On opening night of the 23rd New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) will shine a spotlight on an unknown corner of the African diaspora — the South Pacific — with an outstanding film, Tanna. Stars from the diaspora, including Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes and The Cursed Ones) and Maame Yaa Boafo (An African City and New York, I Love You) will attend as well as filmmakers from around the world.
A month-long celebration of the best cinematic offerings from the African diaspora, this year’s theme is ‘Modern Days, Ancient Nights: 50 Years of African Filmmaking’, in reference to 2016 being the 50th anniversary of Ousmane Sembene’s La Noire De (Black Girl).
Throughout May, NYAFF, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Centre (FSLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) will screen 25 feature-length films and 27 short films from 26 countries in Africa, bringing another thrilling and multifaceted selection of African films from the continent and the diaspora to New York audiences. The initial leg of this year’s festival runs from 4 to 10 May at FSLC and features a diverse crop of 15 features and 13 short films. The NYAFF continues throughout May at the Maysles Documentary Centre and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinematek.
This year’s festival connects audiences with unexpected corners of the African Diaspora, including the South Pacific. Tanna, the feature debut of Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, and the first feature shot entirely in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu, is based on a true story and features members of the Yakel tribe in their acting debuts. The film follows young lovers who break off an arranged marriage designed to bring peace to two warring tribes. The film is the winner of the Pietro Barzisa Audience Award at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week.