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How Three African Rappers are Forging a New Home In China

The documentary China Remix explores the the city of Guangzhou, which is home to a large african population.

Image via China Remix's Facebook page.

Local taxi drivers refer to it as “chocolate city”—the Chinese city of Guangzhou is home to Asia’s largest diasporic African community, and it’s only been growing since airlines first established direct flights between African countries and China in 2008. Estimates of the local African immigrant population in Guangzhou range widely from 20,000 to 200,000. The community suffers from stereotypes that cast African immigrants as economic opportunists, but a new documentary intends to subvert that narrative with the stories of three African rap artists—Dibaocha Sky, Ivan Manivoo, and Flame Ramadan—struggling to make it in the city. China Remix depicts their confrontations with anti-black prejudice, their battles with immigration and deportation laws, and their attempts to forge a new life in a new place.

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Meet the Filmmaker Who Infiltrated the Underbelly of Commercial Oil Development

Rachel Boynton's film follows the quest to drill for oil off the coast of West Africa, and Ghana's attempt to protect its people.

Rachel Boynton never meant to make a film in Ghana. When the documentary filmmaker started making trips to Africa, her flights landed in Lagos. After her 2005 film Our Brand Is Crisis, which follows an American politial consulting firm's work in Bolivia during the country's 2002 presidential election, she wanted to investigate why underserved Nigerian citizens were attacking federally maintained pipelines. But when an upstart Texas oil company, Kosmos Energy, discovered the first major oil field off the coast of Ghana, and invited Boynton along to film their negotiations with the country's government, it set in motion the story that forms the backbone of Big Men–a scathing and unfettered look at the cross-cultural clash and universal greed that infects the world's most coveted resource.

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Why I'm Filming a Documentary About Social Impact Design

Social impact designers are people who are finding concrete, cost-effective solutions to many problems around the world—people who are bringing about real change.

I’m a documentary filmmaker but I started as a sculptor. I’ve long been interested in how we interact with one another, as individuals and societies, through the physical things we select and make. My last film was Objects and Memory, a national, prime time PBS special about the otherwise ordinary things in our homes and museums that mean the most to us because of what they represent. Documentary filmmakers tend to see things that the general public may not notice and illuminate them so that people can better understand their lives and their world. This work takes tenacity and a strong belief that your efforts will have meaning and effect. You have to be an irrational optimist.

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'Blackboard Wars': Oprah's Education Reality Show Reveals Reform Isn't Always Students-First

On the show and in education reform, students are mere backdrops that fuel exploitative drama.


As an educator in New Orleans, I've been asked dozens of times, "What do you think of Blackboard Wars," the documentary series featured on Oprah's OWN Network about troubled John McDonogh High school.

My first and most enduring reaction to Blackboard Wars is fatigue. I'm simply tired of New Orleans education reform, the spectacle. This is not because the series is not well produced. Without a doubt, Blackboard Wars is gripping television. The show has everything you want in television: an engaging protagonist with a fatal flaw (Principal Dr. Thompson), a damsel in distress (Ms. Cobb), people needing salvation (students), high stakes, community unrest, and love.

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Participation, Not Marginalization: Using People's Stories for Social Good

Filmmakers capitalize on the stories of the underprivileged, but the subjects make no profit. A solution: help them to tell their own stories.

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Behind the Eli Porter Rap Battle: Is This the First Meme Documentary?

A new short film digs deep into the most infamous amateur rap battle in internet history.

In 2003, at Chamblee Charter High School in Chamblee, Georgia, a rap battle went down between students Eli Porter and "Envy." By all accounts it was very bad, from the rapping to the lighting to the unenthusiastic host. But the star of the mess was Eli Porter, whose weak stop-and-start rhyming efforts quickly became meme legend: the William Hung of hip hop.

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