STEAMPUNK, SUPERHEROES & SOFT SCI-FI:
Kickass Women Warriors, African Superheroes & A Mystical Box Take Atlanta by Storm this August!
Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steampunk fans; fans of independent films; and fans of Black cinema, take note: The State of Black Science Fiction authors’ collective and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture has a festival just for you.
On Saturday, August 4, 2012, the Auburn Avenue Research Library will be host to the State of Black Science Fiction Film Festival (for more on the festival, check out http://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/05/31/adapting-stories-into-screenplays-and-a-brief-history-of-the-first-steamfunk-movie-video/ and http://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/06/27/harriet-tubman-honest-abe-and-thomas-alva-edison-movies-and-the-age-of-steam/).
This festival is screening four amazing short films:
1. Afro-Man & the Protectors of the Book of Knowledge by Kofi Michael Johnson
In this animated masterpiece, Afro-Man and The Protectors of the Book of Knowledge unite to combat the diabolical Ultra-Igno, who plans to dominate the world by means of bringing in to existence the New World Order of Ignorance.
2. The Becoming Box by Monique Walton
A Science Fiction short film that follows a family of three siblings, who must deal with the mysterious appearance of a portal in their backyard, following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the vein of Octavia Butler, the Becoming Box deals with recovery, rebirth, and reinvention.
3. Rite of Passage: Initiation by Balogun Ojetade; based on a story by Milton Davis
In this Steampunk short film, Freedom fighter, Dorothy, must overcome hardship – and survive a brutal battle with her iron-fisted mentor, Harriet Tubman – in order to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
4. A Single Link by Balogun Ojetade
After suffering a brutal rape at the hands of a martial arts champion, Remi Fasina decides to gain closure and empowerment by fighting her attacker in the first professional fight between a man and a woman.
Join Remi in her powerful and touching journey as she grows to fight, not just for herself, but for all women and girls who have suffered abuse at someone’s cruel hands.
Do not miss the world premiere of this magnificent film!
Two of the filmmakers and one actress, who is a star of two of the films being screened, were kind enough to provide this author with insight into their Blacknificent film projects. I would now like to share their thoughts.
KOFI MICHAEL JOHNSON
Kofi Michael Johnson – a native of Rochester, New York – has worked extensively in the multimedia field for over 10 years. His love for visual art was developed during his studies at the famed School of the Arts High School, based in Rochester, New York; The Art Institute of Atlanta; and Westwood College, as an animation major.
Kofi was one of the first to produce and self publish a comic book that features an African-American super hero, even going on to produce a special series in conjunction with the American Cancer Society to promote non-tobacco use among the urban youth.
Kofi has been featured in several newspapers and magazines, including About Time, Rochester Magazine, Reality Magazine, The Sentinel, The Democrat & Chronicle, City Paper, and Creative Loafing.
To his credit, Kofi has directed 10 music videos, including two filmed in Africa. He has also worked as a story board artist, comic book illustrator, camera operator, and video editor.
Finally, Kofi is the founder of Afrikom Media Group and Afro-Man Kids Space, a positive social network targeting youth of African descent.
What is Afro-Man and the Protectors of the Book of Knowledge about?
Afro-Man & The Protectors chronicles the stories of a young band of super powered teens who were given the task of protecting the book of knowledge – a mystical book that holds all ancestral knowledge. Many want this book, especially Ultra-Igno, for if they do get their hands on it they will have the power to rule the world. Kofi – aka Afro-Man – recruits his friends, who make up The Protectors.
What is your role in the making of the series and how did you become a part of this project?
I created Afro-Man back in high school. I started with T-shirts, hats, and water bottles. From there, I started circulating my very first black and white issue (comic book). Since then, we have grown to what you see today.
What were your experiences in the creation of Afro-Man and the Protectors of the Book of Knowledge?
The experience has been great. The children really appreciate a super hero that reflects them. This was a void in my life as well. I grew up with a love of comic books and cartoons but I was left hanging because there were never any characters that look like me. The appreciation of the children is the only thing that keeps me going.
What upcoming film projects or animated series are you planning?
We have the 3rd episode coming in the fall, plus we are now looking for child-friendly content to broadcast on our website: www.afromankidsspace.com .
What advice can you give to someone who also wants to make an independent film or animated series?
My advice is to never give up; be receptive to advice, but at the end of the day, rely on your own opinion; not all advice is good advice. Also stay true to your brand; don’t be swayed from who you are.
Milton Davis is a chemist by day and a writer/publisher by night and on the weekends. He writes and publishes uplifting science fiction and fantasy stories from an African-American perspective because he feels that there is a lack of positive black characters in the speculative fiction market.
Milton is the author of five novels:Meji Book One, Meji Book Two,Changa’s Safari Vol. 1, Changa’s Safari Vol. 2 and Griots: A Sword & Soul Anthology, for which he is a contributing editor, along with sword and sorcery living legend – and founder of the fantasy subgenre, Sword and Soul – Charles R. Saunders.
All of Milton’s works are self-published through his company, MVmedia, LLC: http://www.mvmediaatl.com/.
What is Rite of Passage: Initiation about?
Rite of Passage: Initiation is an excerpt from a larger project, Rite of Passage.
What is your role in the making of the film and how did you become a part of this project?
I wrote the original story on which Rite of Passage is based. Balogun Ojetade read the story and loved it, so he decided to take it on as a movie project. He adapted the storyline to his love of Harriet Tubman and changed the lead character from a man to a woman by the name of Dorothy. Balogun and I are working together promoting the project and securing funding for it.
What were your experiences in the creation of Rite of Passage: Initiation?
What upcoming film projects are you planning?
Right now, Rite of Passage is the only project on my horizon. I hope to be involved with many more in the future, at least from a storyline standpoint.
What advice can you give to someone who also wants to make an independent film?
I can’t give much advice since I don’t have a lot of experience. The best advice I can give is to have fun. In the end that’s what it’s all about.
Iyalogun-Osun Ojetade is a photographer by profession and works part-time as an actress and stunt-person in action and martial arts films. She has had supporting roles in the independent films Black Panther: Blood Ties and Reynolds’ War; and has lead roles in the films Rite of Passage: Initiation and A Single Link, which she also co-produced.
Iyalogun-Osun is a martial arts expert, an initiated traditional African priest and a Doula, who assists mid-wives and mothers through the birthing process and post-natal care.
Iyalogun-Osun can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/iyalogun.osun.
You are the star in two of the films screening at the State of Black Science Fiction Film Festival – Rite of Passage: Initiation and A Single Link. What are these films about?
Rite of Passage: Initiation is about Harriet Tubman and her student, Dorothy, who one day will become the recipient of incredible power. Rite of Passage: Initiation is an introduction to Rite of Passage, a film that we intend to be the pilot for an ongoing television series. It will be the first Steamfunk series on television and Rite of Passage: Initiation will be the first Steamfunk film ever made.
A Single Link is a martial arts drama about a woman who is raped by a man who becomes lightweight champion of the world in mixed martial arts fighting. For closure and empowerment, Remi wants to fight him. She strives to become the first woman to fight a man professionally while keeping her family together through trying times. Remi becomes a symbol for the downtrodden and the oppressed as her fight becomes public.
What is your role in the making of these films and how did you become a part of these projects?
I play Harriet Tubman in Rite of Passage: Initiation. When I heard that my husband, Balogun Ojetade – the writer and director of the film – was casting, I told him that I wanted the role. Knowing that I could pull it off after proving myself during the shooting of A Single Link, he gave me the role.
With A Single Link, I was already one of the producers of the film. After reading the script, I decided that I wanted to play the lead role of Remi Fasina. Knowing that the role would require shooting hours of grueling fight scene footage, my husband – the writer and director – promised he would give me the role if I worked out every day for twelve weeks. If I missed a day, he would cast someone else. I agreed to his terms and won the role. There was obviously a method to his madness because one day, I had to shoot five fight scenes back-to-back in one-hundred degree temperature in a sweaty, musty boxing gym. Had I not been training, I probably would have passed out or suffered a heat-stroke.
What were your experiences in the creation of Rite of Passage: Initiation and A Single Link?
My experiences on both films were great. The cast and crew on both films were professional, motivated, dedicated to the project and highly creative. The crew has been working together for quite some time, which makes the shoots run smoothly and everyone – with the exception of Associate Producer and Assistant to the Director, Danny “Akin” Donaldson, who keeps us on schedule – is a comedian, so we laugh a lot during breaks and when someone flubs a line. A relaxed set gets better results.
What upcoming film projects are you planning?
I am always seeking to audition for roles that show women of African-descent in a positive light. As I stated earlier, we also plan to shoot a pilot and several episodes of Rite of Passage. Finally, I am trying to convince my husband to make a Nollywood film. I believe we can raise the standard of films coming out of Africa and I have many contacts there that can help facilitate this process.
What advice can you give to someone who also wants to act in, or produce, an independent film?
Do it! Don’t be a dreamer, be a visionary. Dreamers are asleep; visionaries are awake. Focus on your vision and then bring that vision into fruition through hard work, patience and a never give up attitude.
Another highlight of the State of Black Science Fiction Film Festival is the Art at War: Countering Negative Images of Blacks in the Media panel. Moderated by internationally renowned activist and artist, Kalonji Jama Changa and featuring a panel of powerhouses in film, radio, television and fashion, this panel promises to be an unforgettable experience for all!
Be sure to join us August 4th at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture for this unique, exciting and inspiring film festival wherein the state of Black speculative fiction and Black independent film will be forever elevated beyond your wildest imagination!
Kickass Warrior Women? African Superheroes? A mysterious magic box washed ashore by Hurricane Katrina? The state of Black speculative fiction and Black independent film is about to be forever elevated beyond our wildest imaginations. Atlanta will never be the same!