Ebony Goddess, a Brazilian Documentary in Praise of Black Beauty

Ebony GoddessEbony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê, a documentary directed by Brazilian filmmaker Carolina Moraes-Liu, premieres on Saturday, January 30 at 12:00 pm at the United Artist theatre at Horton Plaza as part of the San Diego Black Film Festival.

The film follows three women competing to be the Carnaval queen of Ilê Aiyê, a prominent and controversial Afro-Brazilian Carnaval group with an all-black membership.

The film will also be shown in the Los Angeles area at the Egyptian Theatre as part of the Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival on February 7 at 4 pm, and at the Pan African Film Festival, the largest and most prestigious black film festival in America, on February 15 at 2:30 pm and on February 16 at 9:45 pm at the Culver Plaza Theatre.

Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê follows three young women competing for a title, while trying to find their identity, pride and respect. In Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, the largest black city outside of Africa, honor for black women is a continuous struggle.

The selection of the Ebony Goddess is based on Afro-centric notions of beauty, in counterpoint to prevailing standards of beauty in Brazil, a country famous for slim supermodels and plastic surgery.

Contestants dress in African-style garments and perform traditional Afro-Brazilian dances to music praising black beauties. The film follows the contestants struggling to build their self-esteem in a community constantly putting them down.

Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê features interviews with Ilê Aiyê’s founder and president, Antônio Carlos “Vovô”, and with the former secretary of reparations for the city of Salvador Arany Santana.

“Ilê Aiyê is more than a Carnaval group. They have year-round social projects that help thousands of people in the neighborhood, aiming to propagate black culture and raise self-esteem,” says the director.

The Ilê Aiyê community brings awareness to African culture, religion and the beauty of the black, and speaks out against racial discrimination. At first, the police and media persecuted Ilê Aiyê for only allowing black citizens to parade with their Carnaval group.

While Ilê Aiyê is now established throughout society, it still suffers from forms of prejudice, as its songs have never been played in radios except when covered by white artists.

Carolina Moraes-Liu is a documentary filmmaker born in Bahia, Brazil. She sees her works as means to bring about social change by educating and empowering people. Moraes-Liu has first handedly noticed the change Ilê Aiyê brought to her native community.

She finds that their effort has true effect, from changing the way people wear their hair and see their beauty, to opening the way for discussions about discrimination and people’s rights. Moraes-Liu hopes Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê further advances the social changes Ilê Aiyê has successfully been attempting for the past decades.

Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê will also be screened at the Texas Black Film Festival at Studio Movie Grill in Dallas, TX on Thursday February 4 at 8 pm, and the Africa World Documentary Film Festival at the Missouri History Museum on February 5 at 10 am.

This film is also scheduled to screen in March in Bermuda and Barbados, and as part of the Women’s International Film Festival in Miami, Florida.

For more information about the film, visit the website www.documentario.com/ebonygoddess.html

Locations where Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê will be screened:

* United Artist Theatre 14 located at 475 Horton Plaza, San Diego, California

* Egyptian Theatre located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, California

* Culver Plaza Theatre located at 9919 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, California

* Studio Movie Grill located at 11170 North Central Expressway, Dallas, Texas

* Missouri History Museum located at 5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri

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