Lifestyle

‘AfroPoP’ Explores Fullness of African Diaspora

13th Season of Documentary Series Features Talented Directors

The African diaspora is global. That is how viewers have seen “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” from its beginning on public television stations.

The show is launching its 13th season co-executive produced by Black Public Media and new partner WORLD Channel. In the metro Washington, D.C. area, “AfroPoP” can be seen on WORLD Channel member station WETA-TV/PBS and online at worldchannel.org. Reaching 13 seasons is a major accomplishment for any television program. The current “AfroPop” season launches on April 5, 2021 documentaries about the African diaspora in Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

“I believe that ‘AfroPoP’ has been successful for 13 years in part because we are able to meet a need that people have, the desire to see different and accurate representations of Black culture from all over the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, executive producer of “AfroPoP” and executive director of Black Public Media. “There was, and still is, a real demand for programming that gives evidence to the truth that not all Black people are the same, that we are not a monolith.”

Singer Tarriona "Tank" Ball of the group Tank and the Bangers is featured in the documentary “Professional Black Girl” directed by Yaba Blay. The film is featured in the 13th season of the series "AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange" airing on the WORLD Channel. (Courtesy of Ashley Lorraine)
Singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball of the group Tank and the Bangers is featured in the documentary “Professional Black Girl” directed by Yaba Blay. The film is featured in the 13th season of the series “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” airing on the WORLD Channel. (Courtesy of Ashley Lorraine)

“AfroPoP’s” season opener documentary is “Mama Gloria,” an insightful view of the life of Chicago’s Black transgender icon, Gloria Allen. Now in her 70s, Allen is a lifelong activist who opened a charm school for transgender youth in 2011. Director Luchina Fisher allows viewers inside to see how Allen is navigating her golden years with grace, humor and joy. The “Mama Gloria” documentary takes people into the life of an important legend who radiates love. The timing of the film is important as transgender equality is prominently in the news especially with school sports. Further, Black transgender women face escalating violence and discrimination and make up the majority of trans people killed each year.

“’AfroPoP’s’ core mission of engaging and educating audiences about Black life using documentary film has remained the same,” Fields-Cruz said. “We are still focused on bringing audiences true stories from the modern African diaspora but with new media forms emerging we have grown with them.”

Five female and two male directors are showcased in the current “AfroPoP” season. Audiences can look forward to engaging cinema from Tamara Dawit’s “Finding Sally,” an exploration of her aunt’s involvement with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party. “Professional Black Girl” is from director Yaba Blay based her visit to New Orleans to highlight different women who she saw embodied talent, grace and drive. Filmmaker Eli Jacobs-Fantuzzi brings “Bakosó: Afrobeats of Cuba,” exposing viewers to the sounds of Cuba’s AfroBeats through the growing musical genre known as bakosó.

The season also features a shorts showcase with director Christine Turner’s “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business,” profiling the work and life of the 93-year-old Black visual artist; “Elena,” Michèle Stephenson’s portrayal of a young woman in the Dominican Republic working to combat anti-Blackness on the island; and Amir George’s “Man of the People,” an experimental thriller-documentary on the campaigns and mysterious death of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor.

“We’ve added short-form documentaries and animated content to the series in addition to the feature-length docs that AfroPoP began with,” Fields-Cruz said. “Now, with streaming and other ways to view, we can bring content that will attract audiences across all media.”

“AfroPoP” is distributed and co-presented by American Public Television (APT). Following the release of “AfroPoP’s” current season on WORLD Channel, APT will release the season to public television stations on May 1, 2021.

For more information and to view the “AfroPoP” trailer, go to https://worldchannel.org/show/afropop.

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