The 15th Oakland International Film Festival is a wrap!

Thanks for coming out to celebrate independent filmmakers and the stories they tell.
During the week, we were excited to experience the sharing of various topics connected to this years films at various venues that make Oakland a world class city.  Venues like The Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Holy Names University, The Historic Grand Lake Theater, Oakland’s City Hall and Geoffrey’s Inner Circle were  this years main screening venues.

To add to this years 15 year celebration, we also celebrated 40 years since Alex Haley’s Roots mini-series broadcasted internationally the journey of African- Americans from slavery to freedom and equality in America.

I, personally, will never forget one of the scenes of “Roots”.

“Kunte Kinte”, played by Levar Burton, was tied to a tree and whipped by one of the slave overseers, as instructed by the slave master. After each lash, the overseer asked Kunte Kinte, “what’s your name ?”


The first few times Kunte Kinte said, “Kunte Kinte.” Eventually, after a number of lashes and blood dripping down his back, he says, “Toby” and the lashes ceased.

The attempt of the slave overseer to whip the name ‘Kunte Kinte’ out of him and replacing it with the name “Toby” was symbolic of the slave systems attempt in general to remove the language, and cultural identity of Africans held in bondage.

“Roots” showed that each generation proudly preserved this identity proudly, despite the slave systems and later Jim Crow attempt to destroy it.

In the process of celebrating our 15th year of presenting The Oakland International Film Festival and 40 years since “Roots”, we were joined by Actor/Director- Mario Van Peebles and Actor- Mandela Van Peebles, Actor – Louis Gossett Jr , Executive Producer of “Roots” – Mark Wolpar, Actor – Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and others to look back 40 years as we look forward in the future.