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Photo courtesy of Abessi Akhamie.

The Nigerian Shorts Program at This Year's New York African Film Festival Challenges the Nollywood Status Quo

These films at the 25th New York African Film Festival features a new generation of filmmakers who are transforming our understanding of the continent.

The 25th New York African Film Festival is underway, continuing to lead the celebration of film from Africa and its diaspora. This year's theme, "25 Years of the New York African Film Festival," pays homage to the pioneers of African cinema while marking the passing of the baton to a new generation of African visual storytellers who continue to transform and extend our understanding of the continent and its diaspora. The festival also commemorates what would've been Nelson Mandela's centennial birthday.

The programming at Lincoln Center runs until May 22, but we luckily have the rest of the month to enjoy screenings at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn and Maysles Cinema in Harlem. Through these venues, the festival will present 66 films from 25 countries.

"Since the founding of the New York African Film Festival, African cinema has moved beyond the art house and become the lingua franca of Africa and its diaspora," Mahen Bonetti, AFF Executive Director and NYAFF Founder, says in a statement . "From Nigeria to South Africa and Brazil, regional film industries are breaking down the artificial demarcations of the colonial era. For this 25th milestone, the festival is proud to showcase this new wave of a borderless cinema, which uses the tactility and immediacy of storytelling to offer audiences opportunities to imagine other futures for Africa and its diaspora."

OkayAfrica is proud to co-present NYAFF's Shorts Program 2: Naija Stories, during the festival. These seven films, which range from documentary to narrative, features a stunning array of storytelling challenging the Nollywood status quo by filmmakers from Nigeria and its diaspora.


NYAFF's Shorts Program 2: Naija Stories holds at 8:30 p.m. on May 21 at Francesca Beale Theater at Lincoln Center. A Q&A; will follow with three of the filmmakers that you won't want to miss. Take a look at the short films from the series, with synopses from NYAFF, below—and we hope to see you there. For tickets, click here.

Birth of Afrobeat

Photo courtesy of Opiyo Okeyo.

In September of 2017, 77-year-old Nigerian drummer Tony Allen was invited to record the album 'What Goes Up' with American band, Chicago Afrobeat Project. During their time together, Allen recounts how he and his partner, late music legend, Fela Kuti, created the Afrobeat genre in Lagos, Nigeria. In this hybrid live-action/animated film, Opiyo Okeyo's directorial debut presents a snapshot of Tony Allen's story.

Director: Opiyo Okeyo

New York Premiere

Eja Aro

Photo courtesy of Badewa Ajibade.

Lolade, a young woman in her early twenties, has been in a long-distance relationship with Jubril Hassan for one year. Her brother, Seye, and her best friend, Ebele, both find it peculiar that she has yet to see Jubril in person.

Director: Badewa Ajibade

New York Premiere

Mr. Gele: The Man. The Story. The Craft

Photo courtesy of Gladys Edeh.

Mr. Gele, the docu-film, focuses on the man, the story and the craft of the celebrated Houston-based Nigerian Gele (headwear) artist, Mr. Hakeem Oluwasegun Olaleye, popularly known as Mr. Segun Gele. Segun Gele is a self-taught creative who has been able to use his skills as a Gele designer and makeup artist to exalt the beauty of women around the world. He plays a major role in the Nigerian fashion community and beyond.

In never-before seen footage, the documentary captures a glimpse of his life as a husband, father, son and businessman and shines some light into the intrigue that surrounds him as a personality. Insightful interviews are given by his mother, wife, clients and longtime friends. This film is engaging and leaves the audience inspired by a man who has been able to defy all stereotypes and become successful in a female dominated profession.

Director: Gladys Edeh

New York Premiere

The Good Son

Photo courtesy of Tomisin Adepeju.

Kunle Owomole is the the dutiful Nigerian son, the pride of his family – however, during a traditional family gathering, he is forced to address a secret he has harbored from his parents, one that will have a profound impact on his relationship with his family.

Director: Tomisin Adepeju

Still Water Runs Deep

Photo courtesy of Abessi Akhamie.

Within his family, a Nigerian father is the patriarch and protector of his flock. Still Water Runs Deep follows a man who leads his household with a stern hand and assertiveness; but when his estranged son goes missing, his reluctant search turns into an emotional journey to find him, shaking the core of his steely resolve and revealing his most intimate being.

Director: Abessi Akhamie

New York Premiere

Las Gidi Vice

Photo courtesy of Udoka Oyeka.

After a couple years of planning, a girl finally gets her revenge on the guy who ruined her life.

Director: Udoka Oyeka

New York Premiere

Visions

Photo courtesy of the Surreal 16.

This anthology film, made up of three shorts inspired by dreams and visions, explores a young woman's identity, relationship, and spirituality. Each short is directed by a member of the collective, Surreal 16: Shaitan by Abba Makama, Brood by Michael Omonua, and Bruja by CJ "Fiery" Obasi.

Directors: Surreal 16

U.S. Premiere

News

The Ethiopian Government Has Asked Olympic Runner In Exile, Feyisa Lilesa, to Return Home

After two years in exile, the Olympic athlete will return home and receive a "hero's welcome."

Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian runner who went into exile in 2016 after bravely protesting the Ethiopian government's brutal treatment of its Oromo population at the Rio Olympics, has been invited to return to home.

After living in self-imposed exile United States for two years the marathoner, who demonstrated by crossing his fists as he reached the finish line and claimed the silver medal, has been extended an offer to return to his homeland and compete for his country once again by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and the country's Olympic committee. According to VOA News, the runner will return home in the coming weeks with his wife and children.

"Athlete Feyisa Lilesa has scored great results at the Rio Olympics and other athletics competitions enabling Ethiopia's flag to be hoisted to great heights," read a joint letter from the two athletics organizations.

"We want Lilesa to return to his home country to resume his athletics competition and upon his return we are prepared to give him a hero's welcome."

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Politics
Image via GovernmentZA's Flickr.

Could Justice Finally Be on the Horizon for Marikana Massacre Families?

New evidence suggests that the police intended to kill all along.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, when 34 mine-workers were gunned down by police after several days of wage disputes at Lonmin Mine in Rustenburg, North West province. New information was recently uncovered that undermines the police's longstanding claim that they acted in self-defence. If anything, it is a glimmer of hope for the families of the victims that remain left behind in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It was the worst mass civilian killing since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where South African protesters were killed for opposing the Apartheid regime. The Marikana Massacre, in contrast, was the tragic consequence of week-long wage disputes and clashes between miners and the South African police.

While media footage appears to show the miners as the victims, police have always argued that they were acting in self defence. Consequently no officers involved have been charged. Instead, the surviving mineworkers face murder charges under the doctrine of common purpose. But unnerving facts have come to light that seem to make the police argument even less likely. This includes the ordering of 4000 rounds of live ammunition and several vans from the mortuary the day before the massacre.

I cannot even begin to unpack my anger and frustration at this terrible irony.

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Remembering Aretha Franklin and Her Heartfelt Connection With Nelson Mandela

In honor of the Queen of Soul's immeasurable impact, we revisit her passionate support of Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid movement, through her musical tributes.

Iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul" passed away on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin was considered by many to be the greatest singer of all time. Her influence on popular music cannot be overstated. The legendary artist sold 75 million records and earned 18 Grammys in a career spanning six decades and she was influential in many global social movements as well.

Having been a widely-embraced public figure for so long, Franklin was present for some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the funeral of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

Upon Mandela's release, the singer played a unique role in welcoming him to the States by performing at a freedom rally in his honor in Detroit. Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder were also in attendance for the historic night. During the celebration, Franklin called the anti-apartheid leader on stage, where he spoke about listening to and appreciating "the Detroit, Motown Sound" while he was in prison.

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