Sixth African Diaspora International Film Festival

WI Staff Writer | 8/24/2012, 11:43 a.m.

To Be Held in D.C. Aug. 24-26

The beauty of filmmaker Helene Lee's documentary "The First Rasta" is that most people, many of them followers of the Rastafari faith, don't know the true back story about the origins of Rastafari beyond the words of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who said "look to the East for the crowning of a Black King, he is the redeemer for the days of deliverance are near."

But in fact, it was a man named Leonard Percival Howell, aka "The Gong" or "G.G. Maragh," short for Gong Guru, who solidified the practice of Rastafari in his native land, the Caribbean island of Jamaica. As Howell's biographer, Lee has shed light on his history and on the demise of his enclave, Pinnacle, where Rastas first began living their natural lifestyle communally.

"The First Rasta" is just one of the films featured in the Sixth African Diaspora International Film Festival, which opens Aug.24 with the D.C. premiere of "The Story of Lovers' Rock" by British director Menelik Shabbaz.

A full menu of films from around the African Diaspora, including Egypt, the United States and Surinam round out the offerings, which run all day Saturday and Sunday, following the opening night film which kicks off with a reception at 6 p.m. and film screening at 7 p.m.

The African Diaspora Film Festival has been traveling to cities of the around the world since 1993, including New York, Chicago, Paris, Geneva and Curacao before landing in Washington, DC.

This year, the festival, which is co-presented by ArtMattan and TransAfrica Forum, will take place at The Goethe Institute, 812 Seventh Street, NW in the Chinatown area of the District.

Tickets can be purchased for individual films for $11 per screening or $9 for students and seniors, or a weekend pass is available for $40. DVDs of Diaspora films will also be on sale at the festival.

For tickets, visitwww.NYADIFF.org or www.transafrica.org, full schedule of films, or call (202) 223-1960 ext. 137.