Frequently Asked Questions

How did the festival begin?

The person who first came up with the idea of starting the African film festival was Linda Elegant, writing and literature instructor at PCC Cascade. In the spring of 1990, Linda approached her colleague. Mary Holmström, and asked what she thought about starting an African film festival.  Mary, who was from South Africa, had started teaching African Literature in the spring of 1989 and was in the process of looking for African films to complement the African novels and plays she was teaching, having realized her students had western images in their heads instead of realistic pictures of Africa. She responded to Linda’s proposal with an enthusiastic yes. Linda then set about recruiting Michael Dembrow, who taught a course in Film as Literature and had met and interviewed the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene during his graduate school days, and Joseph Smith-Buani, who was from Sierra Leone and was a math tutor in the Cascade Alternative Learning Center where Linda also worked. Belva Seaberry, director of the Alternative Learning Center, provided advice, support and encouragement, while “A/V Bill” Phillips provided audio/visual assistance.

In the early years of the festival, Linda was the festival coordinator, Joseph was the evening host, Michael wrote the film notes, and Mary did the film programming with help from Michael from time to time. Starting around 1998 Linda was recruited by Dr. Mildred Ollée, dean of the Cascade Campus, to work on the newly proposed Community History Center. Shortly after that, Mary took on the festival coordinating work in addition to doing the film programming.

Ronna Neuenschwander was the festival’s first after-film speaker for the Malian film Yeelen, as her husband, Baba Wagué Diakité, was visiting his family in Mali at the time. Shortly thereafter, Ronna and Wagué became the first community members to join the CFAF Committee.

Why is the Cascade Festival of African Films held at the same time as the Portland International Film Festival?

Since its inception in 1991, CFAF has been held in February in celebration of Black History Month at Portland Community College. When the Cascade Festival of African Films began in 1991, the Portland International Film Festival was held in March. Subsequently, PIFF moved into February.

How much does it cost to attend the Cascade Festival of African Films?

The festival is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Because seating is limited, come early to get a seat.

Is there free parking at the festival?

Yes, parking is free in the PCC Cascade Campus parking lots during the festival. If you receive a parking citation by mistake, please give it to a CFAF Committee member to take care of or phone the number on the back of the parking citation. If you park on the streets in the neighborhood around PCC Cascade, you might receive a parking warning. However, if you are not a PCC  student, faculty or staff member, you may disregard the warning.

Are the films shown at CFAF suitable for children?

Most of the films we show at CFAF are not rated. As a rule, most are not suitable for children. We hold an annual Thursday matinée StudentFest with films geared toward mature middle school, high school, and college-aged students. We also hold an annual Family Film Day event with story-telling and films suitable for children 5 years of age and up.