NY African Film Festival returns to Film Society of Lincoln Center

Filmmakers Ekwa Msangi & Iquo Essien with their guests at the 2015 NYAFF. Photo credit: Leon Williams

Celebrated film festival opens with Tanna by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler

On May 4-10, The Film Society of Lincoln Center and African Film Festival, Inc. will host the 23rd New York African Film Festival (NYAFF). Marking the 50th anniversary of Ousmane Sembène’s celebrated first feature, Black Girl, the 2016 festival is presented under the banner “Modern Days, Ancient Nights: 50 Years of African Filmmaking.”

Opening with a special advance-preview town-hall event on Sunday, May 1, the festival will present 25 feature-length films and 27 short films from 26 countries, bringing another thrilling and multifaceted selection of African films from the continent and the Diaspora to New York audiences. The festival continues throughout May at Maysles Cinema and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek.

“We are very pleased to partner with African Film Festival, Inc. once again for the 23rd edition of the New York African Film Festival,” said Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming Dennis Lim. “This year’s lineup is an extremely diverse and rewarding mix of features, documentaries, and short films that are an exemplary celebration of the continent’s rich and varied voices.”

This year’s festival kicks off with a preview town-hall event featuring the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow (DDFR), a community photo-sharing session and veritable show-and-tell of fascinating family stories, on Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m. at the Film Society’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater. Attendees to the free event are encouraged to bring their family photos, a selection of which will be shared with the audience. The DDFR Roadshow is a companion transmedia project for the Thomas Allen Harris film Through a Lens Darkly, and a panel discussion with African Diasporan creatives will follow the presentation. A digital exhibit of portraits and images from the DDFR Roadshow will run throughout the festival at this same venue.   

The Closing Night Spotlight on Tuesday, May 10 includes Manthia Diawara’s Negritude: A Dialogue Between Wole Soyinka and Senghor and a shorts program about New York’s African Diaspora, with several filmmakers in attendance. Negritude imagines a dialogue between Léopold Sédar Senghor and Soyinka. Historian and Columbia University Director of Institute for African Studies Mamadou Diouf and special guests will partake in a post-screening discussion that illuminates this historic period in the context of contemporary society.  

The 23rd edition also focuses on the correlation between activism and art, featuring the documentaries Martha & Niki, the story of the first female hip-hip duo to emerge victorious at the premier international street-dance competition.

For more information, visit filmlinc.org.

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