The ninth season of the award-winning documentary series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange premieres on WORLD Channel at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Monday, January 16—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—with An American Ascent. The gripping film captures the first African-American team of climbers to attempt to summit Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), North America’s highest peak, and to inspire other Blacks to connect with the outdoors. Hosted by acclaimed actress Nikki Beharie (Sleepy Hollow, Shame, 42), AfroPoP is comprised of documentaries about contemporary life, art and culture across the African Diaspora. The program is produced by National Black Programming Consortium and co-presented by series distributor American Public Television (APT).
New episodes of AfroPoP air weekly through February 15. APT will release the series to the nation’s public television stations in February 2016.
The season opens with George Potter and Andy Adkins’ An American Ascent. Winner of Best Documentary and Best Director at the 2015 San Diego Black Film Festival and Best Feature Film at the 2015 Film Festival Flix Mountain and Adventure Film Festival, the film depicts the mountaineers’ backbreaking journey to scale the 20,310-foot mountain. The reward? The satisfaction of overcoming personal limits and societal views of what a mountaineer looks like, not to mention the peaks’ breathtaking views.
Previous hosts of AfroPoP include Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Wyatt Cenac, Gabourey Sidibe, Anthony Mackie, Yaya DaCosta and Jussie Smollett.
“An American Ascent is more than beautiful mountainous vistas and harrowing, dramatic scenes pitting man against nature. Its purpose is also to convey two important messages—African Americans still have ‘firsts’ to summit, and as citizens of a new majority in 2020, we must become familiar with, care about and become guardians of our national parks to ensure they are preserved for future generations,” said NBPC Director of Programs and Acquisitions and AfroPoP Co-Executive Producer Kay Shaw. “This season of AfroPoP presents six beautifully crafted stories that like An American Ascent will challenge, inspire and touch the heart and mind. It’s a season the public should not miss.”
Other films this season include:
- the moving Intore, by Eric Kabera (January 23), which demonstrates the impact a new generation of artists in Rwanda is having in healing a nation that suffered greatly in the horrific 100-day genocide in 1994.
- Tyler Johnston and Miquel Galofré’s beautiful My Father’s Land (January 30), which follows an illegal immigrant in the Bahamas and the lengths to which he goes to return to his native Haiti to see his ailing 103-year-old father. The film also explores issues of immigration and human rights.
- Eva Weber’s important documentary Black Out (February 6), which shines the spotlight on schoolchildren in Guinea who trek for miles each day during exam season to find places with light so they can study and better themselves and their families. The film airs with Olivia Peace’s narrative short Pangaea, a moving story of a young girl who was trapped on a rooftop after Hurricane Katrina.
- season finale Omo Child: The River and the Bush by John Rowe (February 13), a heartwarming story demonstrating the positive impact one determined individual can have on his community to save lives. Shot over five years, the film follows Lale Labuko, from the Kara tribe in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia, as he works to create a cultural shift in his tribe by ending an ancient practice that will save a generation of children.
AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is produced by Angela Tucker and directed by Duana Butler with the generous support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Endowment for the Arts.
ABOUT THE HOST
Nikki Beharie will next be seen in Will Packer Productions remake of Jacob’s Ladder, directed by David M. Rosenthal. She recently starred in the hit Fox series Sleepy Hollow for producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, for which she was nominated for an NAACP Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series,” in addition to “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” for 42 and “Entertainer of the Year.” Beharie starred with Michael Fassbender in Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen’s feature Shame and began her career on Broadway opposite Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def in John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. She was also the lead of the critically acclaimed feature American Violet opposite Alfre Woodard and Tim Blake Nelson for Samuel Goldwyn Films.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) is committed to enriching our democracy by educating, enlightening, empowering and engaging the American public. The nonprofit supports diverse voices by developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and by investing in visionary content makers. NBPC provides quality content for public media outlets, inclu- ding, among others, PBS and PBS.org and BlackPublicMedia.org, as well as other platforms, while training and mentoring the next generation of Black filmmakers. Founded in 1979, NBPC produces the AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange documentary series and manages the 360 Incubator + Fund, a funding and training initiative designed to accelerate the production of important Black serial and interactive content.
ABOUT AMERICAN PUBLIC TELEVISION:
American Public Television (APT) has been the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations since 1961. For more than 10 years, APT has annually distributed one-third or more of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. Among its 250 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, performance, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, AfroPoP, Rick Steves’ Europe, Front and Center, Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Midsomer Murders, Vera, Lidia’s Kitchen, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Entering its 12th year, Create® TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — is distributed by American Public Television. APT also distributes WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.
ABOUT WORLD CHANNEL:
The WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s nonfiction, news and documentary programming. The channel features original content by and about diverse communities to U.S. audiences through local public television stations and streaming online at worldchannel.org. WORLD reached 33.3 million unique viewers 18+ last year (52% adults 18-49) and over-indexes in key diversity demographics. Online, the WORLD Channel expands on broadcast topics and fuels dialogue across social media, providing opportunities for broad and diverse audience interaction. For its exploration of the human spirit, WORLD Channel won the 2016 Christopher Award in the TV/cable category for the episode “If You Build It,” a part of its America Reframed series.
WORLD is programmed by WGBH/Boston, in partnership with American Public Television and WNET/New York, and in association with PBS and National Educational Telecommunications Association. Funding for the WORLD Channel is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Kendeda Fund. For more information about The WORLD Channel, visit www.worldchannel.org