I was in the midst of re-crafting another update on our Golden Globes Campaign when I got the news that my all time greatest role model hero has left us. While we all knew that this news was imminent, it is still excruciatingly painful to absorb.
I was 11 years old on a class trip to the United Nations when I first found out about Apartheid. Through life size black and white photographs I entered the world of this cruel and insidious system that had bludgeoned generations of black and colored men, women and children.
Later on that day, I rushed to the Langston Hughes Library of East Elmhurst Queens to find out all I could about the struggle of the South African people, to my dismay the selection offered to me was quite scant. I went to bed that evening with those ghastly images of cruelty in my head and stored them away deep into my subconscious.
In college those images resurged with a visit from Bishop Desmond Tutu; who though he painted a hopeless tableau of the conditions of oppressed South Africans, his eyes lit up when he spoke about the life of Nelson Mandela and his life sentence on Robben Island. Bishop Tutu's visit to our campus and other colleges across the country pretty much catapulted the sit-ins for our schools to divest from South Africa.
Though 8 years had gone by since my visit to the UN, it was still rare to find really great books or stories on South Africa. As for our mainstream media they were purposefully oblivious. But I do remember one film that we saw in class by activist filmmaker Lionel RogosinCome Back Africa, a sort of docu-fiction with Myriam Makeba shot secretly in Sophiatown.
Through a very beautiful simple story, without special effects and sensationalized imageries; the film took us into the depth of blacks and coloreds South Africans' fight for freedom and social justice and changed our lives forever. A true testament to the power of films.
This is why I continue to labor for the existence of great, important and necessary cinema. However, I would not be as combative, tenacious and stubborn as I am if it weren't for this great man Nelson "Madiba" Mandela. His uncompromising ways, his empathetic and humanist nature have been pillars for my own personal growth.
I feel a bit fatherless today.
Now, I need a moment.
by Guetty Felin
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, reared in America and came of age cinematically in Paris France, Guetty Felin is an award winning Haitian-American filmmaker with a very eclectic and rich background in the film and television industry. Guetty Felin is also a Film Producer & Distributor (BelleMoon Productions and Releasing). Her newest releasing, Tey (directed by the Senegalese French Alain Gomis) is in the Golden Globes race for a nomination in the Foreign Language Film Category. Saul Williams performance is also being considered in the lead actor category.