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New York African Film Festival Preview: ‘National Diploma’ Follows Congolese Students & Their State Exam Struggles

New York African Film Festival Preview: 'National Diploma' Follows Congolese Students & Their State Exam Struggles

Always a feast for the film lover (especially the lover of African cinema), the lineup for the 2015 edition of the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), which will run from May 6 – 12, announced a couple of weeks ago, includes a few titles you’ll recognize like the feature documentary, “National Diploma” (“Examen d’Etat”), which follows a group of young Congolese high school students who are about to take the exam for their National Diploma (somewhat the equivalent of the the SAT’s here in the USA), in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Directed by Dieudo Hamadi, the film captures the students as they prepare for the exam – from the benches of the school that they are regularly ejected from because they haven’t paid the “teachers’ fees,” to the “maquis” (a communal house) where they gather to study, and the chaotic streets of the city where they spend their time “looking for a living.”

Director Hamadi, born in the DRC, studied medicine until 2008, before taking workshops in documentary filmmaking. His first two films, “Dames En Attente” and “Tolérance Zéro,” both short films, have screened at festivals across the globe, winning acclaim along the way.

“Atalaku” (2013), his first feature-length documentary also won several awards. 

His latest, “National Diploma” (“Examen d’Etat”), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last fall, as part of its TIFF Docs lineup, has already picked up some awards of its own, including the SCAM International Prize and the Potemkine Prize at Cinéma du Réel.

it screens next at the New York African Film Festival on Sunday, May 10, 9pm.

Watch a preview of the film below.

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