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) 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.
Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming, Year-Round, Robert Koehler says, "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."
"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," said 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 twenty 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.