nullA reminder for our New York readers…

You’ll notice several titles that have been discussed here on S&A, as well as names of talent, including Ousmane Sembène, who’s being celebrated at the festival this year, with 2 of his films screening, as well as a documentary on him. Perfect timing, since I’ve revived our Filmmaker Series, starting with the films of Ousmane Sembène!

Opening Night launches with the rarely-screened Guelwaar from Sembène.

This year’s festival also includes the U.S. Premiere of Dolce Vita Africana, about legendary Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, as well as the buzzed-about films Death for Sale, Burn it up Djassa and Nairobi Half Life from the new wave of young African directors.

Also Haitian-born Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean-Louis will be present for the screening of his historical epic Toussaint Louverture, directed by Philippe Niang.

For the full lineup of this year’s New York African Film Festival, as well as screening venues, and ticket info, see below from the press release:


All screenings will take place in the Walter Reade Theater on 165 West 65th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam). Tickets for New York African Film Festival screenings go on sale March 7, 2013 at the Film Society’s box offices and online at Single screening tickets are $13; $9 for students and seniors (62+); and $8 for Film Society members. Plus, save when you purchase tickets to three films or more with a special discount package. A three film package is $30; $24 for students and seniors (62+); and $21 for Film Society members. Visit for complete film festival information.

The festival continues at Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies on Thursday, April 18 for a daylong, free scholarly public program, then heads to the Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem May 2 to 5. NYAFF closes over Memorial Day Weekend May 24 to 27 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAMcinématek—part of the dance and music festival DanceAfrica. For details, visit African Film Festival online at

Films and Descriptions for New York African Film Festival

Opening Night 

GUELWAAR (1992) 115m

Director: Ousmane Sembène

Country: Senegal

A trenchant comic portrait of contemporary Africa by the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, Guelwaar revolves around the mysterious death and even more mysterious disappearance after death of one Pierre Henri Thioune (called Guelwaar, the Noble One), a political activist, philandering patriarch, and pillar of the local Christian community.

Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30pm

Closing Night

An Evening with Moussa Touré – TGV (1997) 90m

Director: Moussa Touré

Country: France/Senegal/Germany

TGV is an express bus service between Dakar, Senegal, and Conakry, Guinea, operated by the enterprising Rambo and his assistant, Dembo. Before setting off, Rambo and his passengers are warned of the danger that lies ahead on their route. The Bassari are carrying out a revolt at the Guinea border, leading to an exodus of refugees from their villages. On hearing the news, only a dozen or so passengers decide to make the risky trip. During the arduous journey, each passenger’s motivation for making the trip is slowly revealed.

Tuesday, April 9 at 8:30pm

ALASKALAND (2012) 75m

Director: Chinonye Chukwu

Country: United States/Nigeria

In this gorgeous, knowing debut film, Chukwuma, an Alaska-raised Nigerian struggles to balance his cultural heritage with the pressures of the world around him. After a family tragedy forces a two-year estrangement from his younger sister Chidinma, the siblings reconnect in their hometown.

Screening with:

BONESHAKER (2012) 12m

Director: Frances Bodomo

Country: USA

Boneshaker follows a Ghanaian immigrant family on a road trip to a Pentecostal church in Louisiana to cure its problem child, played by Beasts of the Southern Wild Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. As the family journeys to a tent revival at the ends of the levee-less Louisiana delta, they discover the complications of trying to perform a traditional ritual away from home. Boneshaker focuses on the feelings of homelessness, landlessness, and rootlessness that accompany immigration.

Thursday, April 4 at 3:30pm

Tuesday, April 9 at 6:00pm

BURN IT UP DJASSA (2012) 70m

Director: Lonesome Solo

Country: Ivory Coast

After the deaths of his parents, Tony makes aliving selling cigarettes. Looking for easy money, he turns to gambling and is dragged further into the seedy underworld of Wassakara—until he commits a shocking crime that irrevocably changes his life.

Saturday, April 6 at 9:00pm

DEATH FOR SALE (2011) 117m

Director: Faouzi Bensaïdi

Country: Belgium/France/Morocco

Three friends decide to rob biggest jewelry store in Moroccan port city Tetouan to escape from a hopeless future. But when the plan falls apart, they must face their destinies alone.

Saturday, April 6 at 6:00pm

Tuesday, April 9 at 1:30pm

U.S. Premiere


Director: Cosima Spender

Country: Mali, 2008

A documentary about internationally-renowned Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, whose iconic images from the late-50s through 70s captured the carefree spirit of his generation asserting their freedom after independence, until an Islamic coup ushered in years of military dictatorship.

Screening with:


Director: Daouda Coulibaly,

Country: Senegal/Mali

Following an African cinematic trend of retelling traditional oral stories through cinema, this film depicts the life of newlyweds Sire and Nama. Nama decides to make his home in a cave, where he will lead a hermit’s life and devote himself to God.

Thursday, April 4 at 6:00pm

Tuesday, April 9 at 4:00pm

JEANS & MARTO (2011) 52m

Director: Claudia Palazzi and Clio Sozzani

Country: Ethiopia/Italy

A young Ethiopian escapes his arranged marriage to fulfill his dream of becoming an educated man, struggling to balance his tribe’s customs and with his pursuit of knowledge.

Screening with:

LEZARE (2010) 14m

Director: Zelalem Woldemariam Ezare

Country: Ethiopia

Lezare is a revealing and touching story about a homeless boy in a small village in southern Ethiopia, using beautiful visuals to deliver a powerful message about global warming and shortsightedness.

Friday, April 5 at 6:00pm

Monday, April 8 at 4:00pm


LAND RUSH (2012) 58m

Director: Hugo Berkeley & Osvalde Lewat

Country: Mali/USA

For 20 years, the hunger crisis seemed to be under control. But by 2008, prices had increased, and the African continent had become a playground for foreign investors. This investigative documentary focuses on Sosumar, a huge project that has the Malian government collaborating with a large group of foreign investors.

Screening with:


Director: Ishaya Bako

Country: Nigeria

A rallying cry for change in Nigeria by the Occupy Nigeria movement and an artistic depiction of the failings of fuel subsidy management in Nigeria, Fueling Poverty graphically captures the various contours of this debate and the resilience of Nigerians in demanding change. It examines the effect of corruption on the country and the need for Nigerians to hold their government accountable.

Thursday, April 4 at 1:30pm

Saturday, April 6 at 3:30pm

LIFE ON EARTH (1998) 61m

Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Country: Mali/Mauritania

On the eve of the year 2000, Dramane returns from France to the village of Sokolo, his father’s home in Mali. As he bicycles through the village and surrounding fields, he meets Nana, a beautiful young girl on her own journey. Recipient of a Special Mention from the FESPACO jury in 1999.

Screening with:

OCTOBER (1992) 37m

Director: Abderrahmane Sissako

Country: Mauritania

Two lovers struggle to end their impossible affair during one last October night together in Moscow. Shot entirely in Moscow and Paris, October blends a strongly contemporary feel with nostalgia. Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

Saturday, April 6 at 1:00pm

Monday, April 8 at 6:00pm


Director: David Tosh Gitonga

Country: Kenya

Mwas is a young aspiring actor who moves from his home village to Nairobi to try to make it big. But as he moves towards his dream of taking center stage, he finds himself drawn into a world of small time crooks and deceit in the smoky bustle of Kenya’s capital.

Thursday, April 4 at 8:15pm

Sunday, April 7 at 8:00pm


Director: Christine Delorme

Country: France/Senegal

Sembene’s legend is that of a man politically involved and strongly committed, but little attention has been paid to his private and family life. For this reason he remains a solitary figure, an image he himself cherished. As Sembène says, “I am a storyteller, an artist striving to express the secret pulsation of my people.” Delorme’s film portrays Sembène at his most candid and reveals his take on the women in his filmGuelwaar.

Screening with:

BOROM SARRET (1963) 18m

Director: Ousmane Sembène

Country: Senegal

The genesis of Black African Cinema can be traced to this short, stark masterpiece that chronicles a day in the life of a Dakar cart driver. The frustrating day of this borom sarret (a Wolof expression for cart driver) leaves him cheated out of his wages and deprived of his cart.

Wednesday, April 3 at 6:00pm

Monday, April 8 at 2:00pm

STONES IN THE SUN (2012) 95m

Director: Patricia Benoit

Country: Haiti

In the midst of increasing political violence in their homeland, the lives of three pairs of Haitian refugees intersect in 1980s New York City. They must confront the disturbing truth of their pasts, as the history of their interlocked lives is slowly revealed.

Friday, April 5 at 1:30pm

Sunday, April 7 at 1:00pm

TOUSSAINT (2011) 180m

Director: Philippe Niang

Country: Haiti

At the age of eight, Toussaint Louverture is marked forever when he sees his father, an old slave, judged unproductive and thrown into the harbor. As an adult and a free man, Louverture leads the slave revolt that results in the independence of Haiti.

With 10-minute intermission

Wednesday, April 3 at 2:00pm

Sunday, April 7 at 3:30pm


Director: Licínio Azevedo

Country: Mozambique

Veteran filmmaker Licinio Azevedo draws on the stories of real women who endured the Mozambican “re-education camps” in this dramatic and inspiring elegy to the insurgent spirit of women across nations, histories and cultures.

Screening with

VIVA FRELIMO! (1971) 13m

Director: Yuri Yegorov & Leonid Maksimov

Country: USSR

A document of the struggle of the people of Mozambique for independence and the history and activities of the organization Frelimo: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique. From the collection of Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive in Krasnogorsk City.

Friday, April 5 at 3:30pm

Monday, April 8 at 8:30pm