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April 2005
The 12th New York African Film Festival


The Film Society of Lincoln Center ’s Walter Reade Theater and the African Film Festival Present

The 12th New York African Film Festival

April 20 - 28

Annual Program Celebrates the Best of African Cinema with 24 Films from 12 Countries

The twelfth edition of the New York African Film Festival, to take place April 20 - 28 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, continues its strong tradition of bringing the best of African cinema to American audiences. This year’s program showcases 24 films from 12 countries, including a number of nations whose national cinemas are mostly unknown here, including Niger, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Angola, and Mozambique. The festival features the work of eminent filmmakers Ousmane Sembene and Cameroon director Jean-Marie Teno as well as the work of new talent, notably the strange and gripping directorial debut of Zimbabwe's Tsitsi Dangarembga, Kare Kare Zvako (Mother's Day).

A key theme of this year’s festival is a look behind the camera — films about the poetry and politics of filmmaking on the African continent. Rahmatou Keita's Al’leessi…An African Actress depicts the promise of cinema in Niger in the early 60s, spotlighting the first female professional actress in African cinema. Margarida Cardoso's film, Kuxa Kanema is an homage to the first cultural act of the newly independent Mozambique government — the creation of a national cinema. And The Making of Moolaade provides a window into the work methods of grandmaster Sembene.

The new York African Film Festival also includes a group of films that examine race in South Africa and the experience of mixed-race people in that country and elsewhere, and a mid-career retrospective of Pierre Yameogo, one of the most popular African filmmakers from Burkina Faso , whose films are known for their direct approach to African reality.

As usual, African directors and guest speakers will be present during the festival (indicated in the schedule by an asterisk (*) after showtimes). A roundtable discussion with filmmakers, writers, and artists will take place at Columbia University ’s School of the Arts on April 23. The AFF continues at BAM, May 26-29. For more information please visit www.africanfilmny.org .

The 12th New York African Film Festival was organized by Richard Peņa and The African Film Festival, Inc. (Mahen Bonetti, Aba Taylor, Alonzo Speight, Wilson Sherwin, and Muriel Placet-Kouassi). Thanks to Kaine Agary, Tracy Binta Austin, Joan Baffour, Patricia Blanchet, Luca Bonetti, Rumbi Bwerinofa, Kevin Duggan, Tunde Giwa, Belynda Hardin, J. Michelle Hill, Sean Jacobs, Ekwa Msangi, Maguette Ndiaye, Prerana Reddy, Kojo Associates, and TRACE magazine.

African Film Festival, Inc., programs are made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, JPMorgan Chase, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, American Express, UNDP, Prudential Financial, UNESCO, French Cultural Services, Bloomberg, 57 Main Street Wine Company, Estudio Inc., The New York Times, Time Warner Cable, and WNYC.


 

Press Screenings at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 W 65, plaza level

Monday, March 28 at 10am

Forgiveness, Ian Gabriel, South Africa , 2004; 115m.

The Colonial Misunderstanding / Malentendu Colonial - Jean-Marie Teno , Cameroon , 2004; 78m.

Tuesday, March 29 at 10am

Kuxa Kanema - Margarida Cardoso, Mozambique , 2003; 53m.

Waiting for Valdez - Dumisani Phakathi , South Africa , 2002; 26m.

 

Me and My White Pal / Moi et mon blanc - Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso/France, 2003; 90m.

RSVP to Gabriel Ragot at 212/875-5281 or pressoffice@filmlinc.com


 

COMPLETE FILM DESCRIPTIONS AND SCREENING SCHEDULE

 

Kuxa KanemaThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/camilo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Margarida Cardoso, Mozambique , 2003; 53m. Crioulo and Portuguese with English subtitles.

The first cultural act of the nascent Mozambique government after independence in 1975 was to create the National Institute of Cinema (INC). INC's goal was to capture the sights and sounds of Mozambique and its people. Today little remains of the lofty ambitions of INC: Abandoned rooms and corridors in the INC building and a staff that is patiently waiting for retirement. The images that bore witness to the nation’s first eleven years of independence — the years of the socialist revolution — are now rotting. Award-winning filmmaker Margarida Cardoso traces the collapse of both the national idea of “one cinema for the people” and the dreams of those people who believed that Mozambique ’s future would be different than its present reality.

preceded by


 

African Middleweights / Africains poids moyensThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/africanmiddleweights.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Daniel Cattier, Zimbabwe/Belgium, 2004; 18m. Lingala & French with English subtitles.

1960 and the Belgian Congo is on the eve of Independence . A young Congolese boxer, Samwa, and his older brother, Nourou, arrive in Brussels for the final of the Afro-European Middleweight Championship against the Belgian title-holder. To avoid a Congolese victory, the Belgian organizers order Samwa to take a dive during the final. Nourou sees it as an opportunity for Belgian passports and a chance to escape their miserable lives for good, but Samwa has other ideas....

Wed April 20: 2; Fri April 22: 6:15


 

Me and My White Pal / Moi et mon blanc

Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso/France, 2003; 90m. French & Moore with English subtitles.

Mamadi lives in France , and like other African students, is waiting for scholarship money that never arrives. To survive, finish his thesis, and renew his residence permit, he takes a job as a parking attendant that allows him to discover all kinds of secrets, including a stash of drugs. His friend wants them to sell the drugs and become rich. However, evading the dealers is tougher than they expect. Mamadi and his white pal escape to Burkina Faso , but find that their adventures are just beginning in this light-hearted satire. Winner of the RFI Audience Award at FESPACO.

Wed April 20: 3:30 ; Sat April 23: 4*


 

ForgivenessThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/forgiveness2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Ian Gabriel, South Africa , 200

4; 115m. English and Afrikaans with English subtitles.

Forgiveness is the story of Tertius Coetzee, an ex-apartheid policeman who resigned after giving evidence at the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings. Although he has recently been granted amnesty for his crimes he remains tormented — the family of one of the victims he “eliminated” did not come forward during the hearings. His search for the Grootboom family leads him back to the windswept fishing town of Paternoster and, with the help of the local priest, Tertius is able to set up a meeting with the family. Each character’s emotions will be tested and challenged throughout this quick-paced and visceral film as three former comrades of Coetzee’s victim hatch a revenge scheme.

Wed April 20: 6:30 *; Sat April 23: 9:15 *


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A South African Love Story — Walter and Albertina Sisulu

Toni Strasburg, South Africa , 2004; 63m

The touching story of Walter and Albertina Sisulu is not just a testament to the political endurance of one of South Africa ’s most celebrated couples. By reflecting a very private history that is integral to the political turmoil of South Africa in the 20th century, and showing the deep personal cost that brought South Africa to its current harmony, A South African Love Story offers a human perspective on some of the key moments in a resistance that sowed the seeds of the new nation.

preceded by


 

Black Sushi

Dean Blumberg, South Africa , 2003; 25m

Zama , just released from prison, is drawn back into the criminal world by his oldest friend, Respect. Luckily, the magic of Japanese culinary art in a sushi restaurant fascinates him. From dishwasher to chef’s disciple, Zama gradually wins the trust of the most demanding clients. In turn, he must tackle the problems of choosing a distinctive vocation and forging a new destiny for himself.

Wed April 20: 9:15 ; Sun April 24: 1


 

Laafi

Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso , 1990; 98m. Moore & French with English subtitles.

An unusual look at urban life in West Africa , Laafi tells a story of Joe, a bright young man who wants to study medicine despite the bureaucrats in Ouagadougou who are unimpressed by his exceptional high school grades and sincerity. Refusing to give up, Joe learns that persistence is the only weapon against red tape. In an almost verite style, Yameogo sets Joe’s odyssey against the leisure of life in his rural hometown. A refreshing look at a side of African life rarely found on the screen, Laafi was awarded top prize at the 1991 Festival of Pan-African Cinema at Ouagadougou .

 

Thurs April 21: 1:30

 

Al’leessi…An African Actress

Rahmatou Keita , Niger , 2004; 69m. Songhoy & French with English subtitles.

Al’leessi is a treasure of archival images and information about the birth of cinema in Niger . We meet a great woman, Zalika Souley, who began acting in the mid-60s by playing essentially bad-girl parts such as her role as the only woman in a gang of horse-riding cowboy desperadoes. Her performances were no small feat in a strict Muslim and traditional culture. This highly informative documentary paints a remarkable picture of Niger cinema in the 60s and of its gifted directors. Receiving international acclaim, this film was selected at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004 and won the Public Award at the Geneva Film Festival.

preceded by


 

Waiting for Valdez

Dumisani Phakathi , South Africa , 2002; 26m. Afrikaans with English subtitles

Despite hardships, it is the love of his grandmother that helps Sharky through a life devoid of parental guidance and the tumultuous political period of the 70s, when apartheid forcibly removed blacks and coloreds to different parts of Johannesburg .

Thurs April 21: 3:45 *; Sat April 23: 1:45 *


 

MoolaadeThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/aff-moolaade.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Ousmane Sembene , Senegal , 2004; 124m. Jula & French with English subtitles.

One of the biggest hits ofthe 2004 New York Film Festival, Moolaade is a rousing film directed against the still-common African practice of female circumcision. Set in a small village, four girls facing ritual "purification" flee to the household of Colle Ardo Gallo Sy, a strong-willed woman who has managed to shield her own teenage daughter from mutilation. Colle invokes the time-honored practice of moolaade (sanctuary) to protect the young fugitives. Tension mounts as the ensuing stand-off pits Colle against village traditionalists (both males & females), endangering the prospective marriage of her daughter to the heir-apparent to the tribal throne.

followed by


 

The Making of Moolaade

Samba Gadjigo , Senegal , 2004; 20m. French with English subtitles.

As somebody says in this short documentary "Making a film in Africa is an adventure." Moolaade’s shoot took place in a remote village in Burkina Faso , bringing together a diverse group of people who,proud to be part of the process, contributed to the success of Sembene’s latest film.

Thurs April 21: 6*; Sat April 23: 6:15 *


 

Silmande

Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso , 1998; 85m. French, Moore and Arabic with English subtitles.

In this modern dramatic comedy, a Lebanese family who took refuge in Africa has become prosperous. However, the shady deals required to stay afloat finally take their toll. While the mother simply wants her sons to make money until they can return to Lebanon , her sons find it difficult to keep an isolationist position. Having grown up in Africa , the sons can’t help but be embroiled both financially and emotionally in the local scene. The film evokes the political, economic, and social realities of Africa marking the many crossing destinies in a typical African city.

Thurs April 21: 9*; Tues April 26: 4:15 ; Thurs April 28: 1


 

Wendemi

Pierre Yameogo, Burkina Faso , 1992; 93m. Moore with English subtitles.

Twenty years ago, in a small town in Burkina Faso , Cecile is thrown out by her parents for refusing to reveal the identity of her child’s father. She abandons her baby and disappears. Taken in by a family, he is called Wendemi. An unloved child, he grows up against many odds. After a quarrel with his adoptive brother, he is handed over to the naaba (village chief), who uses him first for his own advantage before abandoning him. After reaching adulthood, Wendemi falls in love with Pogbi, and wants to marry her — an ambition that proves impossible: he has no name, and society refuses to grant him official recognition. Wendemi decides to seek his identity in Ouagadougou , the capital, where he hopes to find his mother, who alone can tell him the truth about his birth.

Fri April 22: 4*; Mon April 25: 9:15


 

The Colonial Misunderstanding / Malentendu ColonialThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/colonial.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Jean-Marie Teno, Cameroon , 2004; 78m. English, French and German with English subtitles.

The Colonial Misunderstanding is a bold exploration of Germany 's “African past” — specifically, its attempts to colonize parts of Africa through religion and trade. NYAFF favorite Jean-Marie Teno looks at the role that missionaries played in laying the groundwork for colonialism in countries like Togo , Cameroon , Namibia , and South Africa . The later crimes of the Nazi regime were actually anticipated by Germany 's genocidal war against the Herrero people in Namibia (1904-1907), which forcibly dispersed them and interned them in concentration camps. Through interviews with experts from Germany and Africa , Teno paints a provocative picture of the relatively short but nevertheless horrific colonial history of Germany in Africa .

Fri April 22: 8*; Sun April 24: 8:15 *; Thurs April 28: 2:45


 

The Hero / O Heroi

Zeze Gamboa , Angola / Portugal / France , 2004; 97m. Portuguese with English subtitles.

Vitorio, a 35-year-old soldier and veteran of the Angolan civil war, is discharged from the Army after stepping on a landmine and losing his leg. Returning to the capital city of Luanda , he finds himself homeless and penniless in a city still littered with memories of the war. One night he is robbed of his prosthetic leg and his war medal. While waiting for a replacement at the hospital he meets Joanne, a flirtatious schoolteacher who has connections with the government. Vitorio begins to believe that his dreams may have come true. Gamboa's film is a subtle exploration of the tormented social and economic political situation of a country ravaged by 27 years of war.

Fri April 22: 10 ; Mon April 25: 1


 

Keepers of Memory / Gardiens de la Memoire

Eric Kabera, Rwanda , 2004; 54m. Kinyarwanda with English subtitles.

This gripping documentary, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda , explores the ways in which the tragedy plagues the nation today. Through testimonies of survivors, director Eric Kabera explores the personal stories behind the tragic events of 1994. We revisit six massacre sites, each with its own “guardian.” Through these unforgettable voices and faces that lived to tell the tale, we come to understand the events of 1994 in a new light.

preceded by


 

Mother’s Day / Kare Kare ZvakoThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/mothersday.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tsitsi Dangrembga, Zimbabwe, 2004; 30m.Shona with English subtitles.

Mother’s Day is like nothing you've ever seen. Drought has struck. Father pushes his wife away from the family dinner of termites. In anger, when Mother challenges him, he digs a pit with a brutal purpose, but little does he suspect that Mother can retaliate just as powerfully.

 

Sun April 24: *3; Wed April 27: 1

 

The Wound / La Blessure

Co-presented with the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

Nicolas Klotz, Congo/France, 2004; 160m. French with English subtitles.

Blandine arrives at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, seeking to join her husband Papi in Paris. Despite articulate claims for asylum, she is held in a cramped cell along with a number of fellow Africans, humiliated, mistreated, and told to expect immediate deportation. When Blandine is hurt in a skirmish on the runway as the authorities try and force her out of the country, a sympathetic employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saves her from expulsion. She is finally reunited with Papi in a communal squat, where its inhabitants share harrowing stories. Nicolas Klotz's poetic, poignant and compassionate film is a determinedly political and beautifully composed work and a convincing portrait of the injustices black immigrants face as they seek to find homes in the West.

Sun April 24: 5*; Tue April 26: 1*


 

Alhaki

Usa Galadima, Nigeria, 1998; 110m. Hausa with English subtitles

Alhaki (Nemesis) is the story of Rabi, a humble and dedicated housewife married to Alhaji Audu — a man who has little time for women who can bear only female children. In search of male offspring, Alhaji proceeds to marry a second wife, Delu, a former prostitute. Soon after the second marriage, Delu dominates her new household, forcing first wife Rabi to divorce Alhaji, who disowns her children. Rabi leaves home and becomes a successful businesswoman. When it is discovered that second wife Delu is barren, Alhaji seeks a third wife, Zulai. Zulai becomes pregnant and Delu is hell-bent on terminating Zulai’s life and that of the unborn baby through charms sought from Malams (priests). Meanwhile the fortunes and health of Alhaji begin to dwindle, Delu continues acting out old habits, and it is the exiled Rabi who must save the day.

Sun April 24: 10; Wed April 27: 2:45


 

Born Into StruggleThe image “http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/4-2005/jpegs/bornintostruggle.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Rehad Desai, South Africa, 2004; 74m

Rehad Desai takes us on an intimate journey mapped out by the scars etched into his family’s life from having a father who was deeply involved in politics. Barney Desai was a political hero during South Africa’s struggle for freedom, yet as a father he was emotionally absent. Despite the damage his father’s absence caused, Rehad, who spent most of his young life in exile, became politically active himself. On this intensely personal journey into his past, Rehad reviews his relationship with his own estranged teenage son, realizing he has followed in his father’s footsteps.

preceded by


 

Devious

John W. Fredericks, South Africa, 2004; 19m. English and Afrikaans with English subtitles.

This fast-paced account of the life and death of the charismatic young rapper Devious portrays the brutal reality of South African township life. In Devious’s world young boys carry guns, drugs are easily accessible, and politicians fail to act in the community’s interest. But despite the hardships and challenges facing him, Devious remains deeply dedicated to using hip-hop as a weapon to address the issues that affect his community most. Enhanced by haunting images of township life and a forceful soundtrack, this film is an eloquent portrait of a beautiful life cut short.

Mon April 25: 3; Wed April 27: 5


 

Story of a Beautiful Country

Khalo Matabane, South Africa/Canada, 2004; 73m

Story of a Beautiful Country is the journey of Khalo Matabane, a young black filmmaker in search of his promised land — the new South Africa. Traveling with a hand-held camera through nine provinces of his country, Matabane films entirely from the seat of a mini-bus taxi, capturing the physical beauty of a still troubled land. The taxi also serves as an open forum for ordinary people to talk about their feelings and impressions of the new South Africa, which emerged from apartheid in 1994. Following the format of talk radio, topics range over controversial issues such as land, race, language, globalization, violence, democracy, and identity.

Mon April 25: 5*; Wed April 27: 7*


 

Keita, The Heritage of the Griot

Dani Kouyate, Burkina Faso, 1995; 94m. Jula and French with English subtitles.

The griot's arrival creates tension in the Keita household, especially between Mabo, his mother, and his schoolteacher, who represents a Westernized lifestyle devoid of African tradition. Mabo becomes so caught up in the griot's story that he stops studying for exams, daydreams in class, and eventually skips school to tell the story to other boys. Director Dani Kouyate frames his dramatization of the epic within the story of Mabo Keīta, a contemporary boy from Burkina Faso, learning the history of his family. During the film, Mabo and his distant ancestor, Sundjata, engage in parallel quests to understand their destinies, to "know the meaning of their names."

Mon April 25: 7*


 

Bronx Barbes

Elaine de Latour, Ivory Coast/France, 2000; 110m. French & Nushi with English subtitles.

Bronx Barbes follows drifting young people who dream of independence through drugs and guns, whose myths and rebellion could be those of young people in any big modern city like New York, Singapore, Rio, or Paris. After committing an accidental murder in an African shantytown, young Tyson and Toussaint take refuge in the Bronx ghetto by joining one of its gangs. The film follows the boys as they struggle to maintain their friendship in the face of obstacles posed by Tyson’s love affair and run-ins with bloodthirsty gang members, while hoping to find a way to become somebody. The wonderful music of Tiken Jah Fakoly and Alpha Blondy contribute to the power of this poignant film.

Wed April 27: 9; Thurs April 28: 4:30


GENERAL INFORMATION

All screenings are $10; $7 for students; $6 for members of the Film Society and co-sponsoring organizations, and $5 for seniors for weekday matinees. The Walter Reade Theater is located at 165 W. 65th St., plaza level. Tickets are available at www.filmlinc.com or at the box office. There is a $1.25 surcharge per ticket for tickets bought online. For general information, call (212) 875-5600.

 

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