African-Italian-American documentaries

Feb 10, 2015 1148

by Sante Matteo

Italian-Ghanaian documentarist Fred Kuwornu will be coming to the Miami University campus next week to present and discuss two of his films: 18 IUS SOLI and Inside Buffalo. 

There has been a change in dates: he will be here at the beginning of the week, Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 16 and 17, and not the 19th and 20th as originally announced. In the meantime the screening schedule looks like this

SCREENINGS:

CLASS SCREENING: Monday, Feb. 16, 2:30-3:45, 2 Upham: Mr. Kuwornu will screen Inside Buffalo for the students in Prof. Adrian Gaskins's BWS 151 Introduction to Black World Studies class. This screening will not be listed on the flyer, but the room capacity (70) will permit those who cannot make the other screening of the film on Tuesday afternoon at 4 to watch it at this time.

PUBLIC SCREENING: Monday, Feb. 16, 7:30 PM, ​46​ Culler: 18 IUS SOLI, a documentary about native-soil-based vs. heredity-based citizenship laws. This will be listed on the flyer as a public screening.

PUBLIC AND CLASS SCREENING: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 4:00 PM, 1 Upham: Inside Buffalo, on the Black "Buffalo Soldiers" who fought in Italy in WWII. This screening, which will be listed on the flyer as open to the public, will also coincide with a section of BWS 151, normally held in 298 UPH but which will be moved to this more capacious venue for the screening and discussion.

MEALS:

We are organizing meals with him for both Monday and Tuesday: dinners with faculty and lunches with students and faculty who can't make it to the dinners. The current plan is to have lunch at the campus diner La Mia Cucina on Monday, 12-1, and a catered lunch in one of the seminar rooms in Irvin Hall on Tuesday, 12-1; dinners at Paesano's on Monday, 6-7:30, and Stella's on Tuesday, 6-7:30. If you wish to attend any of them, please let me and Nicolette Utsinger know, ans start recruiting those of your students who would benefit from meeting with Mr. Kuwornu. However, these plans are not yet finalized, and if you have other preferences, please let me know.

THE FILMS:

18 IUS SOLI is a grassroots Italian documentary that tells the stories of 18 young people born and raised in Italy whose parents are originally from African, Asian, and Latin American countries. They are children of immigrants; they go to school in Italy, they speak the language and dialects, they have never visited the countries that their parents are from, nor do they speak their parents' language. Yet, they are not recognized as Italian citizens. Ius soli or Jus Soli (the right of soil) refers to the Latin term for birthright citizenship. It's the right to citizenship determined by the place of birth (such as in France or the US). In contrast there is the Ius Sanguinis (the right of blood), applied in Italy, Germany and Eastern Europe, that only gives you the right to citizenship if you can prove that one or both of your parents or grand-parents were/are citizens or members of that nation. If not, even if you were born and raised in Italy, you have no right to be an Italian citizen.

Inside Buffalo (2010) 59 min: The historic account of the 92nd Infantry Division, the African American segregated combat unit who fought in World War Two. Reconstructing for the first time an important piece of African American history and placing it within the context of Civil Rights history, INSIDE BUFFALO, an award winning feature film, Best Documentary at Black International Cinema Berlin ,tells the story of the 92nd Buffalo Division, the all African American segregated combat unit that fought with outstanding heroism in Italy during the Second World War. They were called "Buffalo Soldiers," these men fought two wars at the same time, one against the Nazis, the other against racial discrimination. and those who survived found that their contributions went unnoticed upon their return to United Stated of America.

Director Fred Kuwornu, an Italian filmmaker of African heritage, searches out little-known aspects of the story, including details of the friendships forged between African American soldiers and the Italian partisan fighters and villagers they liberated from fascist rule.

THE FILMMAKER:

Fred "Kudjo" Kuwornu, an activist-producer-writer-director, was born and raised in Italy and is based in Brooklyn. His mother is an Italian Jew, and his father a Ghanaian surgeon who lived in Italy since the early 60's. Fred Kuwornu holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Mass Media, from the University of Bologna. As a teenager, he started his career as a DJ and Producer. Later, he moved to Rome where he began working as a TV show writer for RAI public television.

After his experience, working with the production crew of Spike Lee's "Miracle at St. Anna", Fred decided to research the unknown story of the 92nd Infantry "Buffalo Soldiers" Division, discovering and documenting the journey taken by the real 92nd Infantry veterans, and the entire African American segregated combat unit, which fought in Europe during WW II.

Fred thus produced and directed the Award-winning documentary Inside Buffalo ("Best Documentary" at the Black Berlin International Cinema Festival). Inside Buffalo had viewings at the Pentagon, the Library of Congress and it received a letter of congratulations by President Barack Obama. In 2012, he released "18 IUS SOLI "which examines multiculturalism in Italy but also specifically looks at questions of citizenship for the one million children of immigrants born and raised in Italy but are not yet Italian citizens.

He is the founder of the Association Diversity Italia promoting the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in Italy and Europe using film and other art forms as tools for building a more inclusive society. His next projects, with the new production company Do The Right Films Entertainment are: "Afropolti@n", a documentary about a contemporary concept of Pan Africanism, and "Blaxploitalian" a documentary about 100 Years of Blackness in the Italian cinema. Fred Kuwornu had the privilege of being a guest lecturer and keynote speaker at conferences such as "Ethnicity, National Identity in Contemporary Italy" and "Documentary for Social Change" at top universities like Yale, Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, Brown, Columbia, University of Toronto, Oxford University (in the UK) and others.

Thank you for your support and for helping to promote this exciting event. 

Sante Matteo
Professor, Coordinator of Italian Studies
Department of French and Italian
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056

You may be interested