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“A beauty contest in this crisis? It’s a way of surviving.”

City of Asylum (2018)

ReelQ Presents

Mr. Gay Syria

Monday, August 20th
7:00 pm

Set in Istanbul and Berlin, Mr. Gay Syria follows two gay refugees as they try to rebuild their lives after fleeing the war in Syria.

What brings them together is a crazy dream: joining the international beauty contest called Mr. Gay World, hosted in Malta. If they manage, it will be the first time an Arab man from the Middle East attends such a public event. This is the place to generate visibility and launch a campaign for Syrian gay refugees.

Mr Gay Syria

“…it may not change policy, but perhaps it will make us feel closer to people we fear.” — The Guardian

While Mr. Gay Syria follows the journey of the two characters and their friends, the beauty contest becomes a thread that weaves together the difficulties of being gay in homophobic societies, the challenges of coming out, the joy of falling in love and the devastating migration crisis.

Join us for the Pittsburgh premiere screening (before its theatrical release).

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July 30: “Honesty is a sin in this country”

City of Asylum (2018)

Sembène – The Film & Art Festival Presents

Mandabi (The Money Order)

Monday, July 30th
7:00 pm

A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order.

Illiterate and unemployed, Ibrahima Dieng’s sudden windfall — a money order from his street sweeper nephew in France for 20,000 francs (roughly $100) — plunges him into a Kafkaesque journey into bureaucracy and corruption. As friends, relations, and debtors close in, he finds he can’t cash it without an identity card, which requires a proof of birth, which in turn requires a birth certificate, three photos and a 50-cent stamp… and that’s just the beginning!

Mandabi

… it was with Mandabi (The Money Order) in 1968, that Sembène’s dream to reconnect with Africa’s masses came through. For the first time … an African filmmaker was experimenting by using an African language (Wolof), hence setting a new trend which would be followed by all film makers on the continent.” – Samba Gadjigo, Ph.D.

The Money Order is a gentle yet powerful satire about post-colonial Senegal. As Dieng concludes “honesty is a sin in this country.”

This film will be presented in Wolof with English subtitles.

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Caught Between Creativity and Convention

City of Asylum (2018)

ReelQ Presents

Play the Devil

Monday, July 23rd
7:00 pm

Gregory, a gifted working-class teenager from Paramin, stars in a play that brings him to the attention of James, an affluent businessman. The two men strike an uncanny friendship as James takes Greg under his wing, pushing him to discover himself professionally, creatively, and intimately.

Play the Devil

“A powerful sense of place deepens a simple melodrama in Play the Devil… In a provincial setting where homosexuality apparently is still stigmatized and closeted, the writer-director effectively uses the primal intensity of Carnival rituals to express a tragic dissonance.” — The Hollywood Reporter

However, Greg’s poverty allows James to exert enormous pressures on Greg by paying his way into his family life. Their ultimate confrontation begs the question: “When we give, how often is it entirely altruistic?”

Set against the backdrop of Trinidad and Tobago’s mystical Carnival, Play The Devil shatters conventions of sexuality, masculinity, morality and individuality through its unapologetic multi-layered explorations of power dynamics, religion and aspirations.

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Yoko Suzuki Trio

City of Asylum (2018)

Yoko Suzuki Trio

Thursday, July 19th
8:00 pm

If you have been coming to our jazz programs this past year, chances are you heard Yoko Suzuki on the alto saxophone. She has appeared with Roger Humphries & RH Factor, as well as will Etta Cox. This concert marks her debut at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City as a bandleader of her own trio.

Yoko Suzuki Trio

In addition to Yoko, the trio features organist Cliff Barns and drummer James Johnson III. They will play a mix of Yoko’s original songs and jazz standards.

A musician known both locally and nationally, and an ethnomusicologist, Yoko’s playing is deeply informed by jazz across the globe, especially Japan where she trained. During the concert, we look forward to her sharing this rich history in both her music and her comments.

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Heartwarming Film About a landmark Supreme Court Case

City of Asylum (2018)

The Art of Being L.C.

Tuesday, July 2nd
7:00 pm

The Art of Being L.C. is a story of an artist freed from the cold, gray life of institutions to the warm colorful world of pastels and water colors.

L.C. and President Obama

In 1999, L.C. (Lois Curtis) stood before the U.S. Supreme Court to demand her right under the Americans with Disabilities Act to live in community rather than be “unjustifiably segregated” in institutions. Her successful argument before the Supreme Court became known as the Olmstead Decision. “Olmstead” secured Lois Curtis’ place in American history as a liberator for people with disabilities and set Lois free to discover her own gifts as an artist.

After the screening, join us for a conversation and Q&A with the filmmaker Carl King​ via Skype.

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Transgender Champion Boxer Fighting to Live Their Truth

City of Asylum (2018)

ReelQ Presents

The Beautiful Boxer

Monday, June 18th
7:00 pm

The Beautiful Boxer is the controversial 2003 biopic detailing the helter-skelter life of transgender (‘kathoey’) Muay Thai fighter, Nong Thoom.

Nong had always been aware of her gender from a young age. After spending time in a Buddhist monastery, she decided to pursue boxing and Muay Thai to support her underprivileged parents and to afford gender reassignment surgery.

Nong Thoom

Nong continued to rise to fame as a successful “lady-boy” boxer at the prestigious Lumprini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok. At the epicenter of all things Muay Thai, Nong went on to become a champion, revitalizing the Muay Thai scene in Thailand and across the globe.

The film, while winning awards and nominations in Europe, Asia and America, raised temperatures in Thailand where censors balked at the frontal nudity.

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Bangladesh in Art and Words

City of Asylum (2018)

Displacement & Belonging:
Ali Asgar and Tuhin Das

Thursday, June 28th
8:00 pm

Join Bangladeshi transdisciplinary artist and cultural producer Ali Asgar, and City of Asylum exiled writer-in-residence Tuhin Das as they discuss their experiences leaving Bangladesh, living in the US as displaced artists, and how displacement has affected their creative work.

Tuhin Das + Ali Asgar

Ali will present their current project No One Home, a work constructed around the concept of human interactivity, displacement, trauma, and queer identity. The key intention of this interactive performance piece is to find the meaning of home and belonging.

Tuhin will read an excerpt from his forthcoming poetry manuscript. The discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A. The event will be presented in Bengali, with simultaneous interpretation into English.

The event is presented in collaboration with PEN America and the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC).

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The Sultry Sounds of Brazilian Songstress Kenia Ashby

City of Asylum (2018)

City of Asylum’s Vocalist Series Presents

Kenia Ashby

Tuesday, June 5th
8:00 pm

Kenia Ashby‘s voice embodies the best of the Brazilian sound – deep and sultry, richly diverse, unexpectedly explosive. Born in Nova Iguaçu (a suburb of Rio de Janeiro), she is renowned for her ability to translate the complex rhythms of her Brazilian homeland into jazzy creations.

Kenia Ashby

“Kenia is a Brazilian original, building a bridge to the next generation of Brazilian music fans… her voice can suspend time, and it can lead you to think about nothing at all, even if just for a few minuts, and in this day that’s nothing short of miraculous.”
iHeartMedia

From local clubs, to international performances, to her ongoing innovation in recording sizzling Brazilian beats, Kenia creates her own unique blend of Brazilian pop, samba, bossa nova and choro with great stage presence and a gift for engaging the audience.

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Accepting and Embracing Nuero-atypical Identities

City of Asylum (2018)

NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania Presents

Stories That Heal

with

K. Rose Quayle

Wednesday, May 23rd
7:00 pm

Stories That Heal — presented by NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania — is a new monthly reading series that highlights local authors who live with and/or have a loved one who lives with mental health conditions. Their stories of lived experience promote empathy, foster resilience and uncover the truths about living with a mental health diagnosis.

K Rose Quayle

The second event in this series will feature K. Rose Quayle, who writes on the chaos of mental illness in a world that prizes order and self-control. First committed at the age of 15, she embraces bipolar disorder and delights in the humor of being crazy. In her spare time, she also writes a blog on 1980s nostalgia and is the author/illustrator of the Little Quail and Friends series.

Please join us as we celebrate Pittsburgh literature and fight stigma!

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Celebrate the Legacy of Pittsburgh-born Jazz Singer Maxine Sullivan

City of Asylum (2018)

Jessica Lee

Thursday, May 17th
8:00 pm

Acclaimed jazz & blues vocalist, songwriter and recording artist Jessica Lee will debut her new special tribute show The Return of the Pint-Sized Songstress to remember and honor the musical contributions of Pittsburgh-born Jazz singer Maxine Sullivan. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of the 1930s, Maxine Sullivan would influence generations of singers to come, including Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Jessica Lee

“[In] smoke-filled clubs here and across the country, Lee is …. known for her soulful and skilled handling of gospel, blues, jazz and soul classics.”
Pittsburgh Magazine

Jessica will be joined by local guitar guru Mark Strickland. Jessica and Mark have played and recorded as a jazz duo both regionally and nationally for years. Don’t miss this chance to catch the debut of their latest collaboration here at Alphabet City!

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