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African Film Festival 2015

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Winter of Discontent, Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt, 2012)
African Film Festival 2015
Curated by: Kathy Geritz

January 17th, 2015 - February 17th, 2015

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Liberation movements in Africa—both today and in the past—are a focus of this year's edition of our annual African Film Festival. The prodemocracy protests in Egypt's Tahrir Square and the aftermath of civil unrest in Kenya are brought to life in two nuanced narrative films,Winter of Discontent by Ibrahim El Batout and Something Necessary by Judy Kibinge. The struggles for independence decades earlier in Angola, Guinea, and Cape Verde are urgently told in Sarah Maldoror's little-known politically committed films from the late sixties and early seventies, presented as part of our special two-evening tribute to one of the first women to make films in Africa. Maldoror believes that "to make a film means to take a position." For Sambizanga, which she made after working on Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers, Maldoror involved nonprofessional actors who were active in anticolonial movements. InCassa Cassa!, Elodie Lefebvre explores African history through dance. She documents an inspiring cultural exchange between choreographers, dancers, and musicians from throughout Africa and its diaspora who gather to share their own practice as well as illuminate its links to traditional dances.

This year's festival richly represents women filmmakers, including three short narratives by a new generation. Join us for this tour of Africa and the African diaspora and discover both new and historical voices. Also of interest is our Afterimage series with French filmmaker Mati Diop who works in both France and Senegal. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015
6:30 p.m. Winter of Discontent 
Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt, 2012). (El sheita elli fat). Egyptian independent filmmaker Ibrahim El Batout returns to the first wave of anti-Mubarak Tahrir Square protests with intertwined stories of a political dissident (Amr Waked), a TV journalist, and a state policeman. (95 mins)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015
7:00 p.m. New Voices: African Shorts
(Cameroon/Kenya/Tunisia, 2013–14). A program highlighting emerging artists focuses on short narratives by women. Films include Beleh, Eka Christa Assam’s quirky look at gender roles; Soko Sonko, a hair braiding adventure by Ekwa Msangi-Omari; and Kaouther Ben Hania’s story of a young girl who goes to great lengths to avoid school, Wooden Hands. (75 mins)

Friday, January 30, 2015
7:00 p.m. Something Necessary
Judy Kibinge (Kenya/Germany, 2013). A woman whose world has been destroyed in Kenya’s 2007 civil unrest attempts to rebuild her life, yet repeatedly crosses paths with a man who participated in the violence, in Judy Kibinge's moving, beautifully filmed narrative. (85 mins)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
7:00 p.m. Sambizanga
Sarah Maldoror (Angola/Congo, 1972). One of the first feature films made by a woman in Africa is an urgent call for political change. The events leading up to a 1961 prison rebellion in Angola forms the plot. “Maldoror is both presenting history and issuing a call to arms” (Village Voice). (102 mins)

Thursday, February 12, 2015
7:00 p.m. Sarah Maldoror: Films of Resistance
Sarah Maldoror attended film school in Moscow with Ousmane Sembène and worked onThe Battle of Algiers before becoming one of African cinema’s first women directors, and one of its most passionate voices. Shorts include Monangambée (1968), Carnival in Guinea-Bissau (1971), and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s recent excavation of Maldoror’s lost film Guns for Banta. (57 mins)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
7:00 p.m. Cassa Cassa! Danced Encounters Between Africa and Its Diaspora
Elodie Lefebvre (Senegal, 2013). In 2007 artists, choreographers, dancers, and musicians from across Africa and its diaspora gathered in a remote Senegalese village for communion, connection, and inspiration. This documentary captures their passion and commitment. With Alla Kovgan and David Hinton’s short, Nora, featuring the choreographer Nora Chipaumire. (86 mins)

The African Film Festival National Traveling Series is organized by the African Film Festival, Inc. and coordinated at BAM/PFA by Film Curator Kathy Geritz. This touring series has been made possible by the generous support of the National Endowments for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Lambent Foundation, and The Bradley Family Foundation. Special thanks to Mahen Bonetti, director, and Aminata Diop, program coordinator, for their assistance and support. The festival at BAM/PFA includes additional titles. It is copresented by the Department of African American Studies and the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley. Thanks also to the Flaherty Film Seminar for their assistance with our Sarah Maldoror tribute; she was a guest at their 2013 Seminar. Prints provided by the African Film Festival National Traveling Series, unless indicated otherwise.

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