SJU Filmmaker Awarded Fulbright Grant to Teach in Africa
Friday, May 2, 2008
PHILADELPHIA (May 2, 2008)—Award-winning filmmaker Deron Albright, M.F.A., associate professor of fine and performing arts at Saint Joseph's University, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Ghana, West Africa, for the 2008-09 academic year.
"Many Americans perceive Africa as a relatively homogenous country, rather than a continent of vastly varied peoples, each with their own history and culture," said Albright. "Ghana and West Africa are central to my proposal for several reasons, but at the heart of the matter is the idea of exchange – what the Fulbright commission calls 'mutual understanding and benefit.'"
According to Albright, despite – or because of – the abundant American imagery available in Africa, a lack of fundamental knowledge about the two worlds traverses the Atlantic Ocean in both directions. He has designed his lecturing curriculum and creative research project African Home to address this lack of understanding on both sides of the Atlantic.
African Home is a multi-media event that follows a day in the life of Kojo, a male character that is at turns a native Ghanaian, an African American on holiday and a repatriated Ghanaian immigrant. The project will be produced as an interactive DVD for distribution and community and festival screening.
Through courses in popular American cinema, television studies and film/media production at his host institutions – the University of Ghana, Legon, and the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) – Albright will engage Ghanaian undergraduate students in the creation and production of their own stories and collaborative work, while they study how images have shaped their perception of America.
However, he also acknowledges a personal connection to Ghana as vital to his Fulbright proposal. Albright cast Ghanaian actor Yao Nunoo as freed American slave Tom Molineaux in "The Legend of Black Tom," his award-winning animated/live action short about Molineaux' bare-knuckle boxing championship match against British champion Tom Cribb in the early 19th century.
At first, Nunoo was simply to act in the film, Albright says. "But Yao became much more – a contributor, a collaborator and indeed, a dear friend. My hope is that through the Fulbright program I will be able to expand, and share with others, the exchange of ideas, culture – and artistic creation – we have begun to experience for ourselves."
Additionally, Albright will produce the feature film "Bodom, The Stray Dog." Nunoo wrote the screenplay, which is built upon the framework of Akira Kurosawa's 1949 masterpiece "Nora inu" ("Stray Dog"). The story of a West African deportee forced to live in a country he thought he had left forever, "Bodom" will target the 2010 festival circuit and subsequent international distribution.