Eleven features, including South African movie Of Good Report, and eight short films from various African nations and the Diaspora will show at the 21st New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), which runs from 7 to 13 May.
The event is organised by the Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and the African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) under the theme “Revolution and Liberation in the Digital Age’.
In recognition of Nollywood, the world’s second largest film industry, the festival will open with Kenneth Gyang’s dark comedy, Confusion Na Wa, which won Best Picture at the 2013 African Movie Academy Awards.
Critically acclaimed Nigerian film Half of a Yellow Sun, which releases on 16 May in the US, will have its New York premiere on 9 May at NYAFF. Directed by Biyi Bandele, the film stars Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose and Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor.
In the documentary Mugabe: Villain or Hero?, directed by Roy Agyemang, the filmmaker portrays the director’s unprecedented access to the Zimbabwean leader, and his entourage, and examines the battle for minerals and land fought between African leaders and the West.
Narrative feature Winter of Discontent by Ibrahim El Batout explores the Tahrir Square protests central to the Arab Spring while, with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Act making headlines, American-Ugandan Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine’s experimental short Kuhani features a conflicted priest.
In Bastards, director Deborah Perkin documents a single mother who is beaten and raped at 14 and discarded and her subsequent fight in a Moroccan court to legalise her fake marriage to ensure a future for the daughter born out of this horrific situation.
In Ninah’s Dowry, directed by Victor Viyouh from Cameroon, the main character escapes from an abusive marriage only to be chased by her husband to recover her (his property) or the dowry he paid for her.
Gender roles are reversed in the short Beleh, directed by Eka Christa Assam from Cameroon.
Also screening are South Africa’s Of Good Report by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and Grigris by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, who is originally from Chad, both films that are symbolical of the legacy of post-independent Africa and the resulting social shifts.
Kenyan comedies It’s Us (Ni Si Si) and the US premiere of the short Soko Sonko (The Market King) screen; while Wooden Hands, a short from Tunisia, has its US premiere. Directed by writer Marguerite Abouet and illustrator Clement Oubrerie from the Ivory Coast, animated feature Aya of Yop City also shows at the festival.
The NYAFF closes on 13 May with Sarraounia by director Med Hondo from Burkina Faso, based on the historical accounts of Queen Sarraounia who fearlessly led the Azans of Niger into battle against the French colonialists. In 1987, the film won first prize at the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO).
“There are long and proud cinematic traditions in countries all over the African continent, and at the same time there are new voices and new means of expression,’ says FSLC Associate Director of Programming Marian Masone. “We are happy that the festival this year will be able to share the work of these artists, who are exploring both myth and modernity.’
Comments AFF Executive Director and NYAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti. “Today, the golden era of technology not only allows the African public to see films made about their own realities but also exhorts each generation of filmmakers to raise the bar with the stories they tell about the continent and its diaspora, resulting in a veritable digital revolution.’
Visit FilmLinc.com for more information, and to buy tickets.