February 28, 2008

NBPC Adds Some PoP to the Summer

From <em>AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange</em>

If 2007’s slate of heavy, issue-oriented films bummed you out, keep your eyes open for AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. This new series from the National Black Programming Consortium (www.nbpc.tv) features contemporary works about Africa and African Diaspora life, with a focus on the cultural and historical growth that has occurred in the last generation.

According to Nonso Christian Ugbode, NBPC’s  programs and new media coordinator, the genesis for AfroPoP came from the NBPC’s goal to showcase contemporary interpretations of the black experience. “We found out that the best way to do that in terms of Africa is to have our own selected titles,” he notes. “Through open solicitation and through people just sending in work, we have these titles that we know would work perfectly because [they are]…more perspective-based, more open, less newsy-feeling than most documentaries that we’ve seen before.” As part of the PBS Minority Consortia, NBPC has been a leading provider to public television of media work that celebrates the cultural heritage of African Americans and the African Diaspora.

The first three titles in the series, Weamm Williams’ Hip Hop Revolution, Jamie Meltzer’s Welcome to Nollywood and Regi Allen’s 10 Days in Africa, have been released on DVD. The next step is a summer release on PBS, with regional distribution of six programs through American Public Television. The three additional films are Rudzani Dzuguda’s Mix, Odette Geldenhuys’ Being Pavarotti and Lisa Russell’s We Will Not Die Like Dogs. Actor/musician Idris Elba hosts the series, providing introductions that help to contextualize each piece.

Some of the documentaries in the series are straight acquisitions, while others have a longer history with NPBC. Meltzer sent Welcome to Nollywood, his film about the growing Nigerian movie industry, to NPBC. Upon screening it, NBPC programmers immediately fell in love with it and acquired it for AfroPoP. South African filmmaker Weamm Williams first came to the NPBC’s attention through their relationship with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Her film Hip Hop Revolution, which looks at the power of hip hop to inspire change, was a perfect fit for the series.

We Will Not Die Like Dogs received funding from the NPBC through its regular Open Call. The documentary profiles AIDS activists from Nigeria, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Zambia. Subjects include a doctor, a reggae artist and two HIV-positive women. Once the piece was completed, the NBPC thought that AfroPoP was a good launching pad for the film.