The 13th New York African Film Festival
April 20– May 29, 2006
NEW YORK (March 30, 2006)—The 13th Annual New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) will launch a citywide cinematic celebration on April 20 to satisfy New York’s love of quality and substantive independent cinema. The Festival will spotlight a wide array of U.S. premieres of internationally-acclaimed films, including Drum from director Zola Maseko, starring Taye Diggs, and the U.S. premiere of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, an exquisite adaptation of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” t! hat won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear Award, the opening night feature. The month-long event, co-presented by the African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) and the Film Society at Lincoln Center, will highlight films about Africans facing rapid transition, their lives shaped by the effects of war, migration, HIV/AIDS, and subsequent xenophobia, reconciliation and displacement.
“From Egypt to South Africa, veteran filmmakers are using film to address the issues changing the face of the African continent today,” said Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the AFF. “Additionally, technology is empowering emerging filmmakers to add their voices to those telling Africa’s stories, and this year two-thirds of the directors are under 35.”
The Festival kicks off with a panel discussion of prominent filmmakers and intellectuals from the African diaspora, with Dr. Marta Vega, director of New York’s Caribbean Cultural Center, and Jihan El-Tahri, director of House of Saud, among others, at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 20. The public is invited to partake in the discussion, which will focus on the Festival’s theme, “Africa in Transition –Today!" The Apollo is located at 253 W. 125th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.
Some of the best of recent and classic African cinema will be shown at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, Plaza Level, from April 26 through May 4. The Festival opens on Wednesday, April 26 with the U.S. premiere of South African director Mark Dornford-May’s U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, an operatic tour-de-force set in a South African township featuring the amazing raw talent of young local performers. Zola Maseko’s Drum, based on the legendary lives of South Africa’s Drum Magazin! e journalists and starring Taye Diggs, is the winner of FESPACO 2005’s Etalon d’Or de Yennenga Grand Prize and is AFF’s Centerpiece selection. Exploring this year’s theme of “Africa in Transition – Today!,” films such as Khalo Matabane’s Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, Taghreed Elsanhouri's All About Darfur, Jacqueline Kalimunda’s Homeland as well as Phybia Dlamini’s Outlaw Culture explore the personal narrative of displacement, experiences of xenophobia, alternative lifestyles and the homeward bound search for reconciliation.
A mid-career retrospective on maverick Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bekolo, whose experimental films have earned him an international reputation as an innovator in African film, will be presented. His most recent film, Les Saignantes (The Bloodettes), hailed as one of the first science fiction films to emerge from Africa, is one of three of his films that will be screened at Lincoln Center.
The Festival will include two short programs. For the first time the NYAFF will present films by filmmakers from North Africa; “Emerging Voices from the Maghreb” will feature award-winning short films addressing the tensions between tradition and modernity, women’s struggle for equal opportunity and the integration of North African families into European cities and suburbs. In partnership with the New York LGBT Film Festival, AFF will present a program of short films from South Africa that explore issues of sexuality, gender, and politics in a country known for its progressive constitution as well as the violence and homophobia that continues to haunt the lives of many gay people.
“It's hard to believe that the idea for a program on African films that Mahen Bonetti approached us with back in 1989 has blossomed into a major showcase that's already thirteen years old,” said Richard Pena, programming director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “This year's festival is in fact younger than ever – fresher, bolder, exploring little known areas of African experience such as the lives of gays and lesbians throughout Africa, and offering a well-deserved tribute to African cinema's master of irreverence, Jean-Pierre Bekolo.”
The International Center of Photography (ICP) will host screenings highlighting the aesthetic of film as a part of its acclaimed exhibit “Snap Judgments,” featuring the work of more than forty artists from across the African continent on May 12 and May 19; the ICP School is located at 1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street. The Festival culminates May 26 through 29 with a series of films at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Rose Cinemas as part of its “Dance Africa 2006” program, which includes a tribute to renowned Cameroonian director Jean-Marie Teno and the Brooklyn premiere of the Burkina Faso film Delwen! de; BAM Rose Cinemas are located at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street.
The film program at Lincoln Center is curated by Peña and the African Film Festival, Inc. (Mahen Bonetti, Aba Taylor, Muriel Placet-Kouassi, A. Naomi Jackson, Alonzo Speight and Wilson Sherwin). Thanks are due to the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, Putumayo, AFF board of directors, Joan Baffour, Luca Bonetti, Francoise Bouffault, Gabriel Donati, Kevin Duggan, Jacki Fischer, Belynda Hardin, Andrew Milne, Prerana Reddy, Mohamed Silla, Rene Taylor, Kojo Associates and the AFF volunteer team.
AFF’s programs are made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, JPMorgan Chase, New York State Council for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York Times Community Affairs Department, Time Warner Cable, French Cultural Services, South African Consulate, Bloomberg, GoCard, WNYC, Continental Airlines, 57 Main St. Wine Company, Saugatuck Kitchens and Omnipak Import, Enterprises, Inc.
For more information on the African Film Festival, Inc., go to www.africanfilmny.org