#MECCAconWeekly w/ Ka’ramuu Kush

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No reason for me to start this off with any form of sugar coating. Let’s face it: Hollywood can be very white washed. I’m not only talking actors/actresses, but I’m VERY much talking PRODUCTION. Producers, directors, screenwriters, and more, it’s mostly “all white EVERYthing”. Those few moments we DO show up, when it comes to mainstream film, we are either serving someone or women are being abused. I’m kind of tired of it. If i see one more slave film (with the exception of HARRIET TUBMAN, NAT TURNER, or FREDRICK DOUGLASS) i sincerely might scream. I am COMPLETELY tired of oppressed highlights in the form of box office “hits”. It’s even more dreadful when our own black people are behind it.
Enter Ka’ramuu Kush. (Before you even begin to be feeling some kind of way about the last name Kush, please learn your Kemetic history and discover it’s origin.) Kush is an award winning filmmaker from Detroit, MI, and is very well accredited. Being trained and mentored under masters like Woodie King Jr. and Sir Sidney Poitier, he was destined for greatness. Ka’ramuu Kush has won many prestigious awards in the independent film industry, and his films have toured film festivals including Cannes, Sundance, Hamptons, Tribeca, and LA Film Festival. They have also screened on the CBS, BET, HBO, and CINEMAX networks. He holds his BFA in Literature, Writing and The Arts from The New School University, MFA in Classical Drama from Sarah Lawrence College and MFA in Film Directing from AFI Conservatory.
Multiple award winner, curator for this year’s Indie Film Festival at #MECCAcon2015, and all around mascot for ALL THINGS black love, I introduce to you KA’.
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Name::
Ka’ramuu Kush
Company/Occupation(s)::
Filmmaker/Professor
FILMS/SHOWS you’ve created and/or worked on::
SUNDAYS AT NOON, AND THEN, SALVATION ROAD, DEAR ME, K(NO)W DE:TALES, LOVE AQUARIUM, etc.
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What was your favorite book series as a child, and did it influence your art into adulthood?::
INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison. The book was very pivotal for me because it was articulate on a visceral and intellectual level. it succeeded in doing what i aspire to do in my own work with having a common touch while speaking to greater broader grander ideas. does that make sense?
You recently held a INDIEGOGO campaign for your upcoming film, AS THE FREAK TAKES YOU. How do you feel about artists using crowd funding mediums to get what’s needed on projects?::
Crowdfunding is a wonderful means of advertising, sharing and testing the work.
Does it also help you with connecting to your larger audience via social media?::
Absolutely. It invites people to see how you think, design and package the work.
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Can you give us viewers a description of your upcoming film, AS THE FREAK TAKES YOU?::
FREAK is about an omni-sexual woman’s exploration of her intersecting sexuality and spirituality while managing a triad of very different lovers; a bi-racial lesbian woman, bi-sexual white man and celibate black man.
MASSIVE congrats on being awarded the opportunity to work side by side with John Singleton for this project::
Thank you. John is a very young legend in the game and deserving of every accolade he gets. I’m blessed to have him as an advocate. He lives in the work; a trait we both have in common.
Your upcoming film, LAST TRANE, is the film that focuses on the life of my favorite musician, John Coltrane.
Yes, he’s arguably my favorite as well.
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Being a complete jazz HEAD, I am waiting on that to be completed more than anything. When I went to your reading for the film years back, I was in complete awe::
That has become a more ambitious project since you heard it. Where as before it was a short film focusing on Coltrane’s recovery from heroin addiction, now it is a feature length project entitled SUITE, which focuses on the lives and loves of Coltrane in the 50’s, monk in the 60’s and Miles in the 70’s. Sorta like Steve Daldry’s THE HOURS.

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What was it like to research for that film, and did you connect to the musicians while studying?::
It’s all labor of love. This is the kind of music that i listen to and write to so it’s actually just appropriate compliment to that process. Yes, i did connect to the living musicians, proteges and descendants of them all. The work will resume after getting through the immediate work on my plate.
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Your film, AND THEN, is by far my favorite of yours to date. As you know, I’ve shared that short film to the moon and back. What was your inspiration, as well as your goal for creating it?::  
Happy you enjoy it. Thank you for sharing it. AND THEN was born out of a need for honest, rigorous dialogue around how we communicate in intimacy. I’m eternally inspired by the stories of black women so it was fairly easy. Just sharing what I see and posing questions; some hypothetical, some empirical. The script was co-written with Aisha Hinds.
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Sex identity was a major subject in AND THEN. It left the viewers questioning their own at times. I am a proud bisexual woman, but at times i have felt that it wasn’t professionally comfortable to say it. Actually, this is the very first time I’ve said it publicly, lol. Have you received backlash of any kind for strong sexual content in your works? If so, how did you explain your purpose?::
Wow! Thus the power of cinema. I love the fact that we’re having this dialogue and you’re feeling comfortable enough to express your truth. That’s strong. As far as backlash goes, I honestly couldn’t tell you. If there has been, it’s missed me. The film has been well recieved to date; even by those who may take issue with some aspect of it. However, I can speak to how polarizing the film has been. That’s always fun, lol. But I don’t believe in explaining the work. The work speaks for itself. Also, I kinda feel like if everybody is loving you, you’re doing something wrong. I welcome infamy.
“Business becomes unusual for an unsuspecting hitman who senses that he’s been witnessed murdering his traitorous mentor by a 9 year old boy” is the description you leave us with for your brilliant HBO winning film, SALVATION ROAD, starring Roger Guenveur Smith and Russell Hornsby. Can you explain to the few who HAVEN’T seen it what the film is about? How did winning that competition help further your career?::
The film is about what the description says, lol. I’m good with that. Of course, there are some thematic implications around what we pass on to our children and the bonds that come out of very ugly circumstances. But again, I feel best letting the viewer.

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Do you think that sexism exists in your industry? (I will ask this every week, America, so deal with it, lol)::
… Is that a trick question??? lol.
In your film, SUNDAYS AT NOON starring Lyric Anderson and Tami Roman, the subject was about a young woman reconnecting with her father after a lifetime. The film world makes a habit of focusing on the break up and breakdowns of the black family, thru various mediums. An absent father is a subject that seems to get highlighted the most often. How is SUNDAYS AT NOON different in the aspect of so many other filmmakers glorifying negativity in our African diaspora community? What do you feel you did differently?::
Well, it starts with Tami Roman. Most would assume that because Tami was a very prominent character on a TV show known for it’s exploitation of conflict and she was involved in a very public relationship that went the way typical of most broken relationships that she would have an axe to grind. But instead, she chose to focus on the more complex experience of ‘how to heal what has been broken’.
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I was touched by the script when she approached me to direct it and quite honestly shocked after reading it. All I did was honor what was already embedded in the DNA of the material. And just to reiterate, I think it’s less about positive vs negative and more so about what is complex and honest. Quite frankly, I’m bored by ‘positive’ as a reaction to the so-called ‘negative’.
How rewarding was it for you to work with Tami Roman and her beautiful daughter?::
Tami is a consummate professional and Lyric is a gem. Both highly intelligent and perceptive. They were both wonderful to work with.
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How important do you feel it is to give new directors and producers experience in the industry?::
Experience is to be earned. Tami approached me based on some of my previous work. And in my mind, I have yet to really do my thing on a major level but, I like to think that she saw integrity and diligence in my work. Nobody gives that. You do the work or you do not do the work and the world recognizes, or not. Regardless, the reward is the work in and of itself.
K(NO)W DE:TALES (2005) basically wins my entire life. The fact that you took time to highlight black love from a paraplegic is beautiful in itself. This movie is less known in your work, but brilliant in its action. What inspired that story from you?::
Nobody deals with that community. I was inspired to do so and will return to it. I have a long gestating TV series project that deals with varying forms of disability that I hope to resume work on soon.

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What do you feel needs to be changed in order for the advancement of women in your industry?::
Men need to support the efforts of women at every opportunity we get. Women need to continue mastering the craft of business in film. tumblr_nkg1szTyCX1u2yof1o1_500
NUMBER 23 with Jim Carey was a very controversial film, which had mixed views. The subject matter went a little too deep for the masses, so I get it, lol. How was it to work on set with Carey, and how if in any way did you benefit from it? Also, is the book one that you view positively?::

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Jim is a beautiful cat and he’s ridiculously talented. I mean like really, really talented. He (like Robin Williams) is one of those rare talents that has the ability to excel in comedic and dramatic work. He was a riot to work with. Beyond the experience of just working with him and Schumacher, it’s hard to gauge the benefit, especially so since most of my work was left on the editing room floor, lol. But the experience was good. Never read the book.
What was your favorite film that you created or worked on, and why?::
Impossible to answer that question. It’s kinda like being asked to choose one of your children over the others. I couldn’t do it. I love all of my work for different reasons. Each one has built on the last giving me something different to grow on.
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What was your least favorite, and why?::
Again, I couldn’t say. All have been hellish in some kind of way as well, lol. Filmmaking, like giving birth, is never easy.
Ok, less serious stuff- if you could have ANNNNY two characters be your homies in REAL time, who would they be and WHY?::
From my films? Not really. I’ve already spent enough intimate time with them. I’m good. From other peoples films? Yoda (from Star Wars) and Goldy (from The Mack). Or maybe Claudine or Thelma (from Good Times).
Are there any new or upcoming projects/events you’re brainstorming?::
Just focused on FREAK and DIE ENORMOUS now. Aside from that, always brainstorming. It’s a chronic illness, lol.

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Where can we find you online? Links, Handles, Hashtags, Bribes::
karamuu.com iamsummerhughes.com ka’ramuu kush on facebook @karamuu on instagram and twitter
Any last thoughts, screams, rants, praises, etc?::
Do the work! All praises due to Maia CROWN Williams 😉 Thank you for the opportunity, dear.

**** swoons ****

black/moor/afrikaan men are COMPLETELY ill with their energy, i swear, lol.
PRAISE them, LIFT them, and ABSORB them, America.
PLEASE.

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MECCAcon Weekly is a weekly series of features, interviews, and highlights, all focused around comics and art, mainly centered around the AFRIKAAN diaspora community. We focus on the upliftment and advancement of arts thru various mediums. #MECCAconWeekly can also be found on our sister site, DARK MATTERS.
MECCAconWeekly is also a division of Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCAcon. MECCAcon is an annual convention every SEPTEMBER, located in Detroit, MI.
“BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED” …This is my motto. Whatever environment you come from, whatever your surroundings or financial circumstance, there is ALWAYS room to grow, flourish, and BLOOM.
Maia Williams, also known as “Crown”, is executive assistant to many different businesses, artists, and events in the Metro Detroit area. Crown is also CEO and founder of
Amonyet Enterprises, Cooking Ciphers, MECCAcon, and Crown’s Royalties.
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