Festival FAQ

General festival questions

How did the festival begin?

The person who first came up with the idea of starting the African film festival was Linda Elegant, a writing and literature instructor at PCC Cascade. In the spring of 1990, Linda approached her colleague, Mary Holmström, about starting an African film festival. Mary was a native of South Africa who had begun teaching African Literature at the Cascade Campus in 1989 and was in the process of procuring African films to complement the African novels and plays she was teaching, having realized her students had Western images in their heads instead of realistic pictures of Africa. She responded to Linda’s proposal with an enthusiastic yes. Linda then set about recruiting Michael Dembrow, who taught a course in Film as Literature and had met and interviewed the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene during his graduate school days, and Joseph Smith-Buani, who was from Sierra Leone and was a math tutor in the Cascade Alternative Learning Center where Linda also worked. Belva Seaberry, director of the Alternative Learning Center, provided advice, support, and encouragement, while “A/V Bill” Phillips provided audio/visual assistance.

In the early years of the festival, Linda was the festival coordinator, Mary was the film programmer, Michael wrote the film notes, and Joseph was the evening host. In 1998 Dr. Mildred Ollée, dean of the Cascade Campus, recruited Linda to work on the newly proposed Community History Center. Shortly after that, Mary took on the film festival coordinating work in addition to doing film programming.

Ronna Neuenschwander was the festival’s first after-film speaker for the Malian film Yeelen, as her husband, Baba Wagué Diakité, was visiting his family in Mali at the time. Shortly thereafter, Ronna and Wagué became the first community members to join the CFAF Committee.

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How much does it cost to attend the Cascade Festival of African Films?

The festival is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Because seating is limited, come early to get a seat. If you’re viewing films online, we encourage you to “drop a few dollars” in the virtual bucket when you unlock the film by making a donation.

Are the films shown at CFAF suitable for children?

Most of the films we show at CFAF are not rated and are not suitable for children. However, we always hold an annual Family Film Day event with storytelling and films suitable for children 5 years of age and up. Our occasional StudentFest films are geared toward mature middle school, high school, and college-aged students.

How do I learn more about the countries presented in these films?

Learning about the countries presented in each film is an important part of the festival’s mission to educate and enlighten people about Africa through films by African directors. Whenever possible, we add and update our CFAF country notes to help you learn more.

Can the public check out festival films for home viewing from the PCC Library?

Yes, there are more than 200 films in DVD and VHS format in the African Film Festival Collection at the PCC Library. To see what is available, view our filmography – the films with asterisks* are available in the library. The films can be borrowed for seven days and can be renewed once, and you can borrow up to seven films at a time.

You do not have to be a PCC student to check out these titles – the PCC Library issues guest cards to residents of Multnomah and Washington counties. If you live outside these counties, you can either use your library’s inter-library loan service or you can visit the Cascade Campus and watch films in the library.

Please note that these films are for home viewing only. Copyright restrictions prohibit public screenings of these films even if no admission is charged.

Viewing films in-person

What films are available in-person?

Our festival primary film program screenings are presented in-person.  They are presented only during their scheduled screening dates and times for one night only. Seating for screening are a “first-come first-served” basis and we encourage you to check our website for any updates regarding the in-person events and to familiarize yourself with the safety protocols. Learn more about PCC COVID-19 health and safety procedures.

How do I park at Portland Community College?

Festival attendees must pay for parking in PCC parking lots on Thursdays and Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays are free parking in the lots.

Monday through Friday, 7am-10pm, all motor vehicles parked at any PCC location must display a valid parking permit. After 6pm any vehicle displaying a valid PCC parking permit may park in areas normally reserved for “Staff” parking. The only free parking on campus is in designated motorcycle areas.

You may purchase a parking permit from the permit dispensers located in the parking areas at PCC.

The Cascade underground garage is located directly west of Moriarty Hall. Enter on Mississippi Ave. Approximately 150 parking spaces in the underground garage may be used by vehicles displaying a current PCC parking permit. Another 60 spaces in the garage may only be used by vehicles displaying an hourly or daily parking permit. Hourly or daily parking permits for use in the garage may be purchased from dispensers located in the garage.

For more information, consult PCC’s parking regulations.

Viewing films online

Are the films online the same as the films shown in-person?

No. This year we are back to showing our regular festival screening in-person, at theaters again. We’re aware and understand that there is value in viewing films virtually, which is why we are exploring alternative ways in keeping viewer connected to the festival while continuing to keep it free.

How do I watch the curated films online?

Our virtual festival film program screenings are additional films (not the same films as shown in-person) curated by the festival and available through our partnership with the *Multnomah County Library – Kanopy. Download the Kanopy iOS app or Android app for your smartphone or tablet or sign up on your computer at multcolib.kanopy.com. The Kanopy app is also available for Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Kanopy supports closed captioning and transcripts on all of its videos. Check out this great handy guide and learn about the platform.

*If your area is not serviced by the Multnomah County Library system for viewing our curated films, please check with the local library system in your area to see if our virtual program list of films are available through their streaming platform.

I don’t live in Oregon, can I still watch the films?

Some films have geographic restrictions, which are listed on the streaming pages.

When can I start watching a film?

You can start watching films at any time during the duration of the festival listed on the calendar.

How long are the films available?

Kanopy uses play credits to watch films. There is a limit of ten play credits per person, per month, which resets on the first of each month. To use a play credit, press play on a film and have it play for at least five seconds. Once a play credit is logged, you have three full days to watch the film as many times as you want.

How do I participate in the director Q&As and chats, and what is the difference?

Whenever possible, the director Q&As will be live Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the festival. Registration links will be posted weekly on our website and sent out by email. Since our filmmakers live in many different time zones, some Q&As will be pre-recorded (not available for live questions).

Community conversations on Mondays at 7pm will be casual Zoom conversations for you to connect with others and discuss the films from the previous week. The conversations will be moderated by a CFAF committee member.

Still have questions?

Contact us at info@africanfilmfestival.org for answers to other questions.