Activism and history to be unveiled at screening of 'The House on Coco Road'

A still photo from the film, which pictures Film Director,
Damani Baker (far right) in his youth.

In celebration of Black History Month, the University of Houston’s English Department, African American Studies program and the Martha Gano Houstoun Endowment present the screening of “The House on Coco Road.” Directed by Damani Baker, the film made indie headlines when Oscar-nominated film director Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY acquired it after its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival. DuVernay has received critical acclaim for her work as co-executive producer alongside Oprah Winfrey on the hit TV series “Queen Sugar.”

“Some would say the film compellingly weaves the personal with the historical as it recounts Baker’s mother’s decision to move her family from Oakland, CA to Grenada in the early 1980s,” said Cedric R. Tolliver, UH associate professor in the Department of English. “And it deals with their experience of being on the Caribbean island when the U.S. military invaded it under the Reagan Administration.”

The film features scholar, activist and author Angela Davis and an original score by singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello.

“This story displays political activism of black women, connects African American and Caribbean history and communities, and offers a chance for scholars working in those separate fields to come together, as well as speaking to growing critical interest in film and film studies on campus,” Tolliver added. “It is also significant that a black woman-led film distribution company, ARRAY, is distributing the film.”

DuVernay's next project, “A Wrinkle in Time,” reportedly has a budget of $100 million, making DuVernay the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size. She is also the first black woman nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her film “Selma.”

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