The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and African Film Festival (AFF) Inc. are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place at the FSLC between May 16 and May 22, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek May 24 through May 28 and Maysles Cinema in Harlem June 7 through June 10. The festival will honor the pioneers of African cinema as well as recognize a new generation of African filmmakers. The festival will screen 66 films from 25 countries.
The festival’s opening night film, Apolline Traoré’s award-winning film Borders, “follows four women as they travel from Mali to Nigeria, supporting each other while battling sexism and corruption.” A short film honoring Traoré’s late mentor, Idrissa Ouedraogo, will screen before Borders. A fundraising gala will be held after the screening of both films.
Other films to be showcased during the festival include the New York premiere of French director Berni Goldblat’s Wallay, which is a coming-of-age film about “Ady, a young troublemaker sent from France to his single father’s homeland of Burkina Faso for the summer”; the U.S. premieres of Valérie Osouf’s Abderrahmane Sissako: Beyond Territories, a 2017 version, complete with original Wolof language restoration, of the 1983 film Selbe: One Among Many, by Safi Faye, the first sub-Saharan woman to direct a theatrically released film; and Mohamed Challouf’s Tahar Cheriaa:Under the Shadow of the Baobab, which highlights the career of the founder of Africa’s first film festival, the Carthage Film Festival. There will also be a screening of late Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty’s 1989 documentary short Parlons Grand-mère and screenings of films from new African directors, including Machérie Ekwa Bahango of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Jeferson De of Brazil.
Other events during the festival include a town hall meeting on May 13 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Amphitheater called “Activism & Art: Personal Journeys,” which will feature storytellers across various mediums discussing how their art informs their activism. “Falling,” a free digital and interactive art exhibition exploring Southern Africa’s youth activism, will run at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater.
“Since the founding of the New York African Film Festival, African cinema has moved beyond the art house and become the lingua franca of Africa and its diaspora,” said Mahen Bonetti, AFF executive director and NYAFF founder. “From Nigeria to South Africa and Brazil, regional film industries are breaking down the artificial demarcations of the colonial era. For this 25th milestone, the festival is proud to showcase this new wave of a borderless cinema, which uses the tactility and immediacy of storytelling to offer audiences opportunities to imagine other futures for Africa and its diaspora.”
The New York African Film Festival is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Bradley Family Foundation, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Domenico Paulon Foundation, NYC & Company, French Cultural Services, Manhattan Portage, City Bakery, Black Hawk Imports, Essentia Water, South African Consulate General, National Film and Video Foundation, Consulate General of Sweden in New York, Hudson Hotel and Royal Air Maroc.