Competition Documentary Feature
The Sun Rises in the East
Directed by: Tayo Giwa
USA, 2022, 58m
What if the Harlem Cultural Festival featured in Questlove’s Summer of Soul continued for over a decade, eventually giving rise to dozens of pan-African institutions? The answer to that question is found in the inspiring and never-before-told true story of The East, a pan-African cultural organization founded in 1969 in Brooklyn. Led by the charismatic Jitu Weusi along with a cadre of dedicated volunteers, The East embodied Black self-determination. When New York City public schools (still the most segregated in the U.S.) wouldn’t provide opportunities for Black teachers or quality education for Black children, The East founded an African-centered school that would positively impact the lives of all involved. World-famous jazz musicians and poets performed at its highly sought-after performance venue. The astonishing depth and reach of The East continued until 1986, when gender politics, financial struggles, and government surveillance led to its dissolution. Inspired by civil rights and Black power activists, The East serves as an empowering example for today’s racial justice movement, making this enlightening work both a fascinating piece of NYC history and Black history in America.
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