Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Breathtaking Range of Films & Events Make Seventh Annual
SFBFF a Sure Bet

The festival rolls out the red carpet for Regina King, Michael Schultz, Isaiah Washington Kristoff St. John and Taraji P. Henson

San Francisco, CA - May 5, 2005 - The San Francisco Black Film Festival leaps into action June 8 through 12th, with a dazzling array of films and exciting special events. Now in its seventh season, the SFBFF is more diverse than ever, moving easily from retro to urban, global to gala. Showcasing the work of emerging as well as established filmmakers, the San Francisco Black Film Festival is an important forum for independent production and draws a vibrant mix of industry executives, starving artists, celebrities and film buffs. Attendees can go behind the scenes at a workshop, create a scene at a party or simply slip into a screening room.

With an amazing range that runs from Paul Robeson to Urban Culture, SFBFF screenings bring out the film fan in everyone. Travel the world by proxy, crossing five continents in five days as the SFBFF presents sixty films from the United States, Cuba, Canada, Denmark, Brazil and Africa. Throughout the week, an impressive number of World premieres will make their debut, with feature-length unveilings for “High School Ripped Me A New One” Cameron Washington’s hilarious feature about two high school losers who become popular overnight when they find a stash of misplaced mafia money, and the morality tale “Home Invasion”, in which professional house burglar Cody Black finds the tables turned when a group of men invade his home, holding Cody and his girlfriend hostage.


Five days of cinematic celebration rockets off to a start with the Opening Night Gala on Wednesday June 8 at Japantown’s AMC Kabuki 8 Theater. Prefaced by a 6:00 p.m. reception, the Opening Night film program begins at 7:00pm with the with the U.S. premiere of John L”Ecuyer’s “On the Verge of a Fever,” set in 1971 Haiti, the story of FanFan, a courteous fifteen year old with an over-protective mother who’s dying to get out of the house and experience life. But his desire to please his mother and the veil of a brutal dictatorship keep him on the straight and narrow. When a streetwise friend finally draws him out, he begins his life in earnest and sets off on a roller coaster of fantasy and fear.

Thursday night’s highlight is the imaginative “Just for Kicks”, a documentary exploring the historic evolution of the sneaker in engrossing detail, tracing its rise over the last two decades sneakers as a global cultural and style phenomenon. The documentary treats viewers to an entertaining refresher course on the hottest sneakers-of-the-moment of the past 20 years and features interviews with Grandmaster Caz, Bill Adler, Fab Five Freddy, and breakdancing pioneers the Rock Steady Crew.

Friday night at the stroke of seven marks the launch of a unique collaboration as the SFBFF presents a FREE Paul Robeson Mini-Festival at the African American Art and Culture Complex. This festival-inside-the-festival runs Friday evening and all day Saturday, an intense retrospective of Round-the-clock-Robeson. The program features rare gems like The Emperor (1933), which moved beyond the artistic realm to become a piece of history. Eugene O’Neill chose Paul Robeson to play the lead in this powerful screen version of his critically acclaimed play, a decision that paved the way for more multidimensional screen roles for African Americans. In a magnificent performance hailed by many critics as the greatest of his career, Robeson portrays Brutus Jones, a fugitive Pullman porter who jumps ship and becomes the cruel, despotic emperor of a Caribbean island. A full slate of films continues at the Eureka Theater on Friday with a program of student shorts and an astounding group of documentaries, features and shorts.

Regina King
Michael Schultz
Kristoff St. John
Isaiah Washington
Taraji P. Henson
Movies and more....

Fledgling filmmakers and aspiring screenwriters can sharpen their skills at the SFBFF workshops at KGO-TV on Saturday, June 11. Become an industry insider for the day and join Channel 7 writers, producers and directors as they host three workshops brimming with insight, experience and advice. Get screenwriting, script-pitching and agent-finding tips in "More than a Writing Workshop: Working industry writers and producers give sound advice on how to turn your ideas from images in your head to images on the screen, " from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Discover the keys to industry longevity in "How to Stay Alive in Hollywood" (1:30 p.m.) and explore behind- the- scenes cinema careers in “Pieces to the Puzzle: A Closer Look into Roles of Filmmaking" at 2:30 p.m.


Music, culture and cinema coalesce in the Urban Culture Screenings on Saturday, June 11 from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm at Baycat. This series of films about Hip Hop (poetry of the streets) and Urban Culture is hosted by Adisa Banjoko, a journalist whose work has appeared in The Source, The Harvard Hip Hop Archive, XXL, Vibe, Grappling, Yoga Journal, Daveyd.com, Rapstation.com, Pacific News Service, and Allhiphop.com. Under the pen name “The Bishop of Hip Hop,” he enlightens and entertains on a range of topics including Hip Hop culture, eastern philosophy, martial arts, Islamic culture and African American social issues. Films range from “The MC 2: How We Do It”, in which the world’s hottest MC’s show you how to freestyle, write, holding a mic and deal with the trials of touring, to “Hip Hop Colony”, which journeys through the heart of East Africa to Kenya for an intimate look at African Hip Hop.

Sunday morning starts with a pop at the 10am Champagne and Cinema event at the Jewish Community Center (JCCSF), 3200 California Street in San Francisco. The champagne reception serves as entrée for the annual Melvin Van Peebles Awards Ceremony. Special guest presenter KRISTOFF ST. JOHN, the Emmy® Award-winning actor best recognized from his role as heartthrob “Neil Winters” on daytime drama THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS, will be on hand to deliver the Melvin Van Peebles Maverick Award to a rising filmmaker with unique vision and uncompromising point of view. Additional wattage will be provided by Trailblazer Award winner Regina King, who drew rave reviews for her scorching performance as Ray Charles’ mistress Margie Hendricks in the film Ray. Making her television debut in the hit sitcom 227, King made the leap to the silver screen in John Singleton’s powerful directorial debut, Boys N the Hood. King would collaborate with Singleton again in Poetic Justice and Higher Learning. Many film roles followed, but the turning point in her career came in 1997 with her memorable role as Cuba Gooding Junior’s wife Marci in the blockbuster film Jerry Maguire.

The awards ceremony peaks with the Pioneer Award presentation to this year’s winner, Michael Schultz, a prolific director whose film; television and theatre career spans four decades and achievements in every medium. As a director in the American theatre he was a founding member of the world famous NEC (Negro Ensemble Company,) an off-Broadway theater that gave the world two Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights and countless actors of quality. His first off-Broadway play earned him an OBIE Award for best director; his first Broadway play, “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie,” earned him a Tony Award nomination and a Tony Award for its star, Al Pacino. As a feature filmmaker, Schultz is best known for his ‘70’s classics COOLEY HIGH, CAR WASH, SGT.PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, THE LAST DRAGON and KRUSH GROOVE, winning two awards for CAR WASH at the ’77 Cannes Film Festival and inspiring countless young urban filmmakers with each film. In the ‘80’s, he extended his range to television, earning episodic credits for “Picket Fences”, “The Practice”, “Boston Public”, “Ally McBeal”, “Touched By An Angel”, “JAG” and his current stint as director and producer of the WB’s “Everwood.”

The festival wraps on Sunday, June 12, with Kevin Epps’ “The Black Rock” providing lift-off. Brief but powerful, this six-minute short presents a new vision of feared federal penitentiary Alcatraz, as seen through the eyes of infamous black gangster Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson and William Martin, a Black prisoner at Alcatraz who successfully escaped from the confines of the Rock. Making its West Coast premiere, “Bastards of the Party” produced by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and first time director, Cle Sloan tells a different tale from the dark side as it traces the roots of five decades of gang violence in Southern California. The title refers to the notorious Los Angeles street gangs the Crips and the Bloods, so-called bastard children of the radical 60s Black Panther Party. Interviews with L.A. historian and “City of Quartz” author Mike Davis fill in the historical blanks about how innocent social clubs and behaviors of the law enforcement set in motion the staggering dance of death between police and blacks that would come to haunt future generations.

Schedule Highlights

It is A full festival schedule with descriptions is available online at www.sfbff.org , but here’s a sample…

West Coast premiere features cover the spectrum from “Au Pair Chocolat”, which follows a hip hop Mary Poppins from Harlem to her new job as an Au Pair for a wealthy Black family on posh Martha’s Vineyard, to “Love Trap” an exploration of the nature of love and friendship and what happens when both are betrayed, to “Dinner With An Assassin”, the story of a young assassin who falls for a mysterious woman and finds himself caught between love and death.

The “shorts” category is long on variety, with World Premiere showings like ”# 1” , the story of a struggling locksmith tempted to transfer his skills to crime in order to help his family; “Heart Song”, where his wedding day finds jazz trumpeter Rembrandt James torn between his future wife and his former lover, who happens to be his best man; “Orange Bow”, inspired by a true story, which follows a Brooklyn teen as he navigates through seemingly mundane obstacles on his way to a neighborhood birthday party; “Stoffelina”, an animated short from Africa based on the fairy tale ”Cinderella”, and "Oxtails" a comedy about Santeria spells known as "Roots", added to a man’s food to trap him into commitment or to punish him. Redefining the adage “the way to a man's heart is through his stomach,” the film introduces us to Xavier, who keeps avoiding his girlfriend's food for fear she will put ”roots” on him.

Films in the documentary category provide surprises at every turn and a record number of World Premieres, with selections like “Grannies on Safari”, two middle-aged African American women who have shared countless escapades in their travels to more than 80 countries over the last three decades. These real-life best friends are the hosts of a pioneering new television series "Grannies on Safari TM," which follows them on their travels and brings viewers along for the ride; “The Swenkas”, a riveting documentary about the Johannesburg South African men who call themselves “Swenkas”, following as they compete for cash and prizes in an event that’s part fashion show, part choreography, and part moral code; “Heart of A Champion”, an intense look at three-time undisputed Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion Roy Jones, Jr. as he trains for his rematch bout with hungry challenger Antonio Tarver; “Donnie’s Story”, the unique profile of Donald Goines, pimp, hustler, gangster and author of sixteen books. His publications Dopefiend, Whoreson & Blackgirl were inspired by his true-life experiences and made him America’s # 1 best-selling Black author of all time; “The Buckle Brothers”, the tale of four young adults from the streets of South Central L.A. and Compton who have found a different kind of hope in the form of the cowboy lifestyle and blended it with urban hip-hop culture, and “The Cage”, which throws us inside the famous street ball court at West 4th and 6th Avenue in Manhattan and into the lives of three people who call the fenced-in court their home . Music lovers will groove to “ Press On” is the story of pedal steel phenomenon Robert Randolph and the spiritual tradition in which he was raised. The films follows Robert as he takes his unique “sacred steel” music out of the church and into the mainstream and “Raise Your Voice,”a feature-length documentary about Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning, African American female a cappella vocal ensemble. Founded by activist/singer Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973, probably no other ensemble has so successfully distilled the essence of the musical legacy of Africans in America.

Venues for SFBFF events are as follows: opening night at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theater, 1881 Post Street, film screenings at the Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson Street, Urban Culture Screenings at BAYCAT, 2415 Third Street, Screenplay Readings at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, 620 Sutter Street, workshops at KGO-TV, 900 Front Street and the Urban Kidz and Paul Robeson Film Festivals at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street. Special Event locations include the Grannies on Safari Reception at MacArthur Park, 607 Front Street, Inside the Black Actor’s and Director’s Studio and Reception at the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center, Black Sundance at Suede, 383 Bay Street, and Champagne and Cinema at the Jewish Community Center (JCCSF), 3200 California Street.

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About Your Company
The San Francisco Black Film Festival is dedicated to maximizing exposure for independent Black filmmakers and facilitating the integration of their work into the mainstream. Drawing participants from every corner of the globe and all facets of the film industry, the festival has become an established forum for rising artists and industry innovators. A complete calendar of events is available on the SFBFF website at http://www.sfbff.org, also the source for sponsorship opportunities, volunteer activities and downloading media credential applications. Many events are fast sell-outs; secure your place with an advance ticket purchase from http://www.ticketweb.com, http://www.sfbff.org or by calling 415.771.9271. For more information, call Ave Montague (415) 346-0199, Susan Luinetti at (415) 516-8154 or dial the Festival Hotline at (415) 771-9271.

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Press Contacts:
Susan Luinetti
Perfect Pitch Public Relations
luinetti@earthlink.net
(415) 516-8154

Ave Montague
avem@sbcglobal.net
(415) 346-0199



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