This year’s edition of the African Film Festival moves from Sudan (before it split in two) to Brazil, the Ivory Coast to Israel, as it spotlights new work from Africa and the African diaspora. We’re delighted to bring feature debuts like Bazi Gete’s Red Leaves, a subtle drama set within the Ethiopian Jewish community of Israel, and Philippe Lacôte’s Run, a fiery new political coming-ofage fable from the Ivory Coast that was the first Ivorian feature ever invited to the Cannes Film Festival. We also welcome back some films by legendary makers, such as Mauritanian maestro Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, a humanist satire on the jihadist takeover of that city, which earned acclaim and notoriety during its festival run, and the Senegalese pioneer Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 classic Black Girl, which is showcased in a new digital restoration. A more recent favorite, Michel Ocelot’s animated gem Kirikou and the Sorceress, also returns for a family-friendly matinee.
In addition to bringing us new intriguing short films on African art, the festival also presents a new crop of documentaries, including Gabriel Mascaro’s Housemaids, a profile of Brazilian housemaids filmed by their teenage charges, and Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque’s heartbreaking profile of the Sudan, The Longest Kiss.
Jason Sanders, Film Notes Writer
Thursday, February 11 7 PM
Ousmane Sembène (Senegal, 1966)
A young Senegalese woman takes a job as a maid in the French Riviera but finds her dreams dashed against the ordinary racism of the bourgeoisie in this landmark work of postcolonial resistance.
Thursday, February 11 8:30 PM
Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil, 2013)
Seven Brazilian teenagers from diverse backgrounds film their housemaids in this provocative work on race and class, an update to Black Girl.
Thursday, February 18 7 PM
The Art of Africa: Short Films
Three shorts profile artists and movements making waves in Africa today, from urban culture in Nairobi and Accra (Afripedia: Kenya, Afripedia: Ghana) to photographer Fabrice Monteiro’s project on the environment in Senegal (The Prophecy).
Saturday, February 20 6:30 PM
The real-life fall of Timbuktu to Islamic militants in 2012 forms the basis of this political fable from Abderrahmane Sissako (Waiting for Happiness, Bamako). “An extraordinary film” (New Yorker).
Monday, February 22 7 PM
The Longest Kiss
Filmed during the split between Sudan and South Sudan, this poetic, hopeful, heartbreaking documentary introduces us to the people (and future) of the region. With Omani short Cholo.
Sunday, March 06 5:30 PM
Israel’s vibrant Ethiopian Jewish community—rarely portrayed on screen—is featured in this story of an elderly widower, inspired by King Lear.
Saturday, March 12 8:15 PM
A young man goes on the run after assassinating a politician in this picaresque coming-of-age tale, the first Ivorian feature screened at Cannes. Isaach de Bankolé (Night on Earth, White Material) costars.
Saturday, March 19 3:30 PM
Kirikou and the Sorceress
Free for BAMPFA members
Recommended for ages 6 & up
This gorgeously animated modern classic recounts the tale of little Kirikou, a brave newborn toddler who takes on an evil sorceress in order to save his village. Soundtrack by Youssou N’Dour.
Image: Kirikou and the Sorceress