Ousmane Sembène's Masterful "Guelwaar" Anchors New York African Film Festival's 20th Anniversary
[NY AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL]
Festival 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 African directors.
Haitian-born Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean-Louis in appearance for historical epic Toussaint Louverture
The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FCLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) have teamed up once again for the 20th "New York African Film Festival" (NYAFF) from April 3–9, presented under the banner theme "LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD: 20 YEARS OF THE NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL." This year’s lineup will pay homage to master Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène and the first generation of African filmmakers, while passing the baton to a new generation of African visual storytellers, who continue to transform our understanding of, and vision for, the Continent.
The NYAFF will also run throughout April and May at Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies, Maysles Cinema Institute and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek.
"This year’s lineup for the New York African Film Festival will offer a wonderful opportunity to revisit and celebrate the work of the great Ousmane Sembène, while highlighting some of the truly distinctive and entertaining films coming our way from Africa, many of which are discussing and dealing with the issues of the day in a very provocative way," says Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming, Robert Koehler.
“We are enormously proud of the Festival’s history and eagerly anticipate honoring those who made the first twenty years so special, while introducing audiences to new filmmakers who continue to make African cinema distinctive and important as we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sub-Saharan African cinema,” says AFF Executive Director and NYAAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti.
Special events and highlights include the opening night screening of Guelwaar, which opened the very first NYAFF 20 years ago and marks its triumphant return to open this year’s festival. Ousmane Sembène’s powerful and politically charged film from the early 1990s set in contemporary Africa cemented his reputation as the Father of African Cinema and at the forefront of expressive post-colonial African filmmaking.
The screening is preceded by a reception at 6:00 pm. (Tickets are $50; to attend, please call AFF at 212-352-1720.) Also screening during the festival is Ousmane Sembène All At Once, a U.S. premiere; the film gives a rare, behind-the-screen look into the Senegalese filmmaker’s seldom examined personal and family life. Closing the festival will be the classic road trip dramedy TGV, with a conversation with its award-winning Senegalese director Moussa Touré.
Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean-Louis (who had a recurring role on the popular NBC series Heroes and supporting roles in Derailed and Monster-in-Law) will make an appearance at the festival in honor of his starring role in the historical two-part drama Toussaint Louverture, a film about the remarkable leader of the slave revolts which lead to Haiti’s independence from the French. Also, the youngest-ever Best Actress Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis stars in the New York premiere of the short film Boneshaker, a tale of a Ghanaian immigrant family on a road trip to a Pentecostal church in Louisiana to cure its problem child.
In addition to Toussaint Louverture and Ousmane Sembène All at Once, the U.S. premiere of the documentary Dolce Vita Africana offers another stirring portrait of a real life figure - internationally-renowned Malian photographer Malick Sidibe. The film depicts the life and work of the man whose iconic black-and-white images from the late 1950s through 1970s captured the carefree spirit of his generation asserting their freedom after independence.
The festival provides audiences with insight into the future of African film by spotlighting the filmmakers making waves on the Continent today. Hot new directors Lonesome Solo and David Tosh Gitonga bring a gritty and realistic view of street life in Africa’s urban areas to their respective tales Burn It Up Djassa and Nairobi Half Life. Faouizi Bensaïdi’s crime drama, Death for Sale, follows three friends as they embark upon a jewelry heist in a Moroccan port city to escape a hopeless future.
Some of Africa’s biggest social issues are also tackled and highlighted in thought-provoking, controversial films. Land Rush and Fueling Poverty, to be screened jointly in their U.S. premieres, explore the sharp rise in foreign investors buying up African land and the failings of fuel subsidy management in Nigeria, respectively. Veteran filmmaker Licinio Azevedo draws on the stories of women who endured the Mozambican "re-education camps" in the 1970s for the New York premiere of Virgin Margarida, which premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival.
AFF will commemorate its long history of bringing the best of African film to New York audiences with the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the New York African Film Festival on Friday, April 5. The benefit gala will be held at the Macaulay Honors College directly following the 7:30 p.m. New York premiere of the special surprise screening 20th anniversary celebratory film, which will be presented by its director at the Walter Reade Theater. To purchase tickets, which are $150 and include entry to the film, call AFF at 212.352.1720.
From April 2 to 25, the Roy Furman Gallery will host EVERYDAY AFRICA, an art show that spotlights images of contemporary African life taken by smartphones from various photographers. The project is spearheaded and created by photographer Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill.
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 went on sale March 7, 2013 at the Film Society’s box offices and online at www.filmlinc.com. 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.
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 www.africanfilmny.org
The programs of AFF are made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, International Organization of La Francophonie, Domenico Paulon Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Divine Chocolate, New York Times Community Affairs Department, The Ford Foundation, Bradley Family Foundation, South African Consulate General, SN Brussels, French Cultural Services, Bloomberg, Lambent Foundation, Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies, WNYC, 57 Main St. Wine Company, South African Airways, Hudson Hotel, Putumayo World Music, Flavorpill, Giant Step and Omnipak Import Enterprises, Inc.
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 a living 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 of DOLCE VITA AFRICANA (2008) 63m 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...A HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE (2009) 21m 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
U.S. PREMIERES. 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...FUELING POVERTY (2012) 28m 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
NAIROBI HALF LIFE (2012) 96m 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
OUSMANE SEMBÉNE ALL AT ONCE/OUSMANE SEMBÉNE TOUT A LA FOIS (2008) 52m 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 film Guelwaar. 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
VIRGIN MARGARIDA (2012) 90m 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
Public Screening Schedule for 2013 New York African Film Festival Screening Venue: The Film Society of Lincoln Center: Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam) and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65 Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam).
Wednesday, April 3 2:00PM Toussaint (180m)
6:00PM Ousmane Sembène All At Once (52m) + Borom Sarret (18m)
7:30PM Guelwaar (115m) Thursday, April 4 . 1:30PM
Land Rush (58m) 3:30PM
Alaskaland (75m) 6:00PM
Dolce Vita Africana (63m) + A History of Independence (18m)
8:15PM Nairobi Half Life (96m) Friday, April 5. 1:30PM
Stones In The Sun (95m) 3:30PM
Virgin Margarida (90m) + Viva Frelimo (13m) 6:00PM
Jeans & Marto (52m) + Lezare (14m. Saturday, April 6 1:00PM
Life On Earth (61m) + October (37m) 3:30PM
Land Rush (58m) + Fueling Poverty (28m) 6:00PM
Death For Sale (117m) 9:00PM
Burn It Up Djassa (70m) Sunday, April 7. 1:00PM
Stones In The Sun (95m) 3:30PM
Toussaint (180m) 8:00PM
Nairobi Half Life (96m). Monday, April 8 . 2:00PM
Ousmane Sembène All At Once (52m) + Borom Sarret (18m) 4:00PM
Jeans & Marto (52m) + Lezare (14m) 6:00PM
Life On Earth (61m) + October (37m) 8:30PM
Virgin Margarida (90m) + Viva Frelimo (13m) Tuesday, April 9. 1:30PM
Death For Sale (117m) 4:00PM Dolce Vita Africana (63m) + A History of Independence (18m) 6:00PM
Alaskaland (75m) + Boneshaker (12m) 8:30PM
An Evening with with Moussa Touré/TGV (90m).
Founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, under the leadership of Rose Kuo, Executive Director, and Robert Koehler, Year Round Program Director, works to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film.
Among its yearly programming of film festivals, film series and special events, the Film Society presents two film festivals in particular that annually attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, led by Program Director Kent Jones, which just celebrated its 50th edition, and New Directors/New Films which, since its founding in 1972, has been produced in collaboration with MoMA.
The Film Society also publishes the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, and for over three decades has given an annual award—now named “The Chaplin Award”—to a major figure in world cinema. Past recipients of this award include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Sidney Poitier. The Film Society presents its year-round calendar of programming, panels, lectures, educational and transmedia programs and specialty film releases at the famous Walter Reade Theater and the new state-of-the-art Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stonehenge Partners, Stella Artois, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com/"www.filmlinc.com and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
For more than two decades, African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) has bridged the divide between post-colonial Africa and the American public through the powerful medium of film and video. AFF's unique place in the international arts community is distinguished not only by leadership in festival management, but also by a comprehensive approach to the advocacy of African film and culture. AFF established the New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) in 1993 with Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The New York African Film Festival is presented annually by the African Film Festival, Inc. and Film Society of Lincoln Center, in association with Brooklyn Academy of Music. AFF also produces a series of local, national and international programs throughout the year. More information about AFF is found on the Web at www.africanfilmny.org