The 20th annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival has kicked off and continues through Sept. 10, 2022. The summer-long festival offers free film screenings and music in outdoor venues including a new series held in partnership with the Frederick Douglass Blvd Alliance (FDBA) themed “The Soul of Harlem” primarily featuring films about Harlem such as “Forty Year-Old Version” by Harlem’s own Radha Blank (Aug. 27), and a talkback and special advance screening of Harlem-based director Stanley Nelson’s “Becoming Frederick Douglass” (Sept. 10).

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 global Black experience. New initiatives include an NFT art sidebar and Black Anime Con.

“This is our 20th annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival, we couldn’t be happier about launching our FDBA partnership with ‘Soul of Harlem,’ a focus on Harlem artists and experiences,” said Moikgantsi Kgama, executive director of ImageNation. “Locating on Frederick Douglass Boulevard allows us even more direct contact with our audience.”

“And, after 20 years of programs, we are also focused on cultivating opportunities for the Black community through exposure to emerging and popular media,” said Gregory Gates, executive producer of ImageNation.

“Our new Black Anime Con was created to encourage youth of African descent to explore opportunities for themselves within this extremely popular Japanese genre. Our NFT sidebar is designed to expose new audiences to this new block-chain-based artform.”

Highlights over the years have included drive-in movies during COVID-19, the world’s longest Soul Train line, the 100th Anniversary of South Africa’s African National Congress in Central Park, talk backs with heralded talent such as Jesse Williams, ASAP Ferg and live performances by Talib Kweli, Goapele, Les Nubians, and more.

Masks are recommended for all participants. Social distancing is required. This policy may change as stipulated by the government. All events are free and open to the public. Please note the schedule is subject to change.

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; Los Angeles; Baltimore; and Washington, D.C. Programs have featured appearances by leading filmmakers such as Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Stanley Nelson and Ava DuVernay.

All programs are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise stated, music/discussions begin at 7 p.m. and films begin at 8:30 p.m. or sundown.

Thursday, August 11: A Soul Train Tribute to Freedom featuring Academy Award-Winner “Judas and the Black Messiah”
dir. by Shaka King, 126m, 2021, USA
Location: Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater, 18 Mt. Morris Park W, New York, NY 10027
Synopsis: Featuring DJ Stormin Norman, the Soul Train Tribute—arguably the hottest Jam in the park for 10 years—celebrates the soundtrack of American social movements with a tribute to Freedom Songs from the Soul Train Era! Enjoy the music and then watch “Judas and the Black Messiah.” In this award-winning historic drama Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), a young, charismatic activist, becomes chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, putting him directly in the crosshairs of the government, the FBI, and the Chicago police. But to destroy the revolution, the authorities place a man on the inside.
Co-presented with Injoy Enterprises.

Saturday, August 13: “The Man by the Shore” (A Tribute to Michelle Materre)
dir. by Raoul Peck, 106m, 1993, France/Canada/Haiti/Germany
Location: 120th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd., near Chocolat Restaurant
Synopsis: An imaginative girl (Jennifer Zubar) escapes the horrors of living in dictator Francois Duvalier’s 1960s Haiti.
This ImageNation x FDBA program is co-presented with Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival.

Wednesday, August 17: New York premiere of “African Redemption: The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey”
Location: Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater, 18 Mt. Morris Park W, New York, NY 10027
Synopsis: Narrated by Keith David, African Redemption presents the life of Jamaican civil rights activist Marcus Garvey and his fight for the equality of Black people worldwide.
Co-presenters: Black Star Line Films, Jazzmobile | SUMMERFEST, and HARLEM WEEK

Saturday, August 20: ImageNation Celebrates Harlem Week!
Location: St. Nicholas Park—St. Nicholas Ave and 135th Street on the Great Hill
Presented in partnership with Harlem Week!

Thursday, August 25: “Drumline”
dir. by Charles Stone III, 111m, 2002, USA
Location: Herbert Von King Park, Marcy Ave., Tompkins Ave., between Greene Ave. and Lafayette Ave.
Synopsis: Starring Nick Cannon and Zoe Saldaña, “Drumline” brings the world of “show-style” marching bands (popular at traditionally Black, Southern colleges) to the big screen for the first time when a band director recruits a Harlem street drummer to play at a Southern university. The story was inspired by the high school drumline experiences of executive producer/executive music producer Dallas Austin.
Co-presented with Fun w/ Friends and the City Parks Department.

Saturday, August 27: “Forty Year-Old Version”
dir. by Radha Blank, 123m, 2020, USA
Preceded by a talk with director Radha Blank and ImageNation founder Moikgantsi Kgama and the short film “One Step At a Time,” 8:30 m, 2022, USA
Location: 120th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd., near Chocolat Restaurant
Synopsis: Radha is a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, who is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. Reinventing herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime, she vacillates between the worlds of hip hop and theater in order to find her true voice.
An ImageNation x FDBA program.

Sunday, August 28, 2-10 p.m.: Black Anime Con, varied artists, 145m, 2021, USA
Location: Herbert Von King Park, Marcy Ave., Tompkins Ave., between Greene Ave. and Lafayette Ave.
Synopsis: Celebrating the Black presence in anime, ImageNation’s Black Anime Con will feature CosPlay, Anime Market, Japanese Soul fusion food, film screenings and more.
Co-presented with the City Parks Department.

Saturday, September 10, 2022: “Becoming Frederick Douglass”
dir. by Stanley Nelson, 90m, 2022, USA
This Special Advance Screening will be preceded by a talk with director Stanley Nelson and Professor Natasha Lightfoot, Columbia University, Department of History.
Location: 120th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd., near Chocolat Restaurant
Synopsis: Using Frederick Douglass’ own words, this documentary film tells the story of how a man born and raised in slavery became one of the most prominent elder statesmen and powerful voices for freedom in America.
This ImageNation x FDBA program is co-presented with Firelight Films.

Please join the conversation on social media:
#ImageNationOutdoors20, #ImageNationOutdoors, #iLoveSoulCinema
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