AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange returned this year, its 10th anniversary season of bringing audiences vibrant, thoughtful documentary films chronicling the Black experience and the human condition. The series opened on MLK Day with ‘Black Panther Woman,’ a film starring Marlene Cummings who became involved with Australia’s Black Panther Party, and will close this week with ‘Fatal Assistance,’ a documentary that takes a close look at the two-year journey exploring the challenging rebuilding efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.
This year, actor Nicholas Ashe of Ava DuVernay’s award-winning Queen Sugar, served as host. He joined a roster of past hosts that include Anika Noni Rose, Yaya DaCosta, Wyatt Cenac, Jussie Smollett and Nikki Beharie.
“Viewers should definitely tune in. They won’t regret it! If you want to learn about other cultures and travel to Haiti or Africa and can’t afford it, this is a free trip into those lives, those landscapes, and those locations. Do it; take the trip with us and meet some cool people,” Ashe told TNJ.com.
“There is something universal about these stories, and I am excited about celebrating the human exchange,” he adds.
Ashe, who started acting at the age of 10, made his stage debut in The Lion King on Broadway.
Other films in this year’s lineup include ‘Lonnie Holley,’ ‘He Who Dances on Wood,’ ‘Between Two Shores,’ ‘Kojo,’ and ’10 Days in Africa.’ Past films have included ‘Doin’ It in the Park,’ ‘Dear Mandela,’ and ‘Stolen.’
“I was intrigued to learn about aboriginal Australians, and that the Black Panther movement was not just an American experience,” shares Ashe. “There’s also a story about Kojo, a young, multifaceted musician/dancer/drummer extraordinaire, and it reminded me of how I got my start performing. I started when I was really young, and so many different facets of this story resonate with different pieces of my life. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but those two stories definitely resonate with me.”
Since AfroPop’s premiere on public television in 2008, it has aired 47 feature documentaries and a handful of nonfiction short stories, providing a platform for diverse filmmakers to share their stories. Today, it is still the only public television documentary series on contemporary life, art and culture across the African Diaspora in the United States.
“As we celebrate 10 years of AfroPop, Season 10’s films remind us not enough has changed for people of African descent globally. Immigration is still a challenge, inequitable treatment of women of color is still an issue, and inequitable distribution of resources is just as pervasive – even when the need is great and resources are available,” said BPM Director of Programs and Acquisitions and AfroPop Executive Producer Kay Shaw. “BPM is committed to continuing to bring to the American public these stories and others that celebrate the art, culture and creativity of people of African descent for another 10 years.”