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Film Programs
Black Dreams at Sea: The Sardine Fisherman’s Funeral and An Opera of the World

March 23 at 2:30
East Building Auditorium

Elizabeth Alexander and Manthia Diawara in person

Two artists — painter Ficre Ghebreyesus (1962 – 2012) from Asmara in Eritrea and filmmaker Manthia Diawara from Bamako in Mali — meet metaphorically in this program focusing on their work. Political refugees, activists, scholars, artists, and storytellers, both men settled in the United States and found themselves working odd jobs, joining the African American community of poets, and hunkering down within their own artistic practice. Ficre Ghebreyesus’s epic painting The Sardine Fisherman’s Funeral centers on the abebuu adekai, the figurative coffin of the Ga people in Ghana, replete with symbols, historical references, and Eritrean iconography expressing a depth of feeling for the power of the sea. Manthia Diawara’s film An Opera of the World (2017), based on the African opera Bintou Were, mines the Malian filmmaker’s own migration experience against the backdrop of recent tragedies on the Mediterranean Sea. Diawara’s film features contemporary philosophers and employs footage of refugees in exodus, probing cinema’s power to bear witness. Manthia Diawara and Elizabeth Alexander — poet, essayist, playwright, scholar, and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — discuss and contrast both of these works (Ghebreyesus’s painting and Diawara’s film) following the screening. (Approximately 100 minutes)

still from An Opera of the World

Film Programs

The National Gallery of Art’s film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world.

View the current schedule here.

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