South African musical icon Miriam Makeba in documentary Mama Africa.

In just under a week, over a dozen filmmakers will descend upon the Film Society of Lincoln Center to show some of the the past year's finest films from and about Africa. The 19th New York African Film Festival runs from April 11 – 17 and comprises 16 impressive features. With gripping dramas, emotional documentaries, and incredible experimental pieces, this is a lineup like no other.

The theme of the festival, “21st Century: The Homecoming,” crops up across this year's selections, which explore the diversity of African identity and culture. This year's Opening Night selection, Mama Africa, looks back at the life of Miriam Makeba, who used her music and influence to help take a stand against Apartheid in South Africa and oppression across the continent. This tribute to a beautiful life will be accompanied by appearances from some of the documentary's interview subjects.

For the festival's Centerpiece Selection, enjoy a live dance performance by Khaleah London and the powerful, emotional drama Relentless. After a man violently loses the woman he loves in a war-torn region, he must return home and do his best to readjust to a normal life. A brutally honest portrayal of heartbreak and war, the film screens just once during the festival. The worst bit of bad luck this Friday the 13th would be missing it.

The NYAFF is a Film Society offering filled with undiscovered gems. This year, an African immigrant tries to make it on the streets of NYC in Restless City, a Sundance 2011 favorite. Zimbabwe puts its spin on Sex and the City with Playing Warriors. In The Education of Auma Obama, the life of President Obama's Kenyan half-sister is explored and documented in fascinating and intimate detail. Each of these screenings includes in-person appearances from directors and/or other people involved with the films.

And for something completely different, Treasures from the Russian State Archives uses Russian archival footage of African newsreels from the 1950s – 1970s to capture the history of the continent in those decades. It is unlike anything else in the NYAFF, and anything else you'll see in theaters for years to come.

Join us Wednesday as we begin a week of amazing and inspiring films. For a complete lineup, showtimes, and more info, check out the New York African Film Festival page.