25th Cascade Festival of African Films

Artist Biographies

Chika Anadu

Chika Anadu

Chika Anadu was born in Lagos, Nigeria in November 1980. She attended school there before going to the UK in 1997 where she did her ‘A’ Levels, got her first degree in BA (Hons) Law and Criminology, and an MA in African Studies: Human and Sustainable Development. Having always been an avid film buff from childhood, and having fallen in love with foreign Language/Arthouse films during her Masters degree, it wasn’t until 2006 that Chika realized that she wanted to be a filmmaker. She moved back to Nigeria for good in 2008 to work in TV/Film production. Chika Anadu is a 2010 graduate of New York Film Academy’s Four Week and a Berlinale Talent Campus Alumn (attendance: Berlin 2011). Her company: No Blondes Productions (Nigeria).

Nabil Ayouch


Nabil Ayouch (born April 1, 1969) is a television and film director, producer and writer of Moroccan descent. He was born in Paris, although he spent a large part of his childhood in Sarcelles, France. His father is Moroccan and his mother is of Tunisian origin. After three years of studying theatre in Paris (1987-1990), Ayouch started his career as a scriptwriter and director with the advertising agency Euro-RSCG. In 1992, he directed Les Pierres bleues du désert, a first short film with French star Jamel Debbouze. Since then he directed several films which earned him international recognition. He won the Ecumenical Award in 2000 at the Montreal World Film Festival for his film Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue. Ayouch’s film Les Chevaux de Dieu competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Biyi Bandele


Biyi Bandele is a Nigerian novelist, film director and playwright. Bandele is one of the most versatile and prolific of the U.K.-based Nigerian writers, having turned his hand to theater, journalism, television, film, and radio, as well as the fiction with which he made his name. Acclaimed as both a prolific playwright and a versatile novelist, his 1997 adaptation of fellow Nigerian Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for the British stage confirmed his place as an important voice on the post-colonial stage. He currently resides in London.

Zeresenay Berhane Mehari


Zeresenay Berhane Mehari is a writer/director with over a decade of experience making films. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Mehari moved to the U.S. to attend film school. He founded Haile Addis Pictures to produce his first narrative feature film, Difret. He has a bachelor of arts degree from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Frances Bodomo


Frances Bodomo is a Ghanaian filmmaker who grew up in Ghana, Norway, California, and Hong Kong before moving to New York City to study film at Columbia University (BA) and the Tisch School of the Arts (MFA). Her goal is to make conceptually strong films that bring fresh African images to the international forefront. Her first short film, Boneshaker (starring Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis), premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and played at over 20 film festivals including Telluride, SXSW, LA Film Fest, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Her latest short film, Afronauts (recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Production Grant & Spike Lee Fellowship), will premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She is developing the feature version of the film and was most recently selected to take part in Berlinale Talents 2014

Ron Bourke


Ron Bourke is a director and producer of commercial, corporate and documentary film and video. His major clients include Hewlett Packard and Intel. Bourke currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Penda Diakité


22-year-old Penda Diakite, born in Portland, Oregon, grew up between her two homes in Mali, West Africa and Oregon. As a result, much of her artwork consists of her thoughts and experiences living between these two cultures. She recently graduated California Institute of the Arts, majoring in Film and Video with a minor in Cultural Studies. With her minor focusing on Women Studies, Black Studies and African Studies, much of her work is geared toward cultural awareness.

Iquo B. Essien


Iquo B. Essien is a Nigerian-American writer, director and photographer. Her short film, Aissa’s Story, was a regional semifinalist in the 2013 Student Academy Awards. She is currently adapting the short into a feature film while writing a memoir, Elizabeth’s Daughter, about losing her mother to cancer and finding herself through writing. Ms. Essien drafted a debut novel, Alligator Legs, for which she received a 2009 Hedgebrook Writers’ Residency. Her publishing credits include the Dreams at Dawn anthology, as well as online and print magazines NigeriansTalk, The African Magazine, PopMatters, and the Stanford Black Arts Quarterly. Ms. Essien attended Stanford University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. Her production company, Editi Films, is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a charitable organization that helps artists and art organizations create engaging, publicly beneficial work. Iquo divides her time between Brooklyn and Lagos, and writes a popular blog, Alligator Legs, about art and life.

Kenneth Gyang


Kenneth Gyang is a writer and director that has been working in film and television since 2006 having graduated from the National Film Institute in Jos. Notable early projects included working as a director for the BBC series Wetin Dey and SoundCity’s Finding Aisha. In 2010, Gyang was listed by the popular Nigerian youth culture magazine Y! as one of 50 people under the age of 35 that will change Nigeria.Kenneth has directed two features: the political love story Blood and Henna (2012) and Cinema Kpatakpata’s Confusion Na Wa (2013).

Ekwa Msangi


Ekwa has directed several short films, most recently an award-winning short comedy film entitled Soko Sonko (The Market King) which was commissioned by Focus Features’ Africa First Program. After several exciting screenings, Ekwa’s suspense-thriller  Taharuki (Suspense), a 12-minute prequel to her feature film in development, Eastlands, was picked up for distribution by Shorts International, Inc. and is currently in circulation in both North America and Europe. Ekwa has also directed several drama series for mainstream broadcasters in Kenya and for MNET South Africa, including The Agency, MNET’s first ever original hour-long Kenyan drama series.  She’s written for both television and film, and produced several shorts.  Her films have been official selections at several world festivals including New York African, Durban International, and Pan African Film Festivals, and Weakness, a short film she recently produced, was nominated for a 2010 Kalasha Award and a 2011 African Movie Academy Award (AMAA).

Peres Owino

peres owino

Peres Owino is a Kenyan-born actress, writer, stand up comic, and dancer. Aside from Bound: Africans v. African Americans, her latest projects include: a lead role in Simon Brand’s feature film Default; a co-starring role in the FX TV show “Terriers,”; and directing her original play, “Cut,” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. “Cut” was an official selection of the REDCAT Fall Studio. Peres is also producing her new play “Stained Sheets,” a follow-up to her successful one-woman play “Beauty for Ashes.”