African Film Festival at Washington University March 27-30

Washington University will host its third African Film Festival March 27-30.

The series will consist of four feature films and four short films from eight different African nations. This year’s themes include love, gender, family, and the effects of globalization. It will also include a new youth program March 26-27.

“The festival is an excellent opportunity to experience various African cultures in one weekend. Each year, the films offer something very new and exciting to Saint Louis audiences,” said Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, Ph.D., assistant dean and senior lecturer in African & African-American Studies in Arts & Sciences. “I think more important than the story line of each film, is the glimpse into the everyday lives of important African cities and towns.”

Senior Olawale Hassan, president of the African Students Association, said the festival “has been an amazing way to connect the campus with the social, political and cultural experiences of many African countries and individuals. Each of the films gives a unique view into the diversity of our world, and conveys a message that our wants and needs as human beings are the same for all of us.”

The youth program was created in conjunction with the La Crèche Saint Louis and supported by the Saint Louis Art Museum to cultivate younger audiences by introducing elementary and high school students to African film. Teachers will receive a curriculum guide for the films shown at the youth program.

All screenings are free and open to the public and begin at 7 p.m. each evening in Brown Hall, Room 100. There will be a post-show discussion and reception following Sunday’s films. Brown Hall is located near the intersection of Forysth Boulevard and Chaplin Drive. For more information, visit, e-mail or call 935-7879.

Most films have been provided by the African Film Festival, a New York-based not-for-profit dedicated to promoting African arts, literature and culture. The Traveling Film Series, now in its 12th year, highlights an often-neglected part of international film culture, and one frequently overlooked by major film distributors. Each year the series travels to about a dozen cities, reaching thousands of viewers who would otherwise have little or no opportunity to view African cinema. Bamako is provided courtesy of New Yorker Films; Hop is made possible through The Film Movement; and the animated feature; and L’Arbre aux Esprits is provided by the filmmaker, Cilia Sawadogo, and Planete Films.

This year’s festival is made possible by a grant from the Missouri Arts Council and support from the National Endowments for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. Campus sponsors include Film & Media Studies, African & African-American Studies, the African Students Association, and the African Students of the School of Social Work. Additional support is provided by a grant from the Women’s Society of Washington University.

Each evening will include one recent feature and one recent short film. The complete schedule runs as follows:

Thursday, March 27

Meokgo and the Stick Fighter
Teboho Malatshi, South Africa/Lesotho, 2006, 19min.
(Sotho with English subtitles)

A haunting tale spiced with magical realism, Meokogo & the Stick Fighter is the story of Kgotso, a recluse stickfighter who lives a solitary life high up in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. It is a story of unrequited love and sacrifice, capturing both the cruelty and the beauty of African magical beliefs.

Juju Factory
Balufu Bakupu-Kanyinda, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2006, 97min.
(French with English subtitles)

Kongo lives in Brussels, in the Matonge district, on which he is writing a book. His editor wants a kind of traveler’s book spiced with ethnic ingredients. Along the way, he learns about “juju,” self-confidence.

International Award Best Film; Kenya International Film Festival, 2007, Nairobi
Golden Dhow Award Best Film; Zanzibar International Film Festival 2007
The Tyrol Award Best Film; 16th International Film Festival Innsbruck, 2007, Austria

Friday, March 28

Mama Put
Seke Somolu, Nigeria, 2006, 30min.

The power of food to transform, rescue and wreak revenge is eloquently demonstrated in this Nigerian film.

Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali, 2006, 118min.
(French and Bambara with English subtitles)

Melé is a bar singer. Her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up. In the courtyard of the house they share with other families, a trial court has been set up. Africa civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF, whom they blame for Africa’s woes. The film screens like a docudrama, as life goes on in the courtyard.

Best Prize, Human Rights Film Festival of Lomé (Togo) 2007
Council of Europe “FACE” Award, International Istanbul Film Festival 2007
Best French-language film, LUMIERES 2007
Jury’s Prize, Carthage Film Festival 2006
Public Award, Paris Cinéma Film Festival 2006

Saturday, March 29

Daniel Taye Workou, Ethiopia, 2006, 21min.
(Amharic & Italian with English subtitles)

Adapted from a traditional Ethiopian Folk Tale, Menged is very much a parable for Ethiopia today: A country in transition between modernism and traditional belief.

Best Short Film, FESPACO
Best Short film (CRYSTAL BEAR), Berlin International Film Festival, 2007
Jury’s Special Mention, Environmental Film Festival, France, 2006
Jury’s Special Prize, 26th Festival International du film d’Amiens, France, 2006

Clouds Over Conarky
Cheick F. Camara, Guinea, 2007, 113min.
(French & Malinke with English subtitles)

At the age of 25, the artist-caricaturist BB finds himself faced with an impossible choice. Son of the inflexible imam Karamo, the guardian of his village’s ancestral traditions, BB is chosen to be his father’s worthy successor. But he refuses to accept his destiny, preferring to work independently and live life to the fullest with his love, the beautiful young computer scientist Kesso. A very impressive film that finds a new approach to capturing the tradition-versus-modernity theme so frequently seen in African cinema.

Audience award winner, FESPACO 2007

Sunday, March 30

Growing Stronger
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Zimbabwe, 2005, 30min.
(English & Shona with English subtitles)

After living a high profile life as a model and wife to the then-coach of the Zimbabwe national football team, Tendayi Westerhof stunned the nation in 2002 by going public about her HIV-positive status. She became a different kind of public figure: an elegant and glamorous AIDS activist in the world of modeling and the public media.

Winner of the Gender, Equality & Media Award, South Africa, 2006

A Love During the War
Osvalde Lewat-Hallade, Cameroon, 2005, 63min.
(French, Swahili and Lingala with English subtitles)

This documentary explores the consequences when rape is used as a weapon of war from the perspective of women in Africa. Aziza and her husband were separated when the Congo-Kinshasa war broke out in 1996. Six years later, they reunite in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). But the souvenirs of the horrors suffered by other women in eastern DRC still haunt journalist Aziza.

Youth Program

Wednesday, March 26

9:30 a.m.-noon at the Saint Louis Art Museum

L’Arbre aux Esprits
(French with English subtitles)
Cilia Sawadogo, 2005, Canada/Burkina Faso, 45min.

Kodou and Tano meet Ayoka, the spirit of the tree that is soon to be cut by an entrepreneur. This film for all ages combines West African and North American storytelling, with the message that spirits and interior life exist in nature all around us.

For elementary and middle schools. Gallery tours and an activity will follow.

Thursday, March 27

Noon-2 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum

Dominique Standaert, Belgium, 2003, 100min.
(French & Flemish with English subtitles)

Justin and his father Dieudonné are illegal African immigrants living in Brussels. One night, a crucial soccer match featuring their soccer hero, Congolese player Emile M’Penza, changes their life. The filmmaker treats the subject of childhood and immigrant life with great humor, alternating tragic and comic details, to provide an uplifting and morally rich tale.

For middle and high Schools.

Best Film, Buster Int’l Children’s Film Festival, 2003