Cinemafrique: 10 Films To See At The 2014 African Diaspora International Film Festival In NYC

The African Diaspora International Film Festival returns to New York City for its 22nd edition from November 28th to December 14th.

Still from Brazilian filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento's 'Summer Of The Gods'

The African Diaspora International Film Festival returns to New York City next Friday, November 28th, for its 22nd year of showcasing the best in cinema from Africa and the Diaspora at various locations across Manhattan. In addition to the ninety-plus feature-lengths, documentaries and short narratives that will screen, organizers have put together an array of Q&A sessions, panel discussions and special program tracks to further critical discourse surrounding filmmaking in Africa and the Diaspora. In honor of 20 years of democracy in South Africa, the festival is showcasing a special 14-film spotlight on SA cinema. Ahead of this year's edition we compiled our top picks of films screening at the festival.


Between Friends

Dir.  Zuko Nodada, South Africa, 2014

93 min,English & Zulu with English subtitles

Tue, Dec. 2 @ 7:30PM – Riverside Theater

College friends reunite after seven years in the South African romantic comedy Between Friends and long kept secrets bubble to the surface causing friction among the group. The fast-paced and lighthearted film from director Zuko Nodada is the centerpiece screening of ADIFF's special SA program track, South Africa: 20 Years of Democracy.


Come Back, Africa

Dir. Lionel Rogosin, South Africa, 1959

86 min, English & Afrikaans with English subtitles

Tue, Dec. 9 @ 6PM – Thalia

Upon its release in 1959, this influential docu-fiction film from American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin gave a first-hand look at the injustices faced by black South Africans under the apartheid regime. Come Back, Africa, which stars a young Miriam Makeba, was shot with a skeleton crew in Johannesburg, Sophiatown, and particular whites-only areas under false pretenses (Rogosin was granted filming privileges from government officials who were under the impression that he was shooting a musical).



Dir. by Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Chad, 2006

96 min, Chadian Arabic & French with English subtitles

Fri, Dec. 5 @ 3PM – Quad

After the Chadian government announces that amnesty has been granted to all war criminals, sixteen year old Atim (played by Ali Bacha Barkai) is tasked with bringing his father's murderer to justice. Director Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Grigris, A Screaming Man) weaves an intriguing tale of vengeance, courage and unlikely friendship in this 2006 film which took home the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival.


Finding Fela

Dir. Alex Gibney, USA, 2014

119 min, English

Mon, Dec. 7 @ 7:30PM – Cowin Center

Tue, Dec. 9 @ 9:30PM – Quad

Finding Fela from Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney (co-produced by Okayplayer/Okayafrica alongside Jigsaw Productions & Knitting Factory Entertainment) is the new documentary on the life and legacy of afrobeat founder Fela Kuti. The film follows the cast of the Broadway show FELA! as they go to Lagos to perform the musical for the Kuti family at the The Shrine. Interweaving original vintage footage (including the brilliant sequence of Fela’s funeral attended by millions), the musical, mesmerizing performances, and interviews with the family, Gibney illuminates the discovery process of who Fela Kuti really is, his legacy, and the impact he’s made on millions of Nigerians. For more, watch Okayafrica TV's behind-the-scenes look at the Finding Fela world premiere at Sundance 2014 plus our exclusive footage of Questlove's extended interview from the film.


Oggun: An Eternal Presence

Dir. Gloria Rolando, Cuba, 1992

52 min, Spanish with English subtitles

Fri, Nov. 28 @ 4PM – The Chapel

In this documentary from 1992, Cuban director Gloria Rolando delves into Yoruba cosmology to relate the origin story of Oggun, orisha of iron and war. The film also features the late Afro-Cuban singer Lázaro Ros who played a significant role in taking the religious songs associated with Santería onto the world stage. Oggun: An Eternal Presence screens at ADIFF as part of the festival's Blacks In Latin America program track.


Open Arms, Closed Doors

Dir. Fernanda Polacow and Juliana Borges, Brazil, 2013

24 min, Portuguese with English subtitles

Sun, Nov. 30 @ 4PM – 179 GD, Teachers College

Open Arms, Closed Doors follows Badharó, an Angolan rapper living in Rio de Janeiro, as he recounts the racist and discriminatory attitudes he faces in his day-to-day life. The documentary, which screens as part of ADIFF's Blacks In Latin America program track, makes reference to the 2010 murder of 26-year-old Angolan engineer, Zulmira de Souza Borges Cardoso, in Sao Paulo.


Rumba Clave Blen Blen Blen

Dir. Aristides Falcon Paradi, Cuba/United States, 2013

101 min, Spanish with English subtitles

Mon, Dec. 1 @ 8PM – The Chapel

This vibrant music documentary from director Aristides Falcon Paradi traces the African and Andalusian origins of rumba and offers an in-depth look into the development of the percussion-based genre from Cuba to the streets of New York City. The film pays homage to the genre's stateside innovators, such as Chano Pozo, and features interviews and performances with famous rumberos who carry on the Afro-Cuban rhythm today.


Sia, The Myth of the Python

Dir. Dani Kouyaté, Burkina Faso, 2001

96 min, Bambara with English subtitles

Fri, Dec. 5 @1PM – Quad

Sia, The Myth of the Python from Burkinabe director Dani Kouyaté is a cinematic retelling of a seventh century legend of the Soninke people. Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara stars as Sia, a beautiful young woman handpicked by the Emperor of Koumbi to serve as a human sacrifice to the Python God in order to restore prosperity to the empire. Refusing to comply with the tradition, Sia escapes only to become entangled in a web of political machinations. For more on Diawara, watch her link with the Roots, Elvis Costello, Rahzel, Emily Wells and more at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative via Okayafrica TV.


Summer Of The Gods

Dir. Eliciana Nascimento, Brazil/USA, 2014

20 min, Portuguese with English subtitles

Sun, Nov. 30 @ 4PM – 179 GD, Teachers College

The fantasy short from Brazilian filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento utilizes Yoruba spiritual folklore and elements of magical realism to weave a whimsical tale of a young girl’s mission to fulfill her ancestral legacy. Running at just over 20 minutes, Summer Of The Gods is the second narrative feature from Nascimento, and stars first time actress Isabela Santos in the lead role of Lili.


The Two of Us

Dir. Ernest Nkosi, South Africa, 2014,

95 min, English & Zulu with English subtitles

Thurs, Dec. 4 @ 8:30PM – The Chapel

Sat, Dec. 6 @ 7:30PM – Quad

The Two of Us depicts the unstable relationship between Thulas and his younger sister, Zanele, and their lives in the South African township of Alexandra. After witnessing Zanele's abuse as a child, Thulas becomes fiercely overprotective and goes off the deep end when Zanele falls in love with an older man. The debut feature from South African filmmaker Ernest Nkosi makes its US premiere at this year's festival.


The African Diaspora International Film Festival runs from November 28 to December 14, 2014 in New York City. Find a full listing of events via ADIFF.

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