25th Cascade Festival of African Films

Special for the Silver Anniversary: Founders’ Top 10!!!

by Michael Dembrow

The Camp at Thiaroye

The Camp at Thiaroye

Veteran audience members of the Cascade Festival of African Films (CFAF) know that we have shown many, many exceptional films over the years. Every year we receive requests to re-screen favorites from previous years. We have tended to resist these inquiries because of the many wonderful new films coming out each year.

Well, this year will be different. Since it’s our 25th anniversary, we’ve decided to add a special wrinkle to the event. We’re adding a day to the weekly programs and running a 10-film retrospective on Sunday afternoons.

Deciding which films earned a place in the “Top 10” was, of course, very difficult. Identifying the “best” films is a very subjective undertaking. So, the decision was made to leave creation of the list up to the three active festival founders: Mary Holmström, Joseph Smith-Buani, and me, and see if we could reach agreement. Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but I’m happy to report that we’re still on speaking terms!

You’ll notice that the selections are all feature films (i.e., no documentaries, though we’ve shown some wonderful documentaries), and come from all over the African continent (though most are from West Africa). You’ll also notice that most of our favorite films are from the first 10 years of the festival. That probably says as much about us as it does about the dynamics of African film. Remarkably, the first three on the list are all from the very first year of CFAF. When you see them, you’ll know why audience members DEMANDED that we make this an annual festival.

So, here’s the schedule for the Founders’ Top 10. We’ll be showing two films each Sunday afternoon. If one or more of your favorites isn’t on the list, please be kind to us, and remember: Most of the films that we’ve shown are available for check-out from the PCC library!


Sun. Feb. 8: The Camp at Thiaroye (Senegal, 152 min., dir. Ousmane Sembene) and La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Rosy (Congo DRC, 85 min., dir. Mweze Ngangura)

Sun. Feb. 15: Yeelen (Mali, 105 min., dir. Souleymane Cissé) and Sankofa (Ghana/USA/Ethiopia, 125 min., dir. Haile Gerima)

Sun. Feb. 22: Sarraounia (Mauritania, 120 min., dir. Med Hondo) and Tilai (Burkina Faso, 81 min., dir. Idrissa Ouedraogo)

Sun. March 1: Hyenas (Senegal, 113 min., dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty) and The Silences of the Palace (Tunisia, 127 min., dir. Moufida Tlatli)

Sun. March 8: A Screaming Man (Chad, 92 min., dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun) and Tsotsi (South Africa, 94 min., dir. Gavin Hood)