The New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) kicked off on Thursday, May 12th at the Film at Lincoln Center (FLC). The annual festival celebrates its 29th edition with the banner Visions of Freedom. The festival has become an annual mainstay of the New York arts and culture scene. This year’s edition runs from May 12th until June 2nd. The festival will explore themes pertaining to freedom in Africa, the diaspora, the world, and how these spheres all share a connection. These ideas will be shared in the form of films, documentaries, classes, and exhibitions. Over 70 films will be presented at the festival. They can be watched physically in the relevant theaters or virtually.
“The events of the recent past have illuminated how interconnected our worlds are. Through it all and across the globe, the collective vision of freedom has come into sharp focus,” said African Film Festival Executive Director and NYAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti. “This year’s festival takes a look at the past while capturing the present pulse and looking forward to envision a brighter future.” The festival will run at Film at Lincoln Center from May 12th to May 17th and then it will move to the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem. The festival will be in Harlem from May 19th to the 22nd where it will move once more to the Brooklyn Academy of Music from May 27 to June 2nd.
The festival will present films, documentaries, and other forms of media.
Juju Stories is a three-part anthology directed by the Nigerian collective known as Surreal 16. The three films explore Nigerian folklore and urban legends. In Suffer the Witch, a youthful university undergraduate suspects that her friend is a witch. Yam deals with the dangers of leaving things or objects neglected in the streets. Love Potion shares the story of a woman who decides to use juju to look for a suitable partner. Each part of the anthology is directed by one of the members of the collective; CJ Obasi, Abba Makama, and Michael Omonua respectively.
Shaka- iNkosi Yamakhosi is an animated short film directed by South Africans Nick Cloete and Manzini Zungu. Zungu is a young boy who is tormented and assaulted by three bullies. He nearly loses his life in an incident that makes him want to quit school. Luckily for Zungu, he has his grandmother’s wisdom to lean onto. She tells him the story of Shaka Zulu to inspire him.
Sankara’s Orphans is a documentary directed by Geraldine Berger. The documentary details the story of 600 orphans and children of Burkina Faso who were sent to Cuba in 1986 to gain an education and learn skills that they could use on their return to their home country. It explores how Thomas Sankara’s death affected the children and their country.
Above Water is a documentary that explores climate change and how it affects a community in Tatis, Niger that has to travel several miles in order to gain access to water. Luckily for that community, there is a body of water in the ground under their feet, which is drilled by a non-governmental organization (NGO) and gives them easy access to water. The documentary was directed by Aissa Maiga, a Senegal-born French actress.
The festival will show its multidimensional nature by presenting an interactive art exhibition that will show work by artist Zainab Aliyu celebrating the theme. Ethiopian veteran filmmaker Haile Gerima will give a masterclass in “Cinema of Liberation: From Inception and Execution to Exhibition,” teaching the role of cinema in spreading education about freedom movements and planting the idea of change in the audience’s mindset.
The annual New York African Film Festival is the African Film Festival’s (AFF) flagship program. The first edition of the festival was hosted in 1993, presenting the work of Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene who is referred to as the “father of African cinema.” Since then, a number of African filmmakers have had their work put under the spotlight at the festival. The AFF’s mission is to ensure an understanding of African culture through moving media. The nonprofit organization is committed to providing a visible platform for African filmmakers and artists in the United States and other nations. The AFF works hand-in-hand with the Film at Lincoln Center, Maysles Documentary Center, and Brooklyn Academy of Music to present the NYAFF. The AFF is sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts, Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund, and the Ed Bradley Family Foundation, amongst others.