NationalSawdust+ and ARRAY present: "The Burial of Kojo" + Blitz the Ambassador with the Embassy Ensemble
Director Q&A with Jacqueline Woodson
6pm doors • 6:30pm event
NationalSawdust+ welcomes Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY back to the house! The dynamic grassroots collective co-presents a special evening showcasing the prodigious talents of Ghanaian-American artist Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule aka Blitz the Ambassador followed by a short Q&A with the filmmaker and National Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn, Brown Girl Dreaming). Blitz will close out the evening with a rousing hip-hop set featuring his six-piece band, the Embassy Ensemble.
An essential human story of courage and survival, The Burial of Kojo chronicles the tale of two brothers through the gifted eyes of a young girl who transports the audience to the beautiful lands of Ghana and other worlds that exist between life and death. Directed by TED fellow, composer, and musician Bazawule, the film is told through a magical realist lens; it has been hailed as “an ambitious visual stunner” (Indiewire) and “an affirmation of the power of representation and a jolt in the culture of visual storytelling” (Africa is a Country). A 2019 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) Official Selection and 2018 Urbanworld Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Winner, The Burial of Kojo marks Bazawule’s feature film debut.
Founded in 2010 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a grassroots distribution, arts, and advocacy collective. Like National Sawdust, which was created to support a diversity of composers and musicians, ARRAY champions varied voices and images in cinema; it is dedicated to the amplification of independent films by people of color and female filmmakers globally. Last fall, NationalSawdust+ and ARRAY presented a screening of Akin Omotoso’s suspenseful coming-of-age drama Vaya, followed by a Q&A with Omotoso and DuVernay.
NationalSawdust+, a lively performance and conversation series curated by Elena Park, brings together luminaries from across disciplines to share their passion for music and explore ideas, making surprising connections. The series taps artists and thinkers from theater, film, visual art, literature, science, and beyond to create insightful, often topical, programs.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Blitz Bazawule is a filmmaker and musician born in Ghana and based in New York. Blitz‘s short films Native Sun (2012) and Diasporadical Trilogìa (2016) premiered at New Voices in Black Cinema and the Blackstar Film Festival, respectively. Blitz is also the founder of the Africa Film Society, an organization focused on the preservation of classic African films. As a composer and musician, Blitz has released four studio albums, Stereotype (2009), Native Sun (2011), Afropolitan Dreams (2014), and Diasporadical (2016). Blitz’s feature directorial debut, The Burial Of Kojo, premiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival presented by HBO. Blitz is a TED Fellow and recipient of the Vilcek Prize.
Founded in 2010 by Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a film collective dedicated to the amplification of images by people of color and female directors. Now in its eighth year, ARRAY Releasing focuses on grassroots distribution of feature narrative and documentary work by varied voices. Newly formed non-profit ARRAY Alliance expands on the organization’s deep roots in independent film through special programming geared towards impactful, inclusive initiatives. Together, ARRAY continues to champion underrepresented creators in creative spaces.
Award-winning and bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson returns to NationalSawdust+! The 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor. In 2015, Woodson was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Her recent adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Day You Begin, Harbor Me, The Other Side, Each Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle’s Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.