Monday, April 2, 2012

Jamaa Fanaka (1942-2012)

It was just this past December that I had the privilege of once again meeting Jamaa Fanaka at a screening in LA of "Emma Mae." Though I couldn't forget our first meetings at the Alamo, I surely didn't expect him to remember who I was, but as soon as I introduced myself, he immediately registered my last name. "Oh Popkoff, I remember you" he said. That night and the previous nights I had seen his movies in the theater were among the best movie-going experiences I have ever had. He was a true original, complete with a unique vocabulary. I will never be able to hear the phrase "moving pictures" again and not think of him. A born showman, his Q&A's were rambling, but they were always informative, intimate, and above all else, entertaining. He was so passionate about films and he understood the importance of them. He once sent me this message: "Dear Popkoff: Thanks very much for your grand words of support. You cannont possibly know how much comments like yours mean to fiercely independent filmmaker like myself. If through my work in cinema, just one heart and mind has been touched and, hopefully, ameliorated, I feel that my life in film has been a success." He was such a class act, I am so sadden to hear of his passing. RIP Fanaka: Friend-for-life.

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