Director, Producer, Cinematographer, “Bronx Princess”
Yoni Brook is a film director and photographer. His first collaboration with Syeed, “A Son’s Sacrifice” (PBS Independent Lens 2008), won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival and Best Documentary Short at the International Documentary Association (IDA) Awards. Brook and Syeed are currently making “The Calling,” which is about young religious leaders.
Brook has worked as a photojournalist for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times and The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. Brook’s photography has been honored at the Pictures of the Year International and Best of Photojournalism competitions. He was earlier named the national College Photographer of the Year by the Missouri School of Journalism and was the youngest person ever to be selected for Photo District News’ “30 Photographers to Watch.” He speaks regularly about photojournalism and has instructed students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Brook is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and was selected to attend the CPB/PBS Producers Academy and the Berlinale Talent Campus Doc Station program.
Musa Syeed, Co-Director, Producer, Sound Recordist, “Bronx Princess”
Musa Syeed is an independent filmmaker and writer. He partnered with Brook to produce “A Son's Sacrifice,” which explored a father-son relationship at a halal slaughterhouse in Queens, and is currently co-directing “The Calling” with Brook. Syeed was a Fulbright Fellow in his native Cairo, Egypt, where he focused on experimental filmmaking and Muslim identity. As a writer, he has produced original theatrical work for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
Syeed has worked as an educator in schools, community centers and prisons and was an adjunct professor of cross-cultural documentary production at Williams College in 2008. He has served as an advisor for film and television companies, including THIRTEEN New York. Syeed is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Middle Eastern and Islamic studies department.
Blitz the Ambassador, Composer, "Bronx Princess," Headline Performer at Arts Festival:
Blitz The Ambassador, from Ghana with a touch of Trenchtown, lives in Brooklyn. Drawn to a coming-of-age narrative with a new perspective, he composed and arranged all the music for the documentary film "Bronx Princess." Through an international lens, he melds the tradition of Ghanaian high-life with the jazzy nuances of an upright bass, hints of reggae, orchestra strings, and a horn section that lifts live hip hop to new heights.
Blitz's brand new album "Stereotype" is available on iTunes, and his videos are in rotation on MTV2.
Kamara works with a broad range of artists from Africa and the Americas including Rene McClean, James Blood Ulmer, Jayne Cortez, Adboulaye Diabate, Mohamadou Salieu Suso, Dionne Kamara, and Steve Zeitlin of City Lore. He has appeared as host and/performer at Major Halls in New York City including City Center, Alice Tully Hall, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Africa Arts, Symphony Space, and the Great Hall at Cooper Union. He is regular feature of the Peoples Poetry Gathering and the Bowery Poetry Club. He is a recipient of grants from National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the NEV Foundation, Ford Foundation and New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).
Mr. Kamara is a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and founder and director of Badenya, an Africa arts presenting organization in New York City.
mamarazzi, Performer at Arts Festival:
The group mamarazzi is the product of musical expeditions. With a shared love of African Music, cultivated under years of tutelage from Ghanaian master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, the band’s musical range reflects their collective passage: Brooklyn to Madagascar, Mali to Japan, Ghana to the deep fried American South. The result, like a ripe grapefruit, is a blessed meeting of unlikely elements: tart funk, acidic groove, and nectar of ancient lullaby. Spontaneously combusting in summer '06 under the careless scientific supervision of a group of Wesleyan University Alum, mamarazzi has since been born and born again by their notoriously sweaty brand of dance revival. Members of mamarazzi have toured and/or performed with Questlove, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Roy Hargrove, Vieux Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, Wyclef Gordon, and many other luminary artists.
"Bronx Princess" is a co-production of Highbridge Pictures LLC and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
Lead event sponsor:
Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and now in its 22nd season on PBS, the award-winning POV series is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. Airing June through September, with primetime specials during the year, POV has brought more than 275 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide and has a Webby Award-winning online series, POV's Borders. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today's most pressing social issues. More information is available at www.pbs.org/pov.
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on PBS. ITVS was created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television. More information about ITVS can be obtained at www.itvs.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.