A month of cinema, from 1 to May 30, 2016
The 23rd NYAFF (New York African Film Festival / African Film Festival of New York) takes place in 3 places and parts. First it starts with an event on the 1st, mainly afterwards May 4 to 10 (at the Film Society of Lincoln Center) and from 13 to 15 May at the Maysles Cinema and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek from 26 to 30 May, 2016.
Among the selected films, including several from Nollywood, there is also Price of Love by the Ethiopian director Hermon Hailay whose World Premiere was held at Fespaco 2015. The film is a dive into the world of night and prostitution in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Trop noire pour être française? by Isabelle Boni Claverie analyses with talent the diversity in France (even if the interventions of Pap Ndiaye and Achille Mbembe are very confusing and not always relevant). One of the big favourites of Africiné is part of this in New York: Twaaga is pure cinema jewel signed by Cedric Ido; the Burkinabe filmmaker juggles it with animation, comics, documentary and fiction to interogate with humour and finesse the legacy of Thomas Sankara. We must not forget the recent film by Jihan El Tahri around the figure of Nasser, Egypt.
Another major film in New York, The Cursed Ones by the Ghanaian Nana Obiri Yeboah (Ghana / UK, 2015, 95 mins) which cost as admirably as overwhelming on a true story: a young girl accused of witchcraft and condemned to be killed . A journalist (Edwin) is first of all the spectator, then one of the actors in this tragedy. The director takes the time to build each character and its complexities. If it makes the critical drift of religious beliefs, he never falls into the Manichean and the emotional actors from restraint and density. The Cursed Ones had 15 nominations at the Ghana Movies Awards and is well-deserved.
Manthia Diawara & Lydie Diakhate
On May 10, the closing film at Lincoln Center is Negritude: A Dialogue between Wole Soyinka and Senghor. It is a dialogue between Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of the founders of Negritude, and the Nobel Prize for Literature Wole Soyinka, built almost entirely through archives. The director Manthia Diawara here analyses by the relevance of the concept of Negritude vis-a-vis many of its critics (including Soyinka). The film is organized into ten chapters.
This 59 minutes documentary film is produced by Lydie Diakhate whose director’s career should not be hidden. In fact, she will also release her movie portrait: Some Bright Morning: The Art of Mel Edwards. It is a portrait of African-American sculptor Melvin Edwards, filmed between his gallery in New York, Senegal and Ghana. Born in the late 30s under racial segregation, the man is an internationalist, a pan-Africanist, and one of the key inventors of the Modernist current in New York. It is a world that has rubbed off on expressionism and on conceptual vagueness.
Quartiers Lointains, with Claire Diao, Alice Diop
Screening-debate program hosted by Claire Diao, Quartiers Lointains is part of a US tour in partnership with the Embassy of France and Shadow and Act. It starts with the NYAFF 2016 at Lincoln Center on May 7, at 4 pm, in the presence of the sponsor Melvin van Peebles, Claire Diao, the founder of the director Alice Diop (Vers la tendresse) and Patrick Zingile (one of the protagonists of the film Vers la tendresse). Two school screenings are planned (4 and 6 May) still in the auspices of the 23rd NYAFF, before continuing in Minneapolis (May 9), Detroit (May 11), Chicago (May 12). Claire Diao began at Africiné and Africultures. She was editor for the site Images Francophones.
Led by Mahen Bonetti, the NYAFF is one of two major pan-African festivals in New York with ADIFF New York (directed by Diarah Ndaw-Spech and Reinaldo Barroso-Spech). The ADIFF NY Festival begins each year on the last Friday of November, during the weekend after Thanksgiving and lasts for eighteen days. In 2016 ADIFF held its 24th edition.
Thierno I. Dia
Image Credit: African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF)