19th National Traveling Series

ABOUT THE SERIES

Since 1995, African Film Festival, Inc. has worked to increase access to African cinema by expanding its channels of distribution. In order to make the unique experience of watching African cinema available to a wider audience, AFF programs the annual National Traveling Series that travels to cultural institutions, museums, and universities in ten to thirteen cities in the U.S. including Puerto Rico. This package consists of several feature and short films, including promotional and educational materials.

FEATURED FILMS

BELEH
Eka Christa Assam, Cameroon, 2013, 26min. 

Set in a small village at the foot of Mount Fako in Cameroon, Beleh examines the relationship between Ekema and his heavily pregnant wife, Joffi. The difficulty she faces in her first pregnancy is made worse by the petulant and selfish demands of her irate and uncompromising husband. Things come to a head when one morning, the situation mysteriously changes in the village and there’s a total role reversal between the sexes. Ekema (who’s the only one who seems to be aware of the change) gets to experience a day as a pregnant man and his experiences throw a whole new light on his view of Joffi’s feelings.

Click on the picture below to be redirected to trailer:

Beleh still

 

WOODEN HANDS
Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia/France, 2013, 23min.

Five-year-old Amira lives with her mother in a small apartment in Tunis. On the day that she’s supposed to return to the Koranic school, Amira was dearly wishing to enjoy the few remaining hours of her holiday. She managed to find nothing better to do than to attach her hand to the chair with super glue…

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SOKO SONKO
Ekwa Msangi, Kenya/USA, 2014, 22min.

When her mom gets sick, Kibibi’s dad must take her to the market to get her hair braided before school begins. Soko Sonko is a hilarious, fish-out-of-water roller-coaster of a journey, about a well-intended dad who goes where no man has gone before… because only women have been there.

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CURSE OF AN ADDICT (docu-drama)
Lovinsa Kavuma, Zanzibar/Tanzania, 2013, 25min.

In Zanzibar, Seif, a 28-year-old heroin addict believes he is cursed. In a battle to be free from a life where he contracted HIV, Seif seeks help from a Shiek. In a spiritual exorcism, the curse from his past is conjured up. Having confronted his demons, only time will tell whether Seif can lead a clean life as a true Muslim.

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CASSA, CASSA (documentary)
Elodie Lefebvre, Senegal, 2013, 51min.

In 2007, Germaine Acogny, a leading figure in contemporary African dance and the founder of the École des Sables in Senegal, invited thirty-five choreographers and musicians of African origin for an inaugural Dance project. In the remote village where the exceptional exchange took place, each artist brings his or her own personal universe. They unfold it under the others’ gaze, in a quest for the nature of the links that unite them with Africa. It is with a desire for communion and sharing that these unique trajectories meet at the École des Sables, where they reunite with their collective history.

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SOMETHING NECESSARY
Judy Kibinge, Kenya/Germany, 2013, 85min. 

Something Necessary is an intimate moment in the life of Anne, a woman struggling to rebuild her life after the civil unrest that swept Kenya during the 2008 elections, which claimed the life of her husband, the health of her son and left her isolated farm in ruins. Joseph, a troubled young gang member who participated in the countrywide violence is drawn to Anne and her farm seemingly in search of redemption. Both he and Anne need something that only the other can give to allow them to shed the painful memories of their past and move on – but will either of them find it?

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WINTER OF DISCONTENT
Ibrahim El Batout, Egypt, 2012, 96min. 

Set against the momentous backdrop of the whirlwind protests of Cairo’s Tahrir Square that began on January 25th, 2011, this film by independent director Ibrahim El Batout takes us on a compellingly raw, starkly moving journey into the lives of activist Amr (Amr Waked), journalist Farah (Farah Youssef) and State Security officer Adel (Salah AlHanafy) as they experience a shifting reality in the days and nights leading up to the resignation of President Mubarak. Winter of Discontent poetically evokes the pivotal events that changed the face of Egypt forever. As the stories of these characters unfold, we are propelled into the heady, often surreal atmosphere of terror, uncertainty and mass euphoria that surrounded those days that shaped history, and that continue to do so. It exposes the anger, the deceits and the lies that people faced every day during the years of Moubarak’s rule.

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Happy Thanksgiving from the African Film Festival!

A SPECIAL NOTE OF GRATITUDE FROM AFF!

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With 2014 rapidly coming to a close, we wish to thank you all for the immense support you’ve shown to African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF)! From your attendance at our various events, to the donations you give, the re-tweets, the re-posts, the word of mouth, we know we couldn’t have had such a spectacular year without your dedication to what we do.

In 2015, AFF will turn 25! That’s more than two decades of memorable flagship festivals, countless education programs, impactful community programs, national film series touring across the country, summer film screenings under the stars and cultural activity workshops across the five boroughs of New York City, and international programs focused on the expansion and significance of African arts and culture!

AFF has introduced and shaped the role of two generations of African filmmakers, performers, and visual artists to American and international audiences. The voices of these artists have been captured and brought to life through their celebrated film works available in AFF’s DVD store as well as three comprehensive anthology books published by AFF. We also continue work on and improve our ever-growing online directory that offers unparalleled resources that serve as a reference for students, scholars and anyone interested in African and African diaspora arts and culture.

As we commemorate our silver anniversary in 2015, AFF will present year-round programs dedicated to tracing the ‘Footprints of Africa’– the impact made on cultures throughout the world by Africans and their descendants. In addition, next year, the 22nd edition of the New York Film Festival will also look at the strides made by women as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the 2000 program ‘Women in Media.’

We hope to continue serving New York and the world with the best films and visual arts genres from Africa and its diaspora. At the end of the day, AFF is a community-oriented entity that cannot prosper without the continued support of those who believe in our mission!

In the spirit of the holiday season, please consider making a gift to AFF today. Your help can pave the way for the organization to continue its mission of bringing you the best of African and African diasporan arts and culture, by making a tax-deductible donation:

Thank you!

Jacques de Villiers

Biography: Cape Town born de Villiers is a film editor, music-maker, occasional film lecturer/teacher and very occasional director. He is very active as a musician, having released the album sleepsongs and the More Wind For Lonely Suburbs EP. He is currently at work on a new album and the completion of a long-term video installation project, In Memoriam: Eulogies to Lost Time.

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
The Creators (2012).

Filmography:
The Creators (2011).

 

Laura Gamse

Biography: American born Gamse received a Fulbright Fellowship in 2009. Gamse is currently working on the invisible sessions, a series of musical meditations intended to increase international awareness of phenomenal African artists; and the Abahlali Bikes Initiative, a project dedicated to stimulating alternative transportation in South Africa.

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
The Creators (2012).

Filmography:
Invisible Sessions (2009 – Bernard Myburgh);
The Creators (2011 – Jacques de Villiers);
Brigidy Bram (2013 – Toby Lunn).

You Chuse

Directors: Rehad Desai and Anita Khanna
Country: South Africa
Year: 2008
Running Time: 50 min.
Language: English

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You Chuse is a documentary on the role of new media democracy movements in Africa. Using innovative remixing and reworking of various media sources, the film looks at wide-ranging initiatives from the Open Source Software movement and the use of such technology in the fight against AIDS in Malawi, to organizations like the Creative Commons and the attempt to bring a nuanced argument to debates around piracy and intellectual property. The documentary is an exploration of the problems and solutions to the ever broadening Digital Divide between rich and poor nations in the information age.

Alan Dater

Biography: Alan Dater graduated from Goddard College in 1965 with a B.A. in Philosophy. He began his film career in New York City shortly thereafter working on documentaries as a freelance soundman and later as a director/cameraman. Many of these productions were broadcast on the major U.S. networks and include: span, an Emmy Award-winning medical documentary series for NBC; The Body Human, an Emmy Award-winning medical series for CBS; and National Geographic Specials. He has gained extensive experience in film and video from working on many productions on the arts, social issues, and education as well as for the corporate world. These productions include the feature film Hi Mom directed by Brian De Palma starring Robert De Niro; and a documentary about the country singer Johnny Cash entitled Johnny Cash: The Man, His World, His Music. After moving to Vermont he continued his freelance career and began producing independent films. Often these films focused on the arts. They include: The Stuff of Dreams, the story of a community theater group’s creation of an elaborate, original production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, shown at INPUT in Milan; and Blanche, a portrait of the conductor, Blanche Honegger Moyse, one of the founders of the Marlboro (Vermont) Music Festival.

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2014).

Filmography:
The Stuff of Dreams (1976);
Blanche: A Profile of Blanche Honegger Moyse (1986);
Wolf Kahn: Landscape Painter (1990);
Bridge of Fire (1992);
Home to Tibet (1995);
The World in Claire’s Classroom (2000);
Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2008).

 

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Directors: Alan Dater and Lisa Merton
Country: Kenya and USA
Year: 2008
Running Time: 80 min.
Language: English

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Taking Root tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy—a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

Taking Root is the most comprehensive, in-depth film about Wangari Maathai available. It was made in close collaboration with her during the last decade of her life.

They Are We

Directors: Emma Christopher
Country: Australia, Cuba, Liberia and Sierra Leone
Year: 2013
Running Time: 90 min.
Language: English

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Josefa held her village’s songs and dances in her heart. Captured in Africa, she treasured them as she was loaded into the gruesome hold of a slave ship and then sold as a beast of burden in Cuba. Toiling on a plantation, she taught the songs and dances to her children and grandchildren, words and rhythms that lost their original meanings but still resonated with the cadences of their stolen identity. Now, 160 years later, might those same songs and dances enable her descendants to make their way home?

They Are We tells the story of how Josefa’s descendants have kept some of their origins alive. It shows the incredible search for their African roots and then follows the two halves of the family as they try to overcome their problems—the Africans’ extreme poverty and the Cubans’ lack of freedom to travel—to meet again. It is a story of surviving the worst of human experience and how family ties can outlast just about anything.

Emma Christopher

Biography: Emma is an academic historian, writer and anti-slavery campaigner who is on the faculty at the University of Sydney and currently holds a five-year Australian Research Council Fellowship. She has previously held fellowships at Yale University and Monash University, and has worked extensively in West Africa. Her first book, Slave Ship Sailors and their Captive Cargoes, was hailed as “the most important book on the Atlantic slave trade in a very long time”. Her second book, A Merciless Place, jointly won the Ernest Scott prize for best book in Australian history and won the Kay Daniels prize for best book in Australian colonial history. She also wrote, The Devils at Hotel Africa, about a slave ‘factory’ at Cape Mesurado, Liberia. They Are We is her first film.

(Source: http://theyarewe.com/crew/)

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
They Are We (2014).

Filmography:
They Are We (2013).

Young Rebels

Directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck 
Country: Cuba and USA
Year: 2005
Running Time: 70 min.
Language: English and Spanish

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When hip-hop takes to Havana, Cuban artists’ spirited beats and rhymes are just as much a product of the troubled economy as of their insatiable revolutionary spirit. The film intimately engages five hip-hop groups and two producers as they negotiate the Havana summer. With Havana’s 9th Annual National Hip-Hop Festival approaching, invited performers prepare, battling economic hardship, unsympathetic mothers, and the threat of government censorship. Everyone must decide where they stand, from established groups seeking institutional support to fledgling cooperatives establishing alternative circuits, with allegiances ranging from commercial to feminist vegan.

With unheard of access to some of Cuba’s best musicians, this documentary witnesses the future of Cuban hip-hop in the making and a look at Cuba through the eyes of its youth.

Kaouther Ben Hania

Biography: Kaouther Ben Hania was born in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. She is a director and a scriptwriter and is based in Paris. She studied cinema in Tunisia (EDAC) then in Paris (Fémis and the Sorbonne). She directed several short films including Me, My Sister and the Thing (2006) and Wooden Hand (2013). Both films had a successful and long run on the international festival circuit. Her last documentary film Imams Go to School premiered at IDFA 2010 and was selected for many prestigious festivals (Vancouver, Dubai, Amiens …). Challat of Tunis is her first feature film.

(Source: http://www.africultures.com/php/?nav=personne&no=19162)

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
Wooden Hand (2014, 2015).

Filmography:
Me, My Sister and the Thing (2006);
Les imams vont à l’école (2010);
Wooden Hand (2013);
Yed Ellouh (2013);
Le Challat de Tunis (2013).

Kempinski

Director: Neïl Beloufa
Country: Mali
Year: 2007
Running Time: 14 min.
Language: French

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Kempinski is a mystical and animist place. People emerge from the dark, holding fluorescent lamps; they speak about a magical world. “Today we have a space station. We will launch space ships and a few satellites soon that will allow us to have much more information about the other stations and other stars.” Their testimonies spark confusion and contradiction: a second reading is necessary to fully understand what is going on in this unique blend of fiction (sci-fi) and ‘real’ documentary. The scenario of Kempinski, filmed in various towns in Mali, is defined by specific rules: interviewed people imagine the future and speak about it in the present tense. Their hopeful, poetic and spiritual stories and fantasies are recorded and edited in a melodic way; Kempinski thus cleverly challenges our exotic expectations and stereotypes about Africa.

U.M.H.K

Director: Sammy Baloji
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Year: 2008
Running Time: 15 min.
Language: French

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U.M.H.K. stands for Union Minière du Haut Katanga, a Belgian mining company founded in 1906, in Leopold II’s Congo Free State, to exploit the mineral wealth of Katanga. From 1908, U.M.H.K. accounted for a massive percentage of the Belgian Congo’s GDP; after the company was nationalized by Mobutu Sese Seko in 1967, taking on the name Gécamines, this continued to be the case, despite stunning mismanagement and asset stripping. Entire lives were built around the company: the lives of generations of mine workers and their families, at once supported and violently exploited by it.