The Black Is CultureFeast, a five-day extravaganza that kicks off tonight, was known as the Denver Pan African Film Festival for its first seven incarnations. Why the change? "It's a more authentic representation of what this festival has always been," says Ashara Ekundayo, the event's founder and executive director. "It's never just been a film festival. There's always been poetry and performances and a big feast of black culture. So we thought, why not call the festival what it is?"
This year's menu is particularly rich. The CultureFeast launches in earnest with a bash at La Rumba starring gifted hip-hopper Bahamadia and Future Jazz Project. It's billed as an unofficial after-party for the Nas concert taking place this evening at the Fillmore Auditorium, and Nas, who's receiving the fest's annual Oscar Brown Jr. award, is expected to attend. (Other 2007 CultureFeast award recipients include singer India.Arie, actress Pam Grier and jazzer Dianne Reeves.) That's followed on Thursday, April 26, by a reggae and spoken-word showcase at the Crossroads Theatre, and on Friday, April 27, by a Cafe Nuba showcase at the same venue featuring talents well known to viewers of HBO's Def Poetry Jam among them M-1 of Dead Prez, also a CultureFeast honoree. Finally, on Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, cinema is spotlighted at Starz FilmCenter via a roster led by The Hip Hop Project, a documentary executive-produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah whose sole local screening will take place at CultureFeast.
"There's something for everybody," Ekundayo enthuses. "People will truly be able to immerse themselves in black culture."
Opening night of CultureFeast gets under way at 10 p.m. at La Rumba, 99 West Ninth Avenue. Admission is $15, or $10 with a Nas ticket stub. For details and a full schedule, phone 303-298-8188 or visit www.panafricanarts.org.
Wed., April 25, 10 p.m.