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17th Annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival

The 17thAnnual ImageNation Outdoors Festival: Soul Cinema and Music Under the Stars kicks off July 10that Harlem’s Jackie Robinson Park with a screening of the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, shown in celebration of his 100thbirthday, with special giveaways from the Jackie Robinson Museum including free birthday cake for all!  Held in partnership with the Historic Harlem Parks and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, New York City’s only free summer-long outdoor film and music festival, dedicated to Black cinema, will continue with a dynamic slate of free entertainment.

On July 31st, come to slay with a screening of an intimate documentary as stylish and unconventional as its subject, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.  The documentary depicts Jones in her Jamaican hometown, follows her into the studio with longtime collaborators Sly & Robbie, and at cutting-edge live shows—featuring performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” and “Pull Up to the Bumper”. The screening will follow live tribute performances and a fashion show of OKETSA by Thulare Monareng and designs by Sheila Prevost. 

The Queen of Soul brings out the joy in all of us! On August 22nd, ImageNation Outdoors will present a special screening of Amazing Grace, the acclaimed documentary of Aretha Franklin recording her gospel album live at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.  The screening will follow a live musical tribute, and Harlem will attempt to make the Guiness Book of Records by forming the longest Soul Train line.

Festival dates begin July 10th and continue through September 20th.   All programs are free and open to the public. Music and activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown
2019 Outdoor Lineup:

  • July 10 – 42 (Celebrating Jackie Robinson’s 100th Birthday), J. Robinson Park 
  • July 31 – Black Girl Magic – Grace Jones: Bami & Bloodlight, Marcus Garvey Park 
  • August 17 – If Beale Street Could Talk, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week! 
  • August 22 – Soul Train Tribute to Aretha Franklin w/ Amazing Grace, Marcus Garvey Park 
  • August 23 – Decade of Fire, St. Nicholas Park (Black Public Media 40th Ann.)
  • August 24 – Kids Night Out – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, St. Nicholas Park, w/ Harlem Week!
  • September 20 – Daughters of the Dust, St. Nicholas Park (BPM 40th Ann.)

“We are excited to kick off our 2019 season!” says ImageNation founder Moikgantsi Kgama. “We programmed a diverse set of movies this year, from “If Beale Street Could Talkand “Daughters of the Dust “ to “Decade of Fire” and the Oscar-winning Spidermenfilm featuring a Blatino Spidey, these are all groundbreaking films that celebrate the power and impact of progressive Black cinema.”  
Kids’ Night Out is curated by eight year-old, Harlemite, Kgari Kgama-Gates who shared, “I chose the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versebecause it really inspired me to have a young superhero who looks like me. Plus, the music is awesome!” Children as well as adults are bound to have a great time as the screening celebrates Harlem Week as well.  The program will also offer STEM games, face painting, and a back to school backpack giveaway by the Harlem-based Xi Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Highlights over the years have included the world’s longest Soul Train line, the 100thAnniversary of South Africa’s African National Congress in Central Park, talk backs with aheralded talent such as Jesse Williams, ASAP Fergand live performances by Talib KweliGoapeleLes Nubians, and more.
ImageNation Outdoors is sponsored by Harlem Community Development Corp, Black Public Media, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Harlem Week, Radio 103.9, HBO, the Colonel Young Park Association, Harlem 2020 and Global Black Network of Black Pride. Launched in 2002 with a single screening for 300 people, ImageNation Outdoors has grown to draw nearly 10,000 attendees each summer. ImageNation Outdoors is the only summer long festival dedicated to films and music about the Black global experience. 

Led by Moikgantsi Kgama (Founder & Executive Director) and Gregory Gates (Executive Producer), ImageNation has hosted film screenings, live music performances and other cultural events for more than 150,000 people worldwide since its inception in New York City in 1997. In addition to hosting year-round programs at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the world-famous Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and in New York City Parks, ImageNation has presented internationally in South Africa, Scotland and Canada and domestically at Harvard University, MASS MOCA, and in Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Baltimore, MD and Washington DC. Programs have featured appearances by leading filmmakers such as Spike LeeLee DanielsStanley Nelson and Ava Duvernay.

Full descriptions of the festival programs are enclosed below. All programs are free and open to the public. Music/activities begin at 6:00PM; and, films begin at sundown.

July 10th 2019 – Jackie Robinson Park 42: the Jackie Robinson StoryDir. Brian Helgeland, 128 min. USA In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball’s notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Co-presented with the Jackie Robinson Museum and the Historic Harlem Parks

July 31st 2019 – Marcus Garvey Park lack Girl Magic! Grace Jones: Bami & BloodlightDir. Sophie Fiennes, 115min., USALarger than life, wild, scary and androgynous – Grace Jones plays all these parts. The stage is where her most extreme embodiments are realized. The film includes performances of iconic hits such as Slave To The Rhythm, Pull Up to the Bumper and more.  Film is preceded by live tribute performances and a fashion show featuring OKETSA by Thulare Monareng

August 17th – St. Nicholas Park – Harlem Week! If Beale Street Could Talk Dir. Barry Jenkins, 117 min., USA This adaptation of the James Baldwin Novel, stars Academy Award winner Regina KingColeman DomingoMichael Beach, Teyonah Parris, Aunjanue Ellis and newcomer Kiki Layne. The film follows a pregnant woman in who Harlem desperately scrambles to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime he did not commit.

August 22nd – Marcus Garvey Park Soul Train Tribute to Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace, Dir. Sidney Pollack, 120 min. USA Singer Aretha Franklin performs gospel songs at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. Preceded by live musical tribute, and Harlem’s attempt to form a record-breaking Soul Train line.
Co-presented by & InJoy Enterprises, the evening will feature Aretha Franklin hits and rare grooves spun by DJ King James NYC of & WHCR-FM, a concert featuring some of the music from the Queen of Soul interpreted by an all-star cast of independent artists including: Asa Lovechild, Lynn Lockamy, Nyasia Chane’l, Queen Zenobia, Rachel Walker, Red Sahara and Stori James backed by the Soul Train Tribute House band led by guitarist John Smith. “You can bet your last money, It’s gonna be a Stone Gas Honey.”

August 23, 2019 – St. Nicholas Park – Black Public Media 40th Anniversary Decade of FireIn the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire. Left unprotected by the city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned, reducing the community to rubble. While insidious government policies caused the devastation, Black and Latino residents bore the blame. In this story of hope and resistance, Bronx native Vivian Vazquez exposes the truth about the borough’s sordid history and reveals how her embattled and maligned community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.

August 24th – St. Nicholas Park – Kids Night Out!Spiderman: Into the SpiderverseDir. Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti, Rodney Rothman, 116 min. USAIn this 2019 academy Award winner, Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from another dimensions to stop a threat for all realities. Proceeded by a back to school backpack giveaway, STEM games and more!

September 20, 2019 – St. Nicholas Park, Black Public Media 40th Anniversary Daughters of the Dust and Four Women Dir. Julie Dash, 112 min. and 8 min, USAA critically acclaimed classic, Daughters of the Dust is a picturesque tale set in 1902, about a family in the Gullah community that suffers a generational split. Proceeded by the short film “Four Women”, based on the Nina Simone song. 

Please join the conversation on social media: 

#ImageNationOutdoors, #iLoveSoulCinema

Twitter: @ImageNationUS

Instagram: @ImageNation.US

Facebook: @ImageNationFoundation

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About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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