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Ronda L. Sewald
Archives of African American Music and Culture

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University Communications

Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2009

Director of award-winning film 'Afro-Punk' to speak at IU conference on black rock music

Nov. 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As part of an Indiana University conference on black experiences in rock music, James Spooner, the producer of the award-winning film Afro-Punk, will speak on Friday, Nov. 13, after a screening of his documentary.

Spooner's film will be shown at 8:30 p.m. in room 101 of Woodburn Hall, 1100 E. Seventh St. The director will answer questions afterwards. The event is free and open to the public.

His visit to IU Bloomington is connected to the conference, "Reclaiming the Right to Rock: Black Experiences in Rock Music," being hosted by the Archives of African American Music and Culture on Nov. 13-14. The event will bring together black rock musicians from different generations and regions with music critics and scholars to discuss the socio-political history, musical developments and the future of the genre.

Details about the conference are available at The Black Film Center/Archive also is sponsoring the event featuring Spooner and his film.

Afro-Punk, which was released in 2003, explores racial identity within the punk music scene in the United States and abroad and highlights the lives of four musicians, including two other conference presenters, Moe Mitchell (and his band Cipher) and Tamar-Kali.

They are interviewed along with other black punk rockers, who discuss issues such as loneliness, inter-racial dating and living the dual life of a person of color in a mostly white community. Among other people interviewed were members of influential bands such as Fishbone, the Dead Kennedys and TV on the Radio.

The documentary was featured at the American Black Film Festival, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. It won awards at the Black Harvest International Film and Video Festival, the Roxbury Film Festival and the International Jamerican Film and Music Festival.

The film has been incorporated into a program for high school students on racial identity by the New Museum in New York, and inspired an "Afro-Punk Film Festival" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which Spooner co-curates.

In 2007, Spooner made his narrative film debut with White Lies, Black Sheep, which also will be screened in November at IU Bloomington. The City Lights & Underground film series will present it at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 in room 251 of the Radio-Television Building, 1229 E. Seventh St. For more information, go to

Spooner was resident video installation artist at the Ase Dance Theatre Collective in New York, where he created new media works with a choreographer. Prior to working in film, he was a sculptor, whose work showed in galleries in New York and Seattle. He has been an editor and an editor consultant.

The event is sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive at IU.