Festival Launches April 8 at The Film Society of
NEW YORK —Through the lenses of emerging directors and veteran filmmakers, the 16th Annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) will take an introspective journey across the African continent, with films that create a vision of Africa's future through a deconstruction of its past. Under the banner “Africa in Transition,” the festival will present a lineup of 35 films from 16 countries throughout
Opening night brings the
Jerusalema, a tale of a self-made Sowetan entrepreneur climbing the Hillbrow criminal underworld ladder one rung at a time, will have its
“As the winds of change shift internationally and the world confronts new realities,
One country that most captures that evolution is South Africa, which held its first all-race, post-Apartheid democratic elections 15 years ago. As the world waits with bated breath, the country is poised to elect a new government on April 22. With Nelson Mandela long retired, a new generation of leaders governs the country. In some senses they have become ordinary politicians, who are grappling to maintain the grand ideals that drove the struggle against apartheid. It is both the best of times and the most challenging of times.
Many films in this year’s New York African Film Festival speak to
The festival also highlights a new generation of emerging filmmakers who offer a perspective of
It is not, however, only the new generation of filmmakers that is being boldly introspective. Veteran filmmakers Jean-Marie Téno, Africa's preeminent documentary filmmaker, and Mahamat Saleh Haroun, whose 2006's Daratt won the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival, are back with films that question the purpose and direction of African filmmaking. With Sacred Places, Téno designates the drum as the big brother of cinema and asks African filmmakers who their audience is—and who it should be. Haroun surprises us with a comedy in Sex, Okra and Salted Butter. It is a film made in the Diaspora, about Africans in the Diaspora, suggesting that the African village can be recreated anywhere. These films challenge African filmmakers to ask themselves what their roles and responsibilities are to the continent, and whether an African audience should be the focus.
Sometimes relics of the past are needed for the journey onward into the future. Coming-of-age tales Wrestling Grounds / L'Appel Des Arenes, From a Whisper, African Booty Scratcher, Kinshasa Palace, Bronx Princess and Nora all follow young people, who reclaim cultural legacies and histories to create opportunities for themselves. Historically rich in content, Yandé Codou, The Griot of Senghor and Siki, Ring Wrestler expand on this idea, all exploring the lives of well-known individuals who have walked the path of rediscovery and found value in the journey that would later influence many generations to come. Singer Yandé Codou Sène is one of the last of purveyors of polyphonic Sérère poetry, and Yandé Codou, The Griot of Senghor is an intimate look at this diva, who has gone through the history of
Wrestling Grounds / L'Appel Des Arenes and The Fighting Spirit join Siki, Ring Wrestler as films that capture the transformative power of sports.
The intersection of past and present is a theme that will be further explored in 2010's festival, as the New York African Film Festival reflects upon 50 watershed moments in African history, which still intimately affect the world today.
The first segment of the festival will be held at FSLC’s Walter Reade Theater,
It then moves on to
NYAFF concludes at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek in tandem with DanceAfrica from May 22 through May 25. There, contemporary African cinema will be the focus. BAMcinématek is located at
The 16th New York African Film Festival is organized by Richard Peña of The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the African Film Festival, Inc. (Mahen Bonetti, Toccarra Thomas, Aba Taylor, Muriel Placet-Kouassi, Alonzo Speight and Hellura Lyle). Special thanks is given to the AFF Board of Directors, Joan Baffour, Luca Bonetti, Francoise Bouffault, Sean Jacobs, Mamadou Diouf, Sarah Diouf, Gabriel Donati, Jacki Fischer, Belynda Hardin, Morgan Seag, Alexander Markov, Andrew Milne, Philippa Naughten, Prerana Reddy, Keith Shiri, Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc. P.R., Kojo Associates and AFF’s volunteer team.
The programs of AFF are made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, JPMorgan Chase, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, International Organization of La Francophonie, Divine Chocolate, Domenico Paulon Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Times Community Affairs Department, South African Consulate-General, Time Warner Cable, French Cultural Services, Bloomberg, Tides Foundation, Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies, GoCard, WNYC, Continental Airlines, 57 Main St. Wine Company, Putumayo World Music, Royal Air Maroc and Omnipak Import Enterprises, Inc.
Tickets for The Film Society of Lincoln Center screenings are $11; $7 for Film Society members, students and children (6-12, accompanied by an adult); and $8 for seniors (62+). Tickets are available online at filmlinc.com and at the box office of The Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater. A series pass admitting one person to a total of five titles in the series can be purchased at the box office (cash only) for $40; $30 for Film Society members. Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 19. For more information, visit filmlinc.com or call 212-875-5601.
Tickets for the Opening Night Reception on April 8 cost $50 and tickets for the AFF Annual Gala Celebration are $150; to purchase tickets call AFF at 212-352-1720.
Online Press Office:
Complete materials and hi-res images for the festival may be downloaded from www.filmlinc.com. Click on the press office; password is press.
The Film Society of
Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc.
Gabriele Caroti 212-875-5625
Cheryl Duncan 201-332-8338
(for the African Film Festival, Inc.)
For press screenings/RSVPs
Oleg Dubson 212-875-5578
African directors and guest speakers will be present during the festival (indicated by an asterisk* before the show time). ALL FILMS IN NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGES WILL BE SUBTITLED IN ENGLISH.
FILM SOCIETY OF
Behind the Rainbow (
Behind the Rainbow explores the transition of the ANC from a liberation organization into
Wed Apr 8: *8pm; Mon Apr 13: *2:50pm
The Fighting Spirit (
George Amponsah, UK/USA/Ghana, 2007; 80m. In Ga and English.
One town in Africa takes on the world as three boxers—two men and a woman—from a poor slum in Ghana fight their way to the glittering rings of New York and London for the biggest prizes in the business. Thanks to tenacious coaches who turn rough street fighters into money-churning professional boxers, the village has produced several champions and is looking for its next big winner. Twenty-two-year-old George is excited to box overseas for the first time. Known as “The First Lady of Boxing,” Yarkor is struggling to win her first big fight. Having already achieved international success, Joshua is campaigning for the world welterweight title. A story of modern Africans’ dreams and ambitions, fighting for respect, for reward, and for their home.
Siki, Ring Wrestler (
Senegalese boxing legend Battling Siki, a World War I hero and the first African to win a world championship, fascinated and intrigued many in his short life; he was 28 years old when he was murdered in
Fri Apr 10: 1pm; Sun Apr 12: *5:15pm
FILMMAKERS AGAINST RACISM (
Tino La Musica, a Congolese band whose members are all refugees based in
hopeful, until they are evicted a week before the countrywide xenophobic violence that would scatter and displace approximately 30,000 refugees around the country. The double impact of these events causes the band to fall apart, and the film follows their struggle to get together again as they search for new instruments and the will to sing and dance.
Martine and Thandeka
Already a refugee in
The Burning Man - Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave
This gentle exploration by Nigerian filmmaker Adze Ugah tries to recapture the individuality of Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave and understand the events that led to his being burnt to death in
Omelga Mthiyane and
Two days after
Fri Apr 10: *10pm; Sun Apr 12: *12:30pm
From A Whisper (
From a Whisper commemorates the tenth anniversary of the August 1998 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in
Sat Apr 11: *3:00pm; Tue Apr 14: 7:00pm
The Importance of Being Elegant
George Amponsah, UK/USA/Ghana, 2004; 69m. In Lingala and French.
This is the story of one of the most unusual clubs in the world, the Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants—La SAPE—whose members, the Sapeurs, come from the Democratic Republic of Congo and have elevated fashion to the status of a religion. Translated into English, the name refers to a society of people who spend huge amounts of money on designer clothes with the motive of making themselves as conspicuously elegant as possible. One of these ultimate fashion victims is well-known Congolese singer Papa Wemba. The film is a splendid evocation of Papa Wemba's music and an unusual insight into what it means to be an immigrant in contemporary
Thu Apr 9: 2:15; Sat Apr 11: 10pm
In My Genes (N.Y. Premiere)
Co-presented with Margaret Meade Film & Video Festival
What is it like to be white in a black society? In My Genes presents an intimate introduction to albinism as Agnes overcomes the odds of being born with no pigment in a community that discriminates against the condition. In this documentary about disability, minority discrimination, identity, issues of representation, confidence, and the perception of the other, she discovers she has skin cancer and finds out the real reason why she lost both of her eyes. Yet Agnes keeps going, trusting in the work of her hands and the strength of her god. In interviews cut into her narrative, seven other individuals share their experiences of living with albinism. They ponder the effect of their condition on their childhoods, adolescence, sexuality, race, and dreams.
Sun Apr 12: *9:15; Tues Apr 14: 5pm
Jerusalema (N.Y. Premiere)
Fri Apr 10: *7:15pm; Tues Apr 14: *9:00pm
Killer Necklace (
Boo is a handsome young banker with a bright future, and Wai is a sultry young girl from a privileged background. Boo would do anything for Wai, so deep is his desire for her. Wai, far more the material girl, has her eye on a different prize: the most beautiful golden necklace in the world. In this twisted tale of desire and deceit, is anybody what they appear to be and does anyone truly mean what they say?
Area Boys (
Having grown up in a world where corruption and greed rule, lifelong friends Bode and Obi encounter a near death experience following a botched scam and decide to repent from their way of life. They cut their ties with their megalomaniacal boss Dele and his domineering girlfriend (who has a soft spot for Bode), but life as good citizens proves difficult. They plan one more job behind Dele’s back, to raise the funds that would ease them into a lifestyle of godliness, but they are soon faced with a life-or-death situation and must search for an escape route from the clutches of Dele’s henchmen.
Thu Apr 9:* 9pm; Mon Apr 13: *10:00pm
Jose Laplaine, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, 2006; 75m. In French, Tshiluba, Portuguese, English, and Cambodian.
Wed Apr 8: 1:45pm; Mon Apr 13: 5:30pm
Josephine Ndagnou, Cameron, 2008; 133m. In French.
Determined 24-year-old Suzy will do anything to leave her native
Wed Apr 8: 3:30pm; Mon Apr 13: 7:30pm
The Prodigal Son (
Kurt Orderson a Rastafarian and filmmaker from Cape Town, South Africa, retraces his great-grandfather Joseph Orderson’s epic journey to South Africa from Barbados in the 1890s. Orderson was part of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by the great Marcus Garvey, father of contemporary Black Nationalism and Pan Africanism.
Yoni Brook and
Bronx Princess follows headstrong 17-year-old Rocky's journey as she leaves behind her mother in
African Booty Scratcher