25th Cascade Festival of African Films

CFAF celebrates its 25th anniversary with a kickoff gala and other special events

by Mary Holmström

CFAF 25th Anniversary Gala

CFAF 25th Anniversary Gala

The Cascade Festival of African Films (CFAF) is thrilled to be celebrating 25 years of bringing African cinema to Portland. This distinguished track record has earned CFAF the honor of being the longest running African film festival in the United States. We have planned many celebratory and special events throughout the festival to mark this milestone anniversary.


Join Us at the Kickoff Gala

First among the special events will be the Kickoff Gala at the North Star Ballroom, located a block from the PCC Cascade Campus at 635 N. Killingsworth Court, on Thursday, February 5, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. African fare and African music and dancing will be featured. Honored guests will include Nigerian filmmaker Biyi Bandele, whose film Half of a Yellow Sun will open the 25th festival at the Hollywood Theatre on Friday, February 6. The gala will also provide the opportunity to thank sponsors, donors, volunteers, audience members, and CFAF staff and committee members. African dress is encouraged. Tickets, which will cost $25 per person (sliding scale available), will be available for purchase online at the festival website (2015.africanfilmfestival.org) in early January. We are limited to 200 guests; tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. To prevent disappointment, buy your tickets early!


Engage with the Filmmakers

A record number of African film directors—ten!—have been invited to the 25th festival to introduce and discuss their films. In addition to Biyi Bandele, three other Nigerian filmmakers, Kenneth Gyang, Chika Anadu, and Iquo Essien, will attend the festival. Other directors scheduled to be on hand include Nabil Ayouch of Morocco, Zeresenay Berhane Mehari of Ethiopia, Frances Bodomo of Ghana, Ekwa Msangi of Kenya, and Penda Diakité of USA/Mali. Ms. Diakité is the daughter of artist, author and long-time Family Fest host and storyteller, Baba Wagué Diakité of Mali and artist Ronna Neuenschwander, CFAF Development Coordinator and new CFAF Assistant Coordinator. We have also invited local filmmaker Ron Bourke to present his film Lessons of Basketball and War at CFAF’s Student Fest on February 28. His film follows a group of Somali girls over the course of a school year at Portland’s Hosford Middle School as they learn to play basketball and adapt to their new life in the United States. We are privileged to welcome such an esteemed list of artists to our festival this year, and are excited to announce that each will be present after his/her film to take questions from the audience. Those who have attended CFAF post-screening discussions with the director know firsthand that they can be profoundly rewarding experiences where knowledge, ideas, and insights are exchanged.


Hooray for Nollywood

Another exciting event will be the Tribute to Nollywood in celebration of the phenomenal rise of the Nollywood film industry (originally called Nigerian Home Video Film and dubbed “Nollywood” by an outsider). Nigeria now boasts the second largest film industry in the world, achieving that distinction in an extraordinarily short 22 years, from around 1992 to the present, and within the life-span of CFAF. The tribute will include screenings of two contemporary Nollywood films with their respective directors, Kenneth Gyang and Chika Anadu, present. Additionally, we will hold a symposium titled “Nollywood for Beginners” with keynote speaker Dr. Onookome Okome, professor of English and film studies at the University of Alberta and author of Global Nollywood. The filmmakers will join the panel discussion on Nollywood and its impact on Africa, the African diaspora, and the world. Screenings of two of the earliest Nollywood films will be part of the symposium. The Tribute to Nollywood will be held during the second week of the festival on February 13 and 14.


CFAF’s Top 10 Festival Films

A final special event will be the Retrospective Series featuring “CFAF’s Top 10 African Films.” Because of the enormous difficulty of selecting only 10 films from among the 385 outstanding titles that have been shown at CFAF over the years, CFAF founders Michael Dembrow, Mary Holmström, and Dr. Joseph Smith-Buani were tapped to pick their favorites. (For a peek at the Top 10 list, see the accompanying article “Special for Silver Anniversary” in this issue). These films will be shown on Sundays, two each afternoon, on February 8, 15, 22, March 1 and 8.