By Conor Godfrey
This week the African Film Festival kicks off in New York City, at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. (April 7th- 13th ).
The 19th annual festival explores the theme “Independent Africa”, as 17 different African nations celebrate their independence in 2010.
This exploration will include a mélange of classic and contemporary African cinema and art, as well as a series of panel discussions on current trends in African visual arts.
The general public can pay per film or event ($9-$12), or buy an all access pass ($99) at the Walter Reade Theater box office.
The festival program offers a wide variety of shorts and feature length films written by Africans living on the continent as well as in the diaspora.
Here are a few of the critics’ favorites:
From a Whisper: Director and script writer Wanuri Kahlu’s From a Whisper won the coveted ‘Best Narrative Feature” award at this year’s Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angelus. The film explores the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy from an African perspective.
L’Absence and Burning in the Sun: Both of these films examine the experience of an African emigrant returning home. I find these stories fascinating across all cultures, but particularly in Africa. What does home mean to these emigrants when they return? How does total immersion in Western Culture affect the emigrants African identity?
Sex, Okra, and Salted Butter: Another decorated African film that delves into the immigrant experience. In Mahamat-Seleh Haround’s comedy, a traditional Cameroonian man must deal with the flight of his wife, the discovery of his son’s non-traditional sexuality, and life in Paris’ black community.
I note these films because of their critical acclaim, but there are over 40 films on the program. Many of these films make their U.S. debut this week.