Ava DuVernay‘s Array Releasing has acquired director Haile Gerima’s rarely-seen classic Ashes And Embers and will give it full restoration, followed in February by the film’s first-ever theatrical release. The restoration and distribution deal comes as part of a new initiative within Array Releasing, which identifies seldom-seen films and introduces them to new audiences.
Made in 1982, Ashes And Embers played the Berlin International Film Festival in 1983, where Gerima won the Fispresci Prize for Forum of New Cinema. But Ashes And Embers never saw theatrical release. The film will screen February 25, 2016 as part of the bi-monthly Array @ The Broad film series, followed by showings at The Smithsonian Institute, as well as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Additional locations will also soon be announced.
“We, like many across the world, regard Mr. Gerima as a master filmmaker whose body of work asserts and amplifies the magnificence of black people in all our complexity,” said Array Executive Director Tilane Jones in a statement. “We are honored to release Mr. Gerima’s rarely seen jewel Ashes and Embers at a time when the film’s themes of cultural anguish and political unrest mirror contemporary issues that we face today.”
Set amidst the challenges of Black urban life in the early 1980s, the film is the story of a disillusioned African-American Vietnam vet grappling with his turbulent past and struggling inside a chaotic political environment to make a future for himself. It stars John Anderson, Evelyn A. Blackwell, Norman Blalock, Kathy Flewellen, Uwezo Flewellen, and Barry Wiggins.
Gerima emigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in 1967 and became an educator and filmmaker as leading part of the LA Rebellion Film Movement, based at UCLA. He’s best known as the writer, producer, and director of Sankofa.