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22nd New York African Film Festival Returns May 6-12 – Check Out the Lineup of 15 Features and 13 Shorts

22nd New York African Film Festival Returns May 6-12 - Check Out the Lineup of 15 Features and 13 Shorts

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. has been announced. You’ll recognize some of the titles and filmmakers listed (previously covered on this blog), like the South African crime drama “Cold Harbour” by Carey McKenzie, Senegalese drama “Mossane,” veteran filmmaker Safi Faye’s last feature film (released in 1996), the feature documentary, “National Diploma” (“Examen d’Etat”) from DRC’s own Dieudo Hamadi, Côte d’Ivoire native Philippe Lacôte’s feature film debut, “Run,” and others.

And as is often the case, there are a few titles listed that I’m not at all familiar with, which I always look forward to discovering for the first time. I’ll be researching and highlighting some of them, in individual posts, leading up to the festival. But in the meantime, feel free to dig in for yourselves below…

The New York African Film Festival is brought to you by The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF). This year will mark its 22nd edition, with a lineup that includes 15 features and 13 short films from across the African Diaspora. 

“As we reach our anniversary, it is clear that on many levels we have achieved all we set out to do some 25 years ago in creating a festival to challenge the prevailing narrative about Africa through the cinematic arts,” said AFF Executive Director and NYAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti. “As we revisit our mission this year, we see that our community has not only helped bring our masters to the attention of global audiences but that we continue to push to the forefront new voices that celebrate Africa in this important moment in our history.”

Isa Cucinotta, Film Society of Lincoln Center Programmer added: “We are thrilled by this year’s selection of films exploring the breadth and depth of the African experience both on the continent and beyond. Through comedy, drama, and documentary, the striving of a people on the move is vibrantly expressed. We are happy to be able to share the dreams and hard work of today’s artists.”

Subthemes include “Digital Africa: The Continuum” which allows the NYAFF to note the numerous ways in which Africans are using digital technology and art to connect with cultures around the world and create new visions of Africa and “Africanness.” And “Women in the Media,” under which the festival will explore the incredible strides women filmmakers have made over the past decade and a half.

Screenings will take place at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street (north side, upper level, between Broadway and Amsterdam) and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street (south side, between Broadway and Amsterdam).

Tickets for the New York African Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on April 23 at the Film Society’s box offices and online at Pre-sale to Film Society members begins on April 21. Single screening tickets are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for Film Society members. See more for less with a 3+ Film Discount Package starting at $33; $27 for students and seniors (62+); and $24 for Film Society members.

Following its opening leg at Film Society of Lincoln Center, NYAFF then heads to Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem (May 14-17) and concludes over Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek as part of its popular dance and music festival DanceAfrica.

Films and Descriptions follow below:

Opening Night
Cold Harbour
Carey McKenzie, South Africa, 2014, DCP, 73m
Afrikaans, English, Mandarin, and Xhosa with English subtitles
While investigating a smugglers’ turf war in Cape Town, township cop Sizwe stumbles upon police corruption. His boss and mentor, Venske, gives Sizwe the case but assigns a rookie, Legama, to keep an eye on him. After Sizwe discovers that a homicide is linked to Triad (Chinese mafia) through abalone smuggling, a tip from a former comrade leads to a major bust. Despite that the seized contraband is stolen within hours, Sizwe is still promoted to detective. It’s a bitter triumph though—he’s being played, and he knows it. In a world where self-interest and corruption have overtaken loyalty and honor, Sizwe is left with no one to trust, and integrity demands that he take the law into his own hands.
Wednesday, May 6, 7:00pm (Q&A with Carey McKenzie and Tendeka Matatu)
Monday, May 11, 2:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Red Leaves
Bazi Gete, Israel, 2014, DCP, 80m
Amharic and Hebrew with English subtitles
Seventy-four-year-old Meseganio Tadela immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with his family 28 years ago. He chooses to zealously retain his culture, and in effect talks very little and hardly speaks Hebrew. After losing his wife, Meseganio sets out on a journey that leads him through his children’s homes. As the harsh reality begins to hit him that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class that believes in preserving Ethiopian culture, he struggles to survive according to his own rules. U.S. Premiere
Friday, May 8, 6:45pm (Q&A with Bazi Gete)*
Sunday, May 10, 4:15pm (Q&A with Bazi Gete)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Closing Night
Safi Faye, Senegal, 1996, 35mm, 105m
Wolof with English subtitles
Mossane (Magou Seck), a beautiful 14-year-old girl from a rural Senegalese village, is the object of affection to many, including Fara, a poor university student—and even her own brother, Ngor. Although she has long been promised as a bride to the wealthy Diogaye, Mossane falls in love with Fara, and on her wedding day, she defies her parents’ wishes and refuses to go through with it.
Tuesday, May 12, 9:00pm (Introduction by Mamadou Niang)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

100% Dakar – More Than Art
Sandra Krampelhuber, Austria/Senegal, 2014, digital projection, 62m
French and Wolof with English subtitles
This documentary offers a vibrant portrait of the youthful and creative arts scene in Dakar, Senegal. The city has long been seen as hub for the arts, and 100% Dakar follows many of the creative forces responsible for the current cultural and artistic boom there. Featuring fashion designers, hip-hop musicians, graffiti artists, a photographer, an arts blogger, dancers, and many others, the film reveals a world of people who stand for a passionate, collective, and creative fight against all economic and political burdens in Senegal’s buzzing capital city. U.S. Premiere

Screening with:

The Prophecy
Marcia Juzga, Senegal, 2015, digital projection, 20m
French and Wolof with English subtitles
Concerned about the environmental issues Senegal is facing, photographer Fabrice Monteiro, in collaboration with the designer Jah Gal, created “The Prophecy,” a project with the objective of raising awareness among the Senegalese population and the rest of the world. The project’s series of surrealist photographs detail the sites most representative of Senegal’s environmental destruction. The essence of each site is characterized by a jinn—a supernatural genie omnipresent in African cultures—merging with its environment. The documentary The Prophecy details the creative and technical process behind the making of the photographs. U.S. Premiere
Saturday, May 9, 4:15pm (Q&A with Sandra Krampelhuber)
Tuesday, May 12, 4:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Head Gone
Dare Fasasi, Nigeria/Sweden, 2014, DCP, 111m
English and Pidgin English with English subtitles
Due to a road mishap, a bus driver loses some psychiatric patients on the way to a federal hospital. To cover up the mistake, he and a nurse pick up unsuspecting commuters to substitute the patients, and the plot thickens as the new passengers must try to prove their sanity in a psychiatric institution, while the escapees try to adjust to a new environment. A comedy of errors that features some of Nigeria’s finest entertainers.
Saturday, May 9, 9:45pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Love the One You Love
Jenna Bass, South Africa, 2014, DCP, 105m
English and Xhosa with English subtitles
Across the city of Cape Town, a sex-line operator, a dog handler, and an IT technician begin to suspect that their romantic relationships are the subject of a bizarre conspiracy, involving their friends, family, and possibly even greater forces. Love the One You Love’s parallel stories question the ideals we hold too sacred: love, happiness, and the New South Africa. U.S. Premiere
Friday, May 8, 9:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Melillans / Melillenses
Moisés Salama, Spain, 2004, digital projection, 76m
Spanish with English subtitles
A detailed look at the denizens of Melillenses, a border city whose people both bridge and personify the immense gaps between Europe and Africa. U.S. Premiere

Screening with:

Ziara. Beyond the Threshold / Ziara. Más allá del umbral        
Sonia Gámez, Spain, 2013, digital projection, 54m
Spanish with English subtitles
A documentary focusing on the Morabitos (or Marabouts), important religious pilgrimage sites in northern Morocco, and the precarious situation they are now in due to repression from Islamic radicals. New York Premiere
Sunday, May 10, 1:00pm (Introduction by Beatriz Leal Riesco)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

The Narrow Frame of Midnight
Tala Hadid, Morocco/France/UK, 2014, DCP, 93m
Arabic and French with English subtitles
Aïcha, a young orphan, is found alone in the forests of central Morocco, after being taken from her home and sold to a petty criminal. Soon after escaping, she crosses paths with Zacaria, a Moroccan/Iraqi writer, who has left everything behind—including a passionate relationship with a teacher, Judith—to search for his missing brother. The trio’s intersecting journeys lead audiences across Morocco, to Istanbul, the plains of Kurdistan, and beyond.
Monday, May 11, 6:30pm (Q&A with Tala Hadid and Danny Glover)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

National Diploma
Dieudo Hamadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo/France, 2014, DCP, 92m
French and Lingala with English subtitles
National Diploma follows a group of Congolese high-school students about to take the state exam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dieudo Hamadi’s documentary closely follows them as they prepare for the test, from the benches of the school they are regularly ejected from because they haven’t paid the fees the teachers unfairly inflict upon their students, to the communal house where they gather to study, and the chaotic city streets of Kisangani they walk trying to find a living.

Screening with:

The Road We Travel
Aidan Belizaire, Uganda/UK, 2014, digital projection, 38m
English and Swahili with English subtitles
After arriving in Uganda, a downtrodden photographer befriends a local taxi driver who offers him a place to stay—which forces him to embrace a culture very different than his own.
Sunday, May 10, 9:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Plot for Peace
Carlos Agulló & Mandy Jacobson, South Africa, 2014, DCP, 84m
English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans, and Spanish with English subtitles
A fascinating account of off-the-books diplomacy in the 1980s, Plot for Peace is that rare documentary that both augments the historical record and is paced like a thriller. The film tells the little-known tale of Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French commodities trader who made his fortune doing business, he says, in “difficult countries”—including the internationally shunned South Africa. In 1981, he concluded that apartheid was unsustainable and began to use his contacts to help make sure its end came peacefully.
Thursday, May 7, 6:30pm (Q&A with Mandy Jacobson and subject Jean-Yves Ollivier)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Philippe Lacôte, France/Ivory Coast, 2014, DCP, 100m
French with English subtitles
Run finds shelter with fellow dissident Assa (Isaach de Bankolé) after assassinating the Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast. While in hiding, Run’s story is revealed in three separate flashback chapters—his childhood with Tourou, when his dream was to become a rainmaker; his adventures with Gladys, the competitive eater; and his past as a young member of a militia, amid conflict in the Ivory Coast—which together speak volumes about contemporary life in the troubled country. Philippe Lacôte’s feature-film debut is a mesmerizing coming-of-age tale, alternately dreamlike and ultra-realistic. New York Premiere
Monday, May 11, 9:00pm (Q&A with Isaach de Bankolé)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Shorts Program #1: Afripedia Series (TRT: 140m)

Teddy Goitom & Benjamin Taft, Kenya/Sweden, 2014, digital projection, 28m
Afripedia, Kenya takes an intimate look at Nairobi’s urban culture scene and its leading personalities and stars. Meet Andrew Kaggia, creator of a 3D-animated political short that offers a glimpse of his futuristic vision of Nairobi and proving that disability is never inability. Afro-futuristic pop band and DIY enthusiasts Just a Band redefine music videos, and visual artist Cyrus introduces us to his remarkable collection of “Boobs,” created solely with found materials.

Teddy Goitom & Benjamin Taft, Angola/Sweden, 2014, digital projection, 28m
English and Portuguese with English subtitles
Welcome to Angola, home of heavy electro music known as “kuduro.” Follow us across the pulsating city of Luanda, as we delve into the kuduro revolution and meet the people charting its course. Afripedia, Angola portrays a city bursting with creativity and discovers the capital from an alternative viewpoint. Get swept away by a lineup of emerging talents, such as transsexual superstar Titica, wordsmith genius artist Nástio Mosquito, producer MC Sacerdote, and more.

Teddy Goitom & Benjamin Taft, Senegal/Sweden, 2014, digital projection, 28m
English, French, and Wolof with English subtitles
In Afripedia, Senegal, we meet fashion designer Selly Raby Kane, who sculpts the digital image of a future alien city in an old railway station. Photographer Omar Victor Diop playfully reimagines Hollywood’s most iconic images with a Senegalese twist, while dancer Khoudia Roodia is organizing and building for a future in which Africa dominates street dance. Beatmaker Fanny from the Ivory Coast is defying society’s boundaries to create a future for female artists and organizers.

Teddy Goitom & Benjamin Taft, Ghana/Sweden, 2014, digital projection, 28m
The whispers among those in the know are saying that Accra is the next big hotspot for African cultural production, and Afripedia, Ghana suggests that they’re not wrong. Meet outspoken and androgynous music star Wiyaala, exciting trick-bikers whose BMX skills and flamboyant style have taken neighborhoods by storm. Visual artist Afrogallonism puts on extraordinary outdoor performances that highlight environmental issues. Welcome to Creativity!

South Africa
Teddy Goitom & Benjamin Taft, South Africa/Sweden, 2014, digital projection, 28m
Twenty years after liberation, Afripedia, South Africa portrays a diverse new generation of artists. Starting out in in Cape Town, we meet up with the video game–inspired streetwear label 2BOP and the inventor of the new limpop music genre, Gazelle. Continuing on to Johannesburg, we join heavy-metal band Ree-burth for a block party and take a tour around Soweto with the local style-setters Smarteez and their colorful street-savvy fashion.
Saturday, May 9, 6:30pm (Q&A with Teddy Goitom)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Shorts Program #2: Women in the Media (TRT: 113m)

The Summer of Gods
Eliciana Nascimento, Brazil, 2014, digital projection, 20m
Portuguese with English subtitles
A young girl named Lili connects with her Afro-Brazilian religious heritage on a summer visit with family to their ancestral village in rural Brazil. During her stay, she encounters orishas (African gods) who help her find peace with a gift that had previously vexed her.

Burkina, All About Women
Nicole Mackinlay Hahn, USA/Burkina Faso, digital projection, 2015, 11m
French and Mooré with English subtitles
Seeking to undo stereotypes about African women by looking at the professional lives of women in Burkina Faso, the film talks to a firefighter, a swimmer, a mushroom biologist, a mechanic, an astrophysicist, a rapper, and more—allowing women (all inspired by the legendary Princess Yennenga) to give voice to their own unique experience. U.S. Premiere

Handmade in Thamaga
Nova Scott-James, USA/Botswana, 2014, digital projection, 5m
English and Setswana with English subtitles
Handmade in Thamaga chronicles the founding and work of Bothlalo Centre, a women’s pottery collective and business in the small rural village of Thamaga, Botswana. New York Premiere

Bus Nut
Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ghana/USA, 2014, digital projection, 7m
Bus Nut rearticulates the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political and social protest against U.S. racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama, and its relationship to an educational video on school-bus safety. Actress MaameYaa Boafo restages a vintage video while reciting press-conference audio of Rosa Parks on a re-created set in New York City.

Sister Oyo / Soeur Oyo
Monique Mbeka Phoba, Belgium/Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2014, digital projection, 24m
French with English subtitles
Set in the Belgian Congo in the 1950s, Sister Oyo tells the story of Godelive, a schoolgirl at the Catholic boarding school Mbanza-Mboma, the premier French-language school for Congolese girls. She is to be westernized, following the will of her parents, but the memory of her grandmother intervenes…

Muzna Almusafer, United Arab Emirates/France, 2014, digital projection, 21m
Swahili with English subtitles
The dark-skinned 11-year-old Cholo meets his fair-skinned younger stepbrother Abdullah for the first time. Although strikingly different, the two boys enjoy a crackling chemistry.

Panic Button
Libby Dougherty, South Africa, 2014, digital projection, 25m
English and Zulu with English subtitles
From the moment that Tshepo, a security guard, breaks through Jenny’s multi-locked door to save her, she feels as if she’s been swept off her feet. But as Jenny imagines herself falling in love with him, an unhealthy, delusional obsession begins to take shape.
Tuesday, May 12, 6:00pm (Introduction by Nova Scott-James and actress MaameYaa Boafo)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Sobukwe: A Great Soul
Mickey Madoda Dube, South Africa, 2011, digital projection, 100m
This film celebrates the life of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, restoring him to his rightful place as a leading figure in South African history. Despite his pivotal role in the struggle for liberation (and as the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress), there isn’t a single piece of archive of the man who was once one of the most watched, recorded, and popular political prisoners in the world. Even the current South African government has failed to recognize his place in history and the relevance of his message today. Mickey Madoda Dube’s film seeks to fill that gap, standing as a monument to a great man, a global visionary, teacher, political leader, philosopher, and humanist who was well ahead of his time, declaring his commitment to a “non-racial” society in a racist world by asserting that “there is only one race, the human race.” U.S. Premiere
Wednesday, May 6, 9:00pm
Friday, May 8, 4:00pm*

*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Special Work-in-Progress Screening
DCP, 90m
French with English subtitles
A soon-to-be-released documentary on an artist-led youth movement that erupted after a political crisis in West Africa.
Sunday, May 10, 6:30pm* (Q&A with Director)*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Stories of Our Lives
Jim Chuchu, Kenya, 2014, digital projection, 62m
English and Swahili with English subtitles
Created by the members of The NEST Collective, a Nairobi-based arts collaborative, this anthology of five short films dramatizes true stories of LGBT life in Kenya.

Screening with:

Celine Gilbert, Tanzania, 2000, digital projection, 30m
Swahili with English subtitles
In the tranquil setting of a small fishing community in the east coast of Zanzibar, a fire is raging in the hearts of three young individuals, and the entire community feels the heat. Surrender tells the story of Amri, a man trapped between the traditional role of the family man his father expects him to fulfill and his personal desire for Mashua, a local fisherman.
Monday, May 11, 4:00pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street

Photo Exhibit:

The Prophecy, by Fabrice Monteiro, is a series of hypnotic, environmental-themed photographs that represent the intersection of art, fashion, mythology, and nature. Based in Dakar, the Beninese-Belgian photographer collaborated with a collective of young artists to depict some of Senegal’s worst-hit areas in order to raise awareness of environmental concerns. The Prophecy digital exhibit will highlight stills from the series, and how Monteiro and his team created each image. (Go to for the exhibition schedule.) Marcia Juzga’s short film of the same name will also screen during the festival.

In the Amphitheater — Free and open to the public.

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