The 28th New York African Festival 2021 is virtual at filmlinc.org from Thursday, February 4-14, 2021. $12. An all-access pass to all fifteen film is $100.
We are living through a moment when after four centuries of denial, America is finally ready and even hungry for Black culture and the work of Black artists.
Diversity is a sign of a healthy system, and this festival presents an incredible diversity of African cinema. There are films from Africa, Europe and the Americas including: Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria and Rwanda.
A Festival of Women’s Voices
Under the title “Notes from Home: Recurring Dreams & Women’s Voices,” this season is dedicated to the women who are driving African culture into the future, while at the same time preserving our ancestral traditions.
It’s worth noting that women, not men, are the traditional leaders of many Black and Latin communities in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Women leaders are exceptional in Europe and the European diaspora, but much more common among the rest of us.
There is a retrospective of filmmaker Fanta Régina Nacro who became the first Burkina Faso woman to direct a narrative film in 1992 with “Un Certain Matin” (A Certain Morning).
There are talks and a digital art exhibition of work from Ladan Osman’s “Exiles of Eden,” and the Kenyan performance art duo known as Mwangi Hutter.
The festival is planning a second virtual run at Maysles Documentary Center a popular cinema in Harlem for two weeks starting on February 18. maysles.org
Looking through these films really does give you an impression of home, no matter whether home is in Africa, the Caribbean or Latin America. Home is where the heart is and these filmmakers have a lot of heart.
Our Lady of the Nile
The cover image is a publicity still from Atiq Rahimi’s “Our Lady of the Nile.” The film captures the last days of innocence at a prestigious Rwandan boarding school as the country is about to be torn apart by sectarian violence. It is based on Scholastique Mukasonga’s semi-autobiographical novel.
The opening night film is Desmond Ovbiagele’s “The Milkmaid.” It is the Nigerian entry for Best International Feature Film to the 2021 Oscars.
It’s the story of a Fulani milk maid who confronts the religious extremists who kidnapped her sister. That’s dangerous, but if it was your sister, wouldn’t you do the same?
This is real. There have recently been many kidnappings of young people by extremists. It’s terrible for the person who is kidnapped, but the violence also destroys families and even entire communities.
This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
The centerpiece film is Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection.” This is Lesotho’s first Oscar entry.
It’s the story of an old woman making preparations for her own death, when word comes that her village will be relocated to make way for a reservoir behind a new dam.
In our Indigenous state, humans are people of the land. Separating the two destroys both the people and the land. What industrial societies sell as “progress” is more often than not nothing but cover for wanton destruction that creates short-term profit for outsiders and long-term destruction of the people and the land.
The old woman is probably fierce and skilled at the forces of nature. All it takes is a good reason to live.
New York African Film Festival 2021 Tickets
Individual films are $12. An all-access pass is $100.