25th Cascade Festival of African Films

Fast Forward

By Tara Foster 

Opening Night

To celebrate our 25th season, CFAF once again opens at the Hollywood Theater! We are excited to announce two screenings on opening night, Friday, February 6. This year, the festival kicks off with Half of a Yellow Sun starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton in the 2014 film adaptation of the 2006 novel by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This saga, directed by Biyi Bandele, tells the story of sisters Olanna and Kainene who return home to 1960s Nigeria, where they soon take different paths. As the Nigerian-Biafran civil war breaks out, political events loom larger than their differences and they join the fight to establish an independent republic. Director Bandele has been invited to join us. 

Half of a Yellow Sun directed by Biyi Bandele

Half of a Yellow Sun directed by Biyi Bandele

What’s More?

Also in honor of our 25th anniversary, we will hold a special tribute to Nollywood! Though we will show Nigerian films throughout the festival, the second week will spotlight several Nollywood films and a symposium on the evolution of Nollywood—the second largest film industry in the world. As CFAF has grown and evolved over the past quarter century, so has the Nigerian film industry and our festival will commemorate that phenomenal growth.

Centerpiece Night

For our Centerpiece film, Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch has been invited to join us on Friday, February 20 for the screening of his film Horses of God, a compelling contemplation of the roots of Islamic terrorism in poverty and hopelessness. This fictional account of the lives of the men responsible for the suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003 was selected as the Moroccan entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

Horses of God

Horses of God

Director Nail Avouch

Director Nabil Ayouch

Thursday Night Documentary Series

Music, soccer, and cultural communications are spotlighted in our Thursday night documentary series this year. Finding Fela is an introspective film about the life and music of Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, while Electro Chaabi takes us into the slums of Cairo, where we join young people dancing to electro chaabi, a new music that blends folk songs, electro beats, and freestyle chanting in the style of rap. In The Beautiful Game, we witness the transcendent power of soccer in modern Africa and how the sport is helping to change the lives of individuals and communities across the continent. Finally, Bound: Africans v. African Americans takes us on a journey through the corridors of African and African-American historical experiences as it illuminates the moments that divide and those that bind, Africans and African Americans. The after-film discussion for each of these films is sure to be provocative and compelling.

Finding Fela

Finding Fela

Women Filmmakers Week

As part of our Women Filmmakers Week, we have organized an exciting evening of seven short films for March 6. The movies include Afronauts (Ghana), Aissa’s Story (Nigeria), Beleh (Cameroon), Kwaku Ananse (Ghana), Soko Sonko (Kenya), Wooden Hand (Tunisia), and Words from a Silence (USA/Mali). Please join us as we also welcome directors of four of the films that evening. Penda Diakité, Frances Bodomo, Iquo B. Essien, and Ekwa Msangi will be on hand to share their films with us.

Family Fest

On Saturday, February 28 at 11 a.m., CFAF welcomes family audiences to join us for Felix, a highly acclaimed South African film about 13-year-old Felix Xaba who dreams of becoming a saxophonist like his late father. The film explores how through determination and love we can overcome obstacles to achieve our dreams. Baba Wagué Diakité, Mali artist and author, will once again serve as host and storyteller for Family Fest.

Student Fest

To allow greater participation for students, we have moved Student Fest to Saturday, February 28 at 2 p.m. We will screen Lessons of Basketball and War, a documentary by local filmmaker Ron Bourke that chronicles a year in the life of a group of Somali Muslim, Somali Bantu, and Ethiopian Oromo girls as they adapt to Portland’s Hosford Middle School. The film shows how educators are working with these students to help them succeed and thrive in their new home. Director Ron Bourke and other special guests will join us to discuss the film.

Lessons of Basketball and War

Lessons of Basketball and War

CFAF’s Top 10 Films

And last but not least, for this milestone year, CFAF will unveil the founders’ list of Top 10 African Films we have shown over the years. These films will be shown as Sunday matinees throughout the festival. Read more about the list in the article “Special for the Silver Anniversary: Founders’ Top 10!!!” in this issue.