The 30th anniversary of the New York African Film Festival begins on May 10th. The festival, which will run until June 1st, will celebrate over 50 films from over 25 countries. NYAFF30 screenings will take place at three locations across the city, including Film at Lincoln Center from May 10-16, Maysles Cinema in Harlem from May 19-21, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music from May 26-June 1.
In addition to the film screenings, other events such as masterclasses and keynote talks will be held. The masterclass, which is free to attend, will be hosted by the Amphitheatre at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in Lincoln Center and will see Moussa Sène Absa, an acclaimed Senegalese filmmaker, discuss the impact of migration on families and communities, specifically through the eyes of mothers. The master class will be held on Saturday, May 13th at 11:30 am.
The keynote talk, which will also take place at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, will see a dialogue between several African directors and curators as they discuss the women of African cinema and the legacy left behind by Safi Faye, a pioneering filmmaker who recently passed away.
One of the centerpiece films for the festival is the U.S. Premiere of Hyperlink on Tuesday, May 16. This collection of four short films created by South African filmmakers shows the impact of the internet on the lives of individuals. Prior to the premiere, there will be a Q&A with Mzonke Maloney, Nolutha Mkulisi, Julie Nxadi, and Evan Wigdorowitz, the filmmakers, on Saturday, May 13th. The film will contain English, French, Xhosa, and Swahili with English subtitles.
Icarus Films, a film distributor located in New York, has two films celebrating their U.S. premiere at the 30th New York Film Festival. Icarus Films has been distributing documentaries across North America since its founding in 1978. In their 40 years of business, Icarus films has been active in new and old media, saying they work with both new talent and masters of traditional media alike.
One of the festival’s highlighted films is the U.S. premiere of Icarus Films’ Colette and Justin by Alain Kassanda. The film, which is in Lingala and French with English subtitles, shows filmmaker Kassanda interview Colette and Justin, his maternal grandparents, as they recount living in the Democratic Republic of Congo under Belgian rule. Kassanda, who was born in Kinshasa and lives in Paris, carries a dual identity, being seen as French while in the DRC but seen as Congolese while in France. The film follows him as he journeys to reconcile his identity and his roots. The interview is interwoven with archival black-and-white footage of the previous colonial administration and discusses Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Congolese prime minister that was assassinated at the hands of Belgium. Having already premiered in Europe, Business Doc Europe reviewed the film saying it was “A deeply personal, sometimes poetic, sometimes harrowing history of oppression, revolution, betrayal, disillusionment and love.” Colette and Justice is Kassanda’s first feature length film.
The other film by Icarus Films having a U.S. premiere is Money, Freedom, A Story of CFA Franc. The film asks the question, “Why didn’t the 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, all previously French territories, remove themselves from the colonial creation of the CFA Franc, denouncing France’s legacy on the continent?” The film, which is in French with English subtitles, embarks on this journey and the story behind the current CFA franc zone, begging the question of whether the zone will be free of past colonial rule if still tied to the past via the colonial currency. The film is set to premiere on Sunday, May 14th at 2:00 pm with a Q&A with filmmaker Katy Léna N’diaye.
For 30 years, the African Film Festival has been establishing spaces to allow for African media and culture to take the stage. Every year, African artists are given recognition and introduced to larger stages and wider distribution, breaking barriers. More information about the festival and other featured films premiering can be found at africanfilmny.org
Click here to read the digital edition of this week’s newspaper.