While the world sneers on the Oscars for trolling on People of Colour, Africans and African-Americans continuously use their skills to paint the global film industry in Afro-Excellence.
The Sundance Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards) sang of our excellence in film making and acting with our people making historical accomplishments .
We begin with Nate Parker. The Director, co-Producer and starring actor of the 2016 film The Birth of a Nation; A biographical film about African-American slave Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. Competing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Birth of a Nation” received raves reviews and even more rigorous bidding. The end result being worldwide rights purchased by Fox SearchLight Pictures for $ 17.5 Million – the largest deal ever made in the history of Sundance Film Festival. Interestingly, it bears a similar name to a 1955 film about Ku Klux Klan, meant to evoke fear and white domination through filmed propaganda. Nat Turner certainly re-appropriated the name to fit a historical event which builds the black consciousness society.
A film similar to Nat Parkers production also scored international recognition. Beast of No Nation starring Idris Alba and 14-year-old Abraham Attah is a film is based on of a book written by Nigeria’s Uzodinma Iweala that too was inspired by Fela Kuti’s 1989 album that bears the same name. This production is about a young lad surviving through horrific war in a nation and was screened in the main competition section of 2015 Venice International Film Festival. Noticing outstanding talent for the first time teenage actor, the festival awarded Abraham Attah with the highest ranking award; Marcello Mastroianni Award for the Best young Actor. The film also garnered leading actor Idris Alba SAG’s Outstanding Performance by Male Actor.
The SAG Awards didn’t only notice the talents of those in film, but women who have anchored roles that have us religiously watching their shows as part of our weekly routines. Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba and Queen Latifah were women of note at the awards, with Davis scoring the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for a second time in a row, for her role as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder. Uzo Aduba won the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series as Susanne Crazy Eyes Warren in Orange is the New Black and Queen Latifah nabbed the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her role in the miniseries Bessie, where she plays leading character Bessie Smith.
Coming at a time of black history month, we should also celebrate the Afro-Excellence of our actors as the pave their achievements that will definitely be inscribed in our history books.