The New York African Film Festival returns to Film Society of Lincoln Center April 3 – 9 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The festival continues at Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies on Thursday, April 18 for a daylong, free scholarly public program, then heads to the Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem May 2 to 6. NYAFF closes over Memorial Day Weekend May 24 to 27 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek—part of the dance and music festival DanceAfrica.
Under the banner “Looking Back, Looking Forward: 20 Years of the New York African Film Festival”, our 2013 edition is dedicated to commemorating half a century of African cinema and two decades of work introducing American audiences to the best of this cinema and its protagonists.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, NYAFF is paying homage to Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène -the ‘father of African cinema’- and to the first generation of African filmmakers, while passing the baton to a new group of storytellers who continue to challenge our understanding of the continent. This two-month multi-venue event will once again bring to New York a unique selection of classic and contemporary African films, running the gamut from features, shorts, and documentaries to experimental films and archival footage. In order to challenge preconceptions and spread knowledge about the continent and its Diaspora, supplementary programs such as panel discussions, visual and performing art exhibitions, workshops, and in-school presentations for K-12 and university students will take place alongside the projections.
Creators will be at the center of our program, attending screenings of their films and Q&A sessions afterwards to deepen viewers’ understanding of the films and the debates surrounding them. We are also proud to be launching a publication in honor of the trajectories of so many talented filmmakers. As has been our goal throughout the years, we are giving the artists the floor, in our firm belief that they are the best spokespeople for their craft.
For our tribute to Ousmane Sembène, we have chosen Borom Sarret, the first African short, as well as Guelwaar, one of the most trenchant comic portraits of contemporary Africa to date. Both were shown in the early days of NYAFF, and we are bringing them back now to encapsulate thirty years of Sembène’s career and of African cinema and of provoking dialogue among audience members and directors.
Two award-wining movies from Abderrahmane Sissako will bridge the gap dividing first-generation African filmmakers and their younger counterparts. Life on Earth, a deeply poetic letter to the filmmaker’s father at the turn of the millennium, will be shown along with one of his early shorts, October, a love story in black and white, between an African student and a Russian woman in Moscow, which touches on central themes of the African in exile and migration as nostalgia and displacement.
With these year’s contemporaries we travel through a broad range of countries, styles, proposals and themes. We cross the waters of the Atlantic to meet the dreams of freedom spread by the Caribbean Diaspora in Philippe Niang’s Toussaint Louverture and then embark on a road trip within the continent, in a crowded Senegalese bus of Moussa Touré‘s TGV, where each passenger’s motivation for making the trip is slowly revealed. Lonesome Solo’s urban noir Burn It Up Djassa speaks of a new generation from Ivory Coast determined to write its own future to the rhythm of its poetry, music and dance. Nairobi Half Life by David Tosh Gitonga scours the new lifestyle of the chaotic Kenyan capital with a mix of comedy and tragedy, while Faouzi Bensaïdi portrays a group of petty criminals struggling to survive in Tétouan in Death For Sale.
Women’s presence in African cinema has dramatically increased, correcting a longtime imbalance. Veteran filmmaker Licínio Azevedo’s Virgin Margarida is a timeless tale of female solidarity and struggle. Patricia Benoit’s Stones in the Sun deals with the traumas of memory of a group of Haitian refugees living in the US, while Chinonye Chukwu’s autobiographical debut Alaskaland opens an intimate window onto the conflicts of a young Alaska-raised Nigerian struggling to come to terms with his cultural heritage. Documentary has always been a privileged format for investigation into social, cultural and artistic realities for many African filmmakers, and it makes up a significant proportion of this edition’s screenings: Cameroonian Osvalde Lewat presents her latest documentary Land Rush, co-directed by Hugo Berkeley, to reflect on the economic and political forces behind recent international agricultural investments in Mali. The tandem of Claudia Palazzi and Clio Sozzani go to Ethiopia to film Jeans and Martò, an inspiring story of education fighting against the burdens of tradition and obstructionism. Christine Delorme’s tour-de-force interview with this year’s dedicatee, Ousmane Sembène, tout à la fois (Ousmane Sembène All At Once), offers a sensitive testament to the charismatic filmmaker, and Cosima Spender’s Dolce Vita Africana is an iconic journey into Mali’s recent history through an unforgettable portrait of one of the most famous African photographers of all time: Malick Sidibé.
April 3 – 9, 2013: Film Society of Lincoln Center
April 18, 2013: Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies
May 2 – 6, 2013: Maysles Cinema Institute
May 24 – 27, 2013: Brooklyn Academy of Music – BAMcinématek
Film Society Of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam) and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65 Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam).
Monday, April 8
2:00PM Ousmane Sembène All At Once (52 min.) + Borom Sarret (18 min.)
4:00PM Jeans and Martò (52 min.) + Lezare (14 min.)
6:00PM Life on Earth (61 min.) + October (37 min.)
8:30PM Virgin Margarida (90 min.) + Viva Frelimo! (13 min.)
Tuesday, April 9
1:30PM Death For Sale (117 min.)
4:00PM Dolce Vita Africana (63 min.) + A History of Independence (18 min.)
6:00PM Alaskaland (75 min.) + Boneshaker (12 min.)
8:30PM An Evening with with Moussa Touré/TGV (90 min.)
Wednesday, April 3 – Wednesday, April 24
The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery – Walter Reade Theater – 165 West 65th Street, plaza level, between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Everyday Africa is a smartphone photography project created by photographer Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill. DiCampo and Merrill have teamed up with other photographers who live/work/travel in Africa to present images that capture life on the continent as it really is — not a place plagued by unrest and disease, but one in which normal people live normal lives, just like anywhere else in the world. Together, we find the extreme not nearly as prevalent as the familiar, the every day.
This event is free and open to the public.
“AFRICAN FILMMAKING IN THE DIGITAL ERA: BRINGING NEW AUDIENCES TO AFRICAN CINEMA”
Co-presentation with Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) and Maison Française
Thursday, April 18 – 6:30PM-8:30PM
Columbia University’s Maison Française – Buell Hall – 2nd floor – 515 West 116th Street
African Film Festival, Inc. annual panel examines how the next generation of African media makers are using new technological tools in exciting and still evolving ways to amplify their voices and find new audiences. These media makers’ use of Skype, cell phones, portable cameras has heralded a new generation that is playing by new rules. This new technology is leading to an explosion of voices across the digital landscape, from blogs, to new forms of guerilla filmmaking, to new networks of distribution. In addition, these media makers are pooling their resources, creating new opportunities for filmmakers who in previous generations lacked the necessary tools to make films. The panel features filmmakers, new media distributors, critics, and academics who will offer insight into this rich and stimulating filmscape. In celebration of this new media, one panelist will participate via Skype. Film clips will also be shown.
This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. First come, first served seating, until venue reaches capacity.
Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Avenue, between 127th & 128th Streets.
Thursday, May 2
7:30PM Uprising (85 min.)
Friday, May 3
7:30PM Rasta: A Soul’s Journey (93 min.)
Saturday, May 4
SPOTLIGHT ON SOUTH AFRICA
1:00PM Creation in Exile (52 min.)
2:30PM Dear Mandela (90 min.) + Sifuna Okwethu (We Want What’s Ours) (19 min.)
5:30PM Jeppe On A Friday (85 min.)
8:00PM You Laugh But It’s True (84 min.)
Sunday, May 5
1:30PM Footprints of My Other (52 min.)
Monday, May 6
7:00PM Mugabe: Villain or Hero? (116 min.)
Brooklyn Academy of Music – BAMcinématek
BAMcinématek @ BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn.