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African Film Festival

January 25, 2009 - February 22, 2009

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Shoot the Messenger, February 1

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. Featuring works from the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mauritania, this year’s festival also spotlights the African diaspora. Filmmakers from France and the United States turn their lenses on family journeys through Africa and beyond, while a risk-taking new film from Nigerian-British filmmaker Ngozi Onwurah addresses identity politics, class divisions, and psychological turmoil within the black community. We’ve added a program paying tribute to an Arab filmmaking legend, Youssef Chahine, who passed away last year. We’re proud to screen his psychological noir Cairo Station, whose presentation at the 1958 Berlin Film Festival opened the world’s eyes to Arab, and African, filmmaking.

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Sunday, January 25, 2009
2:00 p.m. Kinshasa Palace
A filmmaker travels across Lisbon, Paris, and the Congo to find a missing brother in this “engrossing study of the corrosive ramifications of the African diaspora.”—Variety

Sunday, January 25, 2009
3:45 p.m. Journeys: Short Films from Africa
Physical and emotional journeys are at the heart of these shorts from Zaire, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Sunday, February 1, 2009
4:45 p.m. Shoot the Messenger
A well-meaning black Briton strives to make sense of identity politics in this controversial take on race and class, part Swiftian satire, part Shakespearean tragedy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009
6:30 p.m. Awaiting for Men
Mauritania’s atmospheric red-walled city of Oualata is the setting of this eye-opening documentary on sexuality and empowerment among Saharan women. With short Coffee Colored Children.

Sunday, February 8, 2009
5:00 p.m. Cairo Station
By Youssef Chahine, one of the Arab world’s greatest directors, a steamy psychosexual thriller set in 1950s Cairo. With short Cairo As Seen by Chahine.

Sunday, February 22, 2009
4:30 p.m. Paris selon Moussa
A Guinean villager is stranded in Paris in this lighthearted yet politically sharp combination of fable and farce, winner of a U.N. Human Rights Award.

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 and Aba Taylor, program administrators, African Film Festival, for their assistance and support.

The festival at PFA is curated by Kathy Geritz, and co-presented by the Department of African American Studies and Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley. Program notes by Jason Sanders. Prints from African Film Festival, unless otherwise indicated.