The tenth Annual Chicago African Diaspora International Film Festival runs Friday, June 15, through Thursday, June 21, at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-4114. Tickets are $9 ($15 for the opening-night program). Following are selected programs; for a full schedule see facets.org.
Abdias do Nascimento The subject of this 2011 Brazilian documentary was an early demonstrator for Afro-Brazilian civil rights, the founder of the enormously influential Black Experimental Theater (in the 40s), a professor at many prominent American universities (including Wesleyan and Yale), a senator, and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Nascimento died in 2011, shortly after the completion of this documentary, and director Aída Marques has some terrific interviews with him, conducted just prior to his death. But an overreliance on recent footage (much of which consists of other Brazilians’ obsequious flattery), uneven pacing, and an oddly somber repeating piano motif lessens the power of Nascimento’s biography. —Tal Rosenberg 95 min. Mon 6/18, 8:30 PM
The First Rasta Reggae musician Bob Marley is probably most Americans’ link to Rastafarianism; Leonard Percival Howell, founder of the Jamaican nationalist movement, remains largely unknown, yet this documentary by Hélène Lee, author of a French biography, and codirector Christophe Farnarier seems designed to enshroud Howell in myth. As a teen in the early 20th century, he went to sea, meeting other penniless adventurers and absorbing influences from Marxism to Harlem jazz; returning to Jamaica in the early 1930s, he spread an anticolonialist, messianic populism based on his veneration of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, while advocating ganja for spiritual elevation. Scarcity of archival records may be partly to blame for the sketchy portrait, which draws heavily on contemporary interviews with stoned elderly followers. —Andrea Gronvall 90 min. Tue 6/19, 6:30 PM