Film Festivals Celebrating African and African-American Films Launched on East Coast
2018 has been a great year for films created by Africans and people of African descent. Welsh- Zambian director Rungano Nyoni’s film I Am Not A Witch was selected as the United Kingdom’s pick for the Oscars foreign language film category. Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji’s film Lionheart, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), was picked up by Netflix, and Kenya’s Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to be screened at Cannes.
While African films are screened at international festivals, the number of films selected is minimal compared to the millions of films produced by Africans on the continent, with Nigeria’s Nollywood industry surpassing the United States in terms of the number of movies produced annually.
To combat this lack of representation, there have been various film festivals which aim to showcase films created by Africans and people of African descent. Many of these well known festivals are on the East Coast of the United States and include the Urban World Film Festival, African Diaspora Film Festival, and New York African Film Festival. Two new African film festivals have been launched by Yale University and the Smithsonian this month.
YALE AFRICA FILM FESTIVAL
The council on African studies at Yale, in partnership with the Yale African Graduate & Professional Students, created the inaugural Yale Africa Film Festival with the aim to highlight forward-thinking African films. According to their website, “The festival sought films with visionary stories and new narratives which re-frame African experiences and identities through innovative, future-facing, empowering lenses. These films acknowledge and honor authentic cultural histories and indigenous languages while reshaping internal and external perceptions of the continent’s diverse nations.”
The Yale African Film Festival will screen four films titled Kasala (Nigeria), Bigger Than Africa (U.S.), Ephasini Lamabhudango (South Africa) and Mma Moeketsi (South Africa). The entire film festival is free; after each film, there will be a question and answer section with the directors of each of the films.
The Yale African Film Festival will take place on Oct. 26, 2018 to Oct. 28, 2018.
SMITHSONIAN AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
The National Museum of African American History & Culture has created the first ever annual Smithsonian African American Film Festival. According to its website, “The festival is a multi-day cinematic experience celebrating African American visual culture and film...It is the only film festival of its kind – a conversation between the Museum’s collection and films that illuminate and expand on its exhibitions.”
Over 80 full length, short films and classic films will be screened over four days, including Diasporadical Trilogìa, If Beale Could Talk, Sankofa and more. In addition to film screenings, there will be post-screening discussions with filmmakers, master classes on screenwriting and technique, and open dialogues on the films.
The Smithsonian African American Film Festival will be held at the National Museum of African-American History & Culture in Washington DC from Oct. 24 to Oct. 27. Ticket prices range from $10 to $300.