By Tara Foster
CFAF is excited to start the 23rd festival with a selection of films about the African Diaspora, in the Caribbean, including the award-winning, action-packed epic Toussaint Louverture about the life of Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) who led the only successful slave rebellion in the history of the Americas. It was this 18th century revolt that sparked the Haitian Revolution. We are excited that director Philippe Niang will be with us from France to introduce his film and answer questions afterwards. Our screenings at the Hollywood Theatre historically “sell out,” so do come early to ensure a parking spot and a seat. Plus, you do not want to miss the Jefferson Dancers, a nationally recognized dance troupe from Portland’s Jefferson High School, who will launch the festival with a performance at 6:30 p.m. There will be a brief intermission in the middle of this three-hour film.
The Centerpiece Film is the multi-award-winning Egyptian film Microphone,which has been called “a document of, and love-letter to, the vibrant, underground arts scene in Alexandria.” This year’s other feature films come to us from across the African continent, including Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The Student Fest matinee is back this year with two films. The first, Stocktown X: South Africa, is a documentary about musicians, self-described “ghetto fabulous” fashion designers, fashion and music “mesh” creators, and various indie clothing designers. The second is Inside Story, the story of young Kalu, who gets the opportunity to become part of a professional soccer team the same day that his father is killed in an accident. Now the main breadwinner for his mother and sister, Kalu has also unknowingly been exposed to the HIV virus. The film follows him as he faces the xenophobia of his new teammates as well as the effects of his HIV illness.
Family Film Day will be held at PCC’s Cascade Campus this year to accommodate the larger audience that attends this special day. In keeping with tradition, Malian artist and author Baba Wagué Diakité will once again captivate all with folktales from West Africa before the two films, Mwansa the Great and Zarafa. Mwansa the Great is an imaginative short film about eight-year-old Mwansa, who aspires to be a hero and embarks upon a journey to prove his greatness. Zarafa is an animated adventure about the friendship between a 10-year old boy and an orphaned giraffe, and their epic journey from Sudan to Paris. Along the way, they have many adventures with cows, pirates, and a crossing of the snow-capped Alps.
This year’s documentaries include An African Election, which captures the 2008 presidential election in Ghana; Benda Bilili, the story of five paraplegics and a young teenager whose band’s dream of making it big on the world music festival circuit becomes a reality; Rouge Parole, which explores the Tunisian protests that launched the “Arab Spring” and ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali; and The Education of Auma Obama, an intercultural identity film that traces the history of Auma Obama’s father and family, her growing up in Kenya, her European education and return to Kenya, and finally the opening of her foundation, Loud Voice.
CFAF is proud to welcome two women filmmakers to this year’s Women Filmmakers Week: Penda Diakité and Eliaichi Sadikiel Kimaro. Ms. Diakité joins us on Thursday, February 28 to share her Malian film Tanti and The Neighborhood Kids Winter Vacation, which introduces us to five-year-old Tanti Ballo and her friends as they take a break from school. Ms. Kimaro will share her documentary A Lot Like You in a matinee screening on March 2nd. With a father from Tanzania and a mother from South Korea, Ms. Kimaro is a first-generation African-Asian-American struggling with her own sense of identity.
It is an exciting lineup, and we look forward to seeing you at the 23rd CFAF. Complete festival schedules will be mailed out in early January, or you can check www.africanfilmfestival.org for more information.