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About Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current | View This Issue
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‘City of Roses’
Wednesday • February 4, 2015
Established in 1970
Committed to Cultural Diversity
African films tackle
and cultural identity
Portland Community College's Cascade Festival of Afri-
can Films is going local.
The film festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a
poignant local film about Somali girls from southeast Port-
land who come together to play basketball in a local recre-
ation league. “Lessons of Basketball and War” also follows
school principal Kevin Bacon, whose skills as an educator,
leader and peace-maker are tested when the girls from the
war-torn country are dropped into his life.
The documentary examines the roots of conflict between
Somali ethnic groups and the challenges faced by those who
attempt to resolve it here in Portland. The film has been an
official selection for the 2014 Global Peace, Richmond Inter-
national and Red Rock film festivals.
Portland writer, director and producer Ron Bourke, had
the idea to make the movie after reading an article in the
newspaper about a Somali girl’s basketball team put together
by Bacon while he was principal at Hosford Middle School
in southeast Portland.
Bourke said "Lessons of Basketball and War" explores
universal issues of violence, prejudice, cultural identity and
conflict resolution as seen through the eyes of the girls, who
are refugees from war and famine in Somalia.
The film shows how the team, mostly Muslim, dealt with
the sexualized, celebrity-obsessed America and the issues of
the ethnic animosity that followed them to America from
Somalia. The documentary follows a year in their lives and
those of the educators and volunteers who helped them. The
film will be shown at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28 as part of the
festival's Student Fest Matinee at the Moriarty Auditorium
on the Cascade Campus in north Portland.
"I'm honored to have my film featured at this year's festival
and I am glad to have a screening here in Portland so that
many of those involved with the production can have an
opportunity to share it with family and friends,” Bourke said.
“Lessons" highlights a busy festival, which will feature 34
films and host 10 visiting film directors in February. The
Cascade film series is the longest-running annual African
film festival in the United States and runs from Friday, Feb.
6 through Sunday, March 8 and shows films ranging from
full-length features to documentaries and short films.
Kevin Bacon’s skills as an educator leader and peace-maker are tested when a small group of girls from war-
torn Somalia are dropped into his life. ‘Lessons of Basketball and War’ is one of 34 films featured in this
year’s Cascade Festival of African Films.
on page 5