The 24th festival opens with Grigris, directed by the highly acclaimed Chadian filmmaker, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. This 2013 masterpiece is an energetic and poignant film about a young man who dreams of rising above his economic and physical impediments. Visually stunning and ultimately uplifting, this film is a thoughtful portrait of a war-ravaged country on the brink of change. In an attempt to accommodate our ever-growing audience, this year on Opening Night we will offer two screenings at the Hollywood Theatre, one at 6:30 p.m. and a second at 9:00 p.m. All other evening programs will begin at 7:00 p.m.
This year’s documentary films are very strong. Sand Fishers follows fishermen of the Bozo community of Mali as they try to preserve their industry and way of life. God Loves Uganda tracks the American influences that lead to the infamous Ugandan anti-homosexuality legislation that would punish gays and lesbians with execution. Dear Mandela examines Mandela’s “unbreakable promise” of affordable housing to those who suffered under apartheid. The film follows three dynamic young South African activists who take their government to the highest court in the land when their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction. The Square looks at the hard realities faced every day by people working to build Egypt’s new democracy.
For our Centerpiece film, we will be joined by Nigerian director Obi Emelonye who will introduce his “high-octane airplane disaster thriller,” Last Flight to Abuja. The film is considered part of the “New Wave” in Nigerian cinema that aims to improve technical production of the “first wave” Nollywood films to appeal to a wider audience. We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a captivating evening with this dynamic young filmmaker.
Known as “The Father of African Cinema,” Ousmane Sembène is a widely studied director, whose body of work is nothing short of extraordinary. On Saturday, February 8, from 1-4 p.m., we will have an Ousmane Sembène Retrospective hosted by Dr. Amadou Fofana, a professor of French at Willamette University and author of The Films of Ousmane Sembène. We will show two of Sembène’s films (the 1963 short film Borom Sarret and the 2000 film Faat Kine), followed by a discussion with Dr. Fofana.
Family Film Day features Khumba, an animated adventure comedy about a half-striped zebra who is blamed for the lack of rain by the rest of his superstitious herd. Join him as he embarks on an exciting and entertaining quest to earn his stripes! Baba Wagué Diakité of Mali, artist and author, will once again serve as host and storyteller.
Our Student Fest Matinee on February 20th features two must-see films. African Drum, Beyond the Beat is a rich portrait of the various social functions performed by the drum in West African society. In Soul Boy, 14-year-old Abila has to save his ill father by recovering the soul he gambled away, sending the boy on an adventure to fulfill the seven tasks he must complete to save his father. Both films will be enjoyable to viewers of all ages and backgrounds.
The Festival’s final week is always dedicated to films made by African women. We are thrilled that director Apolline Traoré will join us from Burkina Faso on Closing Night, March 1, 2014, to share her newest cinematic delight, Moi Zaphira! This remarkable narrative shows us just how far a widow will go to achieve a better life for her daughter. Don’t miss it. During the last week of the festival we’ll see two North African social commentary films: On the Edge from Moroccan filmmaker Leïla Kilani; and Jehane Noujaim’s raw Egyptian documentary The Square.