The festival’s theme this year, “The Peoples’ Revolution,” illuminates the new wave of artists throughout Africa and its diaspora seeking reform and effecting it via sociopolitical action. These individuals exist where values of human rights, civic duty, and the democratic, unrestricted nature of technology increasingly become interdependent. Here, ideas of identity, culture, and notions of “home” are rewired, functioning in ways markedly distinct from previous generations. Among the highlights this year are Ewir Amora Kelabi, from Ethiopia, a poetic film about migration; the acclaimed South African film Vaya by director Akin Omotoso; and a powerful shorts program that includes the film 80 by Muhannad Iamin, the first animated documentary from Libya. This 24th edition of NYAFF also features a stunning digital art exhibition that explores dance and movement through virtual reality.
Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and African Film Festival, Inc.
Organized by Mahen Bonetti, Francoise Bouffault, Keisha Knight, Beatriz Leal-Riesco, Utibe Mbagwu, and Dara Ojugbele, African Film Festival, Inc.
Opening Night • U.S. Premiere • Q&A with Akin Omotoso
Beginning on a train travelling from the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg, Vaya focuses on three passengers, strangers to one another bound by interlocking destinies and a shared naïveté. Imagine a South African spin on Amores Perros and you're on the right path.
Centerpiece • World Premiere • Q&A with Sewmehon Yismaw, actor Zekarias Tibebu Mesfin, and Jessica Beshir
Based on a true story, this film chronicles the life of Major Tibebu Mesfin, who worked for the Dergue Regime in Ethiopia. This unpredictable adventure tells the story of how far one man will go to fulfill his destiny. Preceded by: Hairat (Jessica Beshir, 7m).
Set in Haiti five years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Guetty Felin's magical realist tale of healing avoids the kinds of images of the disaster that saturated screens around the world. Preceded by: Jojolo (Lebert Bethune, 12m).
New York Premiere • Q&A with Shirikiana Gerima (Footprints of Pan-Africanism), and Sandra Krampelhuber & Andrea Verena Strasser (Accra Power)
The documentary Footprints of Pan-Africanism revisits the era of Ghana’s emergence into independence, when Africans on the continent and in the diaspora participated in building a liberated territory. Co-presented with Africa-America Institute. Preceded by: Accra Power (Sandra Krampelhuber, 49m).
New York Premiere • Q&A with Abba Makama
A story about classism and how people from different economic and cultural backgrounds think and behave, Green White Green plays with stereotypes to illustrate just how similar we are despite our diversity and prejudices.
U.S. Premiere • Q&A with actor Thabo Rametsi and actress Pearl Thusi
Kalushi is a true story about Solomon Mahlangu, a nineteen-year-old hawker who fought against the brutal Apartheid regime and became an icon of South Africa’s liberation.
New York Premiere • Q&A with Ousmane William Mbaye
Kemtiyu is a portrait of Cheikh Anta Diop, a trailblazing scholar with an insatiable thirst for science and knowledge, as well as an honest, enlightened political figure—venerated by some, derided by other, and unknown to most.
The first anti-apartheid feature film made by, for, and about black South Africans tells the story of Panic, a petty gangster who gets caught up in the growing anti-apartheid struggle and has to choose between individual gain and standing united with others against the system.
U.S. Premiere • Q&A with Daryne Joshua
In this debut feature, a tribute to the human need for stories and a realistic look at youth gang behavior, a young man in 1960s Cape Town ends up in jail and uses his gift for storytelling to barter his status with the prison gangs.
Q&A with Maria Govan
In Play the Devil, the prevailing poverty and lush beauty of Trinidad and the pulsating rhythms of Carnival are backdrop to a story where dreams and obsession collide. Co-presented by Cinema Tropical.
U.S. Premiere • Q&A with Sifiso Khanyile and Lebert Bethune
Uprize! looks at the political, social, and cultural conditions that shaped the June 1976 student uprising in South Africa, how those ideas we transformed into liberatory action, and how those actions helped shape the democratic society we live in today. Co-presented by Cinema Tropical. Preceded by: Malcolm X: Struggle for Freedom (Lebert Bethune, 20m).
N.Y. Premiere • Q&A with Férid Boughedir
In Boughedir’s tale of an unlikely hero, young college graduate Aziz leaves his village on the border of Sahara for the capital in quest of a job. He soon falls for a young woman who has ties to a mafia group and gets swept up in revolution.
U.S. Premiere • Q&A with select filmmakers
The selection was curated by the traveling shorts program Quartiers Lointains, which highlights films from distant quarters throughout Africa.
Q&A with Mamadou Dia (Samedi Cinema), Christophe Rolin, Marc Recchia, & Papa Bouname Lopy (Dem! Dem!)
Iman Djionne, Senegal, 2016, 26m
Wolof and French with English subtitles
Boxing Girl is a coming-of-age tale about a bored 17-year-old hairdresser who finds red boxing gloves after getting hit by…
Q&A with Sarra Idris, Ekwa Msangi, Nova Scott-James, Mariama Diallo, S. Ajay Ram, Akwaeke Emezi, and Oluwaseun Babalola
Adam & Howa
Sarra Idris, Sudan, 2015, 8m
A couple’s story becomes a metaphor for the relationship between the Sudanese diaspora who fled the country after political turmoil and those who were left behind.…
Digital Art Exhibition · May 3-9 in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
Two interactive pieces: Afro Promo #1 (Kinglady), which explores the influence of comic book heroes on the American immigrant; and Afripedia – Dance Battle 360°, an immersive experience that allows anyone, anywhere to experience dance from the continent firsthand.
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