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African Film Festival

January 27, 2010 - February 24, 2010

Nora, February 10

In a world that’s seemingly becoming more interconnected every day, the chances to see new international cinema are paradoxically shrinking, with independent film distributors shutting down and theaters preferring to show the “safest bets.” Into this void steps the touring program of the annual New York African Film Festival, which presents an opportunity to experience the vibrant voices and visions of recent cinema from across the African continent. Wrestlers in Senegal, avant-garde dancers in Zimbabwe, youth gangs in Nigeria, cine-club owners in Burkina Faso, albinos in Kenya, and even Ghanaians in New York City: this year’s selection offers a dizzying spectrum of experiences, tales, and visions. Conversational documentaries mix with a new breed of African narrative cinema, as lively and contemporary as anything Hollywood has to offer.

Some names, like Cameroonian filmmaker (and part-time Berkeley resident) Jean-Marie Téno, may be familiar to regular festivalgoers, but many are emerging and first-time filmmakers whose ideas about cinema, and the world, are just waiting to be discovered. We’re pleased to supplement the series with Sean Baker’s acclaimed American indie Prince of Broadway, about a young Ghanaian immigrant hustling to survive in Manhattan’s hectic Garment District, which has picked up awards at festivals from Los Angeles to Locarno.

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
7:00 p.m. Coming of Age: African Shorts
(Ghana/U.S., Kenya, Nigeria, 2007–2008). A “Bronx princess” heads to Ghana; a Kenyan teen comes of age along with her country’s fledgling democracy; and two Nigerian gangsters try to go straight in this collection of award-winning African shorts. (66 mins)

Thursday, February 4, 2010
7:00 p.m. Sacred Places
Jean-Marie Téno (Cameroon/France, 2009). Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Téno profiles a poor but lively neighborhood in the capital of Burkina Faso, where a cine-club proprietor tries to include Burkinabe films among the action and Bollywood fare. (70 mins)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
7:00 p.m. Dance Dance Revolution: Contemporary African Dance on Film
(U.S., U.K., Mozambique, 2007–2008). Two remarkable films on contemporary African choreography: Nora, a dance-film about and starring Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire; and Movement (R)Evolution Africa, which follows nine African choreographers on a U.S. tour. (100 mins)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
7:00 p.m. Wrestling Grounds
Cheikh Ndiaye (Senegal, 2006). A young man enters the flavorful world of Senegelese wrestling (a national obsession) in this vibrant award-winner, based on a novel by acclaimed writer Aminata Sow Fall. A primer on contemporary African pop culture. (105 mins)

Thursday, February 18, 2010
7:30 p.m. Prince of Broadway
Sean Baker (U.S., 2008). Sean Baker regrets that he cannot travel to the Bay Area at this time, as previously planned. “It’s a hard knock-off life” for a Ghanaian immigrant saddled with a baby boy amid the hustlers of New York’s Garment District. From the director of Greg the Bunny; winner of the L.A. Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and the Special Jury Award from Locarno. (100 mins)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
7:00 p.m. In My Genes
Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya, 2009). Eight individuals from across a wide spectrum of Kenyan society, all united as albinos, share their stories in this documentary, a heartfelt counter to the recent serial murders of albinos in Africa. (78 mins)

The African Film Festival National Traveling Series is organized by the African Film Festival, Inc. This series has been made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the Tides Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase. Special thanks to Mahen Bonetti, director, and Toccarra Thomas, program administrator, African Film Festival, for their assistance and support.

The festival at PFA is coordinated by Kathy Geritz, and copresented by the Department of African American Studies and Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley. Prints from African Film Festival, unless otherwise indicated.