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Our blog highlighting Film & TV news from our Global South diasporas, critiqued through our Soleil lens.

Industry

Why We Care: 
The Somalian-Finnish director of ‘Gravediggers Wife’ Khadar Ayderus Ahmed is among the driving voices for this change. From his view, the film’s nearly universal appeal across the globe is a good thing, proving that filming in Africa is a viable investment and a “tangible way to bridge divides between people and to engage with different cultures” (Amen).  So - when the film wasn’t shortlisted for Best International Picture, there were two main thoughts percolating. The first? There still doesn’t seem to be a desire to elevate African stories in the Academy. The second: we all know the Oscars aren’t inclusive, especially for “foreign” cinema, so why should we care what the voters think? For Ahmed, his dream was the FESPACO Award - which he still pinches himself over.

The pushback against the Best International Picture category is happening within the U.S. as well, with critics decrying the category all together, noting that the films, regardless of origin, are “already among the most vibrant, electric and moving films of the year.” But even after crossover wins from 'Parasite,' ‘Flee’ and ‘Drive My Car,' the “centrality of their ‘foreignness’ remains.”

All the more reason to look to the untrodden, underfunded and underrepresented Global South filmmakers for quality storytelling. It breaks us all out of  the outdated categorizations imposed by the West and encourages cross-cultural understanding and inspiration. We wield the potential to change how all of us view our shared histories.

Speaking of Oscar history….‘Bantú Mama,’ directed by Soleil Short Film Saturdays and Spotlight podcast alum Ivan Herrera, was selected by the Dominican Republic for its Best International Picture submission. Cheers to the team! 

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Why We Care: 
On the Western side of the story, the financial success of movies like ‘Black Panther’ are treated with each release like a proof point that diverse (read: diasporic) audiences drive sales and make an unflinching case for more and more on and off-screen representation. Since the first Black Panther, Marvel for one has received the memo. The rest of the U.S. and European markets have been generally slower to recognize the market power of the Global South diasporas despite these earth-shattering premiere weekends. You know our POV though, no one is going to tell the stories of the Global South better than the people who live the cultural intersections, and can make audiences of all cultures feel the nuances and textures that exist all over the world. ‘Black Panther’ is still so needed, so valid, offering the imagination and hope of Afrofuturist ideals - suggesting that a “non-white society could be technologically advanced and be founded upon Afrocentrism rather that Eurocentrism.” As as result, it conveys “a deeper message about the complexity and sophistication of African and Afrodiasporic people as well as the cultures and countries from which they originate.”  Whether it’s money (the Black diaspora boasts a $1.6 Trillion consumer budget) or progress toward the real goal, it’s clear that there’s no excuse or substitute for stories with a non-white or western gaze.

Our feelings about ‘Black Panther’ aside,  the American interpretation of Africa and Afrofuturism often overshadows a prolific, creative and often unsung film industry of its own. According to last year’s UNESCO report, The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth reflects the vitality of African cinema, driven by tech. Nollywood releases 2500 films annually enabled by local production and distribution with an independent economic model. Outside of Nigeria, the promise is astronomical but remains largely undervalued despite the continent’s immense talent

The point of representation is not just so no matter who we are or where we were born, we can still see a superhero who looks like us. By giving audiences the permission to imagine and feel other worlds, both lived and imagined  stories have the power to move an underrepresented or misrepresented people into a position of pride in their heritage and a love for their people and culture.  Everyone deserves their Wakanda Forever.

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Blog: How Long Until We See Any Serious Dedication To The Latin-American Community?

Blog: How Long Until We See Any Serious Dedication To The Latin-American Community?

The latest Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA shows that Latin Americans represent nearly 19% of the U.S. population but only 7.1% of leading acting roles and 7.7% of overall film acting roles. Behind the camera, it’s worse, with Latin Americans accounting for just 5.6% of writers and 7.1% of directors.

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Blog: Step Aside, Bollywood: A New Era For Indian Cinema

Blog: Step Aside, Bollywood: A New Era For Indian Cinema

For a country that eats, sleeps, and speaks movies – and prays in temples when their favorite actor gets sick - Bollywood is nothing short of a religion for Indians. However, the industry is facing some serious backlash. With accusations ranging from nepotism to misrepresentation, India’s

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Blog: Celebrating a Decade of K-Pop's Rise to Global Dominance

Blog: Celebrating a Decade of K-Pop's Rise to Global Dominance

It's hard to believe it’s been a decade since the emergence of the popular Korean song PSY’s Gangnam Style, who taught his trademark horse-riding dance move to everyone from a child in India to then US President Barack Obama. If you had access to a computer, a television, or even just friends

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More Than Pretty Places To Film

More Than Pretty Places To Film

Hollywood tends to flatten the richness and nuance of every ethnic diaspora of color. The Caribbean in particular, though often visited and filmed in, is rarely depicted authentically on-screen, even though North America is one of the largest regions of the Caribbean diaspora.

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This API Month, Stark Reminder of How Far We Are From True Representation

This API Month, Stark Reminder of How Far We Are From True Representation

A new study by USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative found that roughly 40% of all movies failed to depict an Asian character. The report also found there was no Pacific Islander represented in 94.2% of the films, and only 3.4% of the films had an API lead or co-lead.

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Are The Awards Shows Finally Getting Real About Representation?

Are The Awards Shows Finally Getting Real About Representation?

A late awards season is finally over, Hollywood (and the BAFTAs for that matter) showed gradual progress with racial, ethnic and gender inclusion - and CODA, the best picture winner, reminded viewers that disability is also diversity.

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Trapped Under the Ceiling

Trapped Under the Ceiling

The 24th annual "Celluloid Ceiling" report from San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television found just 12% of directors of 2021's top 100 films (US Box Office) were women, down from 16% the year before.

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Sony & EbonyLife First Look

Sony & EbonyLife First Look

Last month, big Hollywood players SONY Pictures made a big financial commitment to content creators from the Global South, with SONY making a First Look deal with EbonyLife, the top Nigerian production company, adding to EbonyLife’s deal with Netflix that was penned last year. The deal calls for all new EbonyLife-controlled

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Disney's Latest Mixes All South-East Asian Cultures

Disney's Latest Mixes All South-East Asian Cultures

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon (pronounced “rye-ah”) is the sole South-East Asian Disney title and most kick-ass Asian original heroine we’ve seen since Mulan.

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To Virtual Or To Physical? Are Film Festivals Changing For The Better?

To Virtual Or To Physical? Are Film Festivals Changing For The Better?

With the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus changing plans, pushing back awards season and stifling optimistic film festivals who had planned to resume their in-person events and screenings, most recently, last week’s Sundance Film Festival, who with extremely short notice, notified patrons it would not be hosting the festival in Park City after all.

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Will The Red Sea Film Festival Usher In a New Era For Saudi Film?

Will The Red Sea Film Festival Usher In a New Era For Saudi Film?

The Red Sea Film Festival is (not technically) the first in Saudi Arabia since the kingdom's ban on cinema was lifted in 2017, but was a historic nonetheless, and presented officially as a moment of change. Brighton 4th (Georgia)  took home the grand prize, and films from all over the region were screened over the first weeks of December.

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Michaela Coel Did So Much More Than Make History at The Emmys

Michaela Coel Did So Much More Than Make History at The Emmys

September means one big thing in Hollywood: The Primetime Emmys. While a record number of women and people of color were nominated, none won any of the acting categories (it took over 2 hours for a person of color to be recognized, when RuPaul Charles won for Drag Race for which RuPaul broke a record). While this is extremely frustrating, Michael Coel and I May Destroy You, nominated for 9, took home only 1 - for best writing.

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Afghanistan's Sahraa Karmi Visits the Venice Film Festival

Afghanistan's Sahraa Karmi Visits the Venice Film Festival

Afghan director Sahraa Karimi, the head of national cinema body Afghan Film, spoke at the Venice Film Festival about the plight of her home country. Karimi is well known at the Venice festival. Her drama Hava, Maryam, Ayesha premiered in 2019 in the Horizons sidebar.

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Cannes Makes Some Inroads in Inclusion

Cannes Makes Some Inroads in Inclusion

Cannes 2021 stepped up its pledge for inclusivity, with Spike Lee becoming the first Black person to head the festival jury.The jury consisted of 5 women and 3 men of 7 nationalities and 5 continents: Mati Diop, France and Senegal; Myléne Farmer, Canada and France; Maggie Gyllenhaal, United States; Jessica Hausner, Austria; Melanie Laurent, France; Kleber Mendonca Filho, Brazil; Tahar Rahim, France; Song Kang-Ho, South Korea. The Palme d’Or went to Julia Duncournau, the second woman ever to receive the prize. The Iranian film tied for Grand Prix awards, "A Hero" by Asghar Farhadi, is a gorgeous and empathic example of a film of the Global South that has earned international recognition.

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Emmy's Break Barriers For Diversity

Emmy's Break Barriers For Diversity

The Emmys took big steps forward in the march for minority representation and acknowledgment in film. Lovecraft Country became the first show to have actors nominated in every eligible acting category. Disney Plus’ “Hamilton” now has the second most nominations in the limited series/TV movie acting categories with seven. MJ Rodriguez made history as the first trans actress to be nominated in any major Emmy category. And a Soleil favorite, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, earned 9 nods.

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Nathalie Emmanuel on Lack of Female Faces in British Film

Nathalie Emmanuel on Lack of Female Faces in British Film

While Speaking to Essence about her latest film F9, Nathalie Emmanuel, whom most audiences will know as Missandei in HBO's Game of Thrones, addressed the discrimination within the British film industry that led many black and mixed-race actors to the United States. She also opened up about the effect her presence now has on girls of color, and her own past feelings.

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Comic Republic to Bring African SuperHeros to the World

Comic Republic to Bring African SuperHeros to the World

Nigeria’s Comic Republic, Africa’s largest publisher of independent comic books, recently signed a production deal with Emagine Content and JackieBoy Entertainment to adapt its catalog of African superheroes for film and TV. The companies’ hope through global distribution is to satisfy a massive worldwide demand for black superheroes on the silver screen, and to craft novel, compelling stories rooted in the awe-inspiring worlds of traditional African mythology, folktales, and culture.

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HollyWood Foreign Press Shares Updated Code of Conduct

HollyWood Foreign Press Shares Updated Code of Conduct

The Hollywood Foreign Press joins other entertainment heavy-hitters in releasing an updated Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, following backlash against the Golden Globes group’s well-documented (and also admitted) lack of diversity. It states a commitment to diversity and inclusion, prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

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From Our Partners

The Soleil Short Film Saturdays x Third Horizon series continues

The Soleil Short Film Saturdays x Third Horizon series continues

The Soleil Short Film Saturday x Third Horizon series continues this November with No Entry from Jamaican filmmaker Kaleb D’Aguilar, set against the backdrop of Great Britain’s Windrush scandal; and Yolanda from Puerto Rican filmmaker Cristian Carretero, about a mother who takes the risk of

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The next Soleil Space x MIME Short Film Saturdays is a must watch!

The next Soleil Space x MIME Short Film Saturdays is a must watch!

Featuring two short films by Sudanese and Russian filmmaker Suzannah Mirghani, followed by a cool Q & A, the program will stream this Saturday, Sept. 17th at 12 PM EST on YouTube!

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What’s Happening Across the Region at Caribbean Beat Magazine

What’s Happening Across the Region at Caribbean Beat Magazine

Three, two, one — action! In Toronto, don’t miss the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (7–23 September) and the Toronto International Film Festival (8–18 September), before heading to the trinidad+tobago film festival (22–28 September), and Grenada’s 1261 Film Festival

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MENA titles in the running for the European Film Awards

MENA titles in the running for the European Film Awards

Among them, the Iranian serial killer story 'Holy Spider', Palestinian helmer Maha Haj's 'Mediterranean Fever' and Tarik Saleh's 'Boy from Heaven'.

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“I was designed for that moment because of where I came from

“I was designed for that moment because of where I came from"

Trinidad-born Mishael Morgan on making Daytime Emmy history; living with purpose; and the power of storytelling — as told to Caroline Taylor

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Why You Need To Watch The Upcoming Soleil Space Short Film Saturday

Why You Need To Watch The Upcoming Soleil Space Short Film Saturday

Once again, we have partnered with Soleil Space to bring two phenomenal women filmmakers to their Short Film Saturday series. Soleil Space is a media company based in Brooklyn, NY that centers and lifts the film and television creative communities of color around the world.

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Amir El-Masry joins 'The Crown'

Amir El-Masry joins 'The Crown'

The rising star British-Egyptian actor has been cast to play a young Mohamed al-Fayed, the billionaire, ex-owner of London's Harrods and father of Princess Diana’s lover Dodi

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When Images Speak: Backstory

When Images Speak: Backstory

For sibling filmmakers Audrey and Maxime Jean-Baptiste, their family history in French Guiana and historic image archives were equally important sources for their latest film project. Jonathan Ali learns more

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Global South Snippets

‘RRR’ Song ‘Naatu Naatu’ Beats Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Lady Gaga to Win Golden Globe

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Critics Choice Awards: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Wins Best Picture

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Michelle Yeoh Tells Golden Globes to ‘Shut Up’ After Trying to Cut Her Speech Short: ‘I Can Beat You...

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Ajith Kumar, Dhanush, Karthi, Vikram Headline 18-Strong Netflix Tamil Cinema Slate

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China Makes First Korean Film Available to Stream in Six Years

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Pakistan's 'Joyland' can still qualify for Oscars, despite country's ban

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Americans are Watching More International TV than Ever

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Algerian Film Industry Calls for Action over Canceled Film Fund

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Iranian Drama Takes Top Prize at Marrakech Film Festival

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France Selects Film from Black Director for Oscar Submission

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Ghana to host African cinema convention in bid to boost screens across continent

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Myanmar’s ‘Future Laobans’ wins top Busan Award at Asian Project Market Busan Festival Overview

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‘Silents Twins’ stars the talk about the importance of mental health for Black Youth

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'Woman King’ shedding light on Africa's role in the slave trade

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Freeform's 'The Come Up' Cast Being The First Reality Show On The Network And Showcasing Diverse Success

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Ava DuVernay’s Array Acquires Dominican Republic’s Oscar Entry ‘Bantú Mama’ From Director Ivan...

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Lee Jung-jae Squid Game star makes history at the Emmys

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Latinx community still struggling with the ‘Brownface’ phenomenon in Hollywood

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J Dilla Doc in the Works from Questlove, ‘Summer of Soul’ Producer Joseph Patel (Exclusive)

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‘RRR’ Team Reacts to India Not Selecting It for Oscars, Urges Academy to Vote for It in Other Categories

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Quinta Brunson Becomes the First Black Woman to Receive Three Comedy Emmy Noms With ‘Abbott Elementary’

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Emmys: Sheryl Lee Ralph, ‘Abbott Elementary’ Dominate Twitter

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Lee Jung-Jae Makes History With Emmy Win for ‘Squid Game’

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Success of ‘The Cleaning Lady” TV series sheds light on the lack of representation of the AAPI

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Easter Sunday: A love letter to the Filipino community

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A celebrity suicide or murder? People in India are still looking for answers

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Saint Lucian & Caribbean filmmaker Michelle Serieux wins big at Locarno Film Festival

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Actor, writer Curtis Lum using artistic platforms to break barriers for Asian community

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Behind the Fight to Save Afghan Film and TV Workers

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A Lens into Ladj Ly's Free School for Aspiring African Filmmakers

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The 10 Best African LGBT+ Films to Watch

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NYC Asian FF Announces Titles For 20th Anniversary Edition

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Bucheon International Film Festival Reveals 2022 Lineup

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Ketan Mehta Set to Direct Adaptation of Rudyard Kipling ‘Kim’

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85 Stories That Inspire With AAPI And Asian Storytellers

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Cannes witnesses Iran like never before

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‘RRR’ becomes third biggest Indian film ever

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Soleil Selects

Each month we share our content recommendations from around the Global South diasporas!

Soleil Selects: Lao Shi (Old Stone)

Nace’s Take: A quiet drama that preys on our expectation for good things to happen to good people, the villain in Lao Shi is a universally hated one: red tape. It’s eye opening to see how something we all hate affects our lives differently in different parts of the world.

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Soleil Selects: Rojo (Argentina)

Written and directed by Benjamín Naishtat, Rojo is a story of intense interpersonal conflict and repercussions. This arthouse black satire takes place in pre-coup d'etat Argentina. A successful and well-respected lawyer murders a stranger after a verbal altercation in a restaurant one night. He hides the body, but months later, a detective arrives in the town to investigate the stranger’s disappearance. There is a dark humor to Rojo that is best demonstrated during its tensest moments. It makes you say, “Oh, that just happened.” Rojo may be classified as a slow-burn artistic type of thriller.

Soleil Selects: Major

Major' is a biographical action film directed by Sashi Kiran Tikka, which took Indian audiences back to the dreaded 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It is a Malayalam language film inspired by the life of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was martyred in the 2008 city-wide attacks in Mumbai. 'Major' is a heart-wrenching true story that will take you closer to the brutality of the terrorists that took the entire country by shock and the plight of the hostages at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, who didn't know if they or their families would step out alive from the famed hotel.

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Soleil Selects: Asian Americans

The PBS series Asian Americans is produced by Grace Lee (former Spotlight guest!)and lensed by frequent collaborator Jerry Henry. This one has been on my must-watch list since its debut in 2020 but now more than ever I feel even more compelled to watch so that I can start to better understand the past, present, and future of this vast group of Americans.  

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Soleil Selects: Yellow Cat

Yellow Cat is very awkward-funny in a way rather different from western films. This film is super dark but also with a magical sense of optimism. It’s an experience, for sure. I think comedy films are one of the best ways to gain insight into the mindset of a different group of people. What’s funny in Kazakhstan? Watch Yellow Cat to find out!

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Soleil Selects: Ordinary People

Ordinary People is an eye opening, poignant story that invokes a sense of helplessness in the viewer mirroring the way the protagonist feels in the face of immeasurable heartache. I can not recommend this movie enough.

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Soleil Selects: Au nom du Christ Côte d'Ivoire

Au nom du Christ is an Ivorian satirical comedy/drama directed by Roger Gnoan M'Bala. Written by Jean-Marie Adiaffi, Bertin Akaffou, and Roger Gnoan M'Bala, this French language film from 1993 won Best Film at the FESPACO Film Festival that year.

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