Apollo Theater Unveils 2020 “Black Life Matters” Short Films & Conversations Series

October 26, 2020

The Apollo Theater announced today the line-up for Black Life Matters: A Program of Short Films & Conversation, which launches the return of the innovative quarterly series Apollo Film Presents: ImageNation’s Cocktails & Sōl Cinema on November 19, 2020, at 7 pm ET.

The program will feature a free online screening of eight curated short films by both internationally-celebrated directors and the next wave of cinematic talent to investigate the global Black experience. For more than eight decades, the Apollo Theater has used its platform to amplify Black voices and advocate for social change, and it continues to provide a forum for intra- and cross-cultural dialogue. The series both celebrates Black life and grapples with systemic challenges to declare a brand new day.

The virtual screenings will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with select directors, including Shawn Batey, Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Nefertite Nguvu, Thati Peele, Christine Turner, and Marshall Tyler. The event will screen on the Apollo Digital Stage and the ImageNation website.

Cocktails & Sōl Cinema will feature Marshall Tyler’s critically-acclaimed short film Cap, which recently won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short at the 2019 Urban World Film Festival. Inspired by true events, the narrative follows a family after their 15-year-old son brings home a $300 hat, and addresses the intersecting issues of materialism and violence, and their impact on American youth. The series will also screen Nefertite Nguvu’s rarely-seen short film Myself When I Am Real , a powerful work exploring the psychic terrain of two people struggling to rebuild a marriage, shedding light on trauma, depression, and the complexity of human relationships.

A full list of short films featured in the program follows below:

  • 100 Days of Protests, Shawn Batey, Documentary, USA, 2 minutes, 2020
  • Blackout: John Burris Speaks, Terence Nance, Experimental, USA, 2 minutes, 2014
  • Cap, Marshall Tyler, Drama, USA, 16 minutes, 2019
  • Hold On, Christine Turner, Drama, USA, 9 minutes, 2017
  • Lerato, Thati Peele, Drama, South Africa, 12 minutes, 2015
  • Myself When I Am Real, Nefertite Nguvu, Drama, USA, 14 minutes, 2017
  • State of America, Morgan Cooper, Experimental, USA, 3 minutes, 2019
  • Tengo Talento/Dance with Your Heart, Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Documentary, Cuba/USA, 10 minutes, 2017

Apollo Film Presents: ImageNation’s Cocktails & Sōl Cinema features independent films primarily directed by people of color that examine social issues and highlight the humanity of pan-African people in the genres of drama, science fiction, animation, comedy, documentary, and experimental media.

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The series is free to the public, but as a non-profit organization, the Apollo depends on the generous funding from donors, foundations, and the community at-large. Please consider donating to the Apollo Theater in support of these free virtual programs.

To do so, please click https://www.apollotheater.org/donate.

ImageNation Cinema Foundation is an innovative Harlem-based non-profit created to develop cinemas and audiences for independent films and music, that depict the global Black experience. ImageNation’s goal is to empower Black communities by presenting a variety of public programs that foster media equity, media literacy, solidarity, cross-cultural exchange, and highlight the humanity of Pan-African people worldwide.

Led by Moikgantsi Kgama (Founder & Executive Director) and her husband Gregory Gates (Executive Producer), ImageNation has hosted film screenings, live music performances and other cultural events for more than 200,000 people worldwide since its inception in New York City in 1997. In addition to hosting year-round programs at the Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and New York City Parks, ImageNation has presented internationally in South Africa, Scotland, and Canada and domestically at Harvard University, MASS MOCA and in Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Baltimore, MD, and Washington DC. Programs have featured appearances by leading filmmakers such as Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Stanley Nelson, and Ava Duvernay. The group recently launched solcinemacafe.com, a “click and mortar” cinema business.

‘The legendary Apollo Theater—the soul of American culture—plays a vital role in cultivating emerging artists and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.

With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Master Artist-in-Residence Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella ; and the annual Africa Now! Festival.

The non-profit Apollo Theater is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals; large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival; as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.

Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy. For more information about the Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.

The Apollo’s season is made possible by leadership support from Coca-Cola, Citi, Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Arts Access Fund in the New York Community Trust, HBO, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Public support for the Apollo Theater is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

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