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‘Fela!’ musical lands 11 Tony Noms; Chiwetel Ejiofor cast as Fela in biopic

May 5th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Business, Events, Film/Television, Music

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A BIG congratulations to the cast and crew of ‘FELA!’ The musical as they have just received 11 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. The Tony Awards is the leading awards which honor Broadway productions that opened during the 2009-10 season. Along with the musical ‘La Cage aux Folles’, ‘Fela!’ has received the most nominations. ‘Fela! is nominated in all major categories including Best direction, Best performance by a leading actor, Best performance by a featured actress, and Best choreography. The 2010 Tony Awards show will air June 13 on CBS.

In related news Golden Globe nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, American Gangster, Inside Man) has been cast to play Fela in the feature film biopic about the iconic Nigerian musician/activist. Deadline New York reveals:

(The) Focus Features movie about the African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti now officially has its leading man. Chiwetel Ejiofor is formally attached to play Fela in the film that will be directed by Steve McQueen, the British artist who made his helming debut on Hunger, the drama about the Irish hunger strike that starred Michael Fassbender.

When I revealed the project last year, Ejiofor seemed the obvious choice, but Focus Features wouldn’t confirm. Ejiofor sure has been taking it seriously on his end. In between his work on the upcoming Angelina Jolie-starrer Salt, he has been learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare for the role. I’m told he’s gotten quite good.

When I first heard about the biopic some months ago many people on Twitter, including myself, put in their vote for Ejiofor in the lead role. It seems the producers were thinking as we did. Though the two projects are unrelated, I can’t help but think the musical helped solidify production plans for the film. I, for one, am excited for both projects. Go see Fela! The Musical.

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Africa in vibrant technicolor, Paul Sika talks to CNN

One of  the most dynamic, engaging young creative talents coming out of the African continent recently is Ivorian photographer/creative director Paul Sika. After being introduced about a year ago by a mutual friend, I was impressed by his creative vision and passion. Paul’s use of color and juxtaposition of characters in his photo and video creations expose a new way of looking at contemporary African life, culture, and style. A true entrepreneur, Paul has put together an upcoming book titled “At The Heart Of Me …” featuring his intricate work and concepts. As I mentioned in my earlier post “Top 6 African business and culture trends to watch in 2010“, Paul Sika is one of the African creative class making an impact this year. For more about Paul Sika and his upcoming book, visit PaulSika.com

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Trailer for the book “At The Heart Of Me …” by Paul Sika

CNN Inside Africa’s Isha Sesay talks to Ivorian photographer Paul Sika about his vibrant images, filled with eye-catching colors.

If you can’t see the videos above, go here to view

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African contemporary art having a global renaissance (videos)

April 15th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Events, General, Travel

CNN’s Inside Africa recently aired a series of features on the growing global demand for contemporary art. View the 3 parts of the feature below.

Part 1

Johannesburg Contemporary Art Fair
The Johannesburg Art Fair recently showcased the works of 400 African contemporary artists, attracting more than 10,000 visitors. – CNN Inside Africa

PART 2

First US-based commercial art auction dedicated solely to contemporary African art
Auction house Bonhams’ recent ‘Africa Now’ auction in New York was first commercial auction dedicated solely to contemporary African art in the United States

Part 3

Ghana’s ancient beads back in vogue
A new generation of Ghanaians are rediscovering their heritage — and rediscovering the appeal of traditional beads – CNN Inside Africa

If you can’t view the videos above go here to watch

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NY African Film Festival opens, celebrates World Cup and independent Africa

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The 17th annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) has opened on April 7th celebrating the 50th anniversary of 17 African nations’ independence from colonial rule as well as the freedom that the rise in technology has given African filmmakers to tell their own stories. Among the 13 features and 25 short films from emerging and veteran filmmakers from 18 countries are four soccer films in honor of the World Cup’s first games in Africa opening in June 2010, an animated short program, Focus Features’ Africa First short program and an environmental film.

The festival runs from April 7 through the 13th at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and continues at Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies, 3ten Lounge, New Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek with dates in April and May. Some films showing during the festival include The Absence, directed by Mama Keïta (Senegal/France), Eliane de Latour’s narrative film Beyond the Ocean, winner of the Jury Prize at the Festival des Cinéma du Monde 2009, and Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi, which I highlighted here before.

Take a look at the full film schedule.

On Saturday, April 10, a panel discussion will also be held where established and aspiring directors and producers will learn how to craft an attention-getting pitch and utilize social networking tools at “Getting Exposure: Securing the Buzz You Need for Your Film.” The panel takes place at The Film Society of Lincoln Center at 1:30 pm, and is part of  the film festivals “Independent Africa”.

Panelists will include Jennifer Merin, film journalist with About.com and founder of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists; Misani, culture writer for the Amsterdam News; Paul Burani, social media strategist; and Pam Pickens, digital marketing expert. The event, which is open to the public, will be moderated by veteran entertainment publicist and NYAFF’s public relations consultant Cheryl L. Duncan of Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc.

For panel or film tickets, go to www.filmlinc.com.

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Notes from Columbia U’s 2010 Africa Economic Forum

2010-AEF-Logo-300x223Last week I attended Columbia University’s annual African Economic Forum (AEF). The two-day conference was a diverse and insightful one with discussions ranging from Branding Africa to the growing, sometimes controversial China-Africa relationship. The organizers put together a great program with much discussion during and in-between panels. While I couldn’t attend the full program, I was able to participate in some great discussions with attendees and panelists in the Africa Arena. I’ve provided my notes from the discussions I was able to attend below. My notes cover a mixture of discussion topics and perspectives from the esteemed panelists and attendees. Please keep in mind that the notes below are portions of the hour plus long discussions from my perspective as an attendee. If you have any insight into any of the topics in my notes please feel free to comment. For clarification on any of the points in my notes please shoot me an email.

ATTENDANCE NOTES:
Panel: African Fashion Going Global
Moderator: ZANDILE BLAY, Market Editor, Paper Magazine
Panelists: OLUCHI, Supermodel and the Original Face of Africa; BUSIE MATSIKO, CEO and Co-Founder, Fashion Indie Media; AISHA OBUOBI, Designer & Founder, Christie Brown; MIMI PLANGE, Designer and Founder, Boudoir D’huîtres

  • Should Africans sell primarily to Africans?
  • African designers are more torn about designing Africa-inspired clothes vs. other western designers designing Africa-inspired clothes
  • Western designers are not limited or stigmatized when using African influences in designs
  • Should there be an African fashion capital? Some panelists say no
  • Is there a viable African consumer enough to support African fashion industry?
  • Designers don’t want to get pigeonholed as an ethnic designer; need room for growth
  • There is very limited support (i.e. factories, retail outlets) for African designers on the continent
  • Some panelists say African designers should focus on African consumers rather than targeting global consumers first
  • There is lack of business expertise among designers on the continent
  • Designers need to partner up with business professionals on the continent
  • Pricing African designs is tricky
  • Not too many Africans will pay high prices to support African designers
  • There are two types of African consumers: 1) those that travel and buy high-end western clothes 2) the locals who can’t afford couture and buy mass
  • It’s hard to produce on the continent particularly if you’re not doing mass production
  • Many African designers aspire to go to South Africa fashion week because it’s the top African continent fashion industry
  • Just like you don’t only have New Yorkers in New York Fashion week, South Africa’s Fashion Week has Africans from all over continent
  • African designers get inspiration from everywhere just like other designers
  • Some African designers are more drawn to cultural design than others

More »

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FELA! musical hits Broadway with rave reviews

December 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Events, Featured, General, Music, Politics

FELA! musical

If you haven’t already heard FELA! The Musical has opened on the Broadway in New York City. For many people, myself included, this marks a milestone in African culture’s rise to global recognition. Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been an major inspiration for many young Africans looking to re-define what it means to be African in the West. Ever the African icon, Fela’s music and ideas have been at the cornerstone of the growing Afropolitan culture in New York and other metropolitan areas around the world. He has inspired many creative expressions of African culture including my own early foray into Africa-influenced business. After many years as an Afropolitan lifestyle inspiration, now the essence of what Fela has defined for modern Africans has brilliantly been captured in this new musical.

In it’s glowing review of the new musical The New York Times writes:

There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of “Fela!,” it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?

The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of “Fela!,” which opened on Monday night, feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. Anyone who worried that Bill T. Jones’s singular, sensational show might lose its mojo in transferring to Broadway can relax.

FELA! The Musical features the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo–Kuti, a book by Jim Lewis and the direction and choreography of Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones. The musical is co-produced by Jay-Z, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith among others.

Watch the opening night and behind the scenes videos below.

If you can’t see the videos above, click here

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Morocco’s desert region a widescreen backdrop for Hollywood films

November 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Film/Television, General, Travel

Speaking about the Ouarzazate region in Morocco, The Global Post reports:

Chances are you’ve unwittingly seen this region’s wild vistas in any number of movies. Among other locales, the desert was billed as Iraq in “Body of Lies,” dressed up as Jerusalem in “Kingdom of Heaven” and transformed into ancient Egypt in “The Mummy Returns.”

An array of ready-built sets, cheap labor and stunning landscapes has helped turn this sleepy provincial capital into a Third World Hollywood.

Production remnants abound, from concrete castles and plaster villages, to an American gas station falling to pieces beside a two-lane road. Featured in the horror film “The Hills Have Eyes,” its English sign offers non-existent beer to the Muslim drivers passing by.

But veterans of the country’s film trade say they wish more of their studios were in use this year. The global downturn has caused several big films to cancel or push back start dates, delaying cash upon which a growing population of technicians, actors and extras have come to depend.

The video below tells an interesting story of the North African desert’s draw for Hollywood.

If you can’t see the video above click here.

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Liya Kebede stars in Somali supermodel Waris Dirie’s biopic

Supermodel Waris Dirie’s book Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey Of A Desert Nomad, published in 1999, helped fuel the open discussion of female genital mutilation in her native Somalia. After spawning two follow-up books, Desert Dawn and Desert Children, the original book is now premiering as a feature film starring another supermodel, Ethiopian Liya Kebede. Watch the trailer for the new movie “Desert Flower (“Wüstenblume” )” below. More about the movie here.

If the video is not visible below click here.

(via Africa_Visual_Media)

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Designer Ozwald Boateng on dressing President Obama and his Made in Africa wealth initiative

August 31st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Business, Charity, Events, Fashion, Film/Television, Politics, Travel

In this three part series fashion designer Ozwald Boateng talks with CNN about outfitting President Obama for his recent Ghana visit and the designer’s new initiative “Made in Africa”.

Part 1: Tailoring for the President
CNN’s Monita Rajpal talks British-Ghanaian tailor Ozwald Boateng about his rise to fame and tailoring for President Obama’s Ghanaian visit.

Part 2: Made in Africa Ozwald Boateng talks about ‘Made in Africa.’ An organization designed to promote wealth and self sufficiency in Africa

Part 3: Designer to role model
British-Ghanaian tailor Ozwald Boateng explains his plans to help tailor Africa’s image problems.

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Maker Faire Africa edition 2009 (video)

August 28th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Art, Business, Events, General, Technology, Travel

Below is an excellent video documenting the recent inaugural Maker Faire Africa event held in Accra, Ghana. The event was organized as a a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention, with strong participation by local makers. Find out more about the event and the upcoming 2010 Kenya edition at the official website here. A job well done by the organizers.

via whiteafrican

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