Sunday, October 29, 2006

9th Annual African American Women in Cinema Festival

Last Thursday, I attended the opening night VIP reception for the 9th Annual African American Women in Cinema Festival (AAWIC). The event was sponsored by Wal-Mart & Oxygen and the reception was held in a new restaurant named Sofrito on East 57th Street. It was a brisk & chilly Thursday evening but mercifully there was no rain in sight. I was a few feet from the restaurant when I saw an old friend emerge from a taxi. Her name was Joy Matthews and she's a phenomenal singer/actress whom I had the pleasure of working with on an Off-Off-WAAAAAY Off Broadway musical called "Lovin' That Man Of Mine" at The Riant Theater. Joy is also the cousin of 70's actress, Jayne Kennedy-Overton and is the spitting image of her in her prime. I caught Joy onstage last summer (or was it this summer?? Hmmmm...) in a revival of "Menopause The Musical!"...she was awesome!

Anyway, we hugged & kissed and she introduced me to her lovely friend, (who's name escapes me, but i'll get it) who was an actor with a role in the film we were screening that evening...but more about that later. We entered the restaurant and quickly got reacquainted and caught up on each others lives. Because of the chilly temperatures, I chose to "dress down" and wore a simple red ribbed turtleneck with my jeans and black pointy toed boots with a matching red coat. A tall, graceful and elegant hostess guided me towards the coat check and was surprised to see my homegirl from my "Corporate America" days...Evelyn Rivera working the coat check with another beautiful lady. I found out that the restaurant was owned by her brother and she was the accountant for the restaurant. Now Evelyn is a saucy, little, voluptuous Puerto Rican sista with big beautiful eyes and an amazing smile! She's been my homegirl since forever so when she invited me back for dinner you KNOW I jumped right on it! lol.

The reception was from 6pm to 8pm with the screening immediately following. It was hosted by 98.7 KISS-FM DJ Lenny Green & Tony Award Winning Actress LaChanze. I hadn't seen Lenny Green since his "Baby Blue Birthday Boatride" this summer and I was pleased that he recognized and remembered me (we have had problems with this in the He was dressed to the nines as always. I have never met LaChanze before but we do have a mutual friend named Alexander Bruce. I was glad to see that she was doing well and thriving on all fronts, newly remarried with a new baby (her first husband, Calvin, was an acquaintance of mine and he worked Cantor Fitzgerald and lost his life on 9/11) and absolutely GLOWING! I also met two lovely young ladies who work for Oxygen (and I am trying to get their names because they were incredibly nice to me and I want to put their names in my blog!) Thanks for making me feel special ladies! Anyway, I knew it was time for me to leave when they started passing around the steaming platters of Fried Pork! (See Maddy's Bday Blog)

I rejoined Joy, we got our coats and headed over to the theater for the first screening of the festival. It was a short walk to the theater maybe 3-4 blocks and we got there fairly quickly. I walked thru the doors to the theater and saw that they were doing press interviews with the film's cast. The first recognizable face that I saw was the actor who portrayed "Poet" on HBO's "OZ"----not the friendliest guy I have ever met (lol). I picked up my "All Access" pass (Thanks! Timikal Bobo from Oxygen!) and after a stop at the concession stand ($8 FRIGGIN' DOLLARS FOR A SMALL POPCORN AND SMALL SODA YA'LL!!!!) we quickly took our seats and after a few speeches and a presentation of a proclimation to Vanessa Williams (Soul Food), the film began.

My Brother is an inner city, New York story, of two impoverished boys, one of whom is developmentally disabled, and the bond of love they have for each other. This bond, forged in their youth by their mother, and made under lifes most desperate circumstances, is unwavering even in the face of adversity. In the present, one brother, trying to get free of oppressing debt, falls prey to ruthless men, setting in motion life-threatening events that test their greater-than-blood bond. This leads to a decision that only an epiphany, and courage, can overcome.

Quite honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie from start to finish. I thought it was beautifully shot and the acting was really good - there were no weak links and the performances of Vanessa Williams, NuShawn Kearse & Christopher Scott were outstanding. Also appearing in the movie are Tatum O'Neal (looking really good!), Fredro Starr & Comedian/KISS FM DJ Talent. There was a brief Q & A immediately following the screening with the films stars, co-stars and the director. I understand that there is a sequel in the works and I for one will be first in line to see it when it opens! I am not sure of the exact release date but keep a look out for "My Brother' in Jan/Feb 2007, when it opens in your city.

After the screening, Joy and I said our goodbyes and promised to stay in touch. She headed crosstown for a Margarita nightcap and I took the Subway back to Harlem and found myself eagerly looking forward to the panel discussions and screenings on Saturday.

If you don't set your boundaries someone else will.

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