The 15th New York African Film Festival
April 9 - May 26, 2008
The New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a lineup of 40 films from 22 countries throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, emphasizing history and storytelling, technology and the future. This year's Festival, "Cinema and History: Africa and the Future," will mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of Guinea-Conakry from colonial rule, as captured by Russian archival footage. Highlights will include Nigerian director Newton I. Aduaka's film Ezra, winner of the Stallion de Yennenga - Fespaco 2007, and acclaimed filmmaker Charles Burnett presenting on Opening Night the New York premiere of his latest effort, Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation, starring Danny Glover. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will be feted on Saturday, April 12 at the Centerpiece Celebration with the U.S. premiere of The African Slave Trades: Across the Indian Ocean, a film he narrates about the intercontinental African slave trade. The Festival will continue with a tribute commemorating the life of the Father of African Cinema, the late Ousmane Sembène. Presented by African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the festival runs from April 9 through 15 at the Walter Reade Theater, and continues with dates in May at the French Institute Alliance Française and Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAMcinématek.
Distinguished guests this year include Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and veteran film director Charles Burnett. The leading global theorist of world affairs, Soyinka will present the first of many untold stories about the intercontinental African slave trade at the Centerpiece Celebration on Saturday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. The African Slave Trades: Across the Indian Ocean, which Soyinka narrates, highlights the lesser-known history of deportation and enslavement from the East Coast of Africa up the Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean. Also featured will be the film Baa Baa Black Girl, which examines the creation of the indigenous Afro-Turk community during the Ottoman Empire, fueled by the slave trade. A post-screening reception at the Roy Furman Gallery with Soyinka will be held at 7:30 p.m.; tickets to the reception are $20 and can be purchased at www.filmlinc.com.
Director Charles Burnett will present his latest work, Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation on Opening Night on Wednesday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. Also in attendance will be the film's editor Edwin Santiago. The film tells the story of Sam Nujoma, South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) leader and Namibia's first President, charting the trajectory of his political awakening and the movement for liberation in Namibia and Southern Africa. A pre-screening reception with Burnett will be held at the Roy Furman Gallery at 6:00 p.m.; tickets to the reception are $20 and can be purchased at www.filmlinc.com.
"Cinema is such an important medium for Africans, as it functions to both preserve the oral tradition and to act as a vehicle to bring Africa's voice to the world stage," said Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the AFF. "The rapid advances in the field of media technologies is presenting the people of Africa and the African Diaspora more opportunities than ever before to dictate the terms of their destiny and to tell their stories on their own terms."
The stories that will be told during this year's Festival span the genres, the Continent and the African Diaspora. They are works that help people make sense of the past, consider the present and speculate on what is to come in the future. Some of the films depict fictional or real-life tales selected from storytelling treasures of the past. Others highlight contemporary stories that contextualize Black people's present realities within the framework of history. And still others delve deeply into filmmakers' projections of the future, from where they stand today. In this spirit, many of this year's films in the festival follow the documentary format.
The Festival will also showcase the works of a new wave of female African cineastes. Through eye witness accounting, social activism and pure fiction, Osvalde Lewat-Hallade, Ngozi Onwurah, Katy Léna Ndiaye, Zina Saro Wiwa and other female filmmakers will challenge and question the taboo traditions of the Continent and the Black community at large.
Marking the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Guinea, never-before-seen archival footage from the Russian State Archive will be shown, as will a full program highlighting President Ahmed Sékou Touré and Guinea's independence movement.
As this year's festival puts a spotlight on recent trends in cinematic storytelling, NYAFF will present a selection of feature narratives that pay homage to documentary-style discourse. In Juju Factory and Shoot the Messenger, viewers become interlocutors within the realms of truth and reconciliation. Negotiating fallacies put forth as truth, the protagonists in both these films must often put themselves in the uncomfortable situation whereby they tell people what they do not want to know. Goodbye Mothers, based on the 1960s emigration of Moroccan Jews to the new state of Israel, reminds audiences of the long-standing relationship that Jews and Muslims have consciously shared. Through ironic inversion, Africa Paradis tells the story of tomorrow's émigrés who find themselves in a prosperous yet sometimes inhospitable African nation.
Films such as Black Business and Bushman's Secret explore current events through a documentary technique that exposes the subjectivity of storytelling, while also providing possible examples for an "objective" documentary tradition. Cuba: An African Odyssey and Brothers in Arms both directly link liberation movements in Southern Africa to the history of the Diaspora, reclaiming perspectives that may otherwise remain underexposed and unknown.
Finally, Isaac Julien's experimental film Fantôme Afrique, along with This is My Africa and Awaiting for Men, represent the epitome of the 2008 New York African Film Festival. Daring, crisp and lush, the films manifest visual metaphors for Africa - at once historical and futuristic - exposing the timelessness and rigor of the storytelling epic.
AFF will commemorate its long history of bringing the best of African film to New York audiences with the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the New York African Film Festival on Friday, April 11. The benefit reception will be held at the Roy Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theatre directly following the 7:30 p.m. New York premiere of Africa Paradis, which will be presented by its director, Sylvestre Amoussou. To purchase tickets, which are $100 and include entry to the film, call AFF at 212-352-1720.
On Monday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m., African Film Festival, Inc. will present its annual panel discussion in collaboration with Columbia University's Institute for African Studies. Panelists will take up African history as a living dynamic that actively engages with and informs tomorrow's cinema history. Internationally acclaimed Senegalese historian Dr. Mamadou Diouf will officiate the event in collaboration with the Festival.
The festival runs at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, Plaza Level, from April 9 through April 15.
It continues at the French Institute Alliance Française with its CinémaTuesdays at FIAF series on May 6, 13, 20 and 27, featuring Étalon de Yennenga prize winning films-the most coveted cinema prize awarded at Fespaco, the bi-annual Pan-African film festival held in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. African Film Festival, Inc., in collaboration with French Institute Alliance Française, will pay tribute to Ousmane Sembène, the venerable Father of African Cinema, whose tutelage set the stage for the African family of filmmakers, on Tuesday, May 27, with an intimate night of personal reminiscence, literary readings and a screening of Sembène's seminal film Borom Sarett. The evening's finale will be an original sound score produced and performed by the inimitable Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid. The film series will be held at Florence Gould Hall at 55 East 59th Street.
Keeping with tradition, the New York African Film Festival concludes at Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAMcinématek, located at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, in tandem with DanceAfrica May 23 through May 26. The program will spotlight features and shorts selected for their cutting-edge adaptation of African scenarios both real and fantastical on screen.
Below is the calendar of events for the 15th New York African Film Festival in 2008:
April 9 - 15, 2008: African Film Festival at Film Society at Lincoln Center
April 14, 2008: African Film Festival at Columbia University
May 6, 2008: 1st Evening of Screenings at French Institute Alliance Française
May 13, 2008: 2nd Evening of Screenings at French Institute Alliance Française
May 20, 2008: 3rd Evening of Screenings at French Institute Alliance Française
May 23 - 26, 2008: African Film Festival, at BAMcinématek, BAMRose Cinemas
May 27, 2008: Special evening cinema program at French Institute Alliance Française
15th NYAFF in 2008 at:
April 9 - 15
May 6, 13, 20, & 27
May 23 - 26
In honor of Guinea's 50th independence in anniversary in 2008, NYAFF is proud to feature films from the Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents.
Russian State Archives - Focus on Guinea
As part of the 15th New York African Film Festival, AFF presents footage from the Russian State Archive documenting newly independent Guinea in 1959-1961.
Wednesday, April 9, 3:45pm
Sunday, April 13, 5:45pm Guest speaker
Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
2007 marked Ghana's 50th independence anniversary and in 2010 17 African nations will celebrate their 50th anniversaries as well. As we come together in 2008 under the banner of Cinema and History: Africa and the Future for the 15th Anniversary New York African Film Festival, we explore film as a medium to connect tradition with the contemporary. In association with the Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents, NYAFF is proud to present three archival videos from post-independence Guinea, featuring President Ahmed Sékou Touré and other important figures from Guinea's liberation history.
Independently Guinea (U.S. Premiere)
Archival footage, USSR, 1959, 40m. In Russian.
One year after independence, we catch a glimpse of life in Guinea. The revolution is still alive in the minds and hearts of the people!
The President of Guinea in the USSR
Archival Footage, USSR, 1959, 20m. In Russian.
Communist leaders welcome Guinean President Sékou Ahmed Touré on his first visit to the USSR as the leader of an independent Guinea.
Archival footage, USSR, 1961, 20m. In Russian.
Leonard Brezhnev visits Guinea and is welcomed by Sekou Touré and the people of Guinea. Hello Guinea is a brief sojourn into the heart of newly independent Guinea only three years after decolonization.
African Film Festival, Inc.
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