As MJ tributes continue to pour in, the Downtown Film Festival has dug up a real gem of Jacksonian history for its closing-night gala, which proved early on just how far the Jackson 5's brand of American pop had reached. In The Jackson 5 in Africa, director Mamadou Johnny Sekka documents the Motown darlings' 1974 trip to Senegal, with Papa Joe in tow, as part of their first African tour. Their arrival at the Dakar airport is greeted with costumed dancers and musicians, followed by stops at a marketplace and Gorée Island, once a hub of the slave trade; plus, performances of "Hum Along and Dance," "Feelin' Alright" and "You Need Love Like I Do." The unfinished film was cut short after investors ran out of funding. It sat around for decades, eventually winding up in the hands of the Harlem-based nonprofit ImageNation Cinema Foundation, which hosted the documentary's only other screening, in New York last month.
Sat., Aug. 22, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009