For ages, inside and outside fan circles, the stereotype was that Africans and Indigenous people don’t like science fiction. That’s a bizarre myth. After all, because both science fiction and fantasy offer the spirit and the intellect the chance to remake the world. For peoples who remember the historical destruction of their own worlds and live under oppression, escape stories offer indispensable hope—the dream that deliverance is possible. And when they offer the intellect the means to plan utopia, or at least a new-topia, they’re even more powerful.
That yearning helps explain the extraordinary success of Black Panther, and the promise offered by award-winning science fiction filmmakers such as my guest today, Danis Goulet. She’s a Cree-Metis filmmaker from LaRonge, Saskatchewan. She’s an alumna of the National Screen Institute's Drama Prize Program in Canada and the TIFF Talent lab. Her social realist and science fiction films and virtual reality work have gone to the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and imagineNATIVE. Her VR includes The Hunt, and her films include the dramas Barefoot and Wapawekka, and the post-apocalyptic Wakening. That stunning 2013 short film imagines a future Toronto crushed under an unknown hypertechnological occupation. And engaging their ancient conflict at doomsday are two titans of Cree mythology: Weesagichak, the genderless shapeshifter from the stars, and Weetigo, the ruthless cannibal spirit of insatiable hunger.
On March 15, 2018, Danis Goulet spoke with me by Skype from her home in Toronto. We discussed:
Brown Girl in the Ring is Nalo Hopkinson’s 1998 breakthrough novel that revitalised Africentric science fiction and fantasy. It’s the story of Ti-Jeanne, a medic and traditional healer in a near-future failed state Toronto. Ti-Jeanne can see through time, and she needs that power to survive the criminal despotism of Rudy, who runs the ruined city from his castle in the sky, the top of the CN Tower.
Ti-Jeanne comes to understand the source of her vision, as embodied in what some Caribbean people call Carnival Spirits, but are actually the gods of the Ilé Ifé religion of the Yoruba kingdom sprawling Nigeria, Togo, and Benin. Those deities dwell across the Western Hemisphere in the religions of Santeria in Cuba, Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, and Voudou in Haiti. That family of faiths encompasses 50 million adherents, making it larger than the combined Sikh, Jewish, and Bahá’í populations of the world.
Now Brown Girl in the Ring is coming to the screen in the form of Brown Girl in the Ring: The Prequel. That’s the indie film currently in pre-production as helmed by writer, director, and actor Sharon Lewis. Lewis may be best known to Canadians as host of CBC Newsworld’s Counter Spin, and as the mysterious DJ in Clement Virgo’s film Rude. She’s directed numerous episodes of television and the feature films Ritch, Chains, and Income Property.
But for Brown Girl in the Ring: The Prequel to get produced, it still needs money, and that’s why Lewis has turned to crowd-funding. This podcast goes live on Friday, July 17 2015. You have until tomorrow to donate through Indie Gogo. To get this movie made, visit http://browngirlinthering.ca.
In this episode, Sharon Lewis talks about her plans for the prequel she’s written and that she’ll direct, and also:
Sharon Lewis spoke with me by Skype from her home in Toronto on July 14, 2015. You’ll hear some noise throughout our conversation which is either someone cleaning or cats using a litter box.
Along the way we discuss the Tumblr account Every Single Word which is a web series featuring Hollywood movies edited down to only the lines spoken by coloured actors. The result is 2-hour films shortened to two minutes, or twenty seconds, or sometimes zero seconds.
Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi is a maverick filmmaker of documentaries and features presenting the heartbeat of a national liberation struggle and a people’s path to democracy.
Born in 1962 in Ash-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, Rashid Masharawi is the director of several documentaries and fiction films, including Love Season, Makloubeh, Haifa, Behind the Walls, Tension, Rabab, and Curfew.
He is also the winner of many international prizes, including the UNESCO Award at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. That year, Masharawi founded the Cinema Production Centre in Ramallah, West Bank, which aims to improve and develop the Palestinian movie industry by encouraging and training young Palestinian movie-makers. An innovative artist, Masharawi created the Mobile Cinema which has allowed thousands of children to enjoy local and international films.
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For more information on Rashid Masharawi, visit mfgalaxy.org
Film and television director Ernest Dickerson is best known for feature films such as Juice, which he also wrote, and which launched the acting career of Tupac Shakur; Surviving the Game, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Bulletproof, Bones, and Never Die Alone.
In addition to having directed eleven episodes of the smash hit The Walking Dead, Dickerson has helmed episodes of Sleepy Hollow, Dexter, Stargate Universe, The Vampire Diaries, The Wire, Heroes, andThe L Word, among many others.
Dickerson rose to fame initially as a cinematographer and is widely regarded as one of the best ever, especially for his work on features including The Brother from Another Planet, Krush Groove, She's Gotta Have It, Eddie Murphy: Raw, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, andMalcolm X.
In this episode of MF GALAXY, part 2 of our conversation, Dickerson explains:
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This episode of MF GALAXY is brought to you by BOB THE ANGRY FLOWER. It’s a comic strip about friendship, egomania, cosmology, and a really angry flower named Bob.
Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and director of The Avengers says about Bob, “It’s intensely funny. I’ve been laughing like a supervillain for days.”
To get Bob the Angry Flower any of the great collected editions or great Bob swag, visit AngryFlower.com.
Film and television director Ernest Dickerson initially achieved fame as a celebrated cinematographer, photographing feature films including The Brother from Another Planet, Krush Groove, She's Gotta Have It, Eddie Murphy: Raw, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Malcolm X.
In 1992, Dickerson made the jump to directing his own feature films, including Juice, which he also wrote, and which launched the acting career of Tupac Shakur; Surviving the Game with Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, and F. Murray Abraham, Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight with Jada Pinkett and Billy Zane, Bulletproof with Damon Wayans and Adam Sandler, Bones, with Pam Grier and Snoop Dogg, and Never Die Alone with DMX and David Arquette.
In addition to having directed eleven episodes of the smash hit The Walking Dead, Dickerson has helmed episodes of Under the Dome, Revolution, Treme, Sleepy Hollow, Dexter, Low Winter Sun, Stargate Universe, The Vampire Diaries, Law & Order, Medium, The Wire, Weeds, ER, Heroes, The L Word, and Third Watch, among many others.
In part one of our conversation, Dickerson discusses