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Monday, September 22, 2008

African Film Festival New York

An Introduction to the African Film Festival, Inc.

In the 1950s and 1960s African film was born to combat decades of stereotypes depicting Africa as the "dark continent." With the camera as their tool, African filmmakers began to create new images of postcolonial Africa that promoted a nuanced understanding of African cultures and history. Slicing through stereotypes, African cinema became a unique blend of vibrant aesthetic experimentation and biting social critique. In the past fifty years, African filmmaking has become as diverse as the continent from which it springs. History and politics provide the impetus for themes such as previously suppressed critiques of colonialism, post-independence corruption, chronicles of tribal customs, and visions of contemporary society. At the same time, African filmmakers draw on the wellspring of myth, fantasy, humor, and magic in order to forge a unique visual and narrative sensibility where tradition and modernity encounter each other. This kind of cinema stands as a powerful intellectual and emotional force, making it one of the most effective educational tools and media for cross-cultural communication.

The African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), a non-profit arts organization, explores ways to introduce African film to American and international audiences, not only to develop a much-needed market for this growing body of work, but also to open up a dialogue between artists and media professionals worldwide. Through panel discussions and post-screening events where audiences and filmmakers interact, AFF offers opportunities for increased awareness of and interest in African culture through film and the development of new channels of distribution for African cinema throughout the US.


Thanks to initial grants from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, AFF and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have hosted major biennial film festivals devoted to works on Africa and the Diaspora since 1993. These popular events screened at Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Brooklyn Academy of Music, and also included panel discussions among media professionals and scholars at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum for African Art, New York and Columbia Universities. Due to increasing demand by audiences and the number of quality African films now available, the festival has been presented annually since 1998. Although the African Film Festival is a non-competitive event and is not intended to be a film market, we invite many of the featured filmmakers to introduce their work and hold post-screening discussions. In addition, we sponsor a series of round-table discussions where invited African filmmakers from around the world can connect with film industry professionals in the U.S.

Our objective is to nurture grassroots appreciation of African cinema by making screenings in public and educational facilities affordable. AFF has extended its outreach programming in partnership with existing, community-based cultural institutions, such as Aaron Davis Hall, City College, Ocularis, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. In 2005, AFF continued its free outdoor summer screenings, presenting a selection of films at Fort Greene and Fulton Parks in Brooklyn, and at the four Historic Harlem Parks in Manhattan. AFF believes that the potential for popular support of African cinema is considerable, and we continue to explore various strategies to utilize public forums to reach diverse audiences.

In 2000, AFF completely redesigned its web site so that it provides year-round event information and allows users to search our extensive knowledge-base of African filmmaking. 2003 marked the 10th anniversary of AFF, which was celebrated with the publication of a 128-page illustrated book entitled “Through African Eyes: Dialogues with the Directors,” a collection of three essays and twenty interviews with African filmmakers conducted by such notables as Danny Glover, Jonathan Demme, and Kwame Anthony Appiah. This is a unique resource in the English language, and written to be accessible to students and the casual cinema enthusiast alike.

AFF has become a resource center for programmers all over the world due to our extensive Video Archive of African film titles. As our reputation for quality programming grows, we expect to continue making new and fruitful alliances.

The programs of the AFF are made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, JPMorgan Chase, Tides Foundation, American Express Company, New York State Council for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Organisation International de la Francophonie, New York Foundation for the Arts, UNDP, UNESCO, New York Times Community Affairs Department, Time Warner Cable, French Cultural Services, Bloomberg, GoCard, WNYC, Continental Airlines, Estudio Inc., 57 Main St. Wine Co., and Omnipak Import, Enterprises, Inc.

For more Information,
Please contact us at:

African Film Festival, Inc.
154 West 18th Street, Suite 2A
New York, NY 10011

tel: (212)352-1720
fax: (212)807-9752


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