Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema (By Wendy Moscow)
August 10, 2017. The Kew Gardens Film Festival, in its first year, is chock full of little gems that the average filmgoer would not get to see otherwise. Here are two.
“Dancing Day,” which clocks in at only four minutes, was directed, written by and stars Tytus Bergstrom, an incredible dancer who creates a joyful fantasy through the magic of video technology. He emerges from his house, moving to some happy grooves, when another Tytus emerges from the same doorway, followed, surprisingly, by three more in succession. They dance separately, yet echo one another’s movements flawlessly as the five dancers periodically come into sync. Bergstrom’s carefree choreography and technological skill combine to create an unbelievably happy tour de force.
“Charlie,” a short documentary about Charlie Hill, is a much more serious film. Hill, living in Mississippi and about to be accused of killing a police officer in 1971, hijacks a plane to Cuba. The Cuban government has provided him refuge until the present day. He and his colleagues, back in the sixties, were attempting to establish a “Republic of New Africa” in the American South – what would have been an Afrocentric, Black separatist community. The film does not try to answer the question of whether Hill is responsible for the demise of the officer who dies when police raid the compound, but, rather, lets us ponder the question of whether he is a fugitive or a revolutionary. This gentle-seeming man reads a touching letter to his nine year old son, and is still quietly practicing the Yoruba beliefs that were part of his life in the Mississippi community he was forced to flee. At the time the film was made, relations between the U.S. and Cuba were thawing, and the possibility of extradition was becoming a reality.
Though I was moved by this subtle and impressionistic film that follows this man through his daily life in exile, I was intrigued enough to want to know more about the details of his case. I’d love to see the director expand this complex story into a feature length film.
Tne screening venues for the “Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema” include the Kew Gardens Cinemas, the only art movie house in Queens (8105 Lefferts Blvd. In Kew Gardens), and the Queens Museum, Flushing Meadow Corona Park, Corona New York. For further information visit http://www.KewGardensFestivalofCinema.com.
Posted on August 10, 2017, in Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, Uncategorized and tagged Charlie, Charlie Hill, Dancing Day, Kew Gardens Cinema, Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, Queens Museum, Republic of New Africa, Tytus Bergstrom. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.