In American actors staring in West African film news.***

Kimberly Elise stars in Ghanaian film Ties That Bind

In her 16-year career, Elise has shown great dramatic arc in intensely emotive roles. For her latest turn on the big screen, Elise connected with Ghanaian filmmaker Leila Djansi for her second feature film Ties That Bind. In Ties, Elise plays Theresa, a marriage counselor who forms a bond with three other women grieving a loss of a child in some form, including her own. “I loved the premise and I also love the idea of working with Leila Djansi, a talented woman of color who was charting her own course and making her own movies her own way,” says Elise regarding her motivations to join the project, set in Ghana.

Elise, who describes herself as creatively driven, didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work in her Motherland, and would love the chance to work with other African filmmakers, “I love Africa tremendously, the people, the cultures, the depth of the whole continent - to be able to be a part of African storytelling is a gift and an honor. And there are some great directors from there contributing beautiful work - I'm a great fan of Darrell Roodt and would love to make a film with him,” says Elise, further stating that she definitely plans to work with director Djansi once again.


Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger, Vivica A. Fox, Persia White and Anne Heche star in Black November

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The film tells the true story of the Niger Delta community’s attempt to challenge its own nation’s government and a multi-national oil corporattion.

Although an estimated 50 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports goes directly to the U.S., few are aware of the hardships that the people of Nigeria are facing due to a substantial amount of oil spills and a lack of government support. To oppose international ignorance and bring attention to Nigera’s opression, Oscar winner Kim Basinger, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke, Anne Heche, Sarah Wayne Callies and Vivica Fox star in the film.

The screening was recently held in the Madison Building and was hosted by Congressman Bobby L. Rush of Illinois, as well as Amnesty International and the Congressional Black Caucus. Although many other political figures attended the event, boxing promoter, Don King, was the most memorable attendee, as he rallied up the crowd because of his strong belief in the cause.
At the conclusion of the movie, promoters for the film spoke a few words on the severity of Nigeria’s situation and honored and thanked those who participated in Black November‘s production. Following the presentation, the audience was invited to the One Lounge, to join the cast and crew in a toast to the completion and the powerful message of Black November.


Doctor Bello starring Isaiah Washington, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Stephanie Okereke and Genevieve Nnaji.

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It stars Isaiah Washington, as well as Vivica A. Fox, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Bern Cohen, Genevieve Nnaji (maybe the most internationally well known Nollywood actress), Stephanie Okereke (also a Nollywood actress) and many others.

The film’s synopsis states, "The Cure for Cancer has been found in the sky mountains of Africa, and an American Oncologist will risk everything to get it."

It is scheduled for release in Summer 2012. It's the first movie project financed in part by the recently established Nigerian Intervention Fund for the arts and entertainment industry administered by NEXIM Bank.

As noted in previous posts, we're seeing more and more of these cross-continental connections, between African American and African talents; most recently, Kimberly Elise in award-winning Ghanaian-American filmmaker Leila Djansi's Ties That Bind, and Vivica Fox in Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata's Black November.

Here's a longer synopsis:

Brilliant Cancer specialist Dr. Michael Durant ( Isaiah Washington) is emotionally troubled, wrestling with the traumatic loss of his 10 year old daughter from Cancer. Immersing himself in his work in the hospital, away from his wife ( Vivica A. Fox) he forms an unlikely bond with a sick, loving, but rambunctious 11 year old boy Sam, the son of a rich Jewish couple who are major contributors to the hospital Cancer research fund.Unfortunately, Sam’s health deteriorates drastically, and with only a few days to live. Dr. Durant becomes desperate, willing to risk anything to save the child’s life. A surreptitious Nigerian Nurse convinces him to seek the help of Dr. Bello ( Jimmy Jean Louis), an uncertified Nigerian Doctor with a controversial past, known in the Brooklyn-African underground as a miracle worker. Dr. Bello secretly administers a strange African potion, replete with incantations to Sam and miraculously, the child begins to recover, the Cancer speeding into remission. Little did Dr. Durant know that this would start a criminal investigation by the hospital board, and eventually lead him to a mysterious, riveting journey of self discovery, love, forgiveness, and hope in the mysterious “Garden of life,” lodged deep in the recesses of Nigeria’s sky mountains.

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*weird arse title, I know...I couldn't think of what to call this.