15 African Diaspora-Interest Feature Films To See At The 2013 SXSW Film Festival-Blogs.indiewire.com+Five Questions with Touba Director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi-Filmmakermagazine.com

The 20th South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival opened its doors today, in Austin, TX, with a total of 133 features, consisting of 78 World Premieres, 13 North American Premieres and 9 U.S. Premieres, and 76 first-time directors. 109 shorts will screen as part of 10 overall shorts programs. The nearly 250 films were selected from a record number of overall submissions, over 5,700, comprised of approximately 2,100 features and 3,600 shorts. In addition to the films, the SXSW Film Conference features over 150 informative and entertaining featured Conversations, panels, workshops and more. “As the lines between film and technology continue to blur, SXSW Film remains ahead of the curve as we host digital creatives from across all fields,” said SXSW Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson. The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival will take place March 8 – 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, neither I nor Vanessa (we both went last year) will be there this year (all these trips to festivals start to get pricey, from one to the next); however, I still hope that we’ll get a few reviews from folks I know who are attending, and who have offered to contribute a write-up or two, or three… And in anticipation of the festival’s opening today, I compiled a list of the 15 feature films (fiction and non-fiction) that center on stories about people of African descent, separated in their respective categories, that are scheduled to screen (whether in or out of competition) at the festival. 15 of out 133 total features in this year’s lineup, or about 11%, which is roughly the same percentage as there were in the 2012 edition of the festival. But without further ado, here are the 15 feature films: In the Narrative feature film competition category: 1 - Jonathan Singer-Vine‘s Licks revolves around a man named D and his struggles after returning to his Oakland neighborhood...

Kenya: Two Kenyan Tech Startups Invited to SXSW Event in the U.S.-Capital FM (Nairobi) via Allafrica

Two of Kenya’s leading young entrepreneurs have been invited to appear at South by South West (SXSW), the United States’ most exciting emerging technologies event. Nivi Mukherjee, founder of eLimu, Kenya’s most talked about education technology startup; and Simeon Oriko, founder of The Kuyu Project, that teaches high school students how to harness the power of social media; have been selected by the Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce (CCAACC) as their first ever Africa Diaspora Fellows. In this capacity they will attend the SXSW Interactive Festival that will take place in Austin, Texas from the 8th to 12th March, 2013. This fellowship is focused on deepening the relationship between Kenyan entrepreneurs and Austin’s globally-renowned and growing technology scene. “Opportunities like this lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to participate in meaningful interactions like this which are useful in building the necessary relationships to help our ventures grow,” says Simeon Oriko. “This is a good opportunity for us to connect and interact with the globally significant entrepreneurs and help to put Kenya with its thriving entrepreneurial culture on the map” Nivi Mukherjee adds. The CCAACC promotes the development of African-American businesses and the expansion of the Greater Austin business community by providing resources, technical assistance, and leadership on policy issues that enhance economic growth and by promoting convention and tourism. Natalie Cofield, President & CEO of CCAACC says, “Austin is very excited to deepen our connection to global technology markets. This fellowship provides an opportunity for African entrepreneurs to learn more about our great city, and for our city to learn more about them..” eLimu is an education technology startup that utilizes tablets to make learning more interactive, fun and effective for Kenyan primary school students. The Kuyu Project is a digital literacy initiative that teaches high school students and graduates the value of digital technology and how...

SXSW Music Day 2: Spoek Mathambo, Sauti Sol, Kali Mutsa-sfbg.com

  After an early afternoon chat with Portuguese electro-kuduro group Buraka Som Sistema, I wandered downtown only to run into Andy and Christian of San Franpsycho. They’ve got a rack of clothes, a mobile screenprinting setup, and are representing SF style deep in the heart of Texas. As we commiserated about the craziness that is SXSW, SF local Danny Sams of The Frail happened by. Then it was off to catch a few songs by The White Eyes at the Taiwan music showcase. Frontwoman Gau Xiao-gao was festooned in a nude leotard with fabric streamers while she led her band through the punk and straight-ahead rock paces.   Later that eve it was off to Buca Lounge to see  Kali Mutsa, the alter-ego of Chilean actress Celine Reymond. As lazer lights danced around the room, it was hard to resist the hip-shaking gypsy sounds she and her band were pumping out.   After that it was off to Spinlet All Africa party at Copa to check out South African electro-rapper Spoek Mathambo. The room was already crowded and people were grooving to the beats being played by Sierra Leonean dj Chief Boima. For some reason Spoek’s show was being delayed and it was 45 minutes before there was any action on the stage. The crowd was antsy but finally a group took the stage and it was Kenya’s Sauti Sol.   The first thing to notice about Sauti Sol was their incredible clothing. They were wearing these beautifully tailored kanga-print jackets, some even had beaded epaulettes. En masse they kind of resembled an East African Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The second thing to notice was their great music. From the get go they navigated effortlessly from rocking out to singing soaring harmonies… all the while spontaneously breaking into lockstep dancing. The crowd ate it up.   From there I went to the Colombian...

SXSW regional preview: Africa-Austin360.com

Just a Band Self-described as “Africa’s Super-Nerdy Electronic Music/Art Collective,” Just A Band is a four-piece from Nairobi, Kenya, made up of “Blinky Bill” Sellanga, Dan Muli, Mbithi Masya and Jim Chuchu. With cohesive production blending elements of electrofunk, neosoul, house and pop, they draw a surprising spectrum of emotional hues from an electronic pallet. Their sound runs the gamut, shifting smoothly from irresistible disco to haunting tales of love and longing. Add to that a series of well-produced online videos, including a rough-cut tongue-in-cheek homage to Blaxploitation flicks — “Makmende Returns” resurrected a Kenyan folk hero and garnered so much online attention it landed the band on CNN and Wired.com — and you have the makings of an international phenom. The band’s online bio reads as a superhero origin story, a fantastic tale that includes pygmy tribes, a Volkswagen van, a giant she-lizard and a freak accident involving carnivorous pigs. The “humdrum” story is that Jim and Bill met in high school and formed the band when they ended up in University with Dan. Mbithi, who takes co-director credits on many of the band’s videos including “Makemende,” stormed the camp just a year ago. “No one really received schooling for what they do in the band,” Muli explained via email. “Everyone was just a rabid fan of music and film and art and such, and wanted to participate in contributing to these art forms.” Citing a wide range of audio influences from Daft Punk to the Neptunes, the band always saw the value of approaching their craft as multimedia artists. “We don’t necessarily work on the visuals and the sound in tandem, but sometimes they do influence each other,” Muli said. “When we formed the band we thought it might be more interesting for us, as well as a stronger project, if we pulled together all the things...