For our 23rd year, the Cascade Festival of African Films was thrilled to welcome three African filmmakers from very diverse backgrounds: Philippe Niang of Senegalese and French descent; Eliaichi Kimaro of Tanzanian and Korean descent; and local filmmaker and Malian-American, Penda Diakité. Here is a summary of their exciting adventures during the festival:
Seasoned filmmaker Philippe Niang joined us for opening night with his highly acclaimed film, Toussaint Louverture. After the opening night post-film discussion, many collected at Café Allora in the Pearl District for a special evening of great food, wine and conversation hosted by festival committee member, Mark Holman.
While in Portland, Niang also visited students in a writing class at PCC Cascade, sharing his knowledge of Haitian history and slave uprisings. But that wasn’t all; he also enjoyed snapping photos and shopping as well during his stay. Two local Ethiopian restaurants, E’Njoni and Queen of Sheba, each welcomed Niang and the festival committee as we discussed film, history, and world affairs over sumptuous East African cuisine.
The night before Niang flew home to Paris, he joined many Portlanders for an evening of wine and dancing at the Vie de Boehme wine bar, expressing to committee members how very much he loved the festival and that it was the most welcoming of any he’d ever attended.
During Women Filmmakers Week, the festival was overjoyed to welcome both A Lot Like You filmmaker, Eliaichi Kimaro, and Portland-based filmmaker of Tanti, Penda Diakité. CFAF committee members and friends dined with both filmmakers at Queen of Sheba where we discussed the similarities and differences of Kimaro’s and Diakité’s experiences as African women living in America, and having been raised on both continents. Kimaro’s A Lot Like You matinee was highly attended; audiences were moved and captivated by her documentary narrative and the after-film discussion that explored women’s rights in her family’s Tanzanian villages. She wove the experiences of her Chagga aunts into her own story as a survivor of violence against women. A Lot Like You is available through the PCC Library.
The largest audience of the entire festival came to see Portland’s own Penda Diakité as she shared her film Tanti and The Neighborhood Kids: Winter Vacation on the last documentary evening of the 23rd festival. While in town from film school at CalArts in Burbank, California, Penda also visited with high school students. She met with two sections of Chris Dreyer’s Film Studies class at Grant High School, inspiring some to make their own films. Tanti was shot entirely with a handheld camera by Penda on location in her family’s Boulkassoumbougou neighborhood in Bamako, Mali. In addition to its artistry, the film is also intended to raise money for local children to attend school. Diakité explained that it is especially hard for families to find the $45 to $50 a year required for young girls to attend classes. Those interested in helping can donate online. You have the choice to designate your funds for “student sponsorship” or “tutoring at Ko-Falen,” both important components of a proper education for these children. Tanti will also be available through the PCC Library.