In November 2015, the African Artists’ Association collaborated with NewFilmmakers Los Angeles to curate an evening of African cinema which included entries from three countries: Alma from Cameroon, directed by Christa Eka Assam; Save from Eritrea, directed by Emnet Mulugeta; and The Market King (Soko Sonko) from Kenya, directed by Ekwa Msangi.
The initiative was spearheaded by former African Artists’ Association board member Wanjiru Njendu, myself (Constance Ejuma) and member Kady Kamakate. “We really want to concentrate our energy on films that represent the continent in the best way,” says Francis Onelum. “We’ve seen enough of the negativity out there so we just want to do more movies that will put on a better light.”
In the following interview, African Artists’ Association President Francis Onelum and Vice President Rodney Charles met with Danny De Lillo of NFMLA to discuss how the organization came about.
Rodney Charles had the following insights to share about the organization.
On the organization’s purpose – “The African Artists’ Association is a non-profit based here in Los Angeles. It’s been created with the focus of educating and demystifying the entertainment industry and the arts. It’s really about connecting artists throughout the diaspora and also with a view to connecting individuals who are also supportive of Africa and all things African.”
On assisting filmmakers – “There are so many filmmakers out there struggling to find access to audiences, distribution, and sales in a conventional way that we’ve become a sort of de-facto body to assist in connecting people to their audiences. We do that both with the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival, the AFI and of course, with you guys [NewFilmmakers Los Angeles]…”
On educating artists – “Education is one of the key factors here. We have guest speakers come in once a month and we’ll have them speak in a manner and in an environment that allows our members to interact and ask the difficult questions. We have this dialogue which empowers and grants the confidence to go out there and collaborate and make films.”
To learn more about how you can join the African Artists’ Association, visit our membership page: http://www.the3as.org/membership/
Author: Constance Ejuma is an award-winning actress and producer. She’s also a current member of The3As board and spearheaded the launch of this site’s blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.