United Nations panel: Self-Representation as a Strategy to Fight Racism leads to DDFR @ NYAFF


In September Adriana Ribeiro, invited me to participate in a panel to celebrate the International Decade for People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development hosted by the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations the panel was entitled Self-Representation as a Strategy to Fight Racism and was inspired by our film Through a Lens Darkly and gathered of artists and activists at the UN including among others – featuring Mahen Bonetti, Fab Five Freddy and Celso Athayde.

IMG_8586rThe panel discussed the issue of self-representation as it relates to identity and power. As the experiences of the various panelists showed, visibility through self- representation is an important instrument in promoting the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent and in combating racism and racial discrimination. The panelists presented on experiences about how individuals, communities and nations have used self-representation as a tool for social change and as a way of achieving political and cultural representation within societies.



It was here at the UN that Mahen Bonetti and I began to speak about collaboration between the NY African Film Festival and DDFR. Mahen even shared some images of her family album and the narratives. We spoke about archives and their importance in telling our story and the story of Africa.


Mahen’s paternal grandfather – gentleman standing on the far left. Below Mahen as a young girl in Sierra Leone.


8yearoldMahenOver the next few months we spoke regularly and Mahen also advised me for a trip I was about to take to Ethiopia where I did a DDFR in Addis Ababa. When I returned from Ethiopia, Mahen and Alminah came over to our offices and together we honed the nature of the collaboration, which we decided to use as the kick off event for the 2016 NYAFF. Mahen also asked us to curate a digital exhibition from our DDFR archive to run during the entire month of the festival.





(L to R) Producer Don Perry, Production Intern Jiwon Shim, Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, NY African Film Festiva

(L to R) Producer Don Perry, Production Intern Jiwon Shim, Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, NY African Film Festival



Click To the LINK to see video of the UN Panel Discussion featuring:


Mr. Celso Athayde, Founder of CUFA, Central Union of Favelas and CUFA Films, Brazil



Ms. Mahen Bonetti, Director of the African Film Festival (AFF), New York  Ms. Macdala Prévot, Filmmaker, Graduate of Ciné Institute, Haiti



Dr. Lenora Fulani, Director, Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids, Co-Founder, All Starts Project, USA



Mr. Raull Santiago, “Papo Reto Media Collective”, Complexo do Alemão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil




Mr. Thomas Allen Harris, Filmmaker, Director “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”


Fab 5 Freddy

Fab 5 Freddy, Hip hop pioneer, Visual artist, Filmmaker, Chief Creative Consultant of the Africa Center, New


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