New York African Film Festival

The Fighting Spirit, 2009

In an episode in George Amponsah’s insightful and compassionate documentary The Fighting Spirit, a boxing trainer from the Ghanian fishing village of Bukom, having arrived with his protégée to England for an international competition, marvels at the technological achievement behind the gleaming urban landscape, commenting that the problem of African stagnation does not stem from… read more »

Quartier Mozart, 1992

Jean-Pierre Bekolo channels the manic freeverse, urban culture, and confrontational humor of Spike Lee’s early films in Quartier Mozart, an eccentric, socially incisive fable on a schoolgirl known as Queen of the ‘Hood who, with the aid of the village witch, Maman Thekla, asks to experience life as a man in Yaounde’s working class district… read more »

Amal, 2005

A frequently recurring theme in the NYAFF Shorts Program, Emerging Voices from the Maghreb – and perhaps, in the entire festival – is the history of culturally enabled marginalization of women in contemporary society, and this theme clearly resonates in Ali Benkirane’s Amal, an understated portrait of a cheerful and precocious girl living in a… read more »

Black Sushi, 2003

A newly paroled Zulu man named Zama walks out of prison and into a waiting car driven by his best friend and former accomplice, Respect, who immediately recruits him as a hired muscle for a planned heist. Eager to rebuild his life and make a clean break from his criminal past, Zama walks away from… read more »

Little Senegal, 2001

An aging museum curator named Alloune (Sotigui Kouyaté) conducts walking tours of a historical internment and transfer port in Goree Island used during the slave trade, a vocation that often makes him a first-hand witness to the tourists’ emotionally wrenching experience. Haunted by recurring dreams of his ancestors, he becomes convinced that at the root… read more »

The Colonial Friend, 2004

Rachid Bouchareb’s indelible and haunting short film The Colonial Friend is a muted, yet thoughtful and compelling true historical account of the 1944 massacre by the French army of indigenous African soldiers who sought to collect wages for their military service. Centered on a Cameroonian farmer, Abi, who, like many able-bodied indigenous men from colonized… read more »

Clouds Over Conakry, 2007

Following a lively introductory performance by a traditional African griot, the 14th annual New York African Film Festival officially opened with the film, Clouds Over Conakry from Guinean filmmaker Cheick Fantamady Camara, a selection that seems ideally suited to the festival’s commemoration of Africa’s 50 years of independence and (indigenous) cinema – a humorous, lyrical,… read more »

U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, 2005

The 13th New York African Film Festival’s opening night selection is Mark Dornford-May and the Dimpho Di Kopane South African Film and Lyric Theatre Ensemble’s gorgeous, sultry, bawdy, offbeat, and invigorating re-adaptation of Georges Bizet’s iconic Sevillian gypsy opera Carmen set in a modern day cigarette factory in the South African industrial town of Khayelitsha,… read more »

Born into Struggle, 2004

Part first-hand historical testament on South African anti-apartheid movement and part essay confessional (or perhaps even emotional exorcism) on the filmmaker and activist, Rehad Desai’s absence during the formative years of his own son’s life, Born into Struggle is an intimate and provocative examination of the personal legacy and intangible familial toll caused by the… read more »

All About Darfur, 2005

Incited by increasingly prophetic remarks from the international community that the Darfur crisis is reaching the level of genocide, Sudanese native and British immigrant Taghreed Elsanhouri returns to her beloved homeland to create the provocative, insightful, and illuminating documentary, All About Darfur. Consisting of a series of interviews with ordinary citizens, government officials, displaced, often… read more »