ImageNation Outdoors Festival kicks off in Harlem

A DJ plays music at the Sundae Sermon event.

ImageNation Cinema Foundation’s 19th Annual ImageNation Outdoors Festival kicked off on Aug.13 to Sept. 10.

The month-long program offers free film screenings and music in outdoor venues.

This year’s festival includes a sidebar, the Rejoice/Resist Festival on Aug. 29 and 30.

ImageNation said it was also “proud to be honored” by Harlem Week on Aug. 14 at St. Nicholas Park.

This summer’s official slate continues with The Kids Night Out program featuring The Wiz and is co-presented by East River Plaza; System K, and Renaud Barrett’s “stunning” documentary about street artists in Kinshasa.

The 2019 Academy Award-winning short film “Hair Love” by Matthew Cherry will also be screened, as well as short works by New York City-based filmmakers, including Christine Turner’s “Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business”; two films from HCCI Filmmaker Training Program – Sheila Prevost’s “Dusk, Mask, Soul” and Ashley Denise Robinson’s “Dead Beat.”

“Adventures of Booga and Mommy” by Jermaine Smith will also be featured in the festival, ImageNation said.


It said a new partnership with the Rejoice/Resist Festival will feature a sidebar, including a block party with an outdoor art exhibit, vendors, a panel discussion on activism, and screenings from the RIZZLE/RejoiceResist film collection on Sunday, Aug. 29.

On Monday, Aug. 30, Black Public Media will co-present PBS’s award-winning film “The Neutral Ground,” a documentary about documentary about memory, monuments and America’s confederate past.

This year, ImageNation Outdoors said it is supported by Bronx Terminal Market’s Films on the Rooftop, East River Plaza, Black Public Media, Harlem Week, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Rejoice/Resist Film Festival, and the Frederick Douglass Blvd. Alliance.

Launched in 2002 with a single screening for 300 people, ImageNation Outdoors said it has grown to draw nearly 10,000 attendees each summer.

ImageNation Outdoors said it is the only summer-long festival dedicated to films and music about the Black global experience.

“Post COVID-19, we are excited to return to a more robust outdoor season,” said ImageNation founder Moikgantsi Kgama. “This year is all about fun. We programmed a NYC indie horror premiere, anime, lots of family-friendly kids programs, and shorts from local directors. There’s something for everyone.”

ImageNation Outdoors said highlights over the years have included drive-in movies during COVID-19; the world’s longest Soul Train line; the 100th Anniversary of South Africa’s African National Congress in Central Park; talk-backs with heralded talent, such as Jesse Williams and ASAP Ferg; and live performances by Talib Kweli, Goapele and Les Nubians.

Masks are recommended for all participants and social distancing is required. All events are free and open to the public.

Led by Moikgantsi Kgama, founder and executive director, and her husband Gregory Gates, executive producer, ImageNation said it has hosted film screenings, live music performances and other cultural events for more than 150,000 people worldwide since its inception in New York City in 1997.

In addition to hosting year-round programs at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the world-famous Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and in New York City Parks, ImageNation has presented internationally in South Africa, Scotland and Canada, and domestically at Harvard University; MASS MOCA; and in Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, D.C.

Programs have featured appearances by leading filmmakers, such as Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Stanley Nelson and Ava Duvernay.

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