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bafta

June Givanni, UK Curator Of African Film, To Receive Bafta Award 

June Givanni is known as a pioneering curator, writer, and programmer of African film’s who founded a London-based archive that documents Pan-African cinema over 40 years ago. Her amazing work is now being honored, as she is set to receive a Bafta Award for outstanding British contribution to cinema. 

The London archive that Givanni founded, known as the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive (JGPACA), has amassed more than 10,000 pieces of media history, including films, manuscripts, audio, photography, and posters that documented Pan-African cinema for over 40 years. 

The archive itself is run by volunteers and is known as “one of the world’s most important collections documenting the moving image for the African continent and its diaspora, and includes artifacts that might otherwise not have been preserved,” according to Nadia Khomami, an Arts and Culture correspondent for The Guardian. Givanni also spoke to the publication about the recent honor and the importance of the work they do at JGPACA. 

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“The award gives us an opportunity to tell people what we’re trying to do because people’s ideas about archives are so varied … Our long-term goal is to enrich knowledge and understanding of Pan-African cinema’s place within the cultural sector, its creative impact and legacy internationally.”

Givanni initially moved to the UK at seven-years-old. Her career started with bringing Third Eye London’s first ever Festival of Third World Cinema. She then worked as a film programmer at the Greater London Council’s ethnic minorities unit. 

Her success in the industry continued when she would go on to run the BFI’s African-Caribbean unit, where she compiled the first comprehensive directory of Black and Asian films in the UK. She was co-editor of the BFI’s Black Film Bulletin, and has worked as a curator of film on five continents. 

Givanni is also a published author of titles such as Remote Control: Dilemmas of Black Intervention in British Film and TV and Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema: Audiences, Theory and the Moving Image.

Givanni will be presented with the special award next month at the Baftas ceremony. She emphasized the importance of the archives and continuing to preserve history and culture. 

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“A lot of younger people are amazed by our archive. Because they grew up in the digital age, and they think everything they want to know or need to know is on the internet. And when they come in, it’s so physical, they’re totally blown away. They’re amazed that there’s so much they don’t know,” she said

“It’s a question of expanding people’s minds about what information is, where it is, and how it relates to what is happening now. That’s one of the philosophical concepts from the Ghanaian culture, called Sankofa. It means looking back to better understand the future.”

“Pan-African cinema [is a] cinema of resistance,  a cinema that recognises the value and importance of the African culture and what it can contribute to the world,” she added. 

“When I came to the UK from Guyana as a young child in the 50s, I was so shocked at the ignorance of people about who I am. I had come from a society where people are quite ambitious, they encourage you, to one where I was put in a class with children two years my junior because they believed I came from a country where you don’t know how to read or write,” Givanni said. 

“So many times people are not seeing you as someone who has anything to offer. Pan-Africanism has always been about knowing your history and being able to situate the value of that within wherever you find yourself in the world. It’s something all of us need to do.”

Movies

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Receives $245 Million At International Box Office 

Universal’s “Jurassic” franchise is once again proving why it’s become one of the most popular series since the 1990’s. “Jurassic World Dominion,” the sixth installment in the long-running series, received $176 million from 72 international markets over the weekend, bringing its international total to $245 million. 

When combined with its domestic earnings of $142 million, the film currently stands with $389 million and is likely to cross the $400 million threshold soon. 

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“Dominion” opened in 57 foreign markets this past weekend, including China, which has been increasingly hostile when it comes to showing Hollywood films. The movie received $52 million in China during its opening weekend. 

China has chosen to import a very select amount of movies since the beginning of the pandemic, so “Dominion” is already set to be the biggest non-local release in 2022. 

“Other top-grossing territories include the U.K. and Ireland with $15.4 million, France with $9.7 million, Australia with $8.5 million and Germany with $7.5 million,” according to Variety.

“Dominion” had a production budget of $185 million, and a promotion budget of $100 million. 

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Another movie that’s continuing the legacy of its original cinematic predecessor is “Top Gun: Maverick,” which earned itself nearly $747 million in international box office sales, passing the original “Top Gun’s” sales of $700 million. 

Within its third weekend of release, the blockbuster starring Tom Cruise earned itself $52.7 million from 64 international markets. According to Variety, “‘Maverick’ has raked up the most tickets in the U.K. ($63 million so far), followed by Japan ($33.9 million), Australia ($32.6 million) and France ($28.7 million).”

Worldwide box office revenue has been on a high as of late. Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” earned itself $930 million in global ticket sales after last weekend, making it the highest grossing movie of the year.

This is an especially impressive feat as both China and Russia have decided not to show the newest Marvel movie and they account for a large portion of the international box office numbers.

Small Movie Theatre

The Irishman: A Near-Perfect Gangster Epic

Director Martin Scorsese has implored audiences not to watch his latest crime epic, The Irishman, on a smartphone. And while many viewers of the director’s latest film are likely to ignore this advice, Scorsese’s request is well-founded. At three-and-a-half hours long, The Irishman can be difficult to watch in one sitting — but the cinematic experience on offer is best enjoyed on a big screen, whether it’s projected on a movie screen or displayed on a large TV. Scorsese has drawn criticism lately for his comments about Marvel movies, which he’s characterized as “not cinema,” comparing them to amusement park rides, entertaining and full of spectacle but lacking in substance. And while his comments have angered fans of the immensely profitable superhero genre, they also speak to Scorecese’s understanding of the potential of cinema as an art form and its ability to speak to audiences on a deep, human level. Scorsese’s commitment to artistry is evident not only by his extensive catalogue of critically-acclaimed crime dramas, but by his career-defining work on his latest epic.

Spoilers for The Irishman follow.

The Irishman is based on the true story of Frank Sheeran, a hitman for the mafia who claimed to be responsible for killing the famous Jimmy Hoffa, a labor union activist who disappeared in 1975. While the nature of Hoffa’s disappearance in real life remains a mystery, Sheeran’s account is perhaps the most compelling explanation, as details of his story are corroborated by evidence, though most if not all of the other witnesses to the killing were dead by the time Sheeran confessed to author Charles Brandt shortly before his death. Brandt’s book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” forms the basis of Scorsese’s film, and the director took great lengths to ensure that the movie closely follows Sheeran’s recollection of events. Whether or not you believe that the film accurately portrays historical events, including details surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, depends on whether you trust Sheeran’s retelling of the events of his life and Brandt’s memorialization thereof.

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Regardless of its questionable historical accuracy, though, The Irishman shines as a meditation on the reality of aging, death, and how the decisions a person makes come to define the stories of their lives, for better or for worse. Sheeran is not a particularly sympathetic character he expresses no remorse for his many killings, some directed by the military and others by the mob — but the film succeeds in emotionally engaging the viewer with the protagonist nonetheless. This is in no small part thanks to Robert De Niro’s excellent portrayal of Frank Sheeran’s life over a period of decades, as the legendary actor imbues his character with an emotional depth and complexity rivaled by few other performances in recent memory. 

Scorsese pioneered the widespread use of expensive de-aging technology to allow the 76-year-old De Niro to portray a character several decades younger, and the implementation has received a mixed reception. While the effect is not entirely convincing and can at times even be a little distracting, it works for the most part, though it is at times clear that the aging principal cast struggle to mimic the vibrancy of men half their age throughout the film. It’s easy to look past this minor deficiency, however, and as the film’s narrative largely explores the concepts of aging and death, the at times geriatric performances of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci fit the film’s narrative framing of an elderly man sitting alone in a nursing home reminiscing about his past.

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Irrespective of how you feel about the visual effects, the actors’ performances are phenomenal, and add to the remarkable depth of the film’s writing and direction. Ultimately, while most of the events of the film revolve around Sheeran’s participation in the mob and his relationships with his mentor Russell Bufalino and the egotistical, hot-headed Jimmy Hoffa, I would argue the real point of the film is its examination of the importance of family life. Sheeran had four children, and while these characters don’t prominently factor into the events of the narrative, the emotional weight carried by Sheeran’s neglect of his children is immense. Sheeran’s daughters must grapple with the violent reality of his lifestyle and profession throughout the picture, mostly in the background, resulting in an ongoing rejection of their father that culminates in their disowning of him as he becomes an elderly man. After nearly all of the people close to Sheeran die, only his family remain, but his efforts to reconnect with his daughters fail as they have effectively disowned him. By the end of the film, Sheeran is left in a nursing home, talking about his daughters with a nurse who barely pays attention to his stories. Ultimately, the film plays a trick on the audience; while it seems at first to be about the mob, the Teamsters union, and the larger-than-life Jimmy Hoffa, it reveals itself by its conclusion to in actuality be about the inevitability of death and the importance of family ties.

This level of depth and thematic complexity is what has led The Irishman to receive near-universal critical acclaim. Though it premiered as a limited theatrical release, the movie is now available exclusively on Netflix, which incidentally turned out to be the only company willing to fund Scorsese’s experimental epic. Critics are speculating that The Irishman could sweep the Oscars, and many have speculated the film is a strong contender for Best Picture. If you’re willing to set aside the three-and-a-half hours necessary to engage in Scorsese’s latest film, you’ll be rewarded with a work of nearly-unparalleled emotional weight and tragedy.