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Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2008

Filmmaker Yoruba Richen to visit IU, screen her film "Sisters of the Good Death"

March 13, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen will visit Indiana University and speak Wednesday (March 19) at a screening of her new documentary Sisters of the Good Death.

Sisters of Boa Morte

Sisters of the Good Death

Sisters of the Good Death follows the filmmaker's journey to the town of Cachoeira in northeastern Brazil to uncover the origins of a three-day Catholic festival that has taken place for more than 200 years. She discovers that the festival actually is the longest running celebration of emancipation from slavery in the Americas, which mixes Catholicism with the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. The result is a celebration of freedom, women's resistance and Afro-Brazilian culture.

The film and Richen's presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Woodburn Hall, Room 111, 1100 E. Seventh St. It is being presented by African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Black Film Center Archives and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

In addition to her latest documentary, Richen also produced and directed Promised Land, a documentary about race, land and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa. She was an associate producer for the film Brother to Brother, a drama that looks back on the Harlem Renaissance from the perspective of an elderly, black writer who meets a gay teenager in a New York homeless shelter. Brother to Brother won a special jury prize at Sundance and was released nationwide in the fall of 2004.

"Yoruba Richen brings us a fascinating look at the Sisterhood of Good Death in Brazil, one of the oldest examples of cultural affirmation and resistance in the African Diaspora," said Stephen Selka, assistant professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies and American Studies at IU. "Richen's documentary explores the complexity of Afro-Catholic syncretism along with the political importance of an organization that was founded over two hundred years ago to help bring about the end of slavery in Brazil."

Selka is working on a book about the Sisters of the Good Death, and he met the director in Brazil last year.