Ava DuVernay‘s ARRAY Releasing is teaming with iconic Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima for a 4K restoration of his groundbreaking 1993 film, Sankofa.
The film about the untold history of Black resistance, developed from 20 years of research into the trans-Atlantic trade of enslaved African people, will be re-released by ARRAY on September 24, 2021 in the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand on Netflix.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gerima are trailblazers of independent filmmaking and grassroots distribution in the Black cinematic diaspora,” said President of ARRAY, Tilane Jones. “ARRAY Releasing is abundantly honored and proud to have been selected by The Gerimas to introduce their landmark film to new audiences with a remastered re-release of the masterpiece, Sankofa.”
“We are honored to be a part of Ava’s courageous vision to be human in an industry that has tortured the image and psychology of people of color for so long,” said The Gerimas.
Sankofa follows Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), a Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Cape Coast, Ghana. Through Mr. Gerima’s imaginative storytelling, she undergoes a journey back in time to a plantation in North America. There she becomes Shola, an enslaved African woman who labors in the master’s house and experiences the horrors of slavery firsthand. In becoming Shola, Mona recovers and confronts her ancestral identity and experience. While enduring monstrous trauma at the hands of white men who owned people for profit, Shola’s interactions with her fellow enslaved Africans are rich with humanity, respect and dignity for one another. Most notably, she connects with Shango (Mutabaruka), a rebellious African man who toils in the fields, and Nunu (Alexandra Duah), one of the few of the enslaved to remember her life in Africa before being stolen and terrorized by European traders.
Check out the poster below.
Sankofa is produced by Negod Gwad Productions, in co-production with The Ghana National Commission on Culture DiProCi of Burkina Faso and NDR/WDR Television in Association with Channel 4 Television. Shirikiana Gerima is a co-producer of the film.
Initially overlooked by distributors, Sankofa was self-distributed in the U.S. by Haile and Shirikiana Gerima’s independent distribution company through grassroots marketing within African American communities. Their innovative outreach led to over two years of sold-out screenings in theaters across the country. The film, which was conceived, produced, and directed by Haile Gerima, was an official selection of Berlin International Film Festival and AFI Film Festival in 1993. Born and raised in Ethiopia before moving to the US in 1967, Gerima’s films have been official selections of Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Locarno, FESPACO and Toronto Film Festivals to name a few.
Sankofa will have its Los Angeles re-release debut at DuVernay’s ARRAY Creative Campus on Friday, September 24, followed by a screening of Gerima’s feature ASHES AND EMBERS on Saturday, September 25. Tickets are FREE and open to the public with advance registration at www.arrayplay.com. Seating will be granted on a first come, first serve basis. Proof of vaccination is required.
Gerima will also be honored by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with the inaugural Vantage Award as part of its opening gala on September 25. ARRAY previously worked with Gerima in 2016 to re-release his award-winning film Ashes and Embers.
As previously announced last month, ARRAY and The Sankofa Film Academy will host their inaugural masterclass, to be taught by Gerima this month. The 5-day masterclass entitled “Liberated Territory: A Masterclass by Haile Gerima” will explore the catalyst of storytelling and be divided into three topics – The Art and Craft of Screenplay, Cinematography, and Film Directing.
The acquisition was negotiated by Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein, and Lezcano on behalf of ARRAY, and Haile Gerima, Shirikiana Gerima and Merawi Gerima of Negod Gwad Productions.