“The House on Coco Road,” Highlights the Roles of Black Women in the Fight for Justice Amidst The Grenada Revolution – The Caribbean Film Series, April 11th at BAMcinématek
Damani Baker’s intimate family portrait of his stalwart mother who moves her family to Grenada to fight for social justice and Black life, and encounters an invasion by the United States. Q&A with the Director following the film.
March 13, 2017/Brooklyn, NY – Filmmaker Damani Baker has amassed a career that spans documentaries, most notably as one-half of the directing team on “Still Bill,” the 2009 feature length film on legendary soul music singer Bill Withers, museum installations and advertisements. Despite his focus on the work of others, it’s his most personal project, which has taken on the greatest significance.
Reflecting on his family’s exploits in early 1980’s revolutionary Grenada, Baker has produced a compelling documentary the London Daily Mail calls, “an intimate family portrait set against the racial violence that accompanied President Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs in the 1980s,” in “The House on Coco Road.”
In 1979, the Grenadian people carried out the first successful coup in the English-speaking Caribbean, installing the young, charismatic leader Maurice Bishop, as the Prime Minister. With its stances against corruption and police brutality, and with a focus on social welfare and women’s rights, all while being an independent Black nation, the Bishop’s revolutionary party attracted people from around the world, including Baker’s mother Fannie Haughton. But by being isolated from Western powers, and establishing a relationship with Cuba, Bishop started to make the United States, apprehensive.
In 1982, prominent political activist Angela Davis, her family, and Baker’s mother, visited Grenada to witness the Revolution, and the next year, Haughton was offered a position in the Ministry of Education. She uprooted her children and they left their home in Oakland to move to Grenada. Baker remarked, “I’d never seen her happier.” But with Bishop’s assassination and the U.S. invasion that followed, the dream of what Baker explains as, “a population of African descent taking control of their destinies,” was more than deferred, it was mortared – and Baker lived through it.
In 1999, Baker returned with his mother to Grenada, and began shooting this documentary, searching for his mother’s untold, and unfinished story and in the process, shared the experience of living through the Bishop’s own coup and the invasion of Grenada by the United States, in a very personal, yet universal way. We get to see interviews with Bishop’s mother and sister, hear radio recordings his mother made before and during the invasion, and see images of Grenada, otherwise lost to us.
Curtis Caesar John, of The Brooklyn Cinema Collective, which co- presents the Caribbean Film Series, shares, “Gripping and personal, “The House on Coco Road” is Fannie Haughton’s story, but just as importantly, it is the story of other extraordinary, tireless women, who believe and practice ideals of Black excellence that need to be treasured in our society.” Mr. John echoes Baker, “While you may not have known their names before, with “The House on Coco Road,” you’ll discover how they changed the world.”
Co-presented by BAMcinématek and the Brooklyn Cinema Collective, “Generation Revolution,” will screen at BAM Rose Cinemas on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30pm. For overall information about the Caribbean Film Series and the Caribbean Film Academy, contact Romola Lucas, at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Brooklyn Cinema Collective’s, Curtis Caesar John, at email@example.com.
THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD
by Damani Baker
Documentary Feature | 78 min.
United States/Grenada | 2016
A personal and intimate portrait of an activist and teacher who moves her children from Oakland, California to participate in the Grenada Revolution only to find her family in harm’s way of a U.S. military invasion. Filmmaker Damani Baker’s search for historical and emotional truth confirms his mother’s place in American history.
About the Caribbean Film Academy
Established in 2012, The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of Caribbean filmmaking and filmmakers, in the region and the diaspora. CaFA’s work is focused on promoting and sharing the art of storytelling through film from the unique perspective of the Caribbean.
About The Brooklyn Cinema Collective
The Brooklyn Cinema Collective (BKCC) is a media consulting and advocacy non-profit company helmed by Curtis Caesar John, a media-maker and arts manager operating out of New York City. A longtime film programmer, Curtis served as Festival Director of New Voices in Black Cinema, a film festival he helped create, that takes place at BAMcinématek and brought audiences the NYC premieres of such films as Neil Drumming’s Big Words and Alain Gomis’ Tey, among many other worthwhile and breakthrough films.
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to offer Brooklyn audiences alternative and independent films that might not play in the borough otherwise, making BAM the only performing arts center in the country with two mainstage theaters and a multiplex cinema. In July 1999, beginning with a series celebrating the work of Spike Lee, BAMcinématek was born as Brooklyn’s only daily, year-round repertory film program. BAMcinématek presents new and rarely seen contemporary films, classics, work by local artists, and festivals of films from around the world, often with special appearances by directors, actors, and other guests. BAMcinématek has not only presented major retrospectives by major filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Manoel de Oliveira, Shohei Imamura, Vincente Minnelli (winning a National Film Critics’ Circle Award prize for the retrospective), Kaneto Shindo, Luchino Visconti, and William Friedkin, but it has also introduced New York audiences to contemporary artists such as Pedro Costa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In addition, BAMcinématek programmed the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Nicolas Winding Refn, Hong Sang-soo, and Andrzej Zulawski.
BAM Rose Cinemas is located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place).
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue; D, M, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue
Train: Long Island Railroad to Flatbush Avenue
Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAM
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