New York (NY), USA – The feature documentary Africa Unite will make its North American debut on April 7 at the 14th annual New York African Film Festival. The film, starring Rita Marley, Danny Glover, Angelique Kidjo, Lauryn Hill and Marley’s children Ziggy, Cedella, Sharon, Stephen, Kymani, Julian and Damian, is produced and directed by Stephanie Black (Life and Debt, H-2 Worker).
The documentary highlights the vision for African unity that Bob Marley was devoted to throughout his music career and presents an inspiring tribute to a man who defined his own aim as “spreading the message of unity and equality to end the needless suffering of mankind.”
On February 6th 2005, over 350,000 people gathered in the historic Meskel Square of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, to celebrate what would have been Bob Marley’s 60th birthday. The twelve-hour concert, featuring a host of internationally acclaimed artists, is interwoven throughout the film, highlighting the singer’s global influence. American Lauryn Hill passionately debuts new material, Benin-born Angélique Kidjo jumps into the audience during “Mama Afrika”, and legendary Jamaican artist Bob Andy serenades Ethiopia. The concert culminates with a spectacular nighttime performance by Rita Marley and the I-Threes and all of Marley’s sons singing their father’s songs.
Crucial to the Africa Unite vision, the film also focuses on UNICEF-sponsored symposia and youth-oriented workshops that were held during the week-long celebration. Taking their inspiration from such Bob Marley songs as “War” and “Get Up Stand Up”, these sessions deal with issues including conflict transformation, youth and women’s empowerment, the prevention of corruption, awareness and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases, and the centrality of human rights. Speaking at a symposium dedicated to dialogue with youth, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover, whose production company Louverture Films executive produced the film with Tuff Gong Pictures, stresses that “It takes time to build, years to organize, and that’s what we have to commit ourselves to. In Guinea, in Kenya, in too many other countries, less than 30% of children go to school. It is a human right to have an education. And that begins right here with you. Bob Marley would’ve loved to have been here with us today… He loved Africa, and the fact that we are here to carry on this work is most important.”
“The message of Africa Unite is for Africans to take our own lives into our own hands and to realize that we are better off together than divided,” says Ziggy Marley. “We know the history of Africa. Believe the dream of the unity of Africa is something we can accomplish. It is possible and we should do it.”
“It’s our aim with this documentary to further Bob Marley’s eternal message of hope and struggle across continents and generations,” agrees producer/director Stephanie Black. “We know that change occurs when we refuse to be silent in the face of injustice and inequity, and Africa Unite is a call to action catalyzed by Bob Marley’s musical legacy.”
“In the words of Bob,” says Rita Marley, “Africans Unite for the benefit of your people – Africans Unite for the benefit of your children – Africans Unite – it’s later than you think!”
About the Africa Unite Organization
Born in Ethiopia in 2005, and again realized in Ghana in 2006, the now annual Africa Unite event came to life from the unwavering passion and spirit of Mrs. Rita Marley. Mrs. Marley and her family are inspired to spread the spirit and legacy of Bob Marley, continuing to bring life to his Songs of Freedom and to actively work towards a united Africa in their lifetime. The Africa Unite events have begun a global movement that creates awareness for vital issues affecting Africa, as well as for realizing important and meaningful change that will contribute to lasting solutions. Through a series of benefit concerts, symposiums, fund raisers and events, Africa Unite will encourage peace, education and empowerment for youth in Africa while working to manifest change throughout the world. Africa Unite 2007 commences on the honor rebel Bob Marley’s birthday, February 6, 2007 and continues throughout the year. For more information on Africa Unite 2007 click on www.africa-unite.org
About Louverture Films
Dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance and social purpose, Louverture Films is also passionate about the objective of nurturing artistic creativity and integrity. The New York based company owned and operated by Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes has a slate of progressive features and documentaries, which include the critically-acclaimed BAMAKO (a New Yorker Films release) and the action-epic TOUSSAINT. The epic deals with the Haitian Revolution and the heroic life of Toussaint Louverture, who led one of the only successful slave uprisings in history. His efforts decisively defeated the French, Spanish and British imperial armies and established the first independent black Republic: Haiti. The film will be directed by Danny Glover. www.louverturefilms.com.
Saturday, April 7 @ 8:00pm
Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central