February 20, 2021

11:00 am



Co-presented by the African-American Film Critics Association

Live Q&A with Panelists

Sat. February 20, 2021 | 11:00 AM PT

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About the Q&A

In celebration of Black History Month, the American Cinematheque and the African American Film Critics Association invite you to join Cynthia Erivo, Shaka King, Philippe Lacôte, Franklin Leonard, Ekwa Msangi, Euzhan Palcy and Kemp Powers in a panel discussion examining the diversity within Black identity through their distinguished careers in cinema.

Moderated by the President of the AAFCA, Gil Robertson, the panel will explore how Black film disrupts the myth of the existence of one Black identity. The panelists will discuss their work in relation to core themes, such as racism, freedom and justice, and explore how their handling of these shared themes differ and reflect their own personal identities. Join us as we celebrate this diversity of Black perspectives, whether it’s through the African continent, the Caribbean, the UK, the US or the Black immigrant experience, and explore the medium’s power to unearth our core humanity.

In preparation for the panel, we encourage you to seek out and watch the following films:

A DRY WHITE SEASON (Rent on Google Play)
SOUL (Disney+)
NIGHT OF THE KINGS (Coming soon to VOD)
FAREWELL AMOR (Rent on Amazon)

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About the Panelists

Cynthia Erivo is a Grammy® Emmy® and Tony® Award-winning actress, singer, songwriter and producer, as well as Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, and SAG nominee. Erivo burst onto West End and Broadway and Broadway stages in THE COLOR PURPLE and has since taken the world by storm in movies such as HARRIET. Currently, Erivo can be seen on the HBO series THE OUTSIDER. She will play Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s GENIUS: ARETHA premiering on March 21, will be releasing her debut album in the Summer of 2021 and will soon star in Universal’s TALENT SHOW. In August 2020, Erivo launched her production company, Edith’s Daughter, and announced her first-look deal with MRC Television & Civic Center Media. Edith’s Daughter focuses on projects that express the beauty in the stories and people who are often overlooked and underrepresented.

Shaka King (Director / Co-Writer / Producer) is an emergent, auteur filmmaker with a body of work that spans the film and television arenas. In 2020, King was recognized as one of Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch in conjunction with his work on JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. For television, King directed multiple episodes of SHRILL for Hulu and, before that, was a writer and co-director on RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS for HBO. Previously, he directed multiple episodes of PEOPLE OF EARTH for TBS, as well as HIGH MAINTENANCE for HBO. King is the writer and director who won the coveted “Someone to Watch” honor at the Independent Spirit Awards on behalf of his independent feature directorial debut, NEWLYWEEDS, which premiered at Sundance in 2013. King currently resides in New York.

Philippe Lacôte grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater – the “Magic”. His work as a director has taken on several forms, before focusing in 2002 on the recent history of his country with CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. It is followed by the feature film RUN, the story of a wandering madman, selected in Cannes Un Certain Regard 2014. This selection confirmed his talent as a filmmaker and revealed a new voice from the African continent. NIGHT OF THE KINGS (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”), his second feature, is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa, during a night of red moon.

Franklin Leonard is a film and television producer, cultural commentator, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the Black List, the company that celebrates and supports great screenwriting and the writers who do it via film production, its annual survey of best unproduced screenplays, online marketplace, and screenwriter labs. Franklin has worked in feature film development at Universal Pictures and the production companies of Will Smith, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He was the recipient of the 2019 Writers Guild of America, East’s Evelyn Burkey award for elevating the honor and dignity of screenwriters. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a Board member of American Cinematheque, and a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Ekwa Msangi is a Tanzanian American filmmaker who has written and directed for television and film, including her feature directorial debut, FAREWELL AMOR. Msangi has also written and directed several drama series for mainstream broadcasters in Kenya and South Africa, including The Agency, MNET’s first-ever original hour-long Kenyan drama series. Along her journey Msangi has been awarded the Jerome Foundation Grant, a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, and Tribeca Institute and Sundance Institute fellowships.

Born in Martinique, Euzhan Palcy is a film director, writer, and producer. In 1983, she directed SUGAR CANE ALLEY, which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and put the French Caribbean on the world cinema map. In 1989, she wrote and directed the anti-apartheid film A DRY WHITE SEASON and became the first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM). Her filmography also includes the musical fantasy SIMÉON (1992), the documentary trilogy AIMÉ CÉSAIRE: A VOICE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (1994), and the drama THE KILLING YARD.

Kemp Powers is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, producer and director who was named one of VARIETY’s 2020 “10 Screenwriters to Watch.” Powers wrote the critically acclaimed Amazon feature, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, adapted from his 2013 award-winning stage play of the same name. In addition to being selected as one of AFI Awards’ “Movies of the Year,” so far the film has garnered five NAACP Image Award nominations including “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture” for Powers, six Critics Choice Award nominations including “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Powers and three Golden Globe nominations. Powers is also the co-director and a screenwriter of Disney/Pixar’s animated feature SOUL, for which he makes history as the first Black person to receive a director or writer credit on any Pixar project. Since its December 25 debut on Disney+, the film has been selected for the AFI Awards’ list of “Movies of the Year,” garnered six NAACP Image Award nominations including “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture,” two Golden Globe nominations and a Kid’s Choice Award nomination. Previously, Powers wrote for the popular CBS All Access series, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Prior to his work in stage, television and film, Powers was a journalist for 17 years.

Zoom Details

To view the online discussion, you will need to have the Zoom video application installed on your computer beforehand. It can be downloaded at https://zoom.us/ You will receive a Zoom link the day of the online discussion. If you have any issue connecting to our Q&A, please email [email protected] and we will do our best to assist you.

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