Antiguan Students attend ‘Reparations 400+ Years’ screening ahead of Newark Black Film Festival 2024

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from left to right: Angelo Pelle, Destiny Simon, Joel Lewis, Kwame Howell, Kobe Stewart, Kenijah Browne, Noah Yeboah, Dr. Noel Howell and Director D. Chassin Berry
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By Destiny Simon and Noah Yeboah

In the celebration of Black History Month, culture, history, and dialogue, the Newark Museum of Art played host to a special event that not only honored Black History Month and its people but also served as a precursor to the much-anticipated 50th annual Newark Black Film Festival, set for July 10-14, 2024.

The evening began with a reception that set the stage for an unforgettable experience for attendees, including students from the Antigua Film Academy who are pursuing their college education in New Jersey. 

The highlight of the night was on ‘Reparations 400 + Years’, a must see three-part documentary series by the acclaimed Newark-born filmmaker, D. Channsin Berry.

Berry, who has a long-standing relationship as a mentor with the Antigua Film Academy, brought his latest work to the museum as part of a unique collaboration with Rutgers University-Newark’s Black History Month celebrations. 

‘Reparations 400 + Years’ goes into the profound narrative of African American history, exploring the enduring impact of slavery and the ongoing fight for reparations and justice.

The screening of two episodes from this series was not just a viewing experience but a thought-provoking journey through the complexities of race, history, and healing. 

The event was further enriched with spoken word performances by Tyreek Rolon, which added to the message behind the films motive.

The program also included a panel discussion featuring Berry alongside notable figures such as Jean Pieree Brutus, Richard Cammareri, and Deborah Smith Gregory, offering diverse perspectives on the themes presented in the documentary. 

Additionally, D. Channsin Berry presented ‘Dark Girls 2’, a sequel to his highly acclaimed documentary ‘Dark Girls’.

This film continues the exploration of the prejudices faced by darker-skinned women around the globe, featuring a performance by Rihobot Mamo, RU-N HLLC Scholar.

The subsequent panel discussion with Berry provided an in-depth look into the issues raised in the film, fostering an engaging dialogue with the audience. 

This memorable evening was made possible through partnerships with various organizations, including Rutgers Newark/HLLC, Rutgers-Newark – Institute for Jazz Studies, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and Newark Community Development Network (NCDN).

These collaborations underscored the community’s commitment to fostering understanding, celebrating Black history, and promoting social justice.

As the Newark Black Film Festival approaches, the screening of ‘Reparations 400 + Years’ and the discussions that followed have set a high bar for what promises to be a festival of reflection, celebration, and progress.

For the students of the Antigua Film Academy and all those in attendance, the event was not only an educational experience but a powerful reminder of the importance of storytelling in the fight for justice and equality.

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