Films About African Americans In Africa (Things That Make You Go Hmm…)
I likely wouldn’t have posted the below trailer, but in watching it, it got me thinking – not about the obvious, hackneyed white-person-in-Africa plot-line; But rather, I realized that I couldn’t come up with many titles of fictional narrative feature films that centered on stories about African Americans going to Africa, for whatever reason the story itself suggests, or who are already living there.
We’ve obviously had quite a number of films about white Americans or white Europeans either already living in Africa, or visiting some African country, in search of something or someone – whether it’s salvation, redemption, inspiration, vacation, themselves, their spouses, children, friends, their dogs, cats, apes, whatever; and it’s rare that they’re villains, nor in positions of inferiority. Also, those that are historically based usually involve white settlers, or remnants of colonialism, who come to see themselves as native to the land that their ancestors once occupied.
If Hollywood movies are any indication, one would think that white people were the only “race” of people who traveled internationally. A recent example would be Sex And The City 2, in which the characters spent much of the movie in Abu Dhabi, and, by most accounts (I haven’t seen the film), take part in some purportedly ignorant, cringe-worthy activities that insult the emirate and its people.
So, there I was, watching the below trailer for an upcoming film called Cairo Time, starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig (one of Hollywood’s resident “Arabs” we could call him; he’s part British (mother) and part Sudanese (father), and he’s played an Algerian, an Egyptian, an Iranian, a Middle Eastern Emirate ruler, a Saudi Arabian prince, an Islamic terrorist and whatever else I’m missing).
Anyway… so there I was wondering… it’d be refreshing to see more films about African Americans set anywhere in the African continent; I couldn’t think of many films with that as a basis for the story. Does Shaft In Africa count? Haile Gerima’s Sankofa is another.
And, to be clear, I don’t mean films that star African Americans playing Africans (there are certainly numerous examples of those); nor am I including documentaries. Rather, narrative fiction feature films with stories centered on black Americans either visiting a country (or several countries) in Africa for whatever reason, or who are already living in an African country.
Can you help me out on this folks… maybe I’m suffering from some form of temporary amnesia, and just can’t remember any films that fit the criteria.
Discussions abound about unifying the Diaspora; it’s not quite happening in real life; but at least, in the fantasy, make-believe world of the cinema, we can pretend, or show what could (or could not) be :). Black folks travel don’t they?
Here’s the trailer for Cairo Time that got me all pensive (needless to say, I won’t be seeing this):
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