African Film is in the spotlight as the New York African Film Festival returns to FSLC

Posted by on 3.19.2012

AFRICAN FILM IS IN THE SPOTLIGHT AS THE NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER APRIL 11 to 17

Highlights Include Opening Night Film Mama Africa, Celebrating
the Legacy of Miriam Makeba, The Education of Auma Obama,
Offering a Window into the African Family and Father of President Obama,
and Centerpiece Selection Relentless, Starring Hip-Hop and Soul Singer Nneka


NEW YORK (March 15, 2012)—Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) have again joined forces to present the 19th New York African Film Festival (NYAFF). Presented under the theme “21st Century: The Homecoming,” this year’s festival will explore the modern notion of home and homeland, from the legacy of music legend Miriam Makeba—subject of the Opening Night Film Mama Africa—to Diasporic visions like the New York-set Restless City. The NYAFF will also mark the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC) and the 50th anniversary of independence for Algeria, Burundi, Jamaica, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as give a unique look into the life of President Obama through a film on his half-sister, The Education of Auma Obama. The NYAFF will run from April 11 through 17 at Film Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout April and May at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies, Maysles Cinema Institute and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek.

“This is a continuation of the discussion about the shape of Africa that has taken place since Independence and that is now not being embraced by the younger generation,” said African Film Festival, Inc. Executive Director and Founder Mahen Bonetti. “Though these young people have not in many ways been thrown a lifeline as post-Independent conflict emerged, they have somehow managed, through technology, to craft their own narrative, unconsciously drawing on the past and creating something new and very modern without having disavowed the past.”

Special events and highlights include the Opening Night film Mama Africa by Mika Kaurismäki (Special Jury Recognition—Documentary at the 2012 Pan African Film Festival) on April 11, and the Centerpiece film Relentless by Andy Amadi Okoroafor, starring internationally renowned Nigerian-German hip hop and soul singer Nneka, on Friday, April 13. With the election year in full swing, the NYAFF will present a film that offers a window into the African family of President Barack Obama and insight into his father, with The Education of Auma Obama by Branwen Okpako; the film won the Viewers’ Choice Award at the 2011 Africa International Film Festival and the Festival Founders’ Award at the 2012 Pan African Film Festival. The film noir How to Steal 2 Million by Charlie Vundla features the top South African actors, Rapulana Seiphemo, Terry Pheto and John Kani.

“African cinema was born in the same year as the New York Film Festival—1963—and  it's always been a source of great pleasure and pride for me that for 50 years our programs have provided a vital showcase for the best in African filmmaking,” said Film Society of Lincoln Center Program Director Richard Peña. “We also salute our dear friends and partners at the New York African Film Festival, which for almost twenty years has worked successfully to make African cinema a reality around the United States.”

The popular blog Africa is a Country (africasacountry.com) will present ”Africa is a Country: Talking Media and Russian Archives," a free panel discussion, on Saturday, April 14 from 1:30 pm to 4 pm in the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theater. Featured bloggers and special guest will examine the relationship between Africa and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, as is evidenced by Russia's extensive film archive of the continent, and then explore the relationship between film and social media movements on the continent (e.x. Tahrir revolutionary cinema, which documented the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square, and Kony 2012).

“Africans in the Diaspora: Expatriates and the Homecoming,” a free festival preview will take place  at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space on April 5 at 6:00 pm to welcome audiences to the 19th edition of the NYAFF; the event, moderated by renowned journalist Femi Oke, will include a special performance by popular artist-emcee DJ Spooky in which he rescores Father of African Cinema Ousmane Sembene’s Borrom Sorret, filmmaker-scholar Yemane Demissie and music and African cinema critic Beatiz Leal. The festival then kicks off at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater at 165 W. 65th Street, Plaza Level, from April 11 through 17, then heads to Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies on Thursday, April 19 for a daylong, free public program exploring the themes of the festival. It picks up on May 4 and 5 at the Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem and culminates over Memorial Day Weekend 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, Heineken USA, Hudson Hotel, Putumayo World Music, Flavorpill, Giant Step and Omnipak Import Enterprises, Inc. 


Press Screening Schedule
Please join us for advance press screenings at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.
RSVP to John Wildman, pressoffice@filmlinc.com  212-875-5419.

MONDAY, APRIL 2
10AM
Mama Africa (90 mins.)

11:45AM
Relentless (92 mins.)

1:30PM
The Education of Auma Obama (79 mins.)

TUESDAY, APRIL 3
10AM
How to Steal 2 Million (90 mins.)

12PM
Outside the Law (138 mins.)

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Film Society of Lincoln Center
John Wildman, (212) 875-5419, jwildman@filmlinc.com
Davis Ninh, (212) 875-5423, dninh@filmlinc.com

For all other venues and general inquiries about The African Film Festival
Cheryl Duncan, (201) 332-8338, cheryl@cherylduncanpr.com
Alimah Boyd, (201) 332-8338, alimah@cherylduncanpr.com
ONLINE PRESS OFFICE:
Press releases and hi-res images may be downloaded from www.filmlinc.com/press


Films—Schedules & Descriptions

Directors and guest speakers will be present during the festival (indicated by an asterisk* before the show time). ALL FILMS IN NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGES WILL BE SUBTITLED IN ENGLISH.


FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER SCREENINGS
ALL SCREENINGS WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE WALTER READE THEATER, 165 WEST 65TH STREET.

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
Co-presented by Okayafrica
Mama Africa. Mika Kaurismäki, 2011, Finland/South Africa/Germany, HDCAM; 90m
Miriam Makeba was the first African musician to win international stardom, one whose music was always anchored in her traditional South African roots, as was her ceaseless message against racism and poverty. Miriam was forced into a life in exile, after exposing the harsh realities of apartheid. Singing for John F. Kennedy and Marlon Brando, performing with Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone and Dizzie Gillespie, being married to Hugh Masekela and then Stokely Carmichael, her life was a tumultuous one. Miriam stood for truth and justice on behalf of oppressed people, most importantly for Africans. She tragically died after collapsing at a concert in November 2008 in Italy at the age of 76. This documentary traces her life and music through more than fifty years of performing. Apr 11, *7:15p; Apr 13, 1:30p

CENTERPIECE SELECTION
Relentless. Andy Amadi Okoroafor, 2011, Nigeria/France/ Spain/Germany, 35mm; 92m
Obi is a peace-keeping soldier in worn torn Sierra Leone, where he meets Blessing a Sierra Leonean woman. His life is devastated when he finds Blessing mutilated by rebels. His only option is to end her misery. On his return to Lagos, Obi is a man battling with the scars of war. By day he runs a small security company with Ola, his best friend and fellow war veteran; at night he walks the lonely streets of Lagos. A haunting story about loneliness, love and self-discovery set in Africa’s throbbing megacity Lagos, Relentless delicately explores the effects of war and loss. Plus a live dance performance by Khaleah London. Apr 13, *8:00p

Black Africa White Marble. Clemente Bicocchi, 2011, USA/Republic of Congo/Italy; 77m
In the 1880s, there were two paths for Central Africa: Pietro di Brazza’s and Henry
Stanley’s. Italian by birth and French by education, Brazza rejected the racism of his age, using his philosophy of non-violence to penetrate the rainforests of the Congo Basin, sowing trust along the way. Meanwhile, his rival Stanley (in the service of the Belgian King Leopold II) advanced with the roar of the canon. More than a century later, when the current Congo president decides to transfer di Brazza’s remains from his grave in Algiers to a multimillion-dollar mausoleum in Congo’s impoverished capital, writer Idanna Pucci discovers an insidious hidden agenda behind the plan—one that sheds harsh light on both Central Africa’s colonial past and its corrupt present. Told using an innovative mixture of animation, puppetry and original documentary footage, Black Africa White Marble is a gripping, real-life David-and-Goliath thriller. Apr 14, *5:00p; Apr 16, 4:00p

Co-presented by Margaret Mead Film Festival
The Creators. Laura Gamse, 2011, South Africa; 83m
The story begins in the mind of Cashril Plus, a twelve-year-old animator and son of graffiti artist Faith47. Through Cashril's eyes, we see his mother paint the streets and forgotten townships haloing Cape Town. The Creators then weaves us through the lives of Faith47 and fellow artists Warongx (afro-blues), Emile (hip hop), Sweat.X (glam rap), Blaq Pearl (spoken word) and Mthetho (opera). Born in separate areas of a formerly-segregated South Africa, these artists recraft history--and the impacts of apartheid--in their own artistic languages. Director Laura Gamse’s camera reveals the impulse behind the artists’ social consciousness, their individual eccentricities, and each creator’s unique form of expression. Diving into the current of subversive art which fuels South Africa’s many clashing and merging cultures, The Creators brings into focus the invisible connections among strangers' disparate lives--and the creative expression used to traverse the divide. The result is an intimate, refreshing and deeply revealing portrait of those remolding the legacy of apartheid.
SCREENING WITH
Stocktown X: South Africa. Teddy Goitom and Benjamin Taft, 2011, Sweden/South Africa/Ethiopia; 30m
An inspiring and surprising adventure that will give you a new perspective of Africa. This film takes us on a road trip across South Africa, capturing the contemporary creative generation of this vivid and pulsating culture. Apr 14, *7:00p

The Education of Auma Obama. Branwen Okpako, 2011, Kenya/Germany/Nigeria, Digital; 79m
The Education of Auma Obama is a captivating and intimate portrait of U.S. president Barack Obama’s older half-sister, who embodies a post-colonial, feminist identity in her native Kenya. Nigerian-born director Branwen Okpako’s film also documents a generation of politically and socially engaged Africans whose aspirations are informed by their parent’s experiences, and whose ambition to forge a better future for their communities starts from the ground up. Apr 12, *6:00p; Apr 16, 2:00p

Elza. Mariette Monpierre, 2011, Guadeloupe/USA; 80m
Bernadette, a single mother in Paris, tries to provide her daughters with everything.  She is thrilled when her eldest daughter, Elza, is the first in the family to graduate from college earning a master's degree summa cum laude. But Elza breaks her mother's heart by running away to their native Guadeloupe in search of a distant childhood memory: the father she barely remembers. Apr 12, 4:00p; Apr 15 *6:15p

Co-presented by Cinema Tropical
Fire In Babylon. Stevan Riley, 2010, UK, Digital; 80m
In a turbulent era of apartheid in South Africa, race riots in England and civil unrest in the Caribbean, the West Indian cricketers, led by the enigmatic Viv Richards, struck a defiant blow at the forces of white prejudice worldwide. Fire in Babylon is the breathtaking story of how the West Indies triumphed over its colonial masters through the achievements of one of the most gifted teams in sporting history. Their undisputed skill, combined with a fearless spirit, allowed them to dominate the genteel game at the highest level, replaying it on their own terms. This remarkable documentary is their story, told in their own words. Apr 15, 8:30p

How to Steal 2 Million. Charlie Vundla, 2011, South Africa, Digital; 90m
Five long years...that’s how long Jack spent in prison after getting pinched for robbery. His partner in crime and best friend, Twala, never got caught and Jack never talked. But Twala proved as treacherous as Jack is honourable by marrying Jack’s former fiancée during his prison term. Upon being released, Jack decides to go straight. He wants to start a construction business, but after being rejected for a loan he must find a new source of capital. An opportunity presents itself when Twala suggests they do a home invasion with a take worth two million South African Rand. The intended victim: Twala’s father, Julius. In his search for a third partner Jack comes across the tough, but sexy Olive. When the robbery goes wrong, secret double crosses are revealed and the tension builds towards an explosive, surprising finale in this dark and stylish modern-day film noir. Apr 12, *8:15p

In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema & Apartheid. Peter Davis and Daniel Riesenfeld, 1994, USA/South Africa/Canada; 112m
Using a wealth of archival footage and commentary by filmmakers and actors, including a young John Kani and Miriam Makeba, this two-part film examines the role of cinema in both supporting and attacking Apartheid, focusing on the impact of Hollywood films in South Africa, the depiction of South Africa in Hollywood films, and finally, the emergence of an indigenous film industry in South Africa. It also questions Hollywood’s commitment to racial stereotypes and reluctance to depict black heroes.
Apr 11, 3:30p; Apr 16, *6:00p

Maami. Tunde Kelani, 2010, Nigeria; 78m
Maami, and her young son Kashimawo are desperately poor. Gifted with a loving heart, enterprising spirit and brave soul, she is the center of her son’s world. Yet he longs for the father he has never known, a man with a terrible secret. Adapted by Tunde Babalola, from Femi Osofisan’s novel of the same name, this Nollywood film about love, perseverance and fate unfolds through Kashimawo’s reminiscences of his hardscrabble childhood in the southern Nigerian town, Abeokuta, and his ascent to international football fame during the 2010 World Cup. Apr 16, *8:45p

Monica Wangu Wamwere: Unbroken Spirit. Jane Munene, 2011, Kenya; 71m
Unbroken Spirit recounts the indefatigable efforts of Monica Wangu Wamwere (a.k.a. Mama Koigi), mother of Kenyan human rights activist and political prisoner Koigi wa Wamwere. She participated (along with Noble Laureate Wangari Maathai) in the 1992 Mothers' Hunger Strike to release political prisoners and is a member of the Release Political Prisoners pressure group. Director Jane Munene’s rousing and deeply moving portrait introduces us to a largely an unknown African woman who is truly a remarkable spirit! Apr 12, 2:15p; Apr 15, *2:00p

Co-presented by 3rd I NY
Outside the Law/Hors la loi. Rachid Bouchareb, 2010, Algeria/France, 35mm; 138m
From acclaimed writer-director Rachid Bouchareb (Indigenes) comes this epic story--a 2011 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film--of three brothers who fight for Algeria’s independence from France following World War II. After losing their family home in Algeria, three brothers and their mother are scattered across the globe. Messaoud joins the French army fighting in Indochina, Abdelkader becomes a leader of the Algerian independence movement in France, and Saïd moves to Paris to make his fortune in the shady clubs and boxing halls of Pigalle. Gradually, their interconnecting destinies reunite them in the French capital, where freedom is a battle to be fought and won. Apr 17, *8:30p

Playing Warriors. Rumbi Katedza, 2011, Zimbabwe; 78m
When twenty-something advertising executive Nyarai finds out that her best friend Nonto is getting married, she and her lawyer friend Maxi are sent into a frenzy thinking that their time to find “Mr. Right” may be running out. Determined to marry for love--despite the insistence of her meddlesome mother that she hurry up and settle down--Nyarai sets out to find a modern man as strong and dependable as the mythical traditional warrior. Reminiscent of a Zimbabwean Sex and the City, director Rumbi Katedza’s delightful debut feature is a smart and insightful comedy about the struggle of young African women to balance modern lifestyles with the pressures of family and tradition. Apr 15, *4:00p

Relentless. Andy Amadi Okoroafor, 2011, Nigeria/France/ Spain/Germany, 35mm; 92m
Obi is a peace-keeping soldier in worn torn Sierra Leone, where he meets Blessing a Sierra Leonean woman. His life is devastated when he finds Blessing mutilated by rebels. His only option is to end her misery. On his return to Lagos, Obi is a man battling with the scars of war. By day he runs a small security company with Ola, his best friend and fellow war veteran; at night he walks the lonely streets of Lagos. A haunting story about loneliness, love and self-discovery set in Africa’s throbbing megacity Lagos, Relentless delicately explores the effects of war and loss. Plus a live dance performance by Khaleah London. Apr 13, *8:00p

Co-presented by Okayafrica
Restless City. Andrew Dosunmu, 2011, USA/Nigeria, HDCAM; 80m
Direct from its acclaimed premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Andrew Dosunmu’s kinetic, gorgeously photographed debut feature tells the story of an Africa immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle, and falling in love is his greatest risk. Djibril is a young African immigrant who's life can only go upward. He wants to be a pop star and one day return to Africa where his mother and father toil for a meager living. By day he sells merchandise on Canal Street for a small income, but he continuously seeks a way to succeed as a singer. When Djibril meets Trini, a prostitute under the control of Bekay, the local loan shark, his life assumes new purpose and momentum; however, whether Djibril and Trini can outrun Bekay’s nefarious influence is another story. Apr 14, *9:30p

Sderot, Last Exit. Osvalde Lewat, 2011, Cameroon/Israel; 80m
Co-presented by Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Located 2 km from the Gaza border, the film school of Sderot in the south of Israel is a microcosm of the geo-political landscape, where daily life between Jews, Muslims, Christians, Palestinians, Israelis, left-wing radicals and ultranationalists is far from tranquil. Director Osvalde Lewat offers a fascinating glimpse of a film school where the issue of training is not only artistic, but clearly political and ideological.
SCREENING WITH
Farewell Exile/Salam Ghourba. Lamia Alami, 2011, Morocco; 15m
In an underprivileged Moroccan neighborhood surrounded by misery, Fatima anxiously waits to join her husband, who emigrated to France over a year ago. Will a letter from her husband secure a brighter future, allowing her to take her son away from this harmful environment? Or will she have to make a crucial sacrifice?
AND
Up Your Black Arse. Aurélien Bodineaux, 2011, Belgium/DRC; 12m

In a Brussels retirement home, two men--one Belgian, one Congolese--drink to their long-lasting friendship. They argue over an old story. It’s one of broken dreams and wasted lives. Up Your Black Arse stares into the colonial past, to look into our present.
Apr 13, 3:30p; Apr 17, *6:00p

Treasures From the Russian State Archives. (Total Running Time: 70 mins. approx.)
Don’t miss this extraordinary selection of newsreels and other rare documentary material discovered in the vault’s of Russia’s national film archives. Topics include Johannesburg in 1954, the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., South African surgeon Christian Bernard, opposition to apartheid in Johannesburg in 1976, and the liberation of Algeria. The program will also include a trailer of a new film that examines Russian-African relations, based on material from this vast archive. Presented by Russian filmmaker Alexander Markov. Apr 11, 2:00p; Apr 13, *6:00p

FOR ALL OTHER VENUES
Visit www.africanfilmny.org for updates.

Ticket Information

Ticket Prices
$13 General Public, $9 Students & Seniors, $8 Film Society Members

4 Film Package!
See 4 films for the price of 3
$9.75 General Public, $6.75 Students & Seniors, $6.00 Film Society Members
Please note: Minimum purchase of four tickets required for discount to apply. Discount does not apply to the 7:15pm Opening Night screening of Mama Africa on Wednesday, April 11 & the 8pm Centerpiece screening of Relentless on Friday, April 13.

Purchase Options
Online: FilmLinc.com
In Person: Film Society box offices

Film Society of Lincoln Center
Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street (north side) between Broadway & Amsterdam, on the upper level (212-875-5601). Box Office Hours: Mon.–Fri. opens at 12:30pm, Sat./Sun. opens 1/2 hour before first public screening. Closes 15 minutes after last public screening or at 6pm when there are no public screenings.

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street (south side) between Broadway & Amsterdam. Box Office Hours: Opens 1/2 hr before first public screening. Closes 15 minutes after last public screening or at 6pm when there are no public screenings.

Opening Night & Centerpiece Receptions
Please email AFF at nyaff@erols.com or call  212 352 1720 for information about the Opening Night and Centerpiece receptions. Tickets to the receptions include the film screenings.

FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
Under the leadership of Rose Kuo, Executive Director, and Richard Peña, Program Director, the Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema. The Film Society presents two film festivals that attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, currently planning 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, and Tom Hanks. The Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming, panels, lectures, educational programs and specialty film releases at its 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, Stella Artois, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com.

AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL, INC.
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 at the Walter Reade Theater by 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.

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