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"[Black History Month is] about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go." —Barack Obama

Here at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, we recognize and appreciate not only the contributions of black artists and filmmakers who help make the festival what it is, but also the continued efforts by people of color and their allies around the world in righting injustices and promoting equality. In these turbulent political and social times, it is important to look to the past to inform our future, to appreciate the great strides accomplished, and to look ahead to the challenges that remain.

(Black Radical Imagination logo)

This year at the 56th AAFF, we are pleased to present many special programs that explore and celebrate black history. On Thursday, March 22, festival juror Ephraim Asili, whose work focuses on the African diaspora as a cultural force, will present his Diaspora Suite. That same day, the festival presents Black Radical Imagination, a showcase featuring video art, experimental film, and narrative shorts that explore a wide variety of themes—from Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism to Reclamation of the Black Body and The Black Fantastic. Programmed by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae, this screening series was originally created and organized by curators Erin Christovale and Amir George in 2012.

(URe:AD TV logo)

On Saturday, March 24, URe:AD TV (United Re:Public of the African Diaspora Television)—a transmedia network comprising fresh, contemporary audiovisual work by and for the African Diaspora—will share the work of emerging artists from Brazil, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, and Ethiopia. The program is curated by Shani Peters and Sharita Towne. We can’t wait to see you at these events and hope that your experience of Black History Month proves both informative and inspiring.

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