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Rwandan Drums and Ice Cream in Harlem

16 Nov

Rwandan and New York Drummers playing together at MIST (photo from

Immense congratulations are in order for a number of remarkable people that came together in Harlem last night to celebrate a few unique projects in Rwanda.

My Image Studios (MIST Harlem) hosted a special screening of scenes from Sweet Dreams, the newly released documentary film by sibling filmmakers Lisa and Rob Fruchtman. MIST is a new venue not even yet open to the public that will integrate performing arts space, film theaters, restaurants, and serve as a hub for pan African and Latino cultural exchange in the heart of Harlem.

Sweet Dreams documents the story of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first Hutu and Tutsi female drumming troupe, which also founded Inzozi Nziza, the only locally owned ice cream shop in Rwanda.

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Advertisements MIST Harlem pre-opening a sign of good things to come!

15 Nov
Ingoma Nshya at MIST Harlem1 1024x768 MIST Harlem pre opening a sign of good things to come!

African drumming Rwandan troupe Ingoma Nshya

If the MIST Harlem pre-opening event last night was any indication of the quality of program to expect when the venue is fully up and live – there is only one thing to say – wow!

The pre-opening event last night was an inspiring revelation on the impact that can we achieve through the innovative combination of art/culture/economic empowerment and community development. I was blown away on so many levels I simply have to list them!

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Press Release: How Sweet It Is…MIST Harlem and Harvist Present Sweet Dreams

12 Nov

Invited guests include Eugène-Richard Gasana, Rwandan Ambassador to the UN to enjoy special performance by African drumming Rwandan troupe Ingoma Nshya and sweet treats served by Blue Marble ice cream and Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda

New York, NY – On Wednesday, November 14 at 7pm, My Image Studios (MIST Harlem) will host an exclusive screening of scenes from Sweet Dreams, the newly released documentary film by Oscar and Emmy award winning siblings Lisa and Rob Fruchtman which tells the amazing story of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first Hutu and Tutsi female drumming troupe who founded Inzozi Nziza, the only locally-owned ice cream shop in Rwanda. Held in conjunction with Harvist, the new restaurant anchoring MIST—the new cultural arts space in Harlem where emerging and established artists will have a new home—this event is a celebration of the mosaic that is Harlem, which incorporates strong Latino and African influences from around the world.

“Sweet Dreams is a perfect example of how arts, international communities and cultures collide to not only spur economic growth in the places that need it most, but rebuild the hearts of the people who are also affected by conflict and devastation,” said Roland Laird, CEO of My Image Studios. “The documentary also demonstrates the importance of developing trade for Rwanda, instead of creating long-term dependence on outside aid for the country. We are delighted to be the host of this great event which will provide a memorable evening of great story-telling, delicious coffee and ice cream and one-of-a-kind live entertainment from Ignoma Nshya.”

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NY Times Movie Review: Coming of Age at a Critical Time, ‘Otelo Burning,’ Set in South Africa, Follows Surfers

9 Nov

“Otelo Burning” is a coming-of-age tale set in South Africa

“Otelo Burning” is a coming-of-age tale set in South Africa

Otelo Burning, which premieres at MIST Harlem on November 28, was selected as a NYT Critics Pick. Here’s what they wrote:

The lovely South African film “Otelo Burning” is a coming-of-age story with the grand sweep of history as its background, and its director, Sara Blecher, seems to know instinctively that the noisy excesses that sometimes creep into this genre have no place in her tale.

It begins in 1988, a little more than a year before Nelson Mandela is to be released from prison, and two black 16-year-olds, Otelo (Jafta Mamabolo) and New Year (Thomas Gumede), are doing what teenagers do: chafing at the limited life available to them in the coastal township of Lamontville. When another young man, Mandla (Sihle Xaba), introduces them to surfing, they find a release from drudgery, and Ms. Blecher finds a symbol for freedom (which the film sometimes underscores more bluntly than necessary).

There is blossoming love between Otelo and New Year’s sister, Dezi (Nolwazi Shange), but there are also rumblings in the outside world as rival factions in the great events that are transforming the country assert their power. The idyllic and the angry collide with deadly consequences. Ms. Blecher draws fine performances out of the young actors and, to her credit, sugarcoats nothing. – Neil Genzlinger

NY Daily News: Top 10 NYC restaurant openings for fall of 2012

30 Sep

Cassandra Quinlan-Ashford is executive chef at Harvist, the restaurant anchoring MIST Harlem

Harvist made the list of the Top 10 NYC restaurant openings in the New York Daily News

Here’s what they wrote:


40 W. 116th St., (646) 688-5886,

Harlem will get a dose of rustic American fare next month when the restaurant inside cultural arts space MIST opens.

Expect homey classics from executive chef Cassandra Quinlan-Ashford, formerly of Judson Grill and Aquavit.

Entrees, influenced by the South and Latin America, include shrimp and grits garnished with chicken-fried bacon strips and rum-marinated skirt steak with salsa verde. Specials will reflect MIST programming. Dwyane Wade at MIST Harlem

12 Sep

NY Daily News: MIST, Hue-Man Generate Some Heat

7 Sep

Miami Heats Dwyane Wade signs copies of his new book at kick-off event for MIST Harlem arts and entertainment space. The signing is also the first ‘pop-up’ event for Hue-Man Books, which is redefining itself since closing its brick-and-mortar store this summer.

Two Harlem businesses — one new, one resurgent — turned to an NBA champion to help them begin making good on their plans to bring more programming to the community.

Miami Heat hoops star Dwyane Wade signed copies of his new book, “A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball” on Wednesday night at the brand new — and not quite finished — My Image Studios (MIST) Harlem.

The kick-off event at MIST Harlem, located at the Kalahari Condominiums on W. 116th St., was co-sponsored by Hue-Man Bookstore, a popular Harlem business that closed in July, ending a 10-year run.

When it’s completed, MIST Harlem will be a nearly 300-seat arts and entertainment space replete with a 130-seat restaurant and bar.

Plans for the venue, which will cater its programming to what its founders called the African and Latino diaspora, were in the works for nearly four years and MIST Harlem CEO Roland Laird said he’s thrilled to have it in Harlem.

“This is a place where culture emanates from,” said Laird, whose partners include developers Carlton Brown and Walter Edwards (both are founders of Full Spectrum; Edwards is also the chairman of the Harlem Business Alliance). “It’s very important to have a place that’s centered in African and Latino culture.”

He said there are plans to host independent film screenings, poetry nights and comedy shows. The $21 million, 20,000-square-foot space appears far from completion, but the partners say it will be finished in time for a Def Poetry Jam showcase on Sept. 27.

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