Political Perspectives on 02/03/10
Host Michelle Schroeder Fletcher interviews two directors showing films at the Cascade African Film Festival this weekend. First she speaks with Amy Hart about her documentary WATER FIRST, the first film to succinctly convey the importance of clean water and sanitation in addressing all major global issues and achieving the MDGs. Later she interviews Ben Herson, who developed an award winning seven-part documentary series on youth, hip-hop, and politics in West Africa titled “African Underground: Democracy in Dakar.”
DIRECTOR Amy Hart has produced and directed over 100 broadcast hours and numerous short videos on public health issues. She founded Hart Productions in the early '90s as a theater company and performed her original plays around the world including the UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the World Social Summit in Copenhagen. In 2002 she ventured into film and television production after gaining experience while working in New York City. She held staff positions in PR and marketing at Miramax Films, New Line Cinema, and Fine Line Features, where she worked on the release of several Academy Award-winning films including: The English Patient, Il Postino, Sling Blade, and Good Will Hunting to name a few. She also spent 2 years working as a freelance writer/producer in broadcast news.
Hart completed the short version of WATER FIRST in 2006. The short premiered at the World Water Forum in Mexico City in March and won a Jury Award from the international jury headed by Denys Arcand. Hart also received a Fulbright Cultural Exchange Award for the short to travel to Greece for the Ecofilm Festival. The short was selected by the International Secretariat of Water and shown at several festivals and water conferences. The final version of the film premiered on World Water Day, March 22, 2008 at the DC Environmental Film Fest at the Carnegie Institute.
Ben Herson is the founder and director of Nomadic Wax – a global hip-hop record label and production company dedicated to recording, documenting and presenting hip-hop and underground music from around the world. He graduated with a major in African Studies and Anthropology from Hampshire College in 2000 and did post baccalaureate studies in Wolof (West African Language) at Columbia University. Herson is also an internationally celebrated producer and musician. He has released over a dozen globally acclaimed albums and recorded/produced numerous singles on compilations worldwide. While studying West African drumming in Senegal, Herson stumbled upon a vibrant hip-hop scene in Dakar, Senegal. Enthralled by the political and social message of the groups’ lyrics, Herson returned with equipment and began befriending and producing some of Senegal’s top MC’s. These recordings formed the critically acclaimed African Underground Albums vol. 1 and 2. In 2004, Herson co-founded the Trinity International Hip-Hop festival at Trinity College, the first international hip-hop festival in the United States and began touring with global hip hop music and educational programming to colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 2007, building upon his work in Senegal, Herson developed an award winning seven-part documentary series on youth, hip-hop, and politics in West Africa titled “African Underground: Democracy in Dakar.” The documentary has been screened at colleges, universities, and film festivals across the US and internationally. Herson also produces and hosts a bi-monthly radio show on New York public radio (WNYE) featuring Urban music and political discourse from around the world.